Thatcham Area Weekly News sections – 2022 archive

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 22 December 2022

We’re taking a couple of weeks off: normal service will be resumed on Thursday 5 January 2023.

Thursday 15 December 2022

This week we cover shop windows, movement, donations, volunteers and charity groups. We also take a look at the recent meeting in Bucklebury to assess the local impact of the local plan, doff our caps to a local group of asylum seekers which is helping to give something back to the town, highlight the opening of the public consultation on Thatcham’s place-making strategy and take a look back at some of the stories we’ve covered in the area over the last 12 months (many of which are unfinished business)  – plus our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Congratulations to House of Cards at the Kingsland Centre, who have won the Best Dressed Shop Window of Thatcham this year. A very close second place went to Plan-A and third place to the RSPCA shop. This is the House of Cards second year winning the award in a row. More on this story can be found in the Newbury Today.
Thatcham Court Care Home are requesting Christmas cards to be posted (or dropped off) to them for residents and staff to enjoy. The address is Chapel Street, Thatcham RG14 4QL. The ones that have been received so far and have been very much appreciated.

• The home office’s catering provision for the locally-based asylum seekers has been using plastic cutlery and as they have been in the hotel for nearly a year now, the refugees are increasingly concerned about the impact on the environment. So West Berkshire Action for Refugees are asking for donations of reusable cutlery as well as winter clothing and toiletries for men and women and toiletries. Donations can be dropped off at the Thatcham Council Offices. For more about VIAN, the new environmental group set up by the asylum seekers please see below.

• This Friday 16 December MOVEability are holding a free movement class for those with Parkinson’s disease, at St George’s in Wash Common. MOVEability have been awarded a grant through Parkinson’s UK to run FREE* Dance/Movement classes for people with Parkinson’s. The class features easy to learn moves, all demonstrated at the start of each routine, with both standing and seated options. It’s suitable for all ages and abilities and partners or carers are also free to join in. Click here to book a spot.

• Did you know you can ‘treecycle’ your old real Christmas tree through the Sue Ryder charity? Register with them by Wednesday 4 January to get your real Christmas tree collected and recycled, in exchange for a donation. They’ll be collected them between the 9 and 12 January. Click here for further details.

• Don’t forget there’s still time to nominate someone you know for the Berkshire Community Champion Awards. This year the categories are: Community Group of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, the Pat Eastop Junior Citizen of the Year Award and Volunteer of the Year. If you know someone deserving of the award, make sure you have your nomination in by Monday 2 January. Click here for more information and click here to fill out a nomination form.

• Did you know there’s funding available for local charity groups? If you run a charity group which services Thatcham and need funding, you can apply to Thatcham Town Council for grants of up to £250. To apply, complete and upload the application for before Saturday 31 December. For any questions or to receive your application form, email enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk.

• Do you know anyone who goes that extra mile? Please nominate them for the West Berks Community Champion Awards. The categories are Community Group of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, The Pat Eastop Junior Citizen of the Year Award and Volunteer of the Year. The deadline is Monday 2 January 2022.

Newbury Samaritans are looking for more volunteers to join their team based at West Street in central Newbury. For more information about what is involved (and a link to Penny’s recent interview with Director of Newbury Samaritans, Andrew Melsom) please see here.

• Latest news from Healthwatch West Berkshire includes what to do if you are worried your child has scarlet fever or Strep A and new Urgent Treatment Centre at Great Western Hospital. Click here for full details.

The new cost of living support hub on West Berkshire Council website explains the different types of support available if you are struggling with rising living costs and are concerned about paying your household bills. You can also click here to read this article we’ve recently published about the Hub and what help and support you can expect from it.

See here for information about warm spaces in Thatcham and other areas.

• We have added more information about support available to get you through the cost of living crisis, including tips on how to reduce your home energy bills. And please watch out for any scams that ask you to click to apply for energy rebates – they all happen automatically.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• 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 starts with frost and ends with Anne Frank.

• 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.

Christmas

• Local fundraising group ‘Hope, Strength & Courage’ are appealing for food items, Christmas treats and wicker baskets in order to make Christmas hampers for the elderly. Also, if there is an elderly member of the community you would like to nominate to receive a hamper, please get in contact with them through their Facebook page. If you can spare any items then please feel free to drop them into Thatcham Town Council Offices.

• The West Berkshire Toy Appeal 2022, organised by the Swift Group requests donations of new unwrapped gifts for local underprivileged children. Click here to see a full list of drop-off points and click here for more details abo9ut how you can get involved.

 Free bus travel from and to West Berkshire on several allocated days in November and December. As well as being able to get around West Berkshire, free bus travel is available to Reading, Basingstoke and Swindon. For more information click here. As part of this scheme West Berks Council is offering a Free Christmas Shopper Bus Service for villages, including Cold Ash and Bucklebury, that don’t have a public bus service on Saturdays in the run up to Christmas. To book your seat and request a shopping destination of your choice, please contact 01635 551111 or email transport@westberks.gov.uk. See here for more details.

Have your say

If you live in, work in or visit Thatcham or Hungerford, West Berkshire Council want to hear from you. They are looking for public input in developing place-making strategies for Thatcham and Hungerford town centres with the aim of enhancing their vitality and economic prosperity whilst retaining each town’s unique economic, environmental and historical character. Click here to take the survey and have your voice heard. The submissions for the survey will close on Monday 9 January.

Asylum seekers giving back

The refugees and asylum seekers housed in Thatcham are looking for ways to give back to the local community. They have been keen to find volunteering opportunities while they wait for the Home Office to process their applications for asylum. The arrivals, which include doctors and teachers, are unable to work while their applications are pending, so they have formed a volunteer group to make a practical contribution to the town.

The leader of the group is Bahman from Iran who was forced to leave his country, his wife, daughter, and son, and flee because of the Iranian regime. Bahman is a primary school teacher and had been teaching in Iran for 24 years. “I love the environment, school children and teaching.” he explains. “This idea was in my mind from the first days of being in Thatcham but honestly, I thought that no one would cooperate with me. But two weeks ago, I decided that even if I am alone I have to start and with the help of dear Karen from West Berkshire Action for Refugees I am delighted that the community is so supportive.”

The environmental group is called VIAN which is the name of Bahman’s daughter and is a Kurdish word that means “love”. The group has two general goals: the main one is to clean Thatcham town and protect its environment; the second is to educate the refugees living in Thatcham and all the people around it, to fully support the environment and keep it clean.

Bahman recently presented their ideas to Thatcham Town Council and asked for guidance on where and when they can be most effective in cleaning up the town and also provision of rubbish bags, gloves and sanitation materials required for the job.

Their first joint project was tidying up after the Christmas lights switch-on event in the town centre. Earlier in the year they also volunteered with the Canal & Rivers Trust working on local canals…read more.

Bucklebury’s meeting on 2 December 2022

The proposal by West Berkshire Council (WBC) to allocate sites for 2,500 homes between Thatcham and Bucklebury, which would largely fill the gap between the settlements, has understandably caused a good deal of controversy. Even the reduction in the housing numbers to 1,500, announced when the latest draft was published in late November, has done little to mollify local opposition and concern.

At WBC’s full council on 1 December it was agreed that the draft should proceed to public consultation (click here for more from WBC on this). On the following day, Bucklebury Parish Council (BPC) hosted a long-planned meeting to give local residents a chance to learn more about the plan and to have their say on how it’s likely to affect them. Penny Post was not able to attend the meeting but we were supplied with some notes by BPC which we have used to create this post.

A look back…

This will be the last news update of 2022: normal service will be resumed on 5 January 2023.

Over the last year we’ve published a large number of stories about this area. Some have been referred to many, many times: that’s not because we feel the need to re-cycle copy or go over old ground but because the issues themselves have not gone away, have re-surfaced or have, like a mutating virus, acquired new features which need considering.

At the foot of this post you’ll see a link to our archive section (which may in turn link to another one). Searching for any or part of the phrases mentioned in bold below will take you to the often multiple references to these issues. Many of these still have a lot of life left in them and so expect further coverage in 2023.

The two main things that tend to crop up are planning and flooding and/or sewage. These are the kind of things that normally we don’t think about at all: when they’re directly affecting us, however, it’s almost impossible to think about anything else. We’ve lost count of the number of times these have cropped up in our coverage (a few of the major ones are referred to below). Whenever we cover them, and indeed other stories, we try to present as many points of view as possible, explain the issues and provide links for further information.

Matters such as speeding, rights of way, dog mess,, jubilee and coronation festivities and defibrillators are, amongst a host of other things, dealt with by town and parish councils. We provide information on their activities and link to  the most recently available minutes, and provide a summary of these if they are reasonably recent.

We’ll be continuing to cover as many aspects of life in this area as we can in 2023 and beyond, seeking always to inform, explain, comment and (where appropriate) entertain. If there’s anything you’d like to see covered, or if you have anything to say about anything we’ve covered already, please email brian@pennypost.org.uk.

Here’s a brief summary, in no particular order, of some of the recurring stories in this area in 2022. It by no means refers to all the issues we’ve written about.

  • The 2,500-home plan. No doubt that this has been the big one for the last couple of years. Though the plans have now been scaled down, opposition still remains strong with many wondering whether the town needs, or should be expected rot take, this number of homes and, if so, if they should all be built as an in-fill between Thatcham and Bucklebury. Attention will now turn to the Regulation 19 consultation on WBC’s local plan with many comments expected to come in regarding this aspect of the proposals.
  • Placemaking strategy (also known as the town-centre strategy) for Thatcham. Click here for more information. The survey remains live until 9 January 2023.
  • Lloyds Pharmacy at Crown Mead. In the autumn, a sudden and acute staffing problem resulted in normal pharmacy services pretty much stopping for some weeks. We kept in touch with the new manager and one of the ward members and are happy to report that matters seem to have settled down.
  • Readibus. The community-transport provider has for several years been locked in a battle with WBC due to its refusal to sign what amounts to a gagging clause. This has had an effect on the funding it’s received and thus on the services in can provide for its clients, most of whom have mobility problems.
  • Thatcham’s Library. It’s widely accepted that, like other aspects of the town’s infrastructure, this is inadequate for the population it serves. We’ve kept our eye on the various plans to expand and renovate this.

Community notices

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

West Berkshire Museum currently has a Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, open from now until 17 September 2023. Museum opening times are 10am to 3pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

• You can drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at both of Thatcham’s local Cooperative stores, as well as the Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. You can bring items anytime with in the store’s opening hours and the drop-off points are typically found near the tills. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

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 16 Dec MOVEability Class, Church of St George the Matyr, Wash Common.

Fri 16 Dec Elvis Presley Tribute Show, Thatcham Town Football Club.

Sat 17 Dec Thatcham Library Celebrates Christmas, Thatcham Library.

• 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 for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Just Play football for anyone aged 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability who enjoys playing football (or wants to give it a go for the first time). Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

• The large and active Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of each month at The Memorial Hall, Thatcham with small group meetings including Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

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.

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

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 you can check the venue diary 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.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide 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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: sharing a septic tank; surface water; a report from ward member Graham Pask; financial matters; planning matters; dogs; and continued support from the WB Library Service.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Morton’s Lane; streetlights; planning matters; the North East Thatcham Working Group (click here for Penny Post’s report of the meeting on 2 December following the publication of the latest draft of the WBC local plan); Traffic Regulation Orders; tree cutting; repairs and maintenance works; the playwark; defibrillators; speeding; highways; recycling; financial matters; and attempts to date the Coronation Oak.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was 20 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 28 September 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 and minutes, please click here.

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

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 8 December 2022

This week we cover craft workshops, an extra mile, warm spaces, an exhibition and Elvis in town. We also take a look at last week’s meeting in Bucklebuty to assess the local impact of the local plan and highlight the opening of the public consultation on Thatcham’s place-making strategy.   – plus our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• The Mayor of Thatcham is inviting the community to the annual Civil Carol Service, this Sunday 11 December at St Mary’s Church at 4pm. The service will feature the St Mary’s Church Choir, the Barfield Handbell Ringers, as well as readings from local school children and representatives from the Mayor’s charities. Everyone is welcome. For more details please see here.

• This weekend West Berkshire Libraries will be running free Christmas craft workshops for children, with all materials provided. No advance booking needed. Pop-by Thatcham Library between 10:30am and 11:30am on Saturday 10 December.

• Also this Saturday 10 December, the Authentic French Market is coming to Thatcham Broadway from 9am to 4pm. There will be fresh bread, croissants, cheeses, olives and much much more. Further details can be found here.

• Locally-based asylum seekers, including doctors and teachers, have formed a volunteer eco group to make a practical contribution to the community while they wait for the Home Office to process their applications. The group is called VIAN which is Kurdish for love and also the name of the organiser’s daughter. The group presented its plans to Thatcham Town Council and the first joint project was tidying up after the Christmas Lights Switch-on event in the town centre. They also helped with car parking at the Thatcham Family Fun Day and  maintaining the canal with the Canal and Rivers Trust…read more.

• Thatcham Rotary is delighted with the success of the Santa Fun Run last Sunday 4 December which saw 175 runners turn out, raising £1,600 for the Newbury Soup Kitchen. Click here to see all the photos from the day.

• Did you know there’s funding available for local charity groups? If you run a charity group which services Thatcham and need funding, you can apply to Thatcham Town Council for grants of up to £250. To apply, complete and upload the application for before Saturday 31 December. For any questions or to receive your application form, email enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk.

• Do you know anyone who goes that extra mile? Please nominate them for the West Berks Community Champion Awards. The categories are Community Group of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, The Pat Eastop Junior Citizen of the Year Award and Volunteer of the Year. The deadline is Monday 2 January 2022.

• As the cold of winter starts to really set in, West Berkshire Action for Refugees are asking for donations of winter clothing, particularly coats in both men’s and women’s sizes (especially smaller sizes). Hoodies, trainers, jackets, shampoo, conditioner and deodorant would also be a welcome contribution. Donations can be dropped off at the Thatcham Council Offices.

Newbury Samaritans are looking for more volunteers to join their team based at West Street in central Newbury. For more information about what is involved (and a link to Penny’s recent interview with Director of Newbury Samaritans, Andrew Melsom) please see here.

• Latest news from Healthwatch West Berkshire includes what to do if you are worried your child has scarlet fever or Strep A and new Urgent Treatment Centre at Great Western Hospital. Click here for full details.

The new cost of living support hub on West Berkshire Council website explains the different types of support available if you are struggling with rising living costs and are concerned about paying your household bills. You can also click here to read this article we’ve recently published about the Hub and what help and support you can expect from it.

See here for information about warm spaces in Thatcham and other areas.

• We have added more information about support available to get you through the cost of living crisis, including tips on how to reduce your home energy bills. And please watch out for any scams that ask you to click to apply for energy rebates – they all happen automatically.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• 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 starts with looking north east and ends with Henry Ford.

• 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.

Christmas

• Local fundraising group ‘Hope, Strength & Courage’ are appealing for food items, Christmas treats and wicker baskets in order to make Christmas hampers for the elderly. Also, if there is an elderly member of the community you would like to nominate to receive a hamper, please get in contact with them through their Facebook page. If you can spare any items then please feel free to drop them into Thatcham Town Council Offices.

• The West Berkshire Toy Appeal 2022, organised by the Swift Group requests donations of new unwrapped gifts for local underprivileged children. Click here to see a full list of drop-off points and click here for more details abo9ut how you can get involved.

 Free bus travel from and to West Berkshire on several allocated days in November and December. As well as being able to get around West Berkshire, free bus travel is available to Reading, Basingstoke and Swindon. For more information click here. As part of this scheme West Berks Council is offering a Free Christmas Shopper Bus Service for villages, including Cold Ash and Bucklebury, that don’t have a public bus service on Saturdays in the run up to Christmas. To book your seat and request a shopping destination of your choice, please contact 01635 551111 or email transport@westberks.gov.uk. See here for more details.

Making the place

the public survey for the Hungerford and Thatcham place-making strategies will run from Monday 5 December 2022 to Monday 9 January 2023. You can click here to take part.

The consultation covers both Hungerford and Thatcham: you can reply to either parts or to both, as you decide. The survey takes about 10 minutes. The more responses are received, the more relevant the conclusions will be and the greater the chances of securing funding for the towns from the government and other bodies.

You don’t need to live in or work in the towns (or even in West Berkshire) to contribute. If you visit either place, even occasionally, your views are important.

Please pass the survey on to as many others as you can, particularly young people and those who may not regularly be online. Paper copies will be available from Thatcham Town Council, Hungerford Town Council, Thatcham Library and Hungerford Hub and Library.

Your feedback will be taken into consideration and used to develop the final placemaking strategies, which WBC aims to complete by the beginning of March 2023. Once the strategies have been finalised, WBC will work with Hungerford and Thatcham Town Councils, business, residents, community groups, and other stakeholders to take the proposals forward. You’ll be able to view the final strategies and keep up to date with progress on WBC’s town centres’ webpage.

Bucklebury’s meeting

The proposal by West Berkshire Council (WBC) to allocate sites for 2,500 homes between Thatcham and Bucklebury, which would largely fill the gap between the settlements, has understandably caused a good deal of controversy. Even the reduction in the housing numbers to 1,500, announced when the latest draft was published in late November, has done little to mollify local opposition and concern.

At WBC’s full council on 1 December it was agreed that the draft should proceed to public consultation (click here for more from WBC on this). On the following day, Bucklebury Parish Council (BPC) hosted a long-planned meeting to give local residents a chance to learn more about the plan and to have their say on how it’s likely to affect them. Penny Post was not able to attend the meeting but we were supplied with some notes by BPC.

You can click here to see our article on the subject which also includes some observations by ward member Graham Pask. This will be of interest not only to residents of Bucklebury but also to people living in Thatcham, Cold Ash and Midgham which will also be affected by these proposals.

Community notices

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

West Berkshire Museum currently has a Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, open from now until 17 September 2023. Museum opening times are 10am to 3pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

• You can drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at both of Thatcham’s local Cooperative stores, as well as the Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. You can bring items anytime with in the store’s opening hours and the drop-off points are typically found near the tills. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

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 10 Dec Children’s Christmas Crafts, Thatcham Library.

Sat 10 Dec Authentic French Market, Thatcham Broadway.

Sat 10 Dec Thatcham Roller Disco, Kennet Leisure Centre.

Sun 11 Dec  Civic Carol Service, St Mary’s Church from 4pm.

Fri 16 Dec Elvis Presley Tribute Show, Thatcham Town Football Club.

Sat 17 Dec Thatcham Library Celebrates Christmas, Thatcham Library.

• 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 for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Just Play football for anyone aged 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability who enjoys playing football (or wants to give it a go for the first time). Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

• The large and active Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of each month at The Memorial Hall, Thatcham with small group meetings including Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

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.

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

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 you can check the venue diary 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.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide 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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: sharing a septic tank; surface water; a report from ward member Graham Pask; financial matters; planning matters; dogs; and continued support from the WB Library Service.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: damage to a footpath caused by electricity workers; a possible eco-church; members’ bids; coronation plans; speeding; planning matters; financial matters; no contributions to be made to WBC’s Library Service; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was 20 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 10 October 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 28 September 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 and minutes, please click here.

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

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 1 December 2022

This week we cover Santa, handbells, a re-opened centre, Christmas lights and donations needed. We also take another look at how the recently published local plan might impact Thatcham and  issue a reminder about an imminent meeting in Bucklebury – plus our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Kicking off the festive month, Thatcham Town Centre’s Christmas Lights Switch On will be this Friday 2 December. Both sides of Thatcham Broadway will be closed and filled with community stalls, delicious food and drink offerings and guaranteed snow. There will be a large stage with entertainment on from 5pm and the lights will be switched on by the Mayor and Father Christmas at 7pm. For details see here on Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

• The Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham reopened last week, having been closed for refurbishment. Pop over to check out the improvements, including new items in the gift shop and new additions to the café menu. See their facebook page for more details and upcoming festive events.

• Don’t miss Thatcham Rotary’s Great Santa Fun Run this Sunday 4 December starting in Thatcham Broadway. Funds are in aid of the Newbury Soup Kitchen. Sign up and you can raise more money for them by getting friends to sponsor you, or another charity close to your heart, if your prefer. Click here to find out more about the route and how to register.

• Due to illhealth, the Barfield Handbell Ringers concert in St Mary’s Church on Saturday 3 December has unfortunately been postponed until the spring.

The Rowbarge Pub in Woolhampton are holding a Pooch Party Social this Saturday the 3 December from 11.30am to 2.30pm . The event includes an assault course, Christmas themed dog fancy dress competition, fun photography area, a free toy, a free bag of mixed treats, a new large ball pit, bubble machine with bacon flavoured bubbles and a used toy swap and a raffle. Tickets are just £11 per dog (no cost for humans).

• Do you know anyone who goes that extra mile? Please nominate them for the West Berks Community Champion Awards. The categories are Community Group of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, The Pat Eastop Junior Citizen of the Year Award and Volunteer of the Year. The deadline is Monday 2 January 2022.

• As the cold of winter starts to really set in, West Berkshire Action for Refugees are asking for donations of winter clothing, particularly coats in both men’s and women’s sizes (especially smaller sizes). Hoodies, trainers, jackets, shampoo, conditioner and deodorant would also be a welcome contribution. Donations can be dropped off at the Thatcham Council Offices.

The new cost of living support hub on West Berkshire Council website explains the different types of support available if you are struggling with rising living costs and are concerned about paying your household bills.

See here for information about warm spaces in Thatcham and other areas.

• We have added more information about support available to get you through the cost of living crisis, including tips on how to reduce your home energy bills. And please watch out for any scams that ask you to click to apply for energy rebates – they all happen automatically.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• 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 starts with a blue tit and ends with fantasy.

• 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.

Christmas

West Berkshire Giving Tree is looking for donations of gifts for children and adults who have been affected by domestic abuse. You can give online or in person (in Newbury, Theale or Hungerford) before 6 December.

• Local fundraising group ‘Hope, Strength & Courage’ are appealing for food items, Christmas treats and wicker baskets in order to make Christmas hampers for the elderly. Also, if there is an elderly member of the community you would like to nominate to receive a hamper, please get in contact with them through their Facebook page. If you can spare any items then please feel free to drop them into Thatcham Town Council Offices.

• The West Berkshire Toy Appeal 2022, organised by the Swift Group requests donations of new unwrapped gifts for local underprivileged children. Click here to see a full list of drop-off points and click here for more details abo9ut how you can get involved.

Sat 3 Dec Thatcham Christmas Light Switch-On, Thatcham Broadway.

Sat 3 Dec ‘Winter Wonderland’ Christmas Fair, Frank Hutchins Hall.

Sat 3 Dec Friends of Bucklebury School’s Christmas Bazaar from 11am to 1.30pm. Enjoy Christmas Games, Santa’s Grotto, Fill a Bauble, Mulled Wine, Made in Bucklebury, Christmas Body Glitter, Chocolate Tombola, Pull a Cork and lots of lovely food and cakes to enjoy. Click here for details.

Sun 4 Dec The Great Santa Fun Run, Thatcham Broadway will be supporting the Newbury Soup Kitchen. Sign up and you can raise more money for them by getting friends to sponsor you,  or another charity close to your heart, if your prefer. Click here to find out more about the route and how to register.

Sun 4 Dec Thatcham FC Christmas Bingo, Thatcham Town Football Club.

Sun 4 Dec Christmas Bazaar, Cats Protection Adoption Centre, Curridge.

Sat 17 Dec Thatcham Library Celebrates Christmas, Thatcham Library.

 Free bus travel from and to West Berkshire on several allocated days in November and December. As well as being able to get around West Berkshire, free bus travel is available to Reading, Basingstoke and Swindon. For more information click here. As part of this scheme West Berks Council is offering a Free Christmas Shopper Bus Service for villages, including Cold Ash and Bucklebury, that don’t have a public bus service on Saturdays in the run up to Christmas. To book your seat and request a shopping destination of your choice, please contact 01635 551111 or email transport@westberks.gov.uk. See here for more details.

Thatcham’s homes

I mentioned last week (see below) about WBC’s local plan and some of the ways that Thatcham might be affected. This huge beast has recently emerged from its lair and, on 1 December, made its first public appearance when it was presented at WBC’s Full Council. I’ll have more on that next week, including reaction from some of the participants.

For the moment, there’s nothing much to add to what I said last Thursday. The matter is, however, of such overwhelming importance to Thatcham and the neighbouring parishes of Cold Ash, Bucklebury and Midgham that it still seems to merit its own heading in this column. I would, however, like to go into a bit more detail on two points that confuse me.

First, I’m still perplexed as to why the 30-year vision for Thatcham was felt to be necessary given that the plan has now been scaled down and the timescale compressed so that all the proposed homes could be built within the the plan’s 15-year life. The WBC statement quoted last week said that the decision to cut the numbers was “based on community feedback.” This message has been coming at WBC loud and clear for the last couple of years, not just in the last six months when the 30-year vision has been worked on. Why was it not decided to scale back the project then and so avoid the need for a 30-year plan? This would have saved not only time but also money, starting with the £109,000 paid to Iceni Consulting.

Secondly, the question could be asked (indeed, has been asked) where else the necessary homes could be built. About 1,150 of these could be provided by the two sites proposed at Colthrop Village and Henwick Park. WBC seems, however, to have dismissed these, even though one (Colthrop) promised to provide a bridge over the railway. Flooding and an issue with the overhead power lines were cited as reasons why the Colthop site was not considered, although the developers claim that these problems have been addressed. It seems odd that WBC seems to have put these schemes on the naughty step. If I were the Inspector, I might want to to know a bit more about this.

As regards the fact that )as mentioned last week) many of the supporting documents seem to be in the “to follow” category, one planning professional I spoke to this week said that this was not a good thing to happen but was not that uncommon either. I imagine that these will all need to be in place by the time the regulation 19 consultation starts on 6 January 2023. Were they not to be, it would like trying to peer-review an academic paper of some length for which some of the references and footnotes were missing.

The two biggest projects WBC has instigated in the last 20-odd years – Sandleford and the London Road Industrial Estate – have become mired in controversy and litigation and have so far failed to result in anything tangible (if one doesn’t count the A339 access road to the LRIE which should have been built by the developers, whoever they were, and the closure of the football stadium: neither of which can be classed as positive achievements). It is this unhappy club that it seems NE Thatcham is set to join. There’s nothing I’ve seen to suggest that this is the best solution for the district’s housing needs, nor even that it’s achievable within this or perhaps any other timescale. Given the speed of progress on the other two projects I won’t be holding my breath about this one, particularly given the opposition that the reduction in housing numbers appears to have done little to dispel.

Bucklebury’s meeting

A reminder that Bucklebury Parish Council will be holding a public at 7pm on Friday 2 December to discuss the above-mentioned local plan in the Memorial Hall. Space is limited so, unless you’ve been invited, this is for residents of the parish only.

Anyone from the parish who has any interest in how the area might change, particularly with regard to the NE Thatcham development, is strongly urged to attend. The parish councillors have been following the progress of this very closely over the last couple of years and so should be well placed to answer any questions and suggest what areas seem to be the ones of most concern. We’ll hope to have a report on this next week.

If any other parishes announce similar meetings they’ll doubtless be given wide local publicity.

Community notices

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

West Berkshire Museum currently has a Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, open from now until 17 September 2023. Museum opening times are 10am to 3pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

• You can drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at both of Thatcham’s local Cooperative stores, as well as the Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. You can bring items anytime with in the store’s opening hours and the drop-off points are typically found near the tills. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

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 10 Dec Authentic French Market, Thatcham Broadway.

Sat 10 Dec Thatcham Roller Disco, Kennet Leisure Centre.

Fri 16 Dec Elvis Presley Tribute Show, Thatcham Town Football Club.

• 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 for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Just Play football for anyone aged 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability who enjoys playing football (or wants to give it a go for the first time). Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

• The large and active Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of each month at The Memorial Hall, Thatcham with small group meetings including Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

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.

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

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 you can check the venue diary 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.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide 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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 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, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: damage to a footpath caused by electricity workers; a possible eco-church; members’ bids; coronation plans; speeding; planning matters; financial matters; no contributions to be made to WBC’s Library Service; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was 20 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; speeding; trees; financial matters; members’ bids; the Christmas tree; the NDP; and repairs and maintenance.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 10 October 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 28 September 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 and minutes, please click here.

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

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 24 November 2022

This week we look at a Christmas lights, winter clothing, hampers, toys, a town-centre strategy and fundraising. The latest draft of the local plan has just been published and we consider how Thatcham fares as a result. We also have the latest on the problems at Lloyd’s Pharmacy in Crown Mead and offer a reminder for Buckleberry residents – plus our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Thatcham Town Centre’s popular Christmas Lights Switch On will be on Friday 2 December. Both sides of Thatcham Broadway will be closed and filled with community stalls, delicious food and drink offerings and guaranteed snow. There will be a large stage with entertainment on from 5pm and the lights will be switched on by the Mayor and Father Christmas at 7pm. For details see here on Thatcham Town Council’s facebook page.

Quick reminder from Citizen’s Advice on how to shop savvy and stay safe online this Black Friday (25 November) and Cyber Monday (28 November). Remember, if an offer is too good to be true, it’s probably not true…

• West Berkshire Council is asking residents to take part in a survey regarding equality and diversity in the district. They want to make sure that the people of have an equal entitlement to high quality services, employment and opportunities for personal development, and that the council has a fair and inclusive organisational culture. Please complete this online survey by midnight on Sunday 27 November, if you would like to have your views heard.

• Do you know anyone who goes that extra mile? Please nominate them for the West Berks Community Champion Awards. The categories are Community Group of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, The Pat Eastop Junior Citizen of the Year Award and Volunteer of the Year. The deadline is Monday 2 January 2022.

• As the cold of winter starts to really set in, West Berkshire Action for Refugees are asking for donations of winter clothing, particularly coats in both men’s and women’s sizes (especially smaller sizes). Hoodies, trainers, jackets, shampoo, conditioner and deodorant would also be a welcome contribution. Donations can be dropped off at the Thatcham Council Offices.

The new cost of living support hub on West Berkshire Council website explains the different types of support available if you are struggling with rising living costs and are concerned about paying your household bills.

• A massive well done to local schoolboy Jake Peck, aged 10 from Cold Ash, who has raised an amazing £662.50 by organising a toy sale at the St Mark’s CofE Primary School. Using the money, Jake bought a bumper stock of food produce for the West Berks Food Bank. You can read more about Jake’s inspiring story in the Newbury Today.

See here for information about warm spaces in Thatcham and other areas.

• We have added more information about support available to get you through the cost of living crisis, including tips on how to reduce your home energy bills. And please watch out for any scams that ask you to click to apply for energy rebates – they all happen automatically.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• 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 starts with a bench and ends with the right shoes. The Editor of this publication is looking for a replacement: click here for more information.

• 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.

Christmas

West Berkshire Giving Tree is looking for donations of gifts for children and adults who have been affected by domestic abuse. You can give online or in person (in Newbury, Theale or Hungerford) before 6 December.

• Local fundraising group ‘Hope, Strength & Courage’ are appealing for food items, Christmas treats and wicker baskets in order to make Christmas hampers for the elderly. Also, if there is an elderly member of the community you would like to nominate to receive a hamper, please get in contact with them through their Facebook page. If you can spare any items then please feel free to drop them into Thatcham Town Council Offices.

• The West Berkshire Toy Appeal 2022, organised by the Swift Group requests donations of new unwrapped gifts for local underprivileged children. Click here to see a full list of drop-off points and click here for more details abo9ut how you can get involved.

Sat 26 Nov Whitelands Park Christmas Fayre, Whitelands Park Primary School, Thatcham.

Sat 3 Dec Thatcham Christmas Light Switch-On, Thatcham Broadway.

Sat 3 Dec ‘Winter Wonderland’ Christmas Fair, Frank Hutchins Hall.

Sun 4 Dec The Great Santa Fun Run, Thatcham Broadway will be supporting the Newbury Soup Kitchen. Sign up and you can raise more money for them by getting friends to sponsor you,  or another charity close to your heart, if your prefer. Click here to find out more about the route and how to register.

Sun 4 Dec Thatcham FC Christmas Bingo, Thatcham Town Football Club.

Sun 4 Dec Christmas Bazaar, Cats Protection Adoption Centre, Curridge.

Sat 17 Dec Thatcham Library Celebrates Christmas, Thatcham Library.

 free bus travel from and to West Berkshire on several allocated days in November and December. As well as being able to get around West Berkshire, free bus travel is available to Reading, Basingstoke and Swindon. For more information click here. As part of this scheme West Berks Council is offering a Free Christmas Shopper Bus Service for villages, including Cold Ash and Bucklebury, that don’t have a public bus service on Saturdays in the run up to Christmas. To book your seat and request a shopping destination of your choice, please contact 01635 551111 or email transport@westberks.gov.uk. See here for more details.

Thatcham’s place in the local plan

Many, many times in the past couple of years, we’ve written about the 2,500-home plan for north east Thatcham. This phrase is, as of 24 November, redundant as the new iteration of the local plan, which has just been published, provides for 1,500 homes here. This is about 1,500 more than many would like in that slice of the countryside. This is a matter which interested parties will be considering between now and when the final public consultation (known as regulation 19) starts on 6 January 2022 (running until 17 February).

Less may, however, also be more. Under the old plan, half of the proposed 2,500 homes were to be provided in the lifetime of the plan (up to 2037) and the rest later. This time, however, all 1,500 homes will be built in the next 15 years. The plan was delayed by many months because new government regulations demanded that significant developments such as this required a 30-year vision. As it’s proposed that all the homes will be completed in 15 years, this perhaps proved to be an unnecessary expanse and delay. (I’m far from sure how meaningful a 30-year vision is anyway, given how fast things change.)

I spoke briefly today with someone who has been very involved in how the plan affects Thatcham. It was suggested to me that a large number of the policies and reports that will support the case for these homes have yet to be written. In addition, some documents have yet to be uploaded: so all in all it’s currently quite hard to get a full picture. The uploading at least should have been completed in most cases by the time the plan is presented to WBC’s full council meeting on 1 December. Click here to visit the section for the local plan on WBC’s website.

It has long struck me that the NE Thatcham site has seemed, in WBC’s opinion, to be the only show in town. Consideration of other sites in Thatcham, including the brownfield Colthrop Village plan, were not among the options that Iceni was invited to look at when conducting its 30-year visioning exercise, even though the Colthrop one had promised a bridge across the railway line at the station. A spokesperson for WBC told me on 24 November that this site had already been dismissed at the Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) stage and that it was felt that there were serious problems with the proposals for a bridge. Supporters of the scheme have agreed that the flood-risk issues, one of the main things for which the site was criticised, have since been addressed: as for the bridge, even if it does present problems now, these can surely be overcome (bridges have, after all, been built over railway lines before), particularly in the 30-year time span that the vision was encompassing.

Lib Dem spokesperson Tony Vickers, invited by Penny Post on 24 November to give some initial thoughts on the plan, had the following comment to make about what’s proposed for the town. “We reserve the right to comment quite radically on the proposed North East Thatcham site allocation in our response to the Regulation 19 draft and to question the way that the total number of homes and sites to be found has been calculated. In particular the absence of any allocation of new homes on two major brownfield sites which between them could deliver nearly 1,000 new homes is striking and could result in an excessive amount of greenfield land being allocated – whether in Thatcham or elsewhere.”

WBC supplied a press release on 24 November which had this to say about the proposals for Thatcham. “Following extensive feedback, a new, but smaller-than-previously proposed, strategic development site at North East Thatcham has been identified. Based on community feedback, the number of homes proposed here has been reduced to 1,500. Also between three and four miles of potential new footpaths are proposed in the significant open space that wraps around over the majority of the site.”

Not to be confused with…

As mentioned last week, West Berkshire Council is conducting a place-making strategy” which is now under way in Thatcham and you can read more here (similar work is also being done in Hungerford as part of the same project).

This is totally unconnected with the local plan mentioned above, although confusingly the consultations will be happening at more or less exactly the same time (the dates for the Thatcham place-making consultation has yet to be announced but will be given wide publicity here and elsewhere). The placemaking exercise is not a planning document  – although, if adopted, it will be considered when looking at planning applications – but is more of a high-street strategy: looking at issues and problems and seeing how these can be solved or mitigated,.

As the above-mentioned article stresses, when the time comes for the consultation it’s important that as many people as possible have their say. The more engagement there has been, the more any funding bodies, including government departments, will be encouraged to make grants available to support the projects or interventions which the exercise has identified.

Bucklebury’s meeting

Bucklebury Parish Council will be holding a public at 7pm on Friday 2 December to discuss the above-mentioned local plan in the Memorial Hall. Anyone who has any interest in how the area might change, particularly with regard to the NE Thatcham development, is strongly urged to attend. The parish councillors have been following the progress of this very closely over the last couple of years and so should be well placed to answer any questions and suggest what areas seem to be the ones of most concern. If any other parishes announce similar meetings they’ll doubtless be given wide local publicity.

Queuing in the rain

We’ve mentioned about the problems at Lloyds Pharmacy in Thatcham which resulted in the shop effectively closing for a few days at short (actually, with no) notice earlier this month. So far it seems to being nursed back to health by the attentions of a manger who’s been flown in from another area. The problems seem to have been caused by a perfect storm, a domino effect or what you will, triggered by a large number of resignations in a short space of time.

I spoke to the acting manager on 24 November and asked how sure he was that this problem wouldn’t recur. He admitted that currently it’s not clear what had caused this; although this would be looked at in due course, the first order of business was getting the pharmacy running properly again. This he expects to have accomplished within the next week or so. The fact that he hopes to re-hire some of the staff who left is an encouraging sign.

Owen Jeffery, who is both a WBC and a Thatcham Town Councillor, has been much involved in trying to resolve this issue. In a letter which he sent to Penny Post (and the NWN) on 21 November, he points out that as a result of these troubles “capacity problems are also occurring at the Lloyds at Burdwood – but once both Crown Mead Lloyds and Boots at the Surgery are working properly, issues at the Lloyds at Burdwood will also reduce.” He also says he’s be writing to MP Laura Farris to raise the problem of the lack of trained pharmacists across the NHS. “If this issue were properly addressed, then we would not have queues outside our chemists.” Queuing isn’t fun at the best of times: doing so outside in the cold and rain of November is perhaps only likely to make people ill than they are already.

Community notices

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

West Berkshire Museum currently has a Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, open from now until 17 September 2023. Museum opening times are 10am to 3pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

• You can drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at both of Thatcham’s local Cooperative stores, as well as the Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. You can bring items anytime with in the store’s opening hours and the drop-off points are typically found near the tills. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

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 24 Nov Age UK Dementia Walk

Fri 25 Nov Carers Rights Day Event, Frank Hutchins Community Hall.

Sat 10 Dec Authentic French Market, Thatcham Broadway.

• 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 for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Just Play football for anyone aged 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability who enjoys playing football (or wants to give it a go for the first time). Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

• The large and active Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of each month at The Memorial Hall, Thatcham with small group meetings including Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

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.

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

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 you can check the venue diary 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.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide 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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 July 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, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: damage to a footpath caused by electricity workers; a possible eco-church; members’ bids; coronation plans; speeding; planning matters; financial matters; no contributions to be made to WBC’s Library Service; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was 20 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; speeding; trees; financial matters; members’ bids; the Christmas tree; the NDP; and repairs and maintenance.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 10 October 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 28 September 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 and minutes, please click here.

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

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 17 November 2022

This week we look at a Christmas market, a giving tree, bingo, indoor bowls and  football teams. We also have the latest on the problems at Lloyd’s Pharmacy in Crown Mead and report on an other unexpected closure, this time at the Post Office at Morrisons – plus our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

Sustainable Living is holding a Sustainable Christmas Market on Saturday 19 November at Thatcham’s Catholic Hall, between 10am and 12:30pm with new stall vendors as well as all your favourite regulars. There will also be a baby and children’s clothes swap on.

• Thatcham Churches Together warm spaces where everyone is welcome has a slight scheduling change with Thursdays at Thatcham Baptist Church now being from12.30pm-4.30pm. So the week’s schedule is now: Mondays 10.30am–2.30pm at Thatcham Baptist Church and 2pm-4pm at St. Mary’s Church, Tuesdays 2pm-4pm at Glendale Church, Thursdays 12.30pm-4.30pm at Thatcham Baptist Church and Fridays 2pm-4pm at Glendale Church.

The West Berkshire Draughtbusters, a free service to help residents stay warm this winter, are looking for more volunteers. The registered charity are run by local volunteers who fix simple problems, like holes in the wall, doors and windows, with the aim to help make peoples houses warmer and hopefully help reduce residents heating bills. If you or someone you know would be willing to help fix some simple DIY problems for vulnerable members of the community, please get in contact with West Berkshire Council. For more information about the service click here to see our past article.

The annual West Berkshire Giving Tree is back for Christmas 2022. The Giving Tree provides you with an opportunity to share your Christmas spirit by donating a gift to a child or adult who has been affected by Domestic Abuse. You can get involved in the gift of giving online or in person and all labels will contain anonymised information on the person you will be buying for, for example ‘Girl aged 3’ or ‘Man aged 34’. The gifts can be a mixture of donations, toys and experiences. Gifts should be new, unused and unwrapped. The Giving Tree will be open to donations from now until 6 December. For more information about how to get involved, click here or for questions contact Jade.Wilder@westberks.gov.uk.

Each year Carers Rights Day brings organisations together to help carers know their rights and find out how to get the help and support they are entitled to. The Reading & West Berkshire Carers Partnership will be hosting an event to mark the day on Friday 25 November at the Frank Hutchings Community Hall,  Thatcham, between 12:30 and 3:30pm. There will be representatives from organisations such as Age UK Berkshire, West Berkshire Council: Adult Social Care, CommuniCare, Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia Friendly West Berkshire there to offer advice. There is no need to prebook, but if you would like more information click here or contact For further details of this event email Stephen.Hammond@Ageukberkshire.org.uk or call 0118 959 4242.

Following on from successful free bus travel last Christmas, this Easter and for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, bus journeys starting in West Berkshire, and the return journey if going beyond the West Berkshire border, will be free all day on several allocated days in November and December. As well as being able to get around West Berkshire, free bus travel is available to Reading, Basingstoke and Swindon. For more information click here. As part of this scheme West Berks Council is offering a Free Christmas Shopper Bus Service for villages, including Cold Ash and Bucklebury, that don’t have a public bus service on Saturdays in the run up to Christmas, starting Saturday 19 November. To book your seat and request a shopping destination of your choice, please contact 01635 551111 or email transport@westberks.gov.uk. See here for more details.

A quick reminder regarding the new food waste collection scheme, that you don’t have to put your food waste in the green bags (it can go straight in the caddy which is easy to rinse out) and the lovefoodhatewaste.com website has great ideas about how you can reduce food waste.

• We have added more information about support available to get you through the cost of living crisis, including tips on how to reduce your home energy bills. And please watch out for any scams that ask you to click to apply for energy rebates – they all happen automatically.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• 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 starts with a swap-shop and ends with Winston Churchill. The Editor of this publication is looking for a replacement: click here for more information.

• 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.

Christmas

Sat 26 Nov Whitelands Park Christmas Fayre, Whitelands Park Primary School, Thatcham.

Sat 3 Dec Thatcham Christmas Light Switch-On, Thatcham Broadway.

Sun 4 Dec The Great Santa Fun Run, Thatcham Broadway will be supporting the Newbury Soup Kitchen. Sign up and you can raise more money for them by getting friends to sponsor you,  or another charity close to your heart, if your prefer. Click here to find out more about the route and how to register.

Sun 4 Dec Thatcham FC Christmas Bingo, Thatcham Town Football Club.

Sun 4 Dec Christmas Bazaar, Cats Protection Adoption Centre, Curridge.

No stamps today

We mentioned a couple of weeks ago (see link at foot of the column to the archive section) about the problems at the Lloyds Pharmacy in Crown Mead, which resulted in an unscheduled and unwelcome series of closures. An interim manager has been flown in from a neighbouring area to help sort matters out. WBC Councillor Owen Jeffery told Penny Post on 17 November that these measures have “at last started to bring the chaos at this branch under some control with a door controlled service operating and plans to move back to normal chemist’s operation.” I’ve been trying to contact Lloyds to find when normal service will be resumed.

I’ve also asked a similar question of Morrisons after reports that the Post Office in the store in The Broadway unexpectedly pulled up the shutters on Tuesday afternoon and also said that it won’t be opening on Saturday either. Whether this was just this Saturday or every Saturday from now on wasn’t clear and I’ve been trying to find out if this is just a staffing-related one-off or the start of a more random pattern of opening. If the Saturday service is to be suspended, it will bring the PO counters into line with Royal Mail’s recent request of the government that it be permitted to stop making Saturday deliveries.

Not being able to deposit a cheque or send a parcel is not as serious as not being able to get a prescription. Both, however, are things that we need to complain about when they happen as otherwise they’re going to happen on this. Councillor Jeffrey rightly praised the intelligence and goodwill of local staff at another branch of Lloyds for trying to keep some kind of service going: but we can’t always rely on that.

Although WBC has no responsibility I’m aware of for ensuring that any particular service level is provided by pharmacies or Post Offices, they can rattle cages and knock heads together. So, if you run into a problem that you think they might be able to help with or even just be aware of, get in touch with your local councillor (you may have more than one representing your ward) – all their contact details can be found here. You can also contact your local parish or down councillors: see contact details for the Thatcham area towards the foot of this post.

A town-centre strategy for Thatcham

Last year, West Berkshire Council conduced what it termed a “masterplan” for Newbury town centre which produced a high level of engagement and a number of useful results, many of which are being acted upon. The word “masterplan” was perhaps unfortunate, as this is a term with a specific meaning in planning terms. This exercise was not a planning one but rather a means of identifying issues and suggesting solutions. These might include a large number of interventions, some quite light-touch, ranging from marketing support to better signposting.

A similar exercise, now rebranded a place-making strategy”, is now under way in Thatcham and you can read more here (similar work is also being done in Hungerford as part of the same project). The same consultants who created the Newbury plan will be working on both of these.

Community notices

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

West Berkshire Museum currently has a Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, open from now until 17 September 2023. Museum opening times are 10am to 3pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

• You can drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at both of Thatcham’s local Cooperative stores, as well as the Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. You can bring items anytime with in the store’s opening hours and the drop-off points are typically found near the tills. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

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 Nov Sustainable Living Christmas Market,  Catholic Hall, Bath Road, Thatcham.

Thu 24 Nov Age UK Dementia Walk

Fri 25 Nov Carers Rights Day Event, Frank Hutchins Community Hall.

Sat 10 Dec Authentic French Market, Thatcham Broadway.

• 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 for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Just Play football for anyone aged 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability who enjoys playing football (or wants to give it a go for the first time). Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

• The large and active Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of each month at The Memorial Hall, Thatcham with small group meetings including Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

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.

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

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 you can check the venue diary 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.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide 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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 July 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, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: damage to a footpath caused by electricity workers; a possible eco-church; members’ bids; coronation plans; speeding; planning matters; financial matters; no contributions to be made to WBC’s Library Service; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; speeding; trees; financial matters; members’ bids; the Christmas tree; the NDP; and repairs and maintenance.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 August 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 28 September 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 and minutes, please click here.

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

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 10 November 2022

This week we look at charity bingo, a Santa run, a swap shop, rugby and Christmas lights. We also draw your attention to Thatcham’s on-going place-making strategy which will offer an opportunity to provide evidence to support funding bids and start the countdown to the publication of the local plan which will confirm WBC’s proposals for north east Thatcham – plus our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• On Remembrance Sunday this weekend, all are welcome to join the Remembrance Parade starting at 10.30am from the Kingsland Centre car park, looping around Thatcham Broadway and up the High Street to the War Memorial. Following this there will also be a short service taking place in the Memorial Gardens, led by Thatcham Mayor Jeff Brooks, along with Reverend Mark Bennet and the Royal British Legion. After the service, those attending are welcome to attend the Town Council Chamber where refreshments will be available. Click here for further details.

• This Friday 11 Novermber Thatcham Park Primary School holding its charity bingo night, with cash and hamper prizes, Christmas stalls, raffle tickets as well as refreshments on offer.

• Other events occurring this weekend include the Roller Disco at the Kennet Leisure Centre, and the Indoor Table-Top Sale, at the Thatcham Memorial Hall – both taking place this Saturday.

• The Thatcham Santa Run is back again this year on Sunday 4 December. Organised by the Thatcham & District Rotary Club, this year they will be supporting the Newbury Soup Kitchen. Sign up and you can raise more money for them by getting friends to sponsor you,  or another charity close to your heart, if your prefer. Click here to find out more about the route and how to register.

Thatcham Churches Together have launched the following warm spaces where everyone is welcome: Mondays 10.30am–2.30pm at Thatcham Baptist Church and 2pm-4pm at St. Mary’s Church, Tuesdays 2pm-4pm at Glendale Church, Thursdays 12noon-4pm at Thatcham Baptist Church and Fridays 2pm-4pm at Glendale Church.

Each year Carers Rights Day brings organisations together to help carers know their rights and find out how to get the help and support they are entitled to. The Reading & West Berkshire Carers Partnership will be hosting an event to mark the day on Friday 25 November 2022 at the Frank Hutchings Community Hall,  Thatcham, between 12:30 and 3:30pm. There will be representatives from organisations such as Age UK Berkshire, West Berkshire Council: Adult Social Care, CommuniCare, Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia Friendly West Berkshire there to offer advice. There is no need to prebook, but if you would like more information click here or contact For further details of this event email Stephen.Hammond@Ageukberkshire.org.uk or call 0118 959 4242.

Great news for bus users. Following on from successful free bus travel last Christmas, this Easter and for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, bus journeys starting in West Berkshire, and the return journey if going beyond the West Berkshire border, will be free all day on several allocated days in November and December. As well as being able to get around West Berkshire, free bus travel is available to Reading, Basingstoke and Swindon. For more information click here. As part of this scheme West Berks Council is offering a Free Christmas Shopper Bus Service for villages, including Cold Ash and Bucklebury, that don’t have a public bus service on Saturdays in the run up to Christmas, starting Saturday 19 November. To book your seat and request a shopping destination of your choice, please contact 01635 551111 or email transport@westberks.gov.uk. See here for more details.

So week two into the new food waste collection scheme and we forgot that the food caddy was collected weekly so we didn’t put it out…hope you did better than us. Luckily we have a home compost as well so a lot can go into that.  Quick reminder that you don’t have to put your food waste in the green bags (it can go straight in the caddy which is easy to rinse out) and the lovefoodhatewaste.com website has great ideas about how you can reduce food waste.

• We have added more information about support available to get you through the Cost of Living crisis, including tips on how to reduce your home energy bills. And please watch out for any scams that ask you to click to apply for energy rebates – they all happen automatically.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• 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 starts with a swap-shop and ends with Winston Churchill. The Editor of this publication is looking for a replacement: click here for more information.

• 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.

Christmas

• The Thatcham Santa Run is back again this year on Sunday 4 December. Organised by the Thatcham & District Rotary Club, this year they will be supporting the Newbury Soup Kitchen. Sign up and you can raise more money for them by getting friends to sponsor you,  or another charity close to your heart, if your prefer. Click here to find out more about the route and how to register.

A town-centre strategy for Thatcham

Last year, West Berkshire Council conduced what it termed a “masterplan” for Newbury town centre which produced a high level of engagement and a number of useful results, many of which are being acted upon. The word “masterplan” was perhaps unfortunate, as this is a term with a specific meaning in planning terms. This exercise was not a planning one but rather a means of identifying issues and suggesting solutions. These might include a large number of interventions, some quite light-touch, ranging from marketing support to better signposting.

A similar exercise, now rebranded a place-making strategy”, is now under way in Thatcham and you can read more here (similar work is also being done in Hungerford as part of the same project). The same consultants who worked on the Newbury will be working on both of these.

Hang on – surely WBC and the respective town councils and groups like the chambers of commerce know what needs improving in their towns? Isn’t it just a question of writing a wish list, looking around for some grants and then cracking on?

Not quite. It’s true that the bodies mentioned probably have a pretty good idea of the main issues. It’s also true that there are plenty of grant providers, both governmental and private, which can fund this kind of regeneration work. However, all will require a solid evidence-base for what’s being proposed. One of the main pieces of evidence required will be proof that the work has included a strong level of community engagement.

This makes sense, as otherwise the projects could turn into municipal vanity projects (and there are already enough of those around the country). Convening meetings and consultations, collating and analysing the results, identifying possibly solutions and gathering all the material together in a way which will be clear to residents and councils and evidentially acceptable to anyone minded to grant money is a task that is probably beyond the time or experience of local councils at any level, most of whom are over-worked enough as it is. There’s also much to be said for coming to the project with experience of similar ones but also a fresh eye as regards the particular issues of that town. So, this is where the consultants come in.

There’s another aspect to the matter of community engagement. It isn’t just a case of hitting a bare minimum of responses that might be acceptable. The more engagement there is – and this can generally best be measured by the number of people who respond to the main consultation – the more prospective grant donors will see that the plans truly enjoy local support and thus the keener they’ll be to support them.

In antiquity, people would make sacrifices to their gods: the more meat was thrown on the fire, the more likely the gods were to do what was asked of them. I wouldn’t want to stretch the comparison between the Ancient Greek deities and 21st-century grant providers too far. However, have specific ways by which they like to be approached by supplicants; both are attributed with transformative powers. No fires or meat are required these days, of course, which also makes the process more environmentally acceptable.

Waiting for the plan

As mentioned in this column on 3 November (see Bucklebury’s meeting and a slow train), all those who are concerned by or have any interest in the proposals to build 2,500 new homes to the north east of Thatcham will need to wait until WBC completes the slow and protracted task of completing its local plan. I understand that this has been prioritised above all else at WBC and the matter of ensuring that it’s ready to be presented to the Full Council on 1 December is something of a three-line whip for all concerned. A number of political, administrative and possibly legal problems may descend if this date is not hit. This will be followed by a consultation period of between five and several weeks (known as Regulation 19) after which the responses need to be carefully considered before it can be submitted to the Inspector.

Then, of course, we have the election is on 4 May. Leading up to which is a period of pre-election purdah during which, as the Local Government Association puts it, “specific restrictions on communications activity are in place – the term ‘heightened sensitivity’ is also used.” Local councillors who are standing for re-election will be spending most of this time ringing doorbells, kissing babies and speaking at hustings events which are likely to get progressively more tetchy as the campaign continues. The exhausted officers who have prepared the local plan will probably be spending much of this time in a dark room with a wet rowel on their forehead. Both these groups will wantmto have got the plan finally signed off and delivered to the Inspector before the campaign gets under way.

Councillors will have sight of the plan a few days before 1 December to give themselves a chance to study it (it will not be a short or an easy read). When the part pertaining to north east Thatcham is reached, on page 1,034 or whatever, it’s just possible that the total number of homes may have been reduced from 2,500 to a slightly more achievable humber: “achievable” is, however, a relative term when considering what will probably still be a four-figure number of homes involving at least two developers and impacting four parishes which have been consistently united in their opposition to the scheme. Only a few more weeks to wait.

As mentioned last Thursday, Bucklebury Parish Council will be holding a public event at 7pm on Friday 2 December in the Memorial Hall in order to look at the implications of the proposals which, as they stand, virtually eliminate the open countryside between the village and Thatcham. Anyone who has any interest in how the area might change, particularly with regard to the 2,500 home plan, is strongly urged to attend. The parish councillors have been following the progress of this very closely over the last couple of years and so should be well placed to answer any questions and suggest what areas seem to be the ones of most concern. If any other parishes announce similar meetings they’ll doubtless be given wide local publicity. If the councils involved want to give us the details, we’ll be happy to publicise them.

Community notices

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

West Berkshire Museum currently has a Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, open from now until 17 September 2023. Museum opening times are 10am to 3pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

• You can drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at both of Thatcham’s local Cooperative stores, as well as the Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. You can bring items anytime with in the store’s opening hours and the drop-off points are typically found near the tills. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

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 12 Nov Thatcham Roller Disco, Kennet Leisure Centre.

Sat 12 Nov Indoor Table-Top Sale, Thatcham Memorial Hall.

Sun 13 Nov Remembrance Parade and Service, Town Centre to Thatcham Memorial.

Thurs 17 Nov Dementia-Friendly Vintage Adventure Workshop, Thatcham Methodist Church.

Thu 24 Nov Age UK Dementia Walk

Fri 25 Nov Carers Rights Day Event, Frank Hutchins Community Hall.

Sat 26 Nov Whitelands Park Christmas Fayre, Whitelands Park Primary School, Thatcham.

Sat 3 Dec Thatcham Christmas Light Switch-On, Thatcham Broadway.

Sun 4 Dec The Great Santa Fun Run, Thatcham Broadway.

Sun 4 Dec Thatcham FC Christmas Bingo, Thatcham Town Football Club.

Sun 4 Dec Christmas Bazaar, Cats Protection Adoption Centre, Curridge.

• 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 for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Just Play football for anyone aged 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability who enjoys playing football (or wants to give it a go for the first time). Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

• The large and active Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of each month at The Memorial Hall, Thatcham with small group meetings including Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

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.

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

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 you can check the venue diary 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.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide 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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 July 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, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: damage to a footpath caused by electricity workers; a possible eco-church; members’ bids; coronation plans; speeding; planning matters; financial matters; no contributions to be made to WBC’s Library Service; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; speeding; trees; financial matters; members’ bids; the Christmas tree; the NDP; and repairs and maintenance.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 August 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 28 September 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 and minutes, please click here.

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

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 3 November 2022

This week we look at a fireworks, a league of friends, a re-fillable event and several local newsletters. We’ve also got the latest on the recent problems at Lloyds Pharmacy in Thatcham (hopefully now over the worst) and consider the next steps in the long and stately progress of the upgrade to the local plan, with particular reference to Bucklebury – plus our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• If you’re looking for a local fireworks display to enjoy this weekend. The Francis Bailey and Kennet School PTA’s have joined forces to bring you a display on Friday 4 November, starting at 7:30pm. Tickets can be purchased from the Francis Baily School office, the Kennet School office, Sweet Imagination on The Broadway, The Liquor Shop Station Road and the Co-op on Station Road. For updates keep an eye on their events pageAlso over in Newbury there’s the Newbury Lions Firework Show at Newbury Racecourse on Saturday and the Firework Spectacular on Newbury Showground on Sunday. Plenty of events to choose from!

•Also coming up this weekend, Thatcham Refillable – where you can get your old household cleaning and body care products refilled to reduce plastic waste, will be at the Market on Broadway this Friday. While on Saturday there’s a Swap Shop happening at Acland Hall in Cold Ash, where you can leave unwanted goods and in pick up something more useful to you.

• Next week Thatcham Park Primary School will be holding a charity bingo night. There will be cash and hamper prizes available, Christmas stalls, raffle tickets as well as refreshments on offer. Bingo will take place on Friday 11 November, 7pm to 10pm. The event is for over 18s only and money raised will go towards the school. keep up to date with it here.

• This bonfire night, Classic FM, in partnership with the RSPCA, are doing a special radio programme on to help animals cope with firework noise. They will be playing classical music help calm and settle anxious pets on Friday 4 November and Saturday 5 November from 5 to 9pm.

We were surprised when we put out our new food caddy out this week by how full it was. By putting all food waste in a separate container, it becomes easier to see what foods you tend to throw away and to adjust shopping, cooking or consumption accordingly. The lovefoodhatewaste.com website has great ideas about how you can reduce food waste.  See here for a reminder of how the new collection works and why it is being introduced. You can put your caddy out every week and you don’t have to put your food waste in the green bags (it can go straight in the caddy which is easy to rinse out).

In celebration of the recent Blue Plaque for Colonel Urquhart who was killed in the Thatcham bombing raid in World War II, Mirek Gosney has made a short documentary that explains the mystery of why it has taken so long to give proper recognition to the life and death of the only victim of the raid who happened to also be commander of the military depot in Thatcham during the war.

• Guests are welcome at Thatcham W.I. monthly meetings on the second Thursday of the month in Thatcham Memorial Hall. This month’s meeting is about the History of Costume Jewellery on Thursday 10 November.

West Berkshire Community Hospital League of Friends is asking for donations of unwanted books and jigsaw puzzles (complete sets only – no missing pieces!). These donations get sold on by volunteers to help raise money for the hospital, such as new equipment and investing in services. Any donations can be dropped off at the hospital, at the book table by reception.

• We have added more information about support available to get you through the Cost of Living crisis, including tips on how to reduce your home energy bills. And please watch out for any scams that ask you to click to apply for energy rebates – they all happen automatically.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• 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 starts with an aftermath and ends with a fellowship. The Editor of this publication is looking for a replacement: click here for more information.

• 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.

Christmas

• The Thatcham Santa Run is back again this year on the 4th December. Organised by the Thatcham & District Rotary Club, this year they will be supporting the Newbury Soup Kitchen. Sign up and you can raise more money for them by getting friends to sponsor you,  or another charity close to your heart, if your prefer. Click here to find out more about the route and how to register.

Thatcham’s pharmacy

Last week (see below) we reported on the sudden and unexpected closure of the Lloyds pharmacy in Crown Mead. Local residents were understandably concerned and inconvenienced by this and an article on p24 of this week’s Newbury Weekly News highlighted some of these reactions. Although West Berkshire Council has, we established, no formal role to play in setting or enforcing any particular service level from pharmacies, ward member Owen Jeffery was involved in passing local concerns on to Lloyds. Indeed, it was he who alerted me to this issue last week. As a result of writing about it, I was contacted by people who were also wondering what was happening.

Initial attempts to contact Lloyds produced disappointing results with phone calls and emails being unanswered and, for some days, no information being updated on the front door. One person who contacted ted me wanted to praise a Lloyd’s staff member who seemed to have taken it upon herself to go down to the store and do what she could (she couldn’t dispense medicines) to help the people who turned up – let’s home Lloyds have a special Christmas bonus planner for her as she appears to have earned it.

Things have improved since. On 3 November, I spoke to a manager from a nearby area who has been drafted in to address the issues in Thatcham. The problem was, he explained, something of a perfect storm involving a couple of staff resignations for unconnected reasons at short notice and the area manager needing to take compassionate leave following a bereavement. He has assured me that the situation is now returning to normal. The pharmacy may at times be offering a restricted service with only a limited number of people being admitted bt there will, unlike last week, be people in the store and information on the door if it’s locked. Lloyds will also be making its delivery service, which is normally charged for, free for the next week or so. A new manager is urgently being sought and it’s hoped they’ll be in place soon.

Picking up your medicines is the end result of a process which starts in the GP’s surgery and involves the prescription in a digital journey down what’s known as the NHS Spine. Like all spines, this doesn’t always work as well as it might. If your prescription isn’t ready there’s very little the pharmacist can do about this. In the same way, queues might be longer than normal. Lloyds has asked me to request that people be patient. Hopefully things will be back to how they should be. The worth of an organisation is measured not so much by whether it ever trips up but how well and how quickly it gets back on its feet.

The other moral of this is that your local town/parish councillors and district councillors (the latter also known as ward members) are here to help sort out any problems you might have.  This is a free service, of course. A list of WBC ward members can be found here. For ward members in other districts and for parish and town councillors, please consult the appropriate websites.

Bucklebury’s meeting and a slow train

I’ve mentioned several times [actually, rather more than “several” – Ed] about the proposals to build 2,500 homes to the north east of Thatcham, effectively and permanently closing the gap that exists between it and surrounding communities, principally Bucklebury.  If you search for “2,500” below and the the archive sections of this column you’ll find these references.

Matters on this have reached a definite pause. WBC’s final view of this plan, and indeed all other planning matters in the district, will be in its local plan. One of the reasons for this was that the 2,500-home plan (and the long-delayed Sandleford in Newbury) required a 30-year vision, rather than the usual 15-year one, to justify its inclusion. The final document should be ready to be presented to WBC’s Full Council meeting on 1 December. (If it isn’t, which is quite possible from what I hear, then any dates mentioned below will need revising.)

To describe local plans as slow would be a gross understatement. Work on this one started, I think, in 2019 and even if there are no further delays it’s unlikely to be ratified before 2024. In this incredibly fast-changing world, I’m far from sure if this shows enough reactive rapidity. Think back to 2019 and reflect on how much has changed since. Then think back to 1992, which is when a 30-year vision would have been started covering the period up to now. How relevant would its considerations be? There was no climate emergency, no Covid, no evident housing crisis – for most of us there wasn’t even the internet. Any social or demographic changes which were envisaged then would almost certainly have been rendered completely irrelevant.

I get it that things need to be considered properly, much as you would carefully consider how to cross a fast-flowing river. However you don’t want to wait so long that the river has changed its course. Surely there must be a better, faster and less labour-intensive way of a planning authority formalising its policies.

As far as the visibility of local plans is concerned, the image that strikes me is of a very long, very heavy and very slow train. It’s constantly stopping to take on more and more stuff. Some of the goods it’s already carrying are going seriously past their sell-by date. Sometimes it stops, waiting for the Fat Controller in London to change a red light to green: at other times it reverses, or gets diverted onto another route. At present it’s grinding through a long tunnel. On 1 December it will emerge. It will for the next couple of months then be under the spotlight to an extent it’s not experienced before.

This is know as the regulation 19 consultation and is the final opportunity for residents, and the town and parish councils that represent them, to have their say. Councils will be given advance sight of the document so that their members can study them. Many towns and parishes will then be holding meetings of one kind or another to apprise residents of the main issues that might particularly affect them and to suggest how they can make their views known whether in support of or in opposition to the proposals.

One the first off the mark has been Bucklebury Parish Council which will be holding just such an event at 7pm on Friday 2 December in the Memorial Hall. Anyone who has any interest in how the area might change, particularly with regard to the 2,500 home plan, is strongly urged to attend. The parish councillors have been following the progress of this very closely over the last couple of years and so should be well placed to answer any questions and suggest what areas seem to be the ones of most concern. If any other parishes announce similar meetings they’ll doubtless be given wide local publicity. If the councils involved want to give us the details, we’ll be happy to publicise them.

The regulation 19 consultation will, because of Christmas, be for longer than usual five weeks and might be for as long as seven. The planning authority must consider all the points raised and show that it has done so. Only then can the train start the final stage of its journey which will culminate in an independent examination by the Planning Inspectorate. How long it will take to reach this terminus is anyone’s guess. Staff shortages, signal failures, the wrong kind of leaves, an election result – any of these could delay its progress still further. And that’s not the end of it. The Inspectors will take their time to, as it were, unpack the train and check the contents and this task won’t start immediately. It could, therefore, be 2024 before the plan is adopted. That’s a long way away: and even further away from the date when the train first started its journey. Some kind of high-speed rail line is clearly needed.

Community notices

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

West Berkshire Museum currently has a Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, open from now until 17 September 2023. Museum opening times are 10am to 3pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

• You can drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at both of Thatcham’s local Cooperative stores, as well as the Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. You can bring items anytime with in the store’s opening hours and the drop-off points are typically found near the tills. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

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 Nov Thatcham Refillable, Thatcham Market, Broadway.

Fri 4 NovFireworks Display, Kennet and Francis Bailey School field.

Sat 5 Nov Newbury Lions Fireworks, Newbury Racecourse.

Sat 5 Nov Swap Shop, Acland Hall, Hermitage, Cold Ash.

Sat 5 Nov Installing Micro-Wildflower Meadow, near Ladybirds Preschool, Culver Road and Three Acre Road.

Sat 12 Nov Thatcham Roller Disco, Kennet Leisure Centre.

Sat 12 Nov Indoor Table-Top Sale, Thatcham Memorial Hall.

Thurs 17 Nov Dementia-Friendly Vintage Adventure Workshop, Thatcham Methodist Church.

Thu 24 Nov Age UK Dementia Walk

Sat 26 Nov Whitelands Park Christmas Fayre, Whitelands Park Primary School, Thatcham.

Sun 4 Dec The Great Santa Fun Run, Thatcham Broadway.

Sun 4 Dec Thatcham FC Christmas Bingo, Thatcham Town Football Club.

• 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 for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Just Play football for anyone aged 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability who enjoys playing football (or wants to give it a go for the first time). Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

Thatcham W.I. meet at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of each month at The Memorial Hall, Thatcham. We are a large and very active WI with a regular monthly meeting and small group meetings including Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

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.

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

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 you can check the venue diary 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.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide 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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 July 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, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; speeding; trees; financial matters; members’ bids; the Christmas tree; the NDP; and repairs and maintenance.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 4 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the settlement boundary; speeding; the ‘Made in Brimpton’ Art and Craft exhibition; speeding; village repairs and maintenance; financial matters; the defibrillator; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a welcome to the new Clerk and a farewell to the retiring one; planning matters; financial matters; the Thatcham Development Group; and a barking dog log.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 August 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 13 July 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 28 June and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

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 27 October 2022

This week we look at a sensory garden, a sale, fireworks, working parties and the proceeds from beer. We also take a look at a pharmacy which mysteriously closed its doors and what steps are being taken to avoid a repetition – plus our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• The brand new dementia-friendly Jubilee Sensory Garden has now been opened by Thatcham Town Council outside the offices of Brownfield Road. It was officially opened earlier this month by the Mayor of Thatcham. The garden is filled with flowers and vegetables which are full of colours and scents. You can read more details on the NewburyToday.

Quick reminder about the new kerbside food waste collection starting next week (see here for a reminder of how it works and why it is being introduced). Over 100 local primary school children submitted name suggestions for the new food waste collection vehicles and the winners to look out for are: The Hungry Recycler, Composter Clemmie, Sir Andy Curry, Betty Banana, Food Feaster 2.0, Garbage Gobbler, Pikachew and Eva Egg Shell.

• St Mary’s and St Barnabas Church are looking for children who love singing to take part in their Community Carol Singing Concert. Any child in years 4, 5, 6 and 7 are welcome to join in. The concert will take place on the Saturday 10 December at 4pm, and there will be rehearsals on 19 and 26 of November. For more information click here.

• This Saturday is the indoor table-top sale at Thatcham Memorial Hall, from 8am to 12pm. Come along to maybe bag yourself a pre-loved bargain. Click here for more information.

• Important reminder from ARK (Action for the River Kennet) that although it’s late October and we have had some rain, we are still in drought conditions with a hosepipe ban. And yet somehow our household usage is higher than normal. Thames Water are applying for licenses to extract water from local rivers which would be really harmful to wildlife so let’s all please save as much water in our homes as possible. The more water that is tied up in our houses and sewage systems, the less is in rivers, canals, ponds and lakes – as we must remember that we all share the same supply of the wet stuff.

• Looking for a local fireworks display? Well the Francis Bailey and Kennet School PTA’s have joined forces to bring you a display on Friday 4 November, starting at 7:30pm. Tickets can be purchased from the Francis Baily School office, the Kennet School office, Sweet Imagination on The Broadway, The Liquor Shop Station Road and the Co-op on Station Road. For updates keep an eye on their events page.

• Congratulations to the organisers of the Bucklebury Beer Festival which was a roaring success not only for a fun time had by patrons, but also as a money-spinner. As reported by the NewburyToday the event raised a total of £3,500, with over 1,000 pints of beer and 200 pints of cider sold. Both the Motor Neurone Disease Association and the Berkshire Women’s Aid charities each received a cheque of £1,000 each.

West Berkshire Community Hospital League of Friends is asking for donations of unwanted books and jigsaw puzzles (complete sets only – no missing pieces!). These donations get sold on by volunteers to help raise money for the hospital, such as new equipment and investing in services. Any donations can be dropped off at the hospital, at the book table by reception.

• Are you interested in shaping local affairs? Thatcham Town Council is looking for a number of local residents to join its working parties, who help the council informed and aid with decision making. The Working Parties  currently seeking new members are: the Environmental Working Party, the Community Engagement Party and the Heritage Working Party. For more information please email enquires@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk.

• We have added more information about support available to get you through the Cost of Living crisis, including tips on how to reduce your home energy bills. And please watch out for any scams that ask you to click to apply for energy rebates – they all happen automatically.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• 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 starts with fungi and ends with opinions. The Editor of this publication is looking for a replacement: click here for more information.

• 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 pharmacy is closed

Residents of Thatcham may have noticed that the Lloyds Pharmacy in Crown Mead was unexpectedly closed earlier this week. There was no notice saying “back in ten minutes” or “due to unexpected circumstances. we regret…” on the door – merely one on the outside of the glass saying simply “closed”, although it turned out this wasn’t put up by the management but by a driver who found the place shut and couldn’t make their delivery. Possibly these deliveries included prescriptions you had been waiting for. There are two other pharmacies in Thatcham but none particularly close. In any case, if your drugs are going to the pharmacy you normally use then that may be the only place you’ll be able to get them from

Most things are now subject to targets, standards and the like so I wondered if there was any minimum service level that pharmacies in a particular area have to provide. One phone call to the health and Wellbeing portfolio holder Graham Bridgman proved that West Berkshire Council certainly has no official role to play and no standards or practices which it can enforce. All it can really do in such cases is either nudge or bark.

One of the Thatcham ward members, Councillor Owen Jeffery, is trying a combination of these two approaches. He contacted Lloyds Pharmacy’s regional head office on Tuesday and has been promised a call from the area manager. Hopefully this will include an explanation of what happened and an assurance that it won’t be repeated.

For such a vital service, people need know how long the place is going to be closed for, even if someone needs to drive down for district HQ and put a notice on the door themselves. Even though it’s not WBC’s responsibility, it’s good that a  councillor is prepared to get involved and help sort the issue out. As soon as I know more – and whether nudging or barking was needed to make his point – I’ll let you know.

Community notices

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

West Berkshire Museum currently has a Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, open from now until 17 September 2023. Museum opening times are 10am to 3pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

• You can drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at both of Thatcham’s local Cooperative stores, as well as the Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. You can bring items anytime with in the store’s opening hours and the drop-off points are typically found near the tills. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

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 5 Nov Newbury Lions Fireworks, Newbury Racecourse.

Sat 5 Nov Installing Micro-Wildflower Meadow, near Ladybirds Preschool, Culver Road and Three Acre Road.

Thu 24 Nov Age UK Dementia Walk

• 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 for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Just Play football for anyone aged 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability who enjoys playing football (or wants to give it a go for the first time). Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

Thatcham W.I. meet at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of each month at The Memorial Hall, Thatcham. We are a large and very active WI with a regular monthly meeting and small group meetings including Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

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.

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

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 you can check the venue diary 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.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide 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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 July 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, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 27 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a detailed presentation on the plans for the grounds surrounding Woodland Leaves on Cold Ash Hill; planning matters; financial matters; village repairs and maintenance; tree works; the Wildlife Allotment Garden; speeding; and the NDP.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a welcome to the new Clerk and a farewell to the retiring one; planning matters; financial matters; the Thatcham Development Group; and a barking dog log.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation by a representative of Hathor Property to discuss proposals for land in Brimpton Road (opposite The Willows); The Three Horseshoes (which the owners plan to convert to a family house); speeding; new noticeboards; planning matters; committee reports; and the defibrillator.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 August 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 13 July 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 28 June and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

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 20 October 2022

This week we look the Festival, Halloween, football and the conclusion of a school project. We also take a look at Thatcham Town Council’s decision to stop funding the WBC Library Service and explain why though all may have gone quiet with the 2,500-home plan that doesn’t mean it’s dead in the water.  We also have our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

Click here (and scroll down to Across the area) for news of West Berkshire Council’s Library Service, new food recycling arrangements, a service of thanksgiving, political invective, a paint-recycling initiative and the cost of living hub.

Thatcham Festival continues until  Sunday 23 October there will be a whole host of different events to enjoy around the whole town. On Friday there will even be astronomical observation evening at Thatcham Discovery Centre and the popular Festival Leisure & Craft Fair in St Mary’s and the Broadway on Saturday. Check out the festival programme here and some events that need pre-booking here

• Also this weekend, as part of the Festival, will be the unveiling of a new Blue Plaque on Sunday 23 October at 11am starting at the Burdwood Community Centre, in honour of Lieutenant Colonel Vernon Watkins Urquhart, who supplied ammunition to air bases around West Berkshire. He was the only Thatcham victim of the Luftwaffe bombing raid on 16 August 1940. Urquhart’s death was never properly registered as he was on home leave at the time, and so his name was not included on any war memorials.  The community centre was formally the Lieutenant’s front garden, where he was standing when he died.

• Great news, the £1.5 million project to bring the Parsons Down Partnership (an Infant and Junior School) together on one site is now complete and officially open. Funded from West Berkshire Council’s capital budget, it includes a refurbished library, kitchen, new classrooms and medical space in addition to a stunning early year’s external learning space and a new all-weather sports pitch. All building refurbishment works were designed to provide an energy efficient site with low running and maintenance costs. The official opening ceremony took place at 9:10 am on Thursday 20 October at the Parsons Down Partnership of Schools, on Herons Way. We look forward to hearing what new heights the school can achieve.

• This Saturday 22 October, there’s a free Halloween Disco for pre-schoolers, over at Hermitage Village Hall. Little ones can dress up in spooky costumes and enjoy dancing, games, glitter tattoos, cake, raffle prizes, and a bar for parents. More info can be found here.

Last Saturday, the Thatcham Tornadoes celebrated its tenth infant school football festival, seeing more than 100 Year 1 and 2 children coming together for some fun-filled footie matched. Following the games, Thatcham Mayor, Jeff Brooks, presented participation awards. Then Tornados chairman presented the mayor with a cheque for bereavement charity Daisy’s Dream, which was raised at a recent Family Fun Day. You can read more on this story in the Newbury Today.

West Berkshire Community Hospital League of Friends is currently asking for donations of unwanted books and jigsaw puzzles (complete sets only – no missing pieces!). These donations get sold on by volunteers to help raise money for the hospital, such as new equipment and investing in services. Any donations can be dropped off at West Berks Community Hospital, at the book table by reception.

ADS Family Help, who support families of autistic children and adults hold free West Berks Teen Club sessions twice a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. The club encourages teenagers with special needs and learning difficulties to socialise and the opportunity to take part in fun activities. A drink and snack are also provided. They also hold a social club for adults once a month. If you or someone you know would be interested in this service, you can read more information about the club here.

Congratulations to Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls FC for their successes so far this season. See their facebook page for recent match reports.

• Are you interested in shaping local affairs? Thatcham Town Council is looking for a number of local residents to join their Working Parties, who help the council informed and aid with decision making. The Working Parties  currently seeking new members are: the Environmental Working Party, the Community Engagement Party and the Heritage Working Party. For more information please email enquires@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk.

• We have added more information about support available to get you through the Cost of Living crisis, including tips on how to reduce your home energy bills. And please watch out for any scams that ask you to click to apply for energy rebates – they all happen automatically.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• 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 starts with looking north and ends with lies. The Editor of this publication is looking for a replacement: click here for more information.

• 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.

2,500 homes in NE Thatcham

From being an almost weekly feature of this column for many months, you might have noticed that it’s not appeared recently. You might therefore think that the whole issue had gone away. It hasn’t.

Matters have now reached a pause while West Berkshire Council concludes the work on it’s delayed local plan refresh. One of the delays was caused by this very project, a 30-year (rather than a 15-year) vision being required to support whatever scheme is eventually proposed. The local plan is expected to be presented to WBC’s Full Council on 1 December. If approved (as it surely will be) there will then be a consultation period of at least six and possibly, because of Christmas, of up to eight weeks. This is known as a Regulation 19. All residents (and councils) will have a chance to make their comments in this period. I imagine that many of these, particularly from the towns and parishes that are most affected will be very detailed. All of these must have been demonstrably considered by WBC before the plan can proceed to its next phase, that of indecent examination by the Planning Inspectorate, which will take many more months. If this process seems complex and technical and, above all, long it’s because it is.

I have always had serious reservations about the scheme for reasons which I’ve mentioned in earlier versions of this post. How many of the problematic aspects will survive into the final policy remains to be seen.

West Berkshire’s Libraries

Back in the mid 2010’s, if you can remember that far back, when lockdown was something that only happened in prisons and a truss was just a surgical or structural support, there was a funding crisis and West Berkshire Council took the decision to close all its libraries apart from the one at Newbury. The public backlash that followed was considerable and resulted in a third way which WBC seems originally not to have considered, This involved the service partly being provided by local volunteers. Though not ideal, this at least saved all the libraries (Wash Common’s is in a slightly different situation). Many would argue that maintaining a comprehensive service is a statutory responsibility and that this should be properly funded. WBC may argue that the money simply isn’t there and that this is best compromise (albeit one that the then administration didn’t initially propose). Both points of view have their merits.

The question of how the service was to be funded came up again in 2017-18 when WBC suggested that every parish pay a voluntary levy based on £1 per person per year towards the cost of the Library Service. Some were concerned by the precedent that this would set for the district asking parishes to contribute to the cost of services it should be running itself. There were also fears (which proved unjustified) that residents of non-contributing parishes would be denied some services. A thin edge of the wedge was also detected: where, some asked, might this end? Would there be similar levies to cover social care, refuse collection or pothole repairs?

The levy in fact proved pretty popular, at it height producing about £100,000pa, roughly 10% of the Library Service’s budget. However, the two largest contributors, Newbury and Thtacham, have recently decided that their contributions should wither be conditional or reduced. This has led to an open letter to Thatcham Town Council from portfolio holder Howard Woollaston and fellow Executive-member (and Thatcham Town Councillor) Steve Ardagh-Walter.

The letter includes (as well as the predictable reference to playing politics) a veiled threat that, without such payments, it may be necessary to cut services. In fact, Thatcham has for the last two years been making its contributions conditional on the money being spent to enhancements to the service or facilities provided by the town’s library. A TTC councillor told me on 20 October that as no such enhancements were planned by WBC in 2022-23 then no contribution would be made and it feels that the money can better be spent on other projects. As for Newbury, it has been reducing its contributions from c £35,000 in 2019-20 to £10,000 this year and it appears that this will reduce to nothing for next year. Neither of these would have come as as much of a surprise as the tone of the letter appears to suggest.

I have sympathy with WBC’s position. However, the previous levy was created over six years ago to respond to a particular funding crisis. That has now been replaced by another one so perhaps the concept of the contribution needs to be re-sold to the parishes, particularly Newbury and Thatcham whose combined population is about 44% of the district’s. Such levies are not an ideal way to raise funds but can be valuable as a short-term solution. Assuming that they’ll keep going indefinitely may, however, be unrealistic.

Community notices

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

West Berkshire Museum currently has a Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, open from now until 17 September 2023. Museum opening times are 10am to 3pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

• You can drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at both of Thatcham’s local Cooperative stores, as well as the Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. You can bring items anytime with in the store’s opening hours and the drop-off points are typically found near the tills. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

On now until Sun 23 Oct Thatcham Festival 2022, various events.

Sat 22 Oct  Pre-school Halloween Disco, at Hermitage Village Hall.

Sun 23 Oct Unveiling of new Blue Plaque, at the Burdwood Community Centre.

Thurs 27 Oct Age UK Dementia Walk

Sat 5 Nov Newbury Lions Fireworks, Newbury Racecourse.

Sat 5 Nov Installing Micro-Wildflower Meadow, near Ladybirds Preschool, Culver Road and Three Acre Road.

• 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 for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Just Play football for anyone aged 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability who enjoys playing football (or wants to give it a go for the first time). Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

Thatcham W.I. meet at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of each month at The Memorial Hall, Thatcham. We are a large and very active WI with a regular monthly meeting and small group meetings including Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

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.

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

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 you can check the venue diary 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.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide 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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 July 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, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 27 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a detailed presentation on the plans for the grounds surrounding Woodland Leaves on Cold Ash Hill; planning matters; financial matters; village repairs and maintenance; tree works; the Wildlife Allotment Garden; speeding; and the NDP.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a welcome to the new Clerk and a farewell to the retiring one; planning matters; financial matters; the Thatcham Development Group; and a barking dog log.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation by a representative of Hathor Property to discuss proposals for land in Brimpton Road (opposite The Willows); The Three Horseshoes (which the owners plan to convert to a family house); speeding; new noticeboards; planning matters; committee reports; and the defibrillator.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 August 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 13 July 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 28 June and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

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 13 October 2022

This week we look the Festival, the Luftwaffe, a Marathon runner and beer and pass on a request for volunteers: plus there’s our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

Congratulations to Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls FC for their successes so far this season. See their facebook page for recent match reports.

• This weekend kicks off the Thatcham Festival. From Friday 13 October to Sunday 23 October there will be a whole host of different events to enjoy around the whole town. This weekend’s activities will include a ghost walk, orchestra performance, a bird walk, a historical walk around the town, a classic car show, various talks on topical issues such as the refugees , painting and singing workshops and so much more! Check out the festival programme here and some events need pre-booking here

• Also this weekend is the Oktoberfest Beer Festival over at Hermitage Village Hall. On Saturday 15 October, enjoy an assortment of beer, gins, ales and ciders, as well as food, live music and dancing, from 5pm at 10:30pm. For more info and to book your tickets, click here.

• Are you interested in shaping local affairs? Thatcham Town Council is looking for a number of local residents to join their Working Parties, who help the council informed and aid with decision making. The Working Parties  currently seeking new members are: the Environmental Working Party, the Community Engagement Party and the Heritage Working Party. For more information please email enquires@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk.

• Congratulations to Thatcham local, Leoni Morris who completed the London Marathon. On Sunday 2 October she ran the 26.2 mile route in 4 and an half hours, in aid of the Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice in Reading, where her mother Judi passed away in 2020. So far she has raised an impressive £1,800 – but is just short of reaching her fundraising goal of £2,000. If you would like to help her reach her goal, you can still donate to her JustGiving page here.

Bikeability Level 3H course can be booked on Friday 21 October at the Kennet Leisure Centre. See here for details on the course that teaches the skills to tackle a wider variety of traffic conditions than Level 2.

• We have added more information about support available to get you through the Cost of Living crisis, including tips on how to reduce your home energy bills. And please watch out for any scams that ask you to click to apply for energy rebates – they all happen automatically.

As we mentionned last week, the Luftwaffe bombing raid on 16 August 1940 took one victim in Thatcham, Lieutenant Colonel Vernon Watkins Urquhart, who supplied ammunition to air bases around West Berkshire. Urquhart’s death was never properly registered as he was on home leave at the time, and so his name was not included on any war memorials.  Local resident and keen historian Mirek Gosney tells us that “I started investigating the site’s history earlier this year when I discovered Lt. Urquhart, the depot’s first Commanding Officer. I realised that without any kind of physical recognition, his service and sacrifice are in danger of being forgotten. So, I nominated him for the 2022 Commemorative Blue Plaque in Thatcham. I am delighted and grateful to the Heritage Working Party for accepting my nomination and I am looking forward to attending the unveiling later this month.” The public plaque unveiling will be on Sunday 23 October at 11am starting at the Burdwood Community Centre – formally the Lieutenant’s front garden, where he was standing when he died. The unveiling will be part of Thatcham Festival and you can see the full programme of events here.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• 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 starts with a woodpecker and ends with Shakespeare.

• 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.

Community notices

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

West Berkshire Museum currently has a Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, open from now until 17 September 2023. Museum opening times are 10am to 3pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

• You can drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at both of Thatcham’s local Cooperative stores, as well as the Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. You can bring items anytime with in the store’s opening hours and the drop-off points are typically found near the tills. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

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 14 to Sun 23 Oct Thatcham Festival 2022, various events.

Sat 15 Oct Oktoberfest Beer Festival, Hermitage Hall.

Sun 23 Oct Unveiling of new Blue Plaque, at the Burdwood Community Centre.

Thurs 27 Oct Age UK Dementia Walk

Fri 21 to Sat 29 Oct Pumpkin Picking Trail Event, Wasing Estate.

• 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 for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Just Play football for anyone aged 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability who enjoys playing football (or wants to give it a go for the first time). Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

Thatcham W.I. meet at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of each month at The Memorial Hall, Thatcham. We are a large and very active WI with a regular monthly meeting and small group meetings including Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

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.

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

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 you can check the venue diary 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.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide 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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 July 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, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a welcome to the new Clerk and a farewell to the retiring one; planning matters; financial matters; the Thatcham Development Group; and a barking dog log.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation by a representative of Hathor Property to discuss proposals for land in Brimpton Road (opposite The Willows); The Three Horseshoes (which the owners plan to convert to a family house); speeding; new noticeboards; planning matters; committee reports; and the defibrillator.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 23 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation to Bob Taylor; speeding; the Community Champion awards; village repairs and maintenance; speeding and traffic; the HDP; and planning matters.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 8 August 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 13 July 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 28 June and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

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 6 October 2022

This week we look a tapestry, a bombing raid and road closures. We also take a look at the latest proposals to provide a cycle lane on the A4 between Thatcham and Newbury and point out that you won’t need to endure autumnal chills to enjoy Thatcham’s festival: plus there’s our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

There is still time for crafters to participate in the Mayor of Thatcham’s commemorative tapestry for the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. There are 10 scenes of her life yet to be allocated. For more information please contact the council on 01635 863592 or enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk

The Luftwaffe bombing raid on 16 August 1940 took one victim in Thatcham, namely Lt Col Urquhart, first Commanding Officer of General Stores G45, an ordnance depot west of Thatcham Station supplying ammunition to air bases around West Berkshire. Urquhart’s death was never properly registered as he was on home leave at the time, and so his name was not included on any war memorials.

Local resident and keen historian Mirek Gosney grew up fascinated by the military-themed street names on Kennet Heath, where the depot once stood and tells us that “I started investigating the site’s history earlier this year when I discovered Lt. Urquhart, the depot’s first Commanding Officer. I realised that without any kind of physical recognition, his service and sacrifice are in danger of being forgotten. So, I nominated him for the 2022 Commemorative Blue Plaque in Thatcham. I am delighted and grateful to the Heritage Working Party for accepting my nomination and I am looking forward to attending the unveiling later this month.”

The public plaque unveiling will be on Sunday 23 October at 11am starting at the Burdwood Community Centre – formally Lt Col Urquhart’s front garden, where he was standing when he died. The unveiling will be part of Thatcham Festival and you can see the full programme of events here.

The Lawrences Lane road closure in Thatcham has been extended until Wednesday 12 October for BT to carry out works to their network infrastructure. An alternative route is via Broad Lane, Burdens Heath, Harts Hill Road, Floral Way, Lawrences Way, and vice versa.

• You have probably received your new food waste caddies by now. We have spoken to the team behind the scheme and lay to rest some of the concerns about the planned new weekly collection of food waste by West Berkshire Council. See more details here.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• 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 starts with apples and ends with leaving.

• 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.

Orcas, cat’s eyes and rumble strips

These are, of course, different ways by which vehicles can be kept in the part of the road designated for them and away from that allocated to other groups, such as cyclists. Orcas can have plastic poles added to them (known as wands). Drivers between Chatham and Newbury on the A4 will have noticed that these have been added to some parts of the road in an efforts to create a separate cycle lane. However, Thatcham’s Full Council meeting on 26 September was told that the orcas, and their wands,  might be removed. The problem is that the orcas are hard to clean, hard to maintain and hard to see while the wands tend to get bashed and broken. What they will be replaced with is yet to be determined: rumble strips is one possibility; cats eyes are another. Certainly these about the only things that haven’t been tried on this stretch of road which, as a Thatcham Town Councillor remarked to me recently, is a kind of open-air exhibition of most of the possible cycle-lane measures yet devised.

This report in Newbury Today described this move as a U-turn and as WBC “going back on itself.” This is perhaps a trifle unfair as these were introduced as an experiment. Thatcham Town Council had argued against them, a point made by TTC leader Lee Dillon. He did, however, welcome the fact that there would be a re-think. Were WBC not experimented there would have been people who’d have said they should have done. Sometimes you just can’t win.

The big problem is probably the two roundabouts. No amount of road-markings can make those safe for cyclists. The only solution there would be traffic lights but that somewhat defeats the object of having a roundabout in the first place. The reality is that roads have long been designed for the convenience of cars and that changing this to accommodate anyone else is very hard. It’s also worth wondering about the wisdom of encouraging cyclists to make a journey between the towns if there are two places where they’ll be completely unprotected.

Councillor Dillon also repeated the plea that WBC involve the Town Council in any discussions on the subject, something which didn’t happen before. Aside from the fact that Thatcham Town Council knows the town pretty well – the clue’s in the name – for WBC to involve TTC in discussions would be to reduce the chance of the Town Council’s members being critical.  Not to do so is, in PR terms, like going up a hill when you could be going down. Down is a lot easier – ask any cyclist.

An autumnal chill

The Thatcham Festival gets under way on 14 October and you can click here to see the programme of events. The NWN prefaced its mention of the event by saying that “the leaves are falling and an autumnal chill is here which can only mean one thing – the return of the Thatcham Festival.”

As intros go, this is right up there with the harrowing observation by Professor Chris Whitty (remember him) at a Covid briefing in October 2020: “Winter is coming.” For those of you who are concerned that this autumnal chill might reduce your enjoyment of the events, I can offer the reassuring news that most of them will take place indoors.

Community notices

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

If you own a bike, Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommends registering it on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

• You can drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at both of Thatcham’s local Cooperative stores, as well as the Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. You can bring items anytime with in the store’s opening hours and the drop-off points are typically found near the tills. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

Focus on Thatcham Exhibition,West Berkshire Museum until 17 Sept 2023 open Wed to Sun, 10am-4pm.

Fri 14 to Sun 23 Oct Thatcham Festival 2022, various events.

Sat 15 Oct Oktoberfest Beer Festival, Hermitage 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 for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Just Play football for anyone aged 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability who enjoys playing football (or wants to give it a go for the first time). Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

Thatcham W.I. meet at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of each month at The Memorial Hall, Thatcham. We are a large and very active WI with a regular monthly meeting and small group meetings including Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

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.

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

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 you can check the venue diary 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.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide 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.

Many councils do not hold meetings in August and many postponed their September meeting following the Queen’s death. 

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 July 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, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a welcome to the new Clerk and a farewell to the retiring one; planning matters; financial matters; the Thatcham Development Group; and a barking dog log.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation by a representative of Hathor Property to discuss proposals for land in Brimpton Road (opposite The Willows); The Three Horseshoes (which the owners plan to convert to a family house); speeding; new noticeboards; planning matters; committee reports; and the defibrillator.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 23 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation to Bob Taylor; speeding; the Community Champion awards; village repairs and maintenance; speeding and traffic; the HDP; and planning matters.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 8 August 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 13 July 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 28 June and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

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 29 September 2022

This week we cover football, a road closure, the life of a Mayor and volunteering: plus there’s our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

Lawrences Lane will be closed from 3 to 7 October between its junctions with Acorn Drive and Broad Lane so BT can carry out works to their network infrastructure. Residential access will be maintained throughout and the diversion will be signed on site. For more details please see here or contact Traffic Control 123 on 07483 302 112.

There are a lot of bikes being stolen at the moment by thieves who have bolt cutters so it doesn’t seem to matter how good your lock is. Neighbourhood Watch strongly recommend registering your bike on the bikeregister.com database as every police force in the country uses it to search for stolen and recovered bikes.

• If you wonder what Thatcham’s Mayor gets up to, watch this short video of highlights of Jeff Brooks’ recent visits and activities. If you’d like to invite the Mayor to your own event please feel welcome to email civic.officer@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk

Quick reminder that Thatcham Community Larder is open on Wednesday afternoons from 1.30pm to 5.30pm at the Frank Hutchins Community Centre. The larder offers a big discount on your food bills and a way to reduce the amount of food wasted by our supermarket system. For more details see this poster here.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• 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 starts with EVs and ends with Douglas Adams.

• 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.

Community notices

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

•  All day Connect Group Bus Tickets for up to 4 people (any combination of adults and children) can be bought from the bus driver or via the Newbury & District app on your phone (which also shows in real time where each bus is on its journey so you know how long you have to wait).

• You can drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at both of Thatcham’s local Cooperative stores, as well as the Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. You can bring items anytime with in the store’s opening hours and the drop-off points are typically found near the tills. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

Focus on Thatcham Exhibition,West Berkshire Museum until 17 Sept 2023 open Wed to Sun, 10am-4pm.

Fri 14 to Sun 23 Oct Thatcham Festival 2022, various events.

Sat 15 Oct Oktoberfest Beer Festival, Hermitage 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 for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Just Play football for anyone aged 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability who enjoys playing football (or wants to give it a go for the first time). Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

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.

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

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 you can check the venue diary 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.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

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

News from your local council

Note that many parish and town councils do not hold meetings in August. In addition, meetings which were scheduled to have taken place during the period of mourning following the death of the Queen (8 to 19 September) would have been cancelled or postponed.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 July 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, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a welcome to the new Clerk and a farewell to the retiring one; planning matters; financial matters; the Thatcham Development Group; and a barking dog log.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation by a representative of Hathor Property to discuss proposals for land in Brimpton Road (opposite The Willows); The Three Horseshoes (which the owners plan to convert to a family house); speeding; new noticeboards; planning matters; committee reports; and the defibrillator.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 23 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation to Bob Taylor; speeding; the Community Champion awards; village repairs and maintenance; speeding and traffic; the HDP; and planning matters.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 8 August 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 13 July 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 28 June and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

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 22 September 2022

This week we cover litter, pilates, donations and grants: plus there’s our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• West Berkshire Action for Refugees are appealing for donations for refugees arriving in the area. They particularly need men’s jeans or joggers, winter coats, t-shirts, hoodies and trainers (sizes 8, 9, 10 and 13), as well as socks and boxers. Donations can be dropped off at the Thatcham Town Council Offices (during office hours). More information can be found on their Facebook page.

• Everyone is welcome to join Thatcham Litter Pickers on their litter picking meet-up this Sunday 25 September. Do go along if you would like to meet some lovely people and make the community a tidier place to live. To keep up with future events or ask questioned, check our their Facebook Page for more details.

• Ever wanted to give Pilates a try? Well, this Saturday 24 September Harris Mind and Body in Thatcham will be holding a free Pilates mat class, from 9:30am to 10:30am. Please book online as spots are limited.

• Have you ever considered getting an electric vehicle, but have a lot of questions or don’t know where to start? Well on Sunday 25 September at the Acland Hall Car Park in Cold Ash there will be an Electric Vehicle Showcase of local electric vehicle owners who are happy to share their experiences, knowledge and advice with those considering getting one. Click here for more detail

• Local crisis charity The Cowshed which provides clothing and support for individuals and families in Berkshire experiencing hardship, have just launched their Warm Winter Campaign to raise £10,000 for coats, blankets, pillows and duvets for families trying to keep warm this winter. The charity has reported seeing a huge increase in demand for their services, as the cost of living starts to impact on vulnerable members of our community and they are worried the level of demand will exceed their current donations. If you would like to contribute to the Warm Winter Campaign click here.

• Quick reminder that the Winchcombe Charity is giving grants to help students in Thatcham, Cold Ash and Bucklebury with their further education. Young people in need of a grant to aid them at university or during an apprenticeship can contact secretary Sandra Griffin on sandra.griffin1@hotmail.com. More information can be found on the Newbury Today website.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• 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 starts with dahlias and ends with Brian Cox.

• 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.

Community notices

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

•  All dayConnect Group Bus Tickets for up to 4 people (any combination of adults and children) can be bought from the bus driver or via the Newbury & District app on your phone (which also shows in real time where each bus is on its journey so you know how long you have to wait).

• The asylum seekers living at The Regency Hotel are very motivated to do something productive with their time and to give back to the local community by volunteering. They are happy to do manual work, office work or practical things indoors or outside to help in the community as one-off events or as a regular weekly commitment. Their English language skills are mixed. Some have degrees and prior successful careers in business. Please contact volunteer@westberksrefugees.org if you might be able to use their help.

• You can drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at both of Thatcham’s local Cooperative stores, as well as the Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. You can bring items anytime with in the store’s opening hours and the drop-off points are typically found near the tills. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, West Berkshire Museum until 17 Sept 2023 open Wed to Sun, 10am-4pm.

Sun 18 Sept Family Pirate and Sea Shanty Night, The Mill House, Thatcham.

Fri 14 to Sun 23 Oct Thatcham Festival 2022, various events.

Sat 15 Oct Oktoberfest Beer Festival, Hermitage 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 for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Just Play football for anyone aged 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability who enjoys playing football (or wants to give it a go for the first time). Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

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.

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

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 you can check the venue diary 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.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

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

News from your local council

Note that many parish and town councils do not hold meetings in August. In addition, meetings which were scheduled to have taken place during the period of mourning following the death of the Queen (8 to 19 September) would have been cancelled or postponed.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 July 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, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the proposed development at Greenbacks; the prettiest front garden; the Tennis Club; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; financial matters; tree preservation orders; Lawrence’s Lane; the 2022 Champions’ Award; the neighbourhood development plan; and Councillors’ questions.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 8 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the community orchard; Dogg mess; CCTV and the BMX track; the need for a new councillor; the three-year plan; planning matters; the North East Thatcham (THA20) Working Group; the Henwick Park and Colthrop Village proposals; highways; the 2021 census; the BPC website; Bucklebury Meadows and the Hockett Field; the Cemetery and Chapel; CCTV at the memorial Hall; defibrillators; the Conservation Area Appraisal; speeding; Nature Watch; and financial matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Washoe Lodge development; poor management of the recent road closure in Brimpton Lane; the parish noticeboards; the correct naming of Back Lane; repairs and maintenance work; speeding; planning matters; the Settlement Boundary Working Group; financial matters; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 27 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Village Hall; noisy dogs; financial matters; a donation to Swings & Smiles; and planning matters.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 29 June and you can read the minutes here. Most of the matters were deferred until the meeting on 13 July.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 28 June and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

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 15 September 2022

This week we look at local mourning for the Queen, plastic, grants, life skills, an exhibition and inclusive playground equipment : plus there’s our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Note: due to the period of mourning which will end after the Queen’s funeral on Monday 19 September, a number of events and activities may be postponed or cancelled, perhaps at short notice. We have highlighted those that we are aware of but you are advised to check in advance with the organisers.

This week’s news

• As the nation continues to mourn the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, in our local communities residents, businesses and officials have been paying their respects to her memory. Crowds gathered at Thatcham Broadway last Sunday to hear the formal proclamation of the accession of King Charles III. After which the community sang the national anthem together in celebration of the new king. A full account of this event can be read here.

• A reminder that local residents can lay floral tributes for the Queen in the community garden in front of the Thatcham Council Office in Brownsfield Road. A Book of Condolence is in the council office for anyone to sign between 9am and 4.30pn Monday to Friday.

• As you are probably now aware, Monday 19 September will be the day of the Queen’s funeral and has been declared a national bank holiday. All schools will be closed, as well as many business, including most supermarkets, as a mark of respect and in order to allow employees to observe the event.

Thatcham Baptist Church will be showing the Queen’s funeral on a big screen on Monday 19 September, for anyone who would like to see it in company of the local community.  There will also be free refreshments available from 9.30am with the service due to start at 11am.  For any updates, keep an eye on their Facebook page.

• This weekend also sees Annual Ploughing Match, held on Rookey Farm in Curridge. Come along for some farmyard family fun to see horses, stream engines, vintage machinery as well as food and drink and of course farming competitions. That’s on Saturday 17 September, from 9am and 3pm, more information can be found here.

• Calling all litter pickers and community action groups to partake in the ‘Plasticblitz’ campaign to help keep the areas around rivers in West Berkshire free of plastic. The campaign was started by the Thames River Trust and West Berkshire Council along with Action for the River Kennet are organising clean-up efforts locally, taking place between the 17 and 25 September. Click here to find out more about the initiative and how to register.

• You can also join Thatcham Litter Pickers on their next litter picking meet-up on Sunday 25 September. Do go along if you would like to meet some lovely people and make the community a tidier place to live. To keep up with future events or ask questioned, check our their Facebook Page for more details.

• Next Wednesday 21 September there will be a Community Response to the Cost of Living Crisis meeting in Newbury. The aim of the meeting at St John’s Churcho is to coordinate the community response to the looming crisis and develop a network of support hubs across the district. These hubs will provide a warm and comfortable space for residents who are unable to heat their homes as the price of domestic energy spirals, and signpost people to where they can get more support. The meeting will be chaired by a member of the local church community. All welcome. Please book your free place here.

• This weekend will see the opening of West Berkshire Museum new exhibition Focus on Thatcham. Opening on Saturday 17 September, the exhibit focuses on the towns history and will be running for a while year until 17 September 2023. Museum opening hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-4pm.

• The Winchcombe Charity is giving grants to help students in Thatcham, Cold Ash and Bucklebury with their further education. Young people in need of a grant to aid them at university or during an apprenticeship can contact secretary Sandra Griffin on sandra.griffin1@hotmail.com. More information can be found on the Newbury Today website.

Sam Chapman is the Life Skills Manager of the newly launched CAP Life Skills service at Glendale Church, Thatcham. The first Life Skills course to help people budget on a low income will start on Tuesday 27 September from 11am to 1pm at Glendale Church, The Well, Green Lane, Thatcham, RG19 3RG. You can contact Sam at samanthachapman@caplifeskills.org or on 07340 267389 (please note her only working day is Tuesday).

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• 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 starts with a nuthatch and ends with Ayn Rand.

• 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.

Playing in Thatcham

Over the coming months, at least four of the playgrounds in Thatcham will be having “inclusive play equipment” installed. This will, a spokesperson from the Town Council told me, be in addition to the existing equipment and will ensure that kids of all abilities will be able to play in the same place. This kind of kit – indeed any playground kit – doesn’t come cheap, the total cost being around £40,000 which has come from Community Infrastructure Levy funds from both Thatcham Town Council and West Berkshire Council.

Community notices

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

•  All dayConnect Group Bus Tickets for up to 4 people (any combination of adults and children) can be bought from the bus driver or via the Newbury & District app on your phone (which also shows in real time where each bus is on its journey so you know how long you have to wait).

• The asylum seekers living at The Regency Hotel are very motivated to do something productive with their time and to give back to the local community by volunteering. They are happy to do manual work, office work or practical things indoors or outside to help in the community as one-off events or as a regular weekly commitment. Their English language skills are mixed. Some have degrees and prior successful careers in business. Please contact volunteer@westberksrefugees.org if you might be able to use their help.

• You can drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at both of Thatcham’s local Cooperative stores, as well as the Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. You can bring items anytime with in the store’s opening hours and the drop-off points are typically found near the tills. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

Local events and activities

Note: following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September, some events over the following few days may be cancelled or postponed. Please check with the organisers.

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

• Dates for the diary

Sat 17 Sept District Agricultural Society’s Annual Ploughing Match, Curridge.

Sat 17 Sept Sustainable Living Market, Thatcham Catholic Hall.

Sat 17 & Sun 18 Sept MouseFest, St Mary’s Church, Thatcham.

Sun 18 Sept Family Pirate and Sea Shanty Night, The Mill House, Thatcham.

Fri 14 to Sun 23 Oct Thatcham Festival 2022, various events.

Sat 15 Oct Oktoberfest Beer Festival, Hermitage 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 for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Just Play football for anyone aged 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability who enjoys playing football (or wants to give it a go for the first time). Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

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.

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

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 you can check the venue diary 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.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

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

News from your local council

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 July 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, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the proposed development at Greenbacks; the prettiest front garden; the Tennis Club; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; financial matters; tree preservation orders; Lawrence’s Lane; the 2022 Champions’ Award; the neighbourhood development plan; and Councillors’ questions.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 8 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the community orchard; Dogg mess; CCTV and the BMX track; the need for a new councillor; the three-year plan; planning matters; the North East Thatcham (THA20) Working Group; the Henwick Park and Colthrop Village proposals; highways; the 2021 census; the BPC website; Bucklebury Meadows and the Hockett Field; the Cemetery and Chapel; CCTV at the memorial Hall; defibrillators; the Conservation Area Appraisal; speeding; Nature Watch; and financial matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Washoe Lodge development; poor management of the recent road closure in Brimpton Lane; the parish noticeboards; the correct naming of Back Lane; repairs and maintenance work; speeding; planning matters; the Settlement Boundary Working Group; financial matters; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 27 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Village Hall; noisy dogs; financial matters; a donation to Swings & Smiles; and planning matters.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 29 June and you can read the minutes here. Most of the matters were deferred until the meeting on 13 July.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 28 June and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

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.

Friday 9 September 2022

This week we look at local mourning for the Queen, ducks, litter, cycling, tennis and the memorial Hall: plus there’s our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Thatcham Town Council pays its respects to the Queen, our longest-reigning monarch and invites local residents to lay floral tributes for the Queen in the community garden in front of the council office in Brownsfield Road. A Book of Condolence is now in the council office for anyone to sign between 9am and 4.30pn Monday to Friday. The Mayor of Thatcham, Cllr Jeff Brook, warmly invites residents to the Official Reading of the Proclamation of His Majesty Charles III at 5pm on Sunday 11 September on Thatcham Broadway. For more details please see the council’s facebook page here.

• The Great Thatcham Duck Race last weekend was a huge success. Organised by the Thatcham Rotary Club, the race started in Woolhampton with 4,300 ducks gracing the Kennet Canal. The event managed to raise over £3,200 for Time to Talk young people’s mental health charity. For a more detailed account of the day’s events, see Newbury Today.

KindnessVSCancer’s charity Under 10s Football Tournament is this Saturday 10 September in Woolhampton. If you would like to come along to show your support to both the young players and a good cause then please see here for more details. If football’s not your style, maybe you’d prefer the Thatcham Roller Disco down at the Kennet Centre instead…

Thatcham Litter Pickers are a group of locals dedicated to making Thatcham a cleaner and nicer place to live. They meet one Saturday a month at different locations in the town and spend a couple hours collecting several bags of trash and recyclables. All ages are welcome and they provide equipment and will take away the rubbish at the end. The next litter picking meet-up will be on Sunday 25 September, so do go along if you would like to meet some lovely people and make the community a tidier place to live. To keep up with future events or ask questioned, check our their Facebook Page for more details.

• Do you have any happy memories of Thatcham Memorial Hall? In celebration of its 25th anniversary, the Thatcham Memorial Foundation is calling for any pictures, videos or anecdotes you may have of the hall. The charity, which turns 25 on 15 October, would love to hear from you before the end of September.  If you have a memory, such as a wedding, party or other event which happened there that you would like to share, please send it to enquiries@thatchammemorial.org.uk.

• This week three Thatcham locals will undertaking a charity cycle through the alps as part of Vodafone Foundation’s YourPlanet Campaign, which supports the Tusk Trust who help protect Africa’s endangered wildlife and The Ocean Clean-Up who remove ocean plastic pollution. Teresa Robbins, Graham Stent and Mark Chance set off on Wednesday 6 September and will be tackling a 320 mile journey across the French Alps. They are due to complete their trial on Sunday 11 September. They are aiming to raise £10,000, which will be matched pound for pound by the Vodafone Foundation. If you would like to support their campaign, you can support them through their JustGiving page.

• In other fundraising news, Sarah Jones from Thatcham has publicly shaved her head for the Sue Ryder charity. Sarah’s mum pass away from cancer in June of this year and the charity was a major pillar of support for her family. On 29 August Sarah and a crowd of supporters descended on Thatcham Broadway to cut off her hair. If you would like to support Sarah and Sue Ryder please donate to their JustGiving page here.

• Good news for local tennis lovers. Newbury Town Council has entered into a 10-year agreement with the National Tennis Association (NTA) with support from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to enable the local community to easily access tennis courts and increase awareness and participation of tennis in the area. This means that Newbury Tennis Club, Thatcham Memorial Foundation Tennis Courts and Victoria Park Tennis Courts are now connected under one banner as Newbury & Thatcham Community Tennis. For more information about the new agreement, you can read about it here. If you would like to book one of the courts click here.

• Don’t forget that West Berkshire Museum‘s upcoming exhibition Focus on Thatcham is opening on the 17 September 2022. The exhibit focuses on the towns history and will be running for a while year until 17 September 2023. Museum  opening hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-4pm.

• A reminder that many West Berks bus routes now offer an all day Connect Group Bus Ticket for up to four people (any combination of adults and children) for £10 (urban fare) or £15 (rural fare). These tickets can be bought from the bus driver or via the Newbury & District app on your phone (which also shows in real time where each bus is on its journey so you know how long you have to wait).

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• 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 starts with a nuthatch and ends with Ayn Rand.

• 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.

Community notices

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

•  All day Connect Group Bus Tickets for up to 4 people (any combination of adults and children) can be bought from the bus driver or via the Newbury & District app on your phone (which also shows in real time where each bus is on its journey so you know how long you have to wait).

• The asylum seekers living at The Regency Hotel are very motivated to do something productive with their time and to give back to the local community by volunteering. They are happy to do manual work, office work or practical things indoors or outside to help in the community as one-off events or as a regular weekly commitment. Their English language skills are mixed. Some have degrees and prior successful careers in business. Please contact volunteer@westberksrefugees.org if you might be able to use their help.

• You can drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at both of Thatcham’s local Cooperative stores, as well as the Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. You can bring items anytime with in the store’s opening hours and the drop-off points are typically found near the tills. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

Local events and activities

Note: following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on 8 September, some events over the following few days may be cancelled or postponed. Please check with the organisers.

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

• Dates for the diary

Sat 10 Sept Charity Under 10s Football Tournament, Douai Park, Woolhampton.

Sat 10 Sept Thatcham Roller Disco, Kennet Centre.

Sat 17 Sept The Agricultural Society’s Annual Ploughing Match, Curridge.

Sat 17 Sept Sustainable Living Market, Thatcham Catholic Hall.

Sat 17 & Sun 18 Sept MouseFest, St Mary’s Church, Thatcham.

Sun 18 Sept Family Pirate and Sea Shanty Night, The Mill House, Thatcham.

Fri 14 to Sun 23 Oct Thatcham Festival 2022, various events.

Sat 15 Oct Oktoberfest Beer Festival, Hermitage 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 for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Just Play football for anyone aged 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability who enjoys playing football (or wants to give it a go for the first time). Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

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.

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

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 you can check the venue diary 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.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

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

News from your local council

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 9 May and you can read the minutes here. (You can watch a recording of the 27 June meeting here.) Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the proposed development at Greenbacks; the prettiest front garden; the Tennis Club; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; financial matters; tree preservation orders; Lawrence’s Lane; the 2022 Champions’ Award; the neighbourhood development plan; and Councillors’ questions.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 8 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the community orchard; Dogg mess; CCTV and the BMX track; the need for a new councillor; the three-year plan; planning matters; the North East Thatcham (THA20) Working Group; the Henwick Park and Colthrop Village proposals; highways; the 2021 census; the BPC website; Bucklebury Meadows and the Hockett Field; the Cemetery and Chapel; CCTV at the memorial Hall; defibrillators; the Conservation Area Appraisal; speeding; Nature Watch; and financial matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Washoe Lodge development; poor management of the recent road closure in Brimpton Lane; the parish noticeboards; the correct naming of Back Lane; repairs and maintenance work; speeding; planning matters; the Settlement Boundary Working Group; financial matters; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 27 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Village Hall; noisy dogs; financial matters; a donation to Swings & Smiles; and planning matters.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes 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 for which minutes are available was on 29 June and you can read the minutes here. Most of the matters were deferred until the meeting on 13 July.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 28 June and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

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 1 September 2022

We didn’t do a news update for 1 September 2022 as were having a week off. However, the 25 August section below will include much information that’s still relevant, including regarding community organisations and recurring events (please email penny@pennypost.org.uk if you would like information about your organisation to be included here).

Many of the news items that we covered last week also remain relevant as they relate to issues that are still active or to events that are yet to take place. The normal service of updating these will resume on 8 September.

The main issue we’ve been covering here in the last year or so is the controversial proposal to build up to 2,500 homes to the north east of Thatcham. This has caused a delay to West Berkshire Council’s refreshment of its local plan as government rules demand a 30-year vision be created for projects of this scale. This has involved the appointment of two specialist consultants, Iceni and Arup, as well as a good deal of extra work at WBC HQ. Consultants have also been used by opponents of the scheme, which include Thatcham Town Council and three neighbouring parish councils; also at least two developers, which claim that this schemes are not being seriously considered as alternatives. The debate is also being played out against the backdrop of what most agree is a decades-long infrastructure deficit in the town, something that the 2,500-home plan will do little to address.

It is now expected that the new local plan, including WBC’s justifications for the NE Thatcham site, will be submitted to Full Council on 1 December with a seven-week Regulation 19 consultation period then following. There are bound to be a large number of comments, many of them long and technical. All of these will need to have been studied and if necessary addressed before the plan can be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for examination. The current administration will be hoping for this to have happened before the elections on 4 May. We’ll be keeping our eye on developments over the next eight months.

Thursday 25 August 2022

This week we congratulate a walker, look forward to some Bucklebury beer and have a look at the latest vision document which is being prepared for Thatcham: plus our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• This weekend we have the Bucklebury Beerfest to look forward to. Come down on Saturday 27 August for lots of fun activities for the whole family to enjoy, as well as a range of beer and cider. Entry is free and there is plenty of parking in this lovely spot and proceeds go to support some important charities. See here for more details.

• Congratulations to Thatcham local Val Stephenson who has raised an incredible £3,566 by walking 100 circuits of a Siege Cross Fields park in aid of Newbury Cancer Care and The Rosemary Centre. Val has been diagnosed with breast cancer twice in the past four years and during that time was hugely helped by her cancer support group at The Rosemary Centre, at West Berkshire Community Hospital. Fortunately she is now cancer-free and she wanted to pay tribute those involved in her “amazing” treatment. If you would like to contribute to Val’s excellent cause, there is still time to donate to her Just Giving page. You can read more about Val’s achievements here.

Good news that many West Berks bus routes now offer an all day Connect Group Bus Ticket for up to four people (any combination of adults and children) for £10 (urban fare) or £15 (rural fare). These tickets can be bought from the bus driver or via the Newbury & District app on your phone (which also shows in real time where each bus is on its journey so you know how long you have to wait).

• Quick reminder that West Berkshire Museum needs your help with objects for its upcoming Focus on Thatcham exhibition as the Museum is keen to include items representing the more recent history of the parish. If you have anything which tells the story of Thatcham’s history which you are happy to lend to the exhibition for a year, from 17 September 2022 until 17 September 2023, please contact the Museum before the end of August on collections@westberks.gov.uk or call the Museum during opening hours (Wednesday-Sunday 10am-4pm) on 01635 519562.

KindnessVSCancer is seeking local artisans, crafters or small businesses interested in being stallholders at its Under 10s Football Tournament in Woolhampton on Saturday 10 September. If this sounds like it would be of interest to you, please see here fore more details.

• Quick reminder about the hosepipe ban that was introduced this week, as whatever rain we now have still isn’t enough to replenish the low water levels in reservoirs and rivers. You can still use mains water to fill watering cans and buckets, and gardeners say this is a more efficient way to the water the garden so please make every drop count. There are exemptions for Blue Badge holders, or those on Thames Water’s Priority Register with restricted mobility, who find carrying a bucket or watering can difficult. And while the temporary ban does not cover businesses, Thames Water is asking businesses across its area to be mindful of the drought and to use water wisely, for example, by not washing commercial vehicles or turning off water features on their properties. See more details here.

•  West Berkshire Action for Refugees are gratefully requesting donations of unwanted big suitcases and bathroom supplies like deodorant and shampoo which can be dropped off at Thatcham Town Council. If you can help please contact their facebook page or volunteer@westberksrefugees.org.

Looking for fun ideas for children and teens this summer? See our Guide to Summer Fun which includes free activities with Thatcham Youth including crafts, sports, roller disco, magic show, African drumming, reptile handling and more. See how to book on the Thatcham Youth website – plus free  Play in the Park sessions in Thatcham, Cold Ash and Compton.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• 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 nuthatch and ends with Ayn Rand.

• 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.

Another vision for Thatcham

Work is shortly to start on “a 10-year town centre place-making strategy and delivery plans for Thatcham in consultation with residents and key stakeholders.” The 10 years refers not to the length of time this will exercise will take but the time period that it will look ahead to. The schedule for the work is itself more compact, a completion date of 31 December 2022 having been specified. I understand that the consultants have been appointed though not yet officially announced. This is expected to be publicly confirmed in the next week or so. A similar project for Newbury was produced last year by Hemingway Design and one for Hungerford is being planned to be finalised by 31 March 2023. You can find out more on all these projects on this page of WBC’s website. You can also click here to see this summary by WBC which was referred to in the most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council (TTC).

Thatcham currently has no shortage of visions, strategies or what you will, this being the third. There is also one being conducted by Iceni to help inform the 30-year vision that is required for the proposed NE Thatcham development (and by Sandleford) for the emerging local plan; the other, being done by Arup, is a landscape assessment for the same purpose. The deadline at work here is that both these documents, and a small mountain of other material, needs to be submitted to WBC’s Full Council on 1 December in order to have a seven-week Regulation 19 consultation which will be followed by consideration by the officers. The aim is that the local plan will be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for examination before the elections in early May. Were this not to have happened by then it would be much easier for any new political administration to hold the plan back for further revision.

The bad news for WBC is the Iceni part of the work seems to be running about two months behind schedule. TTC was expecting to have sight of it sometime in June so that it could “review and respond,” something it also intends to do with the Arup document. TTC has already made some specific and detailed comments about previous drafts of the Iceni work, as well as correcting some errors of fact, and it’s expected that similar rigour will be applied when the final Iceni document and the Arup one come before it. I’m unsure if WBC – which never appeared particularly to welcome TTC’s involvement in the process – is obliged to pause any work to allow TTC to respond. I can be fairly certain, however, that if the final submissions retain any errors which TTC has pointed out or appear to have ignored any material points that it has highlighted then the document could be regarded as defective. It could also be the Council has not had several weeks to consider the reports and get back to their authors with any questions. They are probably therefore needed by the end of October if the schedule isn’t going to slip again.

Some are concerned that the the visioning work is flawed anyway as insufficient attention has been paid to the competing claims of other proposals. Two of these, at Colthrop and Henwisk Park, have taken the fairly rare step of joining forces to promote their two separate schemes as “an alternative housing strategy for Thatcham.” The Colthrop scheme was not included in WBC’s HELAA (land allocation) due to flooding concerns, though the developers are confident these can be overcome. This scheme also proposes building a railway bridge in place of the level crossing (which the 2,500-home scheme would not), something many in the town would welcome. Iceni was unaware even of the existence of this proposal until they were told about by a councillor from a neighbouring parish. It’s hard to see how any vision for the town which ignores such a possibility can be regarded as flawless.

The place-making strategy that has recently been announced is concerned with economic development rather than planning. However, it’s likely that its conclusions would have been useful for the Thatcham part of the emerging local plan, not least because it would have included recent data. In retrospect, WBC may have wished that the Thatcham place-making work had been done last year, before Newbury’s. As it is, if the timetables are adhered to, Thatcham’s place-making will be published in December. Its conclusions will therefore be too late to influence what goes into the local plan but in time to influence the public’s response during the Regulation 19 consultation – should there be anything in it which seems relevant to the plan and which the plan has not addressed.

Community notices

• Friends of Thatcham Library is rallying volunteers to help maintain the standards of the facility. To become a “new friend” of the library please email friendsofthatcham@gmail.com

• All are welcome at the open sessions at the 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 & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

• The asylum seekers living at The Regency Hotel are very motivated to do something productive with their time and to give back to the local community by volunteering. They are happy to do manual work, office work or practical things indoors or outside to help in the community as one-off events or as a regular weekly commitment. Their English language skills are mixed. Some have degrees and prior successful careers in business. Please contact volunteer@westberksrefugees.org if you might be able to use their help.

• You can drop off donations to West Berkshire Food Bank at both of Thatcham’s local Cooperative stores, as well as the Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. You can bring items anytime with in the store’s opening hours and the drop-off points are typically found near the tills. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to its website.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

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 27 Aug Bucklebury Beerfest, Bucklebury Recreation Ground.

Sat 3 Sept Thatcham Woman’s Institute: Coffee Morning, United Reform Church.

Sun 4 Sept The Great Thatcham Duck Race, The Rowbarge, Station Road, Woolhampton.

Sat 10 Sept Charity Under 10s Football Tournament, Douai Park, Woolhampton.

Sat 17 Sept The Agricultural Society’s Annual Ploughing Match, Curridge.

• 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 for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Just Play football for anyone aged 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability who enjoys playing football (or wants to give it a go for the first time). Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

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.

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

• 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.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

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

News from your local council

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 9 May and you can read the minutes here. (You can watch a recording of the 27 June meeting 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 for which minutes are available was on 27 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Village Hall; noisy dogs; financial matters; a donation to Swings & Smiles; and planning matters. 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 for which minutes are available was on 21 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; the neighbourhood development plan; financial matters; the burial ground; speeding; environmental matters; and the Parish Council’s communications. 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 Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 19 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation from Shorewood Homes (see separate section above); reports from the ward members; the appeal concerning Lawrence’s Lane; planning matters; financial matters; the proposed Manor Park football pitch; the playground; a delay to the NDP due to the nutrient neutrality and WBC’s “radio silence” on the matter; and repairs and maintenance work. 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 for which minutes are available was on 11 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; Wessex Woodland; a councillor resignation; the death of a former Parish Clerk; WBC’s local plan; risk assessments; the Clerk’s report; village maintenance work; CCTV; wellbeing; recycling; speeding; financial matters; and footpaths. 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 for which minutes are available was on 5 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Washoe Lodge development; repair and maintenance work around the parish; speeding; the Village Hall and land recently leased from the Wasing Estate; Back Lane (part of which may not in fact be called Back Lane); SSE cable installation; the Settlement Boundary Working Group; planning matters; financial matters; and the Clerk’s report. 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 for which minutes are available was on 29 June and you can read the minutes here. Most of the matters were deferred until the meeting on 13 July. 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 for which minutes are available was on 10 May and you can read the minutes here.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

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 18 August 2022

This week we meet a film-maker, reflect on Thatcham’s history, play some football and appeal from some suitcases, as well as taking a look at “a mature and attractive street scene” that’s planned for Cold Ash: plus our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Thatcham Refillable are at Thatcham Market every Friday and now offer refillable cleaning products for businesses as well as households. Pop down and have a chat with Jenny and Tom.

Thatcham Town Harriers has just launched Berkshire’s first Just Play football centre for anyone aged 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability who enjoys playing football (or wants to give it a go for the first time). Instead of commiting to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a week by week basis. The sessions are 6pm to 7pm on Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground on a MUGA Astroturf surface, so please only wear trainers/astros when playing. Match squad sizes will depend on the number of attendees, but will usually be 9v9. Book your place here.

• West Berkshire Museum needs your help with objects for its upcoming Focus on Thatcham exhibition opening in September.  Finds which represent Thatcham, until recently credited as being the longest continually inhabited settlement in Britain, range from Stone Age tools to brushes made in the 1900s.  But the Museum is also keen to include items representing the more recent history of the parish. If you have anything which tells the story of Thatcham’s history which you are happy to lend to the exhibition for a year, from 17 September 2022 until 17 September 2023, please contact the Museum before the end of August on collections@westberks.gov.uk or call the Museum during opening hours (Wednesday-Sunday 10am-4pm) on 01635 519562.

Thatcham filmmaker Mirek Gosney has recently released a short documentary Britain’s Forgotten Frontier which explores the role of pill boxes in the second world war and includes many local ones you might recognise. See here for Jenny Reilly’s review of the film and a link to watch it for yourself.

KindnessVSCancer are seeking local artisans, crafters or small businesses interested in being stallholders at their Under 10s Football Tournament in Woolhampton on Saturday 10 September. If this sounds like it would be of interest to you, please see here fore more details.

• This week’s long-awaited downpour was substantial but not substantial enough to raise our extremely low river and reservoir levels caused by the driest July since 1885. As a result, Thames Water will be implementing a hosepipe ban from Wednesday 24 August. You can still use mains water to fill watering cans and buckets, and gardeners say this is a more efficient way to the water the garden so please make every drop count. There are exemptions for Blue Badge holders, or those on Thames Water’s Priority Register with restricted mobility, who find carrying a bucket or watering can difficult. And while the temporary ban does not cover businesses, Thames Water is asking businesses across its area to be mindful of the drought and to use water wisely, for example, by not washing commercial vehicles or turning off water features on their properties. See more details here.

Bucklebury Beerfest on Saturday 27 August has lots of fun for all the family as well as a range of beer and cider to enjoy. Entry is free and there is plenty of parking in this lovely spot and proceeds go to support some important charities. See here for more details.

•  West Berkshire Action for Refugees are gratefully requesting donations of unwanted big suitcases and bathroom supplies like deodorant and shampoo which can be dropped off at Thatcham Town Council. If you can help please contact their facebook page or volunteer@westberksrefugees.org.

• An application for a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) for Thatcham town centre has been granted by West Berkshire Council. The PSPO orders that if people are asked to stop their behaviour by a Police Officer or Police Community Support Officer they must do so and if they don’t comply, they will be committing a criminal offence. The result could be a fixed penalty notice of up to £100, or a fine of up to £1,000 if they are prosecuted and convicted. For more information please read their notice on the Council website here.

• In celebration of Newbury Building Society’s 165th birthday, they are donating 165 days of employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around their branch towns including Thatcham. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

Looking for fun ideas for children and teens this summer? See our Guide to Summer Fun which includes free activities with Thatcham Youth including crafts, sports, roller disco, magic show, African drumming, reptile handling and more. See how to book on the Thatcham Youth website – plus free  Play in the Park sessions in Thatcham, Cold Ash and Compton.

• Quick reminder that Thatcham Town FC is fundraising for a multi-purpose, multi-user year round 3G community pitch by offering pitch squares at £10 or £15 each that can be sponsored by anyone who loves and wishes to support the club. All money raised is to be matched by Greenham Trust. Click here to see the squares available and make your donation here.

West Berks Food Bank is looking for volunteers, particularly those that can be drivers to deliver food parcels, packers to make the food parcels and volunteers who can sort donations at the warehouse. It is also looking for volunteers who can help manage social media accounts. If you think you would be suitable for any of those roles contact fran@westberks.foodbank.org or phone 07836 500610. You can download the volunteering form to fill out here. For more information about West Berks Food Bank on their website.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• 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 harvest and ends with Anais Nin.

• 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 mature and attractive street scene

Shorewood Homes, based in Winchester, is planning to build in Cold Ash “a traditional development of two detached, semi-detached and streaked two-storey houses with three or four bedrooms, all landscaped to create a mature and attractive street scene from day one.” A spokesperson from the developers attended the Cold Ash PC meeting on 19 July: the report of what he said and what he was asked is reproduced below, verbatim from the minutes.

Mr Wickins introduced himself as the director from Shorewood Homes; he advised that the proposed development in Collaroy Road would include 10 dwellings, in keeping with surrounding properties.

Current access was from Collaroy Road a new access is being proposed from Collaroy Road. A new access has been considered from The Rise, however there are land ownership issues with this option. All properties would have good sized gardens and the architectural style would be traditional. He advised that Shorewood Homes had sent a copy of the site plan to residents and comments had been received from neighbouring residents. The planning application had been submitted to West Berkshire Council and, once agreed, the development should take 15 months to complete.

Residents were concerned with sight lines and that there were no pathways, and asked why access from The Rise could not be considered. They were advised that Highways Officers from WBC had not yet been consulted, but all traffic data had been submitted to WBC with application.

Residents also had concerns regarding the amount of vehicles and traffic the development would generate. Mr Wickins would discuss their concerns with Shorewood Homes Highways Officers.

Residents felt there would be over-development to the site, and the new build s would overlook neighbouring properties now that the hedges had been removed.

There were also concerns with the construction vehicles accessing the site.

Councillor Silsby asked what benefit the proposed development would bring to the parish. He felt there was no requirement for large housing in the area. Mr Wickins advised that affordable housing was not viable. Councillor Murray advised that the first the Parish Council had heard about the development was complaints from residents regarding tree felling. Due to technical issues at the Parish Council Meeting, Mr Wickins would forward presentation which could be shared with residents; they would also be available on the WBC website shortly. There were concerns with light pollution; Councillor McArdle advised that this area was a dark sky zone.

Councillor Fenner thanked Mr Wickins for attending and asked residents to send questions to the Parish Office for the Clerk to forward on to Mr Wickins.

Community notices

• Friends of Thatcham Library is rallying volunteers to help maintain the standards of the facility. To become a “new friend” of the library please email friendsofthatcham@gmail.com

• All are welcome at the open sessions at the 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 & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• The asylum seekers living at The Regency Hotel are very motivated to do something productive with their time and to give back to the local community by volunteering. They get £8 a week for all their living expenses so can’t afford to pay for travel. Opportunities would therefore need to be in the Thatcham area or have transport provided. They are happy to do manual work, office work or practical things indoors or outside to help in the community as one-off events or as a regular weekly commitment. Their English language skills are mixed. Some have degrees and prior successful careers in business. Please contact volunteer@westberksrefugees.org if you might be able to use their help.

• 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.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

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 25 Aug Teddy Bears Picnic, Nature Discovery Centre.

Sat 27 Aug Bucklebury Beerfest, Bucklebury Recreation Ground.

Sun 4 Sept The Great Thatcham Duck Race, The Rowbarge, Station Road, Woolhampton.

Sat 10 Sept Charity Under 10s Football Tournament, Douai Park, Woolhampton.

Sat 17 Sept The Agricultural Society’s Annual Ploughing Match, Curridge.

• 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.

• 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 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 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

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 9 May and you can read the minutes here. (You can watch a recording of the 27 June meeting 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 for which minutes are available was on 27 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Village Hall; noisy dogs; financial matters; a donation to Swings & Smiles; and planning 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 for which minutes are available was on 19 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation from Shorewood Homes (see separate section above); reports from the ward members; the appeal concerning Lawrence’s Lane; planning matters; financial matters; the proposed Manor Park football pitch; the playground; a delay to the NDP due to the nutrient neutrality and WBC’s “radio silence” on the matter; and repairs and maintenance work. 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 for which minutes are available was on 11 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; Wessex Woodland; a councillor resignation; the death of a former Parish Clerk; WBC’s local plan; risk assessments; the Clerk’s report; village maintenance work; CCTV; wellbeing; recycling; speeding; financial matters; and footpaths. 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 for which minutes are available was on 5 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Washoe Lodge development; repair and maintenance work around the parish; speeding; the Village Hall and land recently leased from the Wasing Estate; Back Lane (part of which may not in fact be called Back Lane); SSE cable installation; the Settlement Boundary Working Group; planning matters; financial matters; and the Clerk’s report. 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 for which minutes are available was on 29 June and you can read the minutes here. Most of the matters were deferred until the meeting on 13 July. 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 for which minutes are available was on 16 June 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 Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 May and you can read the minutes here.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

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 11 August 2022

This week we offer a reminder about the new parking arrangements at the Co-op, look forward to Bucklebury’s Beerfest and give a shout-out for the Foodbank: plus our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• As mentioned in last week’s column (see below), a reminder to residents who regularly use the Thatcham Co-op Carpark that this month they will be implementing APR (Automatic plate recognition) up-on entrance. Better make sure you keep a closer eye on the time while shopping there so you don’t accidently go over the limit and incur any fines…

• Well done to Tigers Day Nurseries who have raised an impressive £645 for local children’s charity Swings & Smiles. The group, which has nurseries in Thatcham, Theale and Swindon, raised the money through their annual awards ceremony, in which they recognise the achievements of their staff. We are sure that Swings and Smiles will put that money to very good use.

Bucklebury Beerfest on Saturday 27 August has lots of fun for all the family as well as a range of beer and cider to enjoy. Entry is free and there is plenty of parking in this lovely spot and proceeds go to support some important charities. See here for more details.

•  West Berkshire Action for Refugees are gratefully requesting donations of unwanted big suitcases and bathroom supplies like deoderant and shampoo which can be dropped off at Thatcham Town Council. If you can help please contact their facebook page or volunteer@westberksrefugees.org.

• An application for a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) for Thatcham town centre has been granted by West Berkshire Council. The PSPO orders that if people are asked to stop their behaviour by a Police Officer or Police Community Support Officer they must do so and if they don’t comply, they will be committing a criminal offence. The result could be a fixed penalty notice of up to £100, or a fine of up to £1,000 if they are prosecuted and convicted. For more information please read their notice on the Council website here.

• In celebration of Newbury Building Society’s 165th birthday, they are donating 165 days of employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around their branch towns including Thatcham. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

Looking for fun ideas for children and teens this summer? See our Guide to Summer Fun which includes free activities with Thatcham Youth including crafts, sports, roller disco, magic show, African drumming, reptile handling and more. See how to book on the Thatcham Youth website – plus free  Play in the Park sessions in Thatcham, Cold Ash and Compton.

• Quick reminder that Thatcham Town FC is fundraising for a multi-purpose, multi-user year round 3G community pitch by offering pitch squares at £10 or £15 each that can be sponsored by anyone who loves and wishes to support the club. All money raised is to be matched by Greenham Trust. Click here to see the squares available and make your donation here.

West Berks Food Bank is looking for volunteers, particularly those that can be drivers to deliver food parcels, packers to make the food parcels and volunteers who can sort donations at the warehouse. It is also looking for volunteers who can help manage social media accounts. If you think you would be suitable for any of those roles contact fran@westberks.foodbank.org or phone 07836 500610. You can download the volunteering form to fill out here. For more information about West Berks Food Bank on their website.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• 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 Footpath a6 and ends with 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.

Community notices

• Friends of Thatcham Library is rallying volunteers to help maintain the standards of the facility. To become a “new friend” of the library please email friendsofthatcham@gmail.com

• All are welcome at the open sessions at the 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 & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• The asylum seekers living at The Regency Hotel are very motivated to do something productive with their time and to give back to the local community by volunteering. They get £8 a week for all their living expenses so can’t afford to pay for travel. Opportunities would therefore need to be in the Thatcham area or have transport provided. They are happy to do manual work, office work or practical things indoors or outside to help in the community as one-off events or as a regular weekly commitment. Their English language skills are mixed. Some have degrees and prior successful careers in business. Please contact volunteer@westberksrefugees.org if you might be able to use their help.

• 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.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

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 18 Aug Free Children’s Magic Show with Thatcham Youth, Mooreside Community Centre.

• Wed 25 Aug Teddy Bears Picnic, Nature Discovery Centre.

Sat 27 Aug Bucklebury Beerfest, Bucklebury Recreation Ground.

• 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.

• 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 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 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

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 9 May and you can read the minutes here. (You can watch a recording of the 27 June meeting 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 for which minutes are available was on 27 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Village Hall; noisy dogs; financial matters; a donation to Swings & Smiles; and planning matters. 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 for which minutes are available was on 11 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; Wessex Woodland; a councillor resignation; the death of a former Parish Clerk; WBC’s local plan; risk assessments; the Clerk’s report; village maintenance work; CCTV; wellbeing; recycling; speeding; financial matters; and footpaths. 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 for which minutes are available was on 5 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Washoe Lodge development; repair and maintenance work around the parish; speeding; the Village Hall and land recently leased from the Wasing Estate; Back Lane (part of which may not in fact be called Back Lane); SSE cable installation; the Settlement Boundary Working Group; planning matters; financial matters; and the Clerk’s report. 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 for which minutes are available was on 29 June and you can read the minutes here. Most of the matters were deferred until the meeting on 13 July.  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 for which minutes are available,was on 28 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: footpaths; GDPR; planning matters; financial matters; rights of way; the Iceland Hall; the playground; the Wildlife Allotment Garden; and the neighbourhood development plan. 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 Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 16 June 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 Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 May and you can read the minutes here.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

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 4 August 2022

This week we thank Thatcham Town Council for thanking us, consider some unwelcome changes to local car-parking arrangements and record some reactions to the granting of a Public Spaces Protection Order in the town: plus our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Inspired by the Lionesses Euro 2022 victory? The Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club caters for under 7s, right up to their adult ladies team. They offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• An application for a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) for Thatcham town centre has been granted by West Berkshire Council. PSPOs place restrictions on certain behaviours in an area to make sure that everyone can feel safer and enjoy public spaces. In a consultation issued by the Council to locals, 84.67% of respondents supported the proposed anti-social behaviour restriction and the Council has now formally granted the application. The PSPO orders that if people are asked to stop their behaviour by a Police Officer or Police Community Support Officer they must do so and if they don’t comply, they will be committing a criminal offence. The result could be a fixed penalty notice of up to £100, or a fine of up to £1,000 if they are prosecuted and convicted. For more information please read their notice on the Council website here.

• You may have noticed that part of Station Road has been closed due to essential road resurfacing. The closure between the junctions of Pipers Way and the Moors will be between 9:30am and 3:30pm until Friday 12 August. For more information please click here.

• A massive well done to the pupils of Bucklebury’s C of E Primary School, who managed to raise an incredible £1,586 for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance service. The money was raised over the course of the year doing various fundraising events such as dressing up days, a sponsored walk and the school’s drama production of Pirates of the Curry Bean. Read more in the Newbury Today article here. Keep up the good work kids.

• In celebration of Newbury Building Society’s 165th birthday they are donating 165 days of employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around their branch towns including Thatcham, Hungerford, Newbury, Basingstoke and Didcot. In line with their Green Community work, they would particularly like to hear from organisations with sustainability or environment focused projects from litter picking to planting community gardens. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

•  West Berkshire Action for Refugees have been able to supply bikes, bikeability training and an all-weather bike rack for asylum seekers currently staying in the area. They have gratefully received enough donations of clothes for women, but they still need summer clothes and trainers for men. If you can help please contact their facebook page or volunteer@westberksrefugees.org.

• The asylum seekers living at The Regency Hotel are very motivated to do something productive with their time and to give back to the local community by volunteering. They get £8 a week for all their living expenses so can’t afford to pay for travel. Opportunities would therefore need to be in the Thatcham area or have transport provided. They are happy to do manual work, office work or practical things indoors or outside to help in the community as one-off events or as a regular weekly commitment. Their English language skills are mixed. Some have degrees and prior successful careers in business. Please contact volunteer@westberksrefugees.org if you might be able to use their help.

• Homestart West Berkshire is a vital local charity which helps support families facing various hardships and challenges, and they are looking for volunteers. A carefully selected volunteer, with parenting experience, can visit regularly and offer emotional and practical support. There are also other volunteer roles available, such as admin support and helping with fundraising. All training provided. For more information please visit Homestart’s volunteering page or call 01635 760 310.

Looking for fun ideas for children and teens this summer? See our Guide to Summer Fun which includes free activities with Thatcham Youth including crafts, sports, roller disco, magic show, African drumming, reptile handling and more. See how to book on the Thatcham Youth website – plus free  Play in the Park sessions in Thatcham, Cold Ash and Compton.

• Quick reminder that Thatcham Town FC is fundraising for a multi-purpose, multi-user year round 3G community pitch by offering pitch squares at £10 or £15 each that can be sponsored by anyone who loves and wishes to support the club. All money raised is to be matched by Greenham Trust. Click here to see the squares available and make your donation here.

West Berks Food Bank is looking for volunteers, particularly those that can be drivers to deliver food parcels, packers to make the food parcels and volunteers who can sort donations at the warehouse. It is also looking for volunteers who can help manage social media accounts. If you think you would be suitable for any of those roles contact fran@westberks.foodbank.org or phone 07836 500610. You can download the volunteering form to fill out here. For more information about West Berks Food Bank on their website.

Church Hill in Midgham is to be closed for street works until 9 August between the Bath Road junction and the Birds Lane junction. See more on One Network here.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• 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 bees and ends with Oscar Wilde.

• 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 vote of thanks

It’s always pleasant to get emails which start off “I am grateful to Penny Post for…” (please feel free to send us one yourself if you wish). We try to harvest as much news as we can each week, add a generous pinch of opinion and comment and serve it up in a appetising and interesting way. This takes a good deal of time and thought. Our sources of information include town and parish councils and Wednesday and Thursday often finds me on the phone or the email to check facts, get statements or unearth documents. Usually it’s them that tell us things: on this occasion, though, it was the other way round.

“I am grateful to Penny Post,” Councillor Simon Pike, Chairman of Planning and Highways Committee at Thatcham Town Council told us this week, “for reporting the West Berkshire Council press release on its contract with Arup for a refined landscape review [in connection with the plan for 2,500 homes to the north east of the town]. Without that, we would not have known about this project, because WBC does not publish its press releases on its website. It is unclear why WBC has suddenly found the need for a new landscape review this late in the Local Plan review process, unless the existing documentation does not provide the answers it is seeking.”

The news was something of a surprise to me; as was the fact that WBC had not told Thatcham TC about something that directly concerned the town and in which it therefore had a legitimate and urgent interest. This does seem to be about par for the course in the dealings between these two organisations on this matter.

You can read the statement from WBC in the 21 July section in the archive section of this column.

Thatcham’s PSPO

WBC has announced that it has granted a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) for Thatcham town centre. These allow council’s to place restrictions on certain behaviours in an area to make sure that everyone can feel safer and enjoy public spaces.

A statement from WBC says that “Thames Valley Police asked the Council to consider introducing such an Order for the centre of Thatcham, as a result of which the Council undertook a public consultation, with people who live, visit or work in the area taking part and answering questions on anti-social behaviour. 84.67% of respondents supported the proposed anti-social behaviour restriction and the Council has now formally granted the application.

“The restriction is preventative: if people are asked to stop their behaviour by a Police Officer or Police Community Support Officer they must do so.  If they don’t comply, they will be committing a criminal offence which could result in a fixed penalty notice of up to £100, or a fine of up to £1,000 if they are prosecuted and convicted.”

Inspector Matt Gow from Thames Valley Police is quoted in the statement as saying that TVP will “be supporting it by using the engage, explain and encourage approach with enforcement only being used as a last resort.” Councillor Graham Bridgman, the Council’s Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing said that, “we are committed to working with partners to ensure that our town centres remain as places for everyone to enjoy.”

In a separate statement, Owen Jeffery, WBC Ward Member and Chairman of the Town Council’s Town Centre Committee, said that “I am very pleased that the public consultation for this Public Spaces Protection Order has been successful  with the public supporting it. Anti-social behaviour is never enjoyable and giving the Police these additional tools to deal with those wishing to make life unpleasant for others is warmly welcomed by me. Thatcham is a great place to live and our town’s central area – from the Memorial Field to the High Street, The Broadway, the Turnfield’s Play Area and beyond – is  popular at most times. This PSPO will assist  the Police to keep it that way.”

Co-operative parking

The Co-op in Thatcham is shortly to introduce a numberplate recognition system for its car park with the intention of ensuring that the current parking arrangements (one hour free with charges applying thereafter) are enforced. The service will be outsourced to Horizon to manage. That’s fine: the Co-op owns the land and can set whatever charges it wishes and appoint the SAS, Millwall FC’s Supporters’ Club, a troupe of local Boy Scouts or whoever it wishes in order to police them.

The situation here is, however, a bit more complex than normal as the Co-op car park is the only point of access for some other car parks which the Co-op doesn’t own.  The plan is that number plates of cars which will use these private car parks can be added to Horizon’s system so these are exempted. However, an initial enquiry to Henwick Properties, which owns one of these sites, suggested that the system can only accept a limited number of plates. This will cause problems for a shop which has several different employees, deliveries or customers who need its allocated parking slots, although not all at the same time.

This perfectly describes several of the businesses there, particularly the Sue Ryder charity shop which has four parking bays in one of the car parks that can only be reached through the Co-op’s one but at least 20 different volunteers who work there at different times. It’s currently unclear whether the system will be able to cope with this number of possible vehicles; nor whether it will be necessary for the various businesses to be updating Horizon’s system every time there’s a vehicle movement. For safety, this should also perhaps include those making deliveries or collections and staying for less than an hour. Number-plate recognition systems are not flawless. If they record an arrival but not a departure you could end up with a hefty fine. All in all, much depends on Horizon’s system working better than that of its ill-fated namesake which was relied upon by the Post Office for so many years and with such disastrous consequences.

(I fell foul of a very similar thing about ten years ago when I had to pass through the car park of a local organisation with parking charges that were clearly signed and into a car park round the back where no such signs existed and where the regulations therefore technically didn’t apply. I was issued with a large fine and threatened with prosecution. I agreed that I had entered and left the car park about two hours later. However, I said, to fine me they needed to prove that I had parked in any area where charges applied, which as I hadn’t was something they would never be able to do. Eventually they gave up but it took about 20 emails spanning the best part of a year and was very stressful. It’s quite possible that the new arrangements in Thatcham could produce similar problems.)

Some may feel that it might be safer just to pay the two or three quid parking charges. Sue Ryder’s staff are, however, are unpaid. Many of them might think that volunteering their time is one thing but that it’s a bit much to also have to pay the Co-op to drive through a car park which they will not be parking in or, if anything goes wrong with any online registration, to receive a whacking great fine from an implacable and remote organisation. All in all, many of the businesses that use these car parks are seriously concerned about the effect that actual charges or fines, or the possibility of them, will have on their trade.

Communication appears to have been very poor and consultation non-existent, with some affected traders only being contacted (by Horizon) last week – it doesn’t seem that the Co-op, whose idea this was, saw fit to communicate with them itself. There could also have been some testing done before the system went live to prove that it worked (or that it didn’t). As it is, the system will be being switched on, whether it works properly or not, on 8 August.

I contacted the Co-op’s PR department on 2 July and on 4 July was told that “to ensure our customers can park when shopping in our store, we are introducing ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) at our the Thatcham store car park. We’ve agreed with Henwick Properties, who own the land adjacent to our carpark, that authorised people, such as those working at Sue Ryder, will continue to access these spaces free-of-charge.” It goes on to add that this “whitelist” system will be managed by Henwick Properties and will apply to “all Sue Ryder staff” (and presumably thus to all staff of other affected businesses).

I’ve not had time to find out why if this is the case I was told initially something different, whether this will apply to customers, whether the drivers or Henwick are responsible if a number plate is supplied to them for inclusion in the whitelist but for some reason not entered, whether the local businesses are comforted by this information and why the Co-op chose not to share this information with them itself.

I would also advise that anyone who has any concerns about this to contact Owen Jeffrey, one of the WBC District Councillors for this ward, who is involved in helping to resolve this. You can reach him on 07968 2513 70or owen.jeffery1@westberks.gov.uk. Please also feel free to contact me on brian@pennypost.org.uk if you have been affected by this issue.

Community notices

• Friends of Thatcham Library is rallying volunteers to help maintain the standards of the facility. To become a “new friend” of the library please email friendsofthatcham@gmail.com

• All are welcome at the open sessions at the 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.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

• Until end of Sept Peter Rabbit Storytime Trail, The Base, Greenham.

Friday 5 Aug Newbury Pride Social, The Cross Keys, Newbury.

Sat 18 Aug Free Children’s Magic Show with Thatcham Youth, Mooreside Community Centre.

• Wed 25 Aug Teddy Bears Picnic, Nature Discovery Centre.

Sat 27 Aug Bucklebury Beerfest, Bucklebury Recreation Ground.

• 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 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 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

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 9 May and you can read the minutes here. (You can watch a recording of the 27 June meeting 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 for which minutes are available was on 27 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Village Hall; noisy dogs; financial matters; a donation to Swings & Smiles; and planning matters. 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 for which minutes are available was on 11 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; Wessex Woodland; a councillor resignation; the death of a former Parish Clerk; WBC’s local plan; risk assessments; the Clerk’s report; village maintenance work; CCTV; wellbeing; recycling; speeding; financial matters; and footpaths. 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 for which minutes are available was on 5 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Washoe Lodge development; repair and maintenance work around the parish; speeding; the Village Hall and land recently leased from the Wasing Estate; Back Lane (part of which may not in fact be called Back Lane); SSE cable installation; the Settlement Boundary Working Group; planning matters; financial matters; and the Clerk’s report. 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 for which minutes are available was on 29 June and you can read the minutes here. Most of the matters were deferred until the meeting on 13 July.  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 for which minutes are available,was on 28 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: footpaths; GDPR; planning matters; financial matters; rights of way; the Iceland Hall; the playground; the Wildlife Allotment Garden; and the neighbourhood development plan. 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 Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 16 June 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 Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 May and you can read the minutes here.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

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 28 July 2022

This week we cover an open day, a 3G pitch, matchfunding and summer fun, as well as taking another look at the 2,500-gome proposal for NE Thatcham and the related matter of the final timetable for the local plan: plus our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

Check out some classic and vintage cars at Swings & Smiles Open Day and Classic Vehicle Show this Saturday 30 July at A Place to Play, Lower Way, Thatcham. With refreshments and activities for children, all proceeds from the event will go towards the excellent work Swings & Smiles do in supporting disabled children and their families. Click here for more information.

• In celebration of Newbury Building Society’s 165th birthday they are donating 165 days of employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around their branch towns including Thatcham, Hungerford, Newbury, Basingstoke and Didcot. In line with their Green Community work, they would particularly like to hear from organisations with sustainability or environment focused projects from litter picking to planting community gardens. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

This is your last chance to have your say on West Berkshire Council’s Bus Improvement Plan, as the survey deadline ends at midnight this Sunday 31 July. It is vital they hear from passengers and potential passengers to ensure they are meeting needs. If you would like your views heard regarding Berkshires bus services, then please take the survey here.

Thanks to donations by kind individuals and support from Community Furniture Project, West Berkshire Action for Refugees have been able to supply bikes, bikeability training and an all-weather bike rack for asylum seekers currently staying in the area.They have gratefully received enough donations of clothes for women, but they still need summer clothes and trainers for men. If you can help please contact their facebook page or volunteer@westberksrefugees.org.

• WBAR also has summer volunteer opportunities for students and local residents over 18 who want a multicultural experience at its regular English and activity sessions for asylum seekers in West Berks. Training will be provided. No previous experience required. Please contact volunteer@westberksrefugees.org or via the West Berks Action for Refugees facebook page.

• Homestart West Berkshire is a vital local charity which helps support families facing various hardships and challenges, and they are looking for volunteers. A carefully selected volunteer, with parenting experience, can visit regularly and offer emotional and practical support.. There are also other volunteer roles available, such as admin support and helping with fundraising. All training provided. For more information please visit Homestart’s volunteering page or call 01635 760 310.

Good news: from next year, new inclusive play equipment will be making its way to Thatcham’s parks, for children of all abilities to enjoy. Currently Thatcham Town Council is in the process of assessing various parks at Turnfields, Kennet Heath, Seigecross, Mooreside and Crowfield Drive for potential improvements and installations of the new, accessible apparatus. The council will be liaising with Thatcham-based charity Swings & Smiles, who support families of children with special needs. Read more about this story here and we look forward to hearing more about updates in the coming months.

Looking for fun ideas for children and teens this summer? See our Guide to Summer Fun which includes free activities with Thatcham Youth including crafts, sports, roller disco, magic show, African drumming, reptile handling and more. See how to book on the Thatcham Youth website – plus free  Play in the Park sessions in Thatcham, Cold Ash and Compton.

• Quick reminder that Thatcham Town FC is fundraising for a multi-purpose, multi-user year round 3G community pitch by offering pitch squares at £10 or £15 each that can be sponsored by anyone who loves and wishes to support the club. All money raised is to be matched by Greenham Trust. Click here to see the squares available and make your donation here.

West Berks Food Bank is looking for volunteers, particularly those that can be drivers to deliver food parcels, packers to make the food parcels and volunteers who can sort donations at the warehouse. It is also looking for volunteers who can help manage social media accounts. If you think you would be suitable for any of those roles contact fran@westberks.foodbank.org or phone 07836 500610. You can download the volunteering form to fill out here. For more information about West Berks Food Bank on their website.

Church Hill in Midgham is to be closed for street works until 9 August between the Bath Road junction and the Birds Lane junction. See more on One Network here.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• 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 an amazing sky and ends with being wrong.

• 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.

Planning the homes and honing the plan

West Berkshire Council’s local plan update has reached a critical point. As the mammoth project reaches its conclusion, national regulations demand that two consultations, known as Regulation 18 and 19 (referring to the clauses in the Town and Country Planning Act of 2012), take place. The former happens before the local planning authority (LPA), WBC in this case, approves the plan: the second takes place after this has happened and requires that all the responses are collated and supplied to the planning inspector along with the plan itself.

This isn’t a simple matter of batching all the comments into a file and adding it as an attachment. The government’s Procedure Guide for Local Plan Examinations specifies that “having considered the Regulation 19 consultation responses, the LPA should only submit a plan if they consider it to be sound and there will not be long delays during the examination because significant changes or further evidence work are required. It must not be assumed that examinations can always rectify significant soundness or legal compliance problems. Before submission, the LPA must do all it can to resolve any substantive concerns about the soundness or legal compliance of the plan, including any raised by statutory undertakers and government agencies.”

WBC has recently decided to extend the time taken on responding to the Regulation 18 consultations and compress that allowed for Regulation 19. Previously, July 2022 to March 2023 was the time allowed for the Reg 19. In June 2022 this was squeezed to December 2022 to March 2023. Planning portfolio holder Richard Somner observed that this was “necessary to ensure that the council submits the most robust local plan to the Planning Inspectorate in March 2023.” The implication of this remark is obvious: the plan as previously envisaged was thus not “the most robust.”

What is the problem? There are two: Sandleford, a long-running irritant, recently decided by a decision in favour of one of the developers by the Secretary of State; and, more importantly, the plan for 2,500 homes to the north east of Thatcham. Both required, under new government guidelines last year, a 30-year vision rather than the normal 15-year one in order to justify their presence in the plan. This seems to have been conducted more with the aim of supporting the favoured NE Thatcham plan rather than looking at alternative views of what the town might require over this timescale (a railway bridge, which many residents feel is vital, would be provided by one of the other plans, for instance, but not by the 2,500 home one).

It now seems that there will be what amounts to a change of tack as I understand that the exact numbers will be assessed as part of the work being done for the Regulation 19 and that WBC is seeking to reduce the numbers to those needed within the plan period (2039). If this is the case, I’m not sure what the purpose of the 30-year vision is or was.

The current programme assumes approval by WBC’s Full Council in early December 2022 followed by a consultation period of probably seven weeks, which will take us to late January. The Regulation 19 issues then need to be collated and considered, and seen to have been so, before the matter can be put for examination. It’s even possible that the responses expose a flaw in the plan which may require re-drafting and perhaps even re-consultation.

By spending more time on the Regulation 18 stage, WBC is gambling that all the problems will be ironed out and the Regulation 19 will pass smoothly. If, however, the plan still proposes that up to 2,500 homes be built in NE Thatcham then I would imagine that those who oppose this will express every possible objection in as much detail as possible, so slowing down the post-consultation evaluation process. There’s also a political dimension to this as, if the plan isn’t submitted to the inspector by the election on 5 May, it will be a lot easier for this to pulled if a new administration were returned. There’s therefore a mere five-week cushion for dealing with any unintended consequences from the Regulation 19 work. We shall see if that proves to be enough.

Community notices

Thatcham Town Harriers are seeking new players for their next season. The under 13s team could be perfect for those that are looking for sports outside of school. If your child may be interested, have a look here on the website or click here for the Facebook link where you can message a coach.

• Friends of Thatcham Library is rallying volunteers to help maintain the standards of the facility. To become a “new friend” of the library please email friendsofthatcham@gmail.com

• All are welcome at the open sessions at the 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.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

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 3o Jul Swings and Smiles Classic Vehicle Show, Lower Way, Thatcham.

Sat 18 Aug Free Children’s Magic Show with Thatcham Youth, Mooreside Community Centre.

• Wed 25 Aug Teddy Bears Picnic, Nature Discovery Centre.

Sat 27 Aug Bucklebury Beerfest, Bucklebury Recreation Ground.

• 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 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 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

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 9 May and you can read the minutes here. (You can watch a recording of the 27 June meeting 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 Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; Wessex Woodland; a councillor resignation; the death of a former Parish Clerk; WBC’s local plan; risk assessments; the Clerk’s report; village maintenance work; CCTV; wellbeing; recycling; speeding; financial matters; and footpaths. 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 for which minutes are available was on 29 June and you can read the minutes here. Most of the matters were deferred until the meeting on 13 July.  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 for which minutes are available,was on 14 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: footpaths; GDPR; planning matters; financial matters; rights of way; the Iceland Hall; the playground; the Wildlife Allotment Garden; and the neighbourhood development plan. 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 for which minutes are available was on 7 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a review of the jubilee events; speeding; the lease of the land at the Village Hall; planning matters; financial matters; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and members’ bids. 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 for which minutes are available was on 19 May 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 Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 May 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 Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 May and you can read the minutes here.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

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 21 July 2022

This week we look at the next step in the vision for Thatcham, a 3G pitch, a PSPO, a water leak and a living market: plus our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Congratulations to Thatcham Rotary Club for raising an impressive £2,000 for supporting those affected by the crisis in Ukraine. The ‘Emperors Feast’ event was held at the Szechuan Inn, on the High Street for the first time in three years since as the event was unable to go ahead due to the pandemic. The Club are looking forward to another successful fundraiser event next year. See the Newbury Today for more on this story.

• This Saturday 23 July come down to Thatcham’s Catholic Hall between 10am and 12.30pm for the Sustainable Living Market, where you’ll find stallholders selling all sorts of environmentally friendly products and produce, as well as a children’s clothes swap and refillable cleaning and body care products. Check out their Facebook page.

• Quick reminder that Thatcham Town FC is fundraising for a multi-purpose, multi-user yearround 3G community pitch by offering pitch squares at £10 or £15 each that can be sponsored by anyone who loves and wishes to support the club. All money raised is to be matched by Greenham Trust. Click here to see the squares available and make your donation here.

• As reported by this week’s Newbury Weekly News (p6), Crookham Common residents are frustrated and appalled by the ongoing water leak just off Crookham Common Road. First reported in May, it is hard to imagine how many gallons of water is being lost. Thames Water are being summonded this September to West Berkshire Council’s Oversight and Scrutinty Commission which will look at their performance in the district. Hopefully leaks such as this will be discussed.

• On 21 July, it was confirmed by WBC that the application by Thatcham Town Council for a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) in Thatcham town centre has been granted. The officer said that they “will now be working with colleagues within WBC and outside agencies to ensure that the implementation of the Public Spaces Protection Order is done in accordance with the legislation.”

• The Central Family Hub Thatcham are running free Play in the Park sessions for children on Thursdays throughout the summer in various parks across Thatcham, Cold Ash and Compton. Expect lots of games with various sports equipment, bats, balls and a big parachute. All sessions are between 10am and 11am, no booking needs. Click here to find out the location schedule. You just need to bring a sun hat and a healthy snack.

• Please check out this lovely article by local residents, Heather Brindley and Wendy Ferryman, about the benefits of volunteering with the Sue Ryder charity organisation. They highlight all the benefits that come with volunteering for a local good cause, particularly the community and friendships, a sense of fulfilment and also often doing enjoyable activities. If you would be interested volunteering with Sue Ryder, contact amanda.dean@sueryder.org or click here for more information.

West Berks Food Bank is looking for volunteers, particularly those that can be drivers to deliver food parcels, packers to make the food parcels and volunteers who can sort donations at the warehouse. It is also looking for volunteers who can help manage social media accounts. If you think you would be suitable for any of those roles contact fran@westberks.foodbank.org or phone 07836 500610. You can download the volunteering form to fill out here. For more information about West Berks Food Bank on their website.

Calling all choirs – would you like to sing at Newbury’s 2022 Christmas Light Switch-On Event? Whether your choir group is large or small, gospel or jazz, church or school, amateur or pro, BID wants to hear from you. If you are interested, please contact Alison at alison@newburybid.com or via mobile at 07776 006018. More details can be found here.

Don’t forget that West Berkshire Hospital has a new ‘pay on exit’ parking charge system.  The old ‘pay and display system’ has been replaced with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology, which reads vehicle registrations upon entering the car park. Then when leaving, pay at the machine by reception. You still have the option to pay on arrival by mobile or via the Parkonomy app, if you prefer.

Church Hill in Midgham is to be closed for street works until 9 August between the Bath Road junction and the Birds Lane junction. See more on One Network here.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

West Berkshire Action for Refugees requests donations of trainers (desperately needed for men and women), jeans, T-shirts, sports shirts and shorts for the asylum seekers currently living locally. Donations can be dropped off to Thatcham Town Council office or please contact Karen on Teamleader@westberksrefugees.org

• WBAR also has summer volunteer opportunities for students and local residents over 18 who want a multicultural experience at their regular English and activity sessions for asylum seekers in West Berks. Training will be provided. No previous experience required. Please contact volunteer@westberksrefugees.org or via the West Berks Action for Refugees facebook page.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• West Berkshire Council have extended their Bus Improvement Plan survey deadline. It is vital they hear from passengers and potential passengers to ensure they are meeting needs. If you would like your views heard regarding Berkshires bus services, then take the survey before midnight on Sunday 31 July.

• 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 an amazing sky and ends with being wrong.

• 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 next step in the vision

We’ve written many times about the plans to build 2,500 homes to the north-east of Thatcham, so effectively filling in the gap between the town and Bucklebury. (See the archive sections below and search fore “2,500”.) It’s fair to say that opinions are divided on the matter.

One of the pieces of work that is needed for the 2,500-home plan to be considered for the emerging local plan is a 30-year vision for the area: no small task, as you might imagine and one which has contributed to the delay in finalising the new plan. In order safely to satisfy the demands of the external examination it needs to be sure that it has looked at all the possible plans for the area, not just the one which WBC appears to favour. On 21 July, WBC issued a statement describing the next stage of this process which we’re happy to reproduce below verbatim. We shall be contacting the four most-affected town and parish councils (Thatcham, Bucklebury, Midgham and Cold Ash) for any comments and will report these once they’ve got back to us.

“Landscape assessment and review commissioned for North East Thatcham development proposals

“West Berkshire District Council has commissioned Arup to conduct a refined landscape review for the District. This will complement the work currently being undertaken by WBC’s independent consultant Iceni on a long-term vision for the future of Thatcham. In response to resident feedback WBC is also reviewing the number of new homes in North East Thatcham for the draft local plan’s next stage. Arup’s work will complement the visioning exercise and how it may impact the district’s landscape during the new Local Plan period, which will be in place until 2039. This work will help to inform officer recommendations for the draft local plan by assessing the landscape along with reviewing the housing need for North East Thatcham.

“Community input is a core component to the development of the emerging local plan and is helping to shape the next steps. The landscape work is expected to be completed in the autumn and will be included in the Local Plan Review public consultation at the end of the year.

“Councillor Richard Somner (Portfolio Holder for Planning, Transport & Countryside) says, “Thatcham residents are being heard and their concerns over future development are being thoroughly considered. We recognise the necessity of providing more housing, but we must also ensure that it is done correctly and in a way that respects our surroundings. I welcome Arup’s appointment to conduct this landscape review for the District to complement the work being undertaken by Iceni.””

Community notices

Thatcham Town Harriers are seeking new players for their next season. The under 13’s team could be perfect for those that are looking for sports outside of school. If your child may be interested, have a look here on the website or click here for the Facebook link where you can message a coach.

• Friends of Thatcham Library is rallying volunteers to help maintain the standards of the facility. To become a “new friend” of the library please email friendsofthatcham@gmail.com

• All are welcome at the open sessions at the 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.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

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 23 Jul Sustainable Living Market, Thatcham Catholic Hall.

Sat 18 Aug Free Children’s Magic Show with Thatcham Youth, Mooreside Community Centre.

• Wed 25 Aug Teddy Bears Picnic, Nature Discovery Centre.

Sat 27 Aug Bucklebury Beerfest, Bucklebury Recreation Ground.

• 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 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 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 9 May and you can read the minutes here. (You can watch a recording of the 27 June meeting 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 Frilsham Parish Council took place on 29 June and you can read the minutes here. Most of the matters were deferred until the meeting on 13 July.  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 14 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: footpaths; GDPR; planning matters; financial matters; rights of way; the Iceland Hall; the playground; the Wildlife Allotment Garden; and the neighbourhood development plan. 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 7 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a review of the jubilee events; speeding; the lease of the land at the Village Hall; planning matters; financial matters; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and members’ bids. 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 19 May 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 Midgham Parish Council took place on 18 May 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 Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 10 May 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 11 April 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.

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 July 2022

This week we look at a green accolade for Parson’s Down School, an appeal from the Foodbank and an facelift for the Pavilion. In addition, we have our usual round-up of local news (including reflections on what could be seen as a piecemeal cycle scheme between Thatcham and Newbury), local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• This weekend the Cantemus-Newbury Chamber Choir will be performing a Concert for the Queen at St Pauls Church, Ashford Hill, Thatcham. The concert is in celebration of the Jubilee year and have music from Rutter, Vaughan-Williams, Purcell and more. The concert will take place this Saturday 16 July, at 7:30pm. You can buy tickets on the door.

• The ‘Sing a Little Louder’ kids choir is holding a free taster session for children aged 7-14 on Thursday 21 July. They meet at 6pm at the Frank Hutchings Hall, more info here.

West Berks Food Bank is looking for volunteers, particularly those that can be drivers to deliver food parcels, packers to make the food parcels and volunteers who can sort donations at the warehouse. It is also looking for volunteers who can help manage social media accounts. If you think you would be suitable for any of those roles contact fran@westberks.foodbank.org or phone 07836 500610. You can download the volunteering form to fill out here. For more information about West Berks Food Bank on their website.

• Starting next Monday 18 July, West Berkshire Hospital will be implementing a new ‘pay on exit’ parking charge system.  The current ‘pay and display system’ will be replaced with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology, which will read vehicle registrations on entering the car park. Then when leaving, pay at the machine by reception. You will still have the option to pay on arrival by mobile or via the Parkonomy app, if you prefer.

• As we mentioned previously, the Pavillion on the Lower Way playing field being somewhat worse for wear. Well now it seems it is getting its well-needed uplift, including a defibrillator installation on the side of the building. Great news for the upkeep of Thatcham.

Church Hill in Midgham is to be closed for street works until 9 August between the Bath Road junction and the Birds Lane junction. See more on One Network here.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

West Berkshire Action for Refugees requests donations of trainers (desperately needed for men and women), jeans, T-shirts, sports shirts and shorts for the asylum seekers currently living locally. Donations can be dropped off to Thatcham Town Council office or please contact Karen on Teamleader@westberksrefugees.org

• WBAR also has summer volunteer opportunities for students and local residents over 18 who want a multicultural experience at their regular english and activity sessions for asylum seekers in West Berks. Training will be provided. No previous experience required. Please contact volunteer@westberksrefugees.org or via the West Berks Action for Refugees facebook page.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• West Berkshire Council have extended their Bus Improvement Plan survey deadline. It is vital they hear from passengers and potential passengers to ensure they are meeting needs. If you would like your views heard regarding Berkshires bus services, then take the survey before midnight on Sunday 31 July.

• Thatcham Town FC is campaigning to raise enough money for a 3G community pitch by setting out squares which cost £20 each and can be bought by anyone who loves and wishes to support the club. All money raised is to be matched by Greenham Trust. Click here to read more about the campaign.

• 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 bench and ends with a wallflower.

• 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 green flag

Parsons Down Infant and Junior Schools teacher and Eco Co-ordinator Miss Hargood is delighted to announce that the Thatcham school’s application for an Eco-Schools award was successful: more than that, it has been awarded a Green Flag with merit. Congratulations to everyone who has been involved in the journey this year, especially the pupil Eco-Committee.

This isn’t something that is lightly bestowed after a few week’s work. This separate post summarises the various projects that the pupils and teachers have undertaken, dating back to the 2020-21 academic year. Possibly the most beneficial aspect is that it helps normalise an environmentally-aware attitude early in a child’s life. I’m aware that a part of me – perhaps quite an important part – remains shaped by the opinions and behaviour of those around me in the first six or seven years of my life. Not all of these were beneficial. Even if, in later life, the children who have taken part in this project don’t follow all these eco precepts, this experience will have instilled in them the idea that it is an important part of life: and, moreover, one which we can all help influence. That will surely be something gained.

If any other schools in our local area would like to contact Nikki Hargood to discuss Eco-cchools, please contact her on ecocoordinator@pdp.w-berks.sch.uk.

Community notices

Thatcham Town Harriers are seeking new players for their next season. The under 13’s team could be perfect for those that are looking for sports outside of school. If your child may be interested, have a look here on the website or click here for the Facebook link where you can message a coach.

• Friends of Thatcham Library is rallying volunteers to help maintain the standards of the facility. To become a “new friend” of the library please email friendsofthatcham@gmail.com

• All are welcome at the open sessions at the 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.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

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 Jul Concert for the Queen, St Pauls Church, Thatcham, 7:30pm.

Thurs 21 Jul Free Taster Children Choir, Frank Hutchens Hall, 6pm.

Sat 13 Aug Retrofest at Newbury Showground, Hermitage.

Sat 18 Aug Free Children’s Magic Show, Thatcham Youth, Mooreside Community Centre, 10am to 12pm.

Sat 25 Aug Teddy Bears Picnic, Nature Discovery Centre, The Hutch, 10am to 12pm.

• 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 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 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 9 May and you can read the minutes here. (You can watch a recording of the 27 June meeting 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 Frilsham Parish Council took place on 29 June and you can read the minutes here. Most of the matters were deferred until the meeting on 13 July.  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 7 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a review of the jubilee events; speeding; the lease of the land at the Village Hall; planning matters; financial matters; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and members’ bids. 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 24 May and you can read the minutes here.  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 Hermitage Parish Council took place on 19 May 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 Midgham Parish Council took place on 18 May 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 Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 10 May 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 11 April 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.

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 July 2022

This week we pick up on a story reported elsewhere about the town losing 50% (ie the last but one) of its cashpoint machines and provide some figures to show that things could be a lot worse. There’s also a facelift at the Pavilion, an information day and volunteering opportunities. In addition, we have our usual round-up of local news (including reflections on what could be seen as a piecemeal cycle scheme between Thatcham and Newbury), local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Last week we mentioned the Pavillion on the Lower Way playing field being somewhat worse for wear. Well now it seems it is getting its well-needed uplift, including a defibrillator installation on the side of the building. Great news for the upkeep of Thatcham.

• We’ve also mentioned the commemorative blue plaque which has taken a few years to find a home due to the covid restrictions. Well now 141 Station Road is to be the site for the plaque to remember the fallen Lt Col Vernon Watkins Urquhart who fell victim to the bombing raids in Thatcham in WW2. The plaque will carry the Urquhart family crest.

• Local authors Ben and Jo Harte will be at Thatcham Library this Saturday 9 July at 11am for story time and colouring in fun with their book Do you know the colours of the rainbow?”.

• Next Tuesday 12 July is the last free Art for Wellbeing class before the summer holidays at Thatcham Library as part of the Corn Exchange’s Link to Thrive programme for mental health. You can drop in to learn new art techniques in a relaxed, friendly and sociable atmosphere under the guidance of professional artists and illustrators. See details here for how to self-refer or be referred to the classes by your GP or Social Prescriber.

• If you would like to find out what services are out there for yourself or someone you care about, and enjoy a chat, free tea, coffee, cake and more, drop into the Local Services Information Day on Tuesday 12 July from 10am to 4pm at the Fair Close Centre in Newbury. Services to include: Newbury and Thatcham Handybus; fun, food and friendship at Fair Close; Meals on Wheels, information and advice; foot care and hairdressing, Newbury and Thatcham volunteer car services; Newbury Shopmobility and West Berkshire Council Adult Social Care services information. If you live more than a quarter of a mile away and need help with transport on the day, a Handybus service is available.  Call 01635 37111 to arrange your free transportation or call Louise on 07496587904 from 9am to 3pm for more information.

Church Hill in Midgham is to be closed for street works until 9 August between the Bath Road junction and the Birds Lane junction. See more on one.network here.

• Last weekend, the streets of Newbury were lined with rainbows in celebration of West Berkshire’s very first Pride march. Hundreds came out to parade through the town centre on Saturday 2 July, ending with a disco of classic club anthems. You can re-live the excitement through our post of photos and highlights from the day. Don’t worry if you missed it through, as a new exhibit ‘Hope and Pride’ is also launching at West Berkshire Museum and will be running for the rest of the year. See here for museum opening times.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

West Berkshire Action for Refugees requests donations of trainers (desperately needed for men and women), jeans, T-shirts, sports shirts and shorts for the asylum seekers currently living locally. Donations can be dropped off to Thatcham Town Council office or please contact Karen on Teamleader@westberksrefugees.org

WBAR also has summer volunteer opportunities for students and local residents over 18 who want a multicultural experience at their regular english and activity sessions for asylum seekers in West Berks. Training will be provided. No previous experience required. Please contact volunteer@westberksrefugees.org or via the West Berks Action for Refugees facebook page.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• West Berkshire Council have extended their Bus Improvement Plan survey deadline. It is vital they hear from passengers and potential passengers to ensure they are meeting needs. If you would like your views heard regarding Berkshires bus services, then take the survey before midnight on Sunday 31 July.

• Thatcham Town FC is campaigning to raise enough money for a 3G community pitch by setting out squares which cost £20 each and can be bought by anyone who loves and wishes to support the club. All money raised is to be matched by Greenham Trust. Click here to read more about the campaign.

• 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 woodpeckers and ends with reading.

• 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.

Trashing the cash

There’s an article in this week’s Newbury Today which reports on the fact that Lloyds Bank will close on 24 August, taking with it one of the two remaining cash machines in the town centre. There are doubtless other places one can get a bit folding money, including cash-back services in many shops. but the development marks another point on what many see as a downward path towards a full digital world. Mail deliveries, phone boxes and cheque books have all been cut back or almost totally phased out in recent years. Will cash be next?

This table in Statistica suggests that it will. There were, it claims, 23 billion cash transactions in the UK in 2008: this had halved by 2018 and is predicted to fall to four billion by 2028. The pandemic had much to do with this, some retailers reducing to accept cash at all or ostentatiously dunking it in cleaning fluid (this despite the fact that I never once saw anyone disinfect a chip-and-pin machine after anyone had handled it). I can’t begin to work out how these figures were calculated but they square with my personal experience. Ten years ago, one would ask a trader if they accepted cards: now, if I do want to use cash, I often need to check first.

All this being the case, the number of cash machines has actually hardly fallen at all. Given the decline in the usage of cash, one might expect the number of machines to have plummeted. In fact, as this table, also in Statistics, shows, there were about 70,000 ATMs in the UK in late 2014 and still had 45,000 (23% fewer) in March 2021, though the trend is without doubt continuing downward. The decline has been greater in France which had about the same number of holes in the wall as we did in 2014 but which in 2020 had only 48,000. So, it’s not just a UK, or a Thatcham, thing but part of a general drift towards the world being made a less easy place for those who don’t want to embrace the new way of doing things. It was ever thus but the difference is that change is happening at a faster pace than previously. The internet, as used by the public rather than the military or scientists, is still not thirty years old.

Community notices

Thatcham Town Harriers are seeking new players for their next season. The under 13’s team could be perfect for those that are looking for sports outside of school. If your child may be interested, have a look here on the website or click here for the Facebook link where you can message a coach.

• Friends of Thatcham Library is rallying volunteers to help maintain the standards of the facility. To become a “new friend” of the library please email friendsofthatcham@gmail.com

• All are welcome at the open sessions at the 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.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

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 9 July Storytime and Colouring fun at Thatcham Library.

Mon 11 July Nature Tots at Nature Discovery Centre.

Sat 13 Aug Retrofest at Newbury Showground, Hermitage.

• 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 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 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 9 May 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 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a review of the jubilee events; speeding; the lease of the land at the Village Hall; planning matters; financial matters; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and members’ bids. 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 24 May and you can read the minutes here.  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 Hermitage Parish Council took place on 19 May 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 Midgham Parish Council took place on 18 May 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 Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 10 May 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 11 April 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 9 March and you can read the minutes here.  There was also an extraordinary meeting on 30 March and you can read the minutes here. (This was mainly concerned with the Beechfield Lane Improvement Project.) To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

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 30 June 2022

See below for our usual round-up of local news (including reflections on what could be seen as a piecemeal cycle scheme between Thatcham and Newbury), local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Graffiti has been a consistent issue in and around Thatcham and one of the most notorious cases has been the vulgar piece on the Pavillion on Thatcham’s Lower Way playing field. One of our correspondents lives just a few steps away from the building and reports that the consistent view of the graffiti is a bit of a plague on the reputation of the town. Newbury Today explains how contractors are now trying to completely remove it from the Pavillion’s roller shutters.

• Last weekend’s Thatcham’s Family Fun Day turned out to be a huge success with the great weather and amount of activities available. A full report of the day can be found here.

• As many are probably aware, the speed limit along Bath Road has recently been reduced from 40mph to 30mph, but alongside that have been concerns about the signposting of the new speed limit. Too much foliage and insufficient number of signs are among the reports.

• A reason to celebrate this Saturday will be West Berkshire’s first Pride march starting at Victoria Park in Newbury at 1pm. Visit the Newbury Pride website or FaceBook page for more information about the event or read more in our article here. A new exhibit ‘Hope and Pride’ is also launching at West Berkshire Museum on Saturday and running for the rest of 2022, looking at the history of Pride in the UK, as well as contributions from our local LGBTQIA+ community. See here for museum opening times.

• Thatcham Library is hosting another book fun day of reading and colouring for children. The book in focus is “Do you know the colours of the rainbow?” and will be on display and for sale on July 9 at 11am. For more information, you can visit here.

• West Berkshire Council’s June Business news includes recruitment support for employers, low carbon workspace grants to save on energy bills, online networking and an appeal to eco-conscious independent cafes, restaurants and pubs to be part of a sustainable eateries campaign. Click here to read more.

• The June Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

West Berkshire Action for Refugees requests donations of trainers (desperately needed for men and women), jeans, T-shirts, sports shirts and shorts for the asylum seekers currently living locally. Donations can be dropped off to Thatcham Town Council office or please contact Karen on Teamleader@westberksrefugees.org

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• West Berkshire Council has received funding from the government to help improve bus services for the next 3 years. Your views are being sought on how the service can be improved. The survey is running until Sunday 3 July and you can find more about it here and the survey can be found here.

• Thatcham Town FC is campaigning to raise enough money for a 3G community pitch by setting out squares which cost £20 each and can be bought by anyone who loves and wishes to support the club. All money raised is to be matched by Greenham Trust. Click here to read more about the campaign.

• 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 orchids and ends with genius.

• 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.

Piecemeal solutions

An article on p22 of this week’s NWN looks at the the plans to improve the cycleway between Thatcham and Newbury along the A4. To describe this as a “cycleway” is a bit misleading as for various reasons it’s not one consistent transport link but a series of different solutions. Thatcham Town Council (TTC) and West Berkshire Council seem to be in broad agreement that this route needs to be improved for cyclists though there’s less agreement about how this should be done. This document (part of the agenda pack for the 28 June meeting of TTC’s Highways and Planning Committee) shows some of the difference of opinion.

There seem to be three factors which make this a difficult one to solve. Firstly, the parish or town council tends, quite naturally, to concentrate more on the specific details of a scheme as its members will know the area and issues (these might include problems with signage, highlighted in the above-mentioned document, which in one case appear to be both illegal and misleading). Secondly, the funding for such projects tends to come from central government in chunks and the feeling of TTC is that the work done at any one stage doesn’t always appear to contribute to an over-arching plan. Thirdly, the creation of a consistent and continuous cycleway between Thatcham and Newbury is probably impossible given things like roundabouts and width constraints.

Given the last two issues, any such scheme is always going to be a tad bitty. As this makes them disconcerting or dangerous (another point on which the councils appear to disagree) it could be asked whether a cycleway should be built alongside a trunk road at all if it weren’t the same from start to finish – imagine a motorway which veers between two narrow lanes and three wide ones, which changes from being brightly lit to not being lit at all and which at some points shares its route with a railway line and at others involves driving on the right. One member of TTC to whom I spoke today said that the most striking feature of the “cycleway” between the two towns is that it provides a real-life demo of virtually every possible solution, including shared pavements, clearly separated cycle and motor-traffic lanes and orcas (black and white rubber studs in the road).

It’s hard to know how this can be solved, short of ripping up the whole A4 and starting again. Certainly it shows that the work of councils at all levels is never done as they strive to use intermittent funding streams to try to fix problems which, because of what’s already there, can’t properly be fixed at all. Perfection is never possible: though TTC believes that this scheme could be a little less imperfect than it currently is. WBC may, perhaps with justification, say that this is the best that can happen. All views are welcome.

Community notices

• Free Art for Wellbeing classes at Thatcham Library on Tuesdays as part of the Corn Exchange’s Link to Thrive programme for mental health. You can drop in on a weekly basis to learn new art techniques in a relaxed, friendly and sociable atmosphere under the guidance of professional artists and illustrators. See details here for how to self-refer or be referred to the classes by your GP or Social Prescriber.

Thatcham Town Harriers are seeking new players for their next season. The under 13’s team could be perfect for those that are looking for sports outside of school. If your child may be interested, have a look here on the website or click here for the Facebook link where you can message a coach.

• Friends of Thatcham Library is rallying volunteers to help maintain the standards of the facility. To become a “new friend” of the library please email friendsofthatcham@gmail.com

• All are welcome at the open sessions at the 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.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

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’s Wellbeing Festival through June offers free or low-cost yoga, belly dancing, pilates and allotment gardening. Click here for the full schedule.

Sat 2 July Young Rangers at Nature Discovery Centre.

Mon 11 July Nature Tots at Nature Discovery Centre.

• 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 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 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 9 May 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 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a review of the jubilee events; speeding; the lease of the land at the Village Hall; planning matters; financial matters; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and members’ bids. 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 24 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: unpermitted tree removal in Gladstone Lane; a councillor co-option; the jubilee; the Manor Park football pitch; the prettiest front garden competition; the neighbourhood development plan; and 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 Hermitage Parish Council took place on 19 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of the Chair and Deputy; formal business; planning matters; financial matters; speeding; inspections and maintenance work around the parish; and the neighbourhood development plan. 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 Midgham Parish Council took place on 18 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of the Chair and Deputy; formal matters; financial matters; and planning matters. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 10 May 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 11 April 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 9 March and you can read the minutes here.  There was also an extraordinary meeting on 30 March and you can read the minutes here. (This was mainly concerned with the Beechfield Lane Improvement Project.) To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

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 23 June 2022

See below for our usual round-up of local news (including non-car options to get to the Fun Day), local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

Thatcham Family Fun Day this Sunday 26 June at Henwick Playing Fields, organised by Thatcham Town Council, will feature lots of stalls and entertainment including a car show run by Thatcham Rotary, the popular Fun Dog Show and the Youth Fun Run. See their facebook page for more and details about travel options below.

• The Mayor of Thatcham has revealed a new plan to visit as many residents as he can in his term. There is a full list of goals the Mayor wants to achieve including visiting 150 events and visiting hospitals on Christmas morning. A full list of information is available on Newbury Today here about the feats the Mayor wants to achieve.

Dunstan Green is set to have some new improvements, which involve a new fence that will surround the gully. The gully has been deemed unsafe in a recent planning meeting and hence the £5,000 upgrade will keep the children who use the play area safe. See more here on Newbury Today.

Bury’s Bank Road is to be closed on Monday 27 June between 8am and 10am from the Crookham Hill and Greenham Road junctions. See here for the full details.

• The wonderful North Wessex Downs Walking Festival finishes this Sunday 26 June so click here if you want to book place on one of the last remaining walks.

• Happy first birthday to Thatcham Community Larder which was launched on Wednesday 23 June 2021. The larder now has over 80 members and also offers free school uniforms, sanitary products and a free toy and book exchange. As food prices continue to rise, reducing food waste not only makes economic sense but for many who join the larder they also see it as part of their social and environmental responsibility. See here for when the larder is open and how to join.

• You may be aware already of the railway strikes that are taking place this weekend, which will impact a lot of travel routes across Berkshire. A full list of details and affected routes can be found here. Berkshire Live also have a survey on how the strikes will be affecting you, which can be completed via the same link. It is also worth noting that any fares affected will be refunded in full. A full timetable of the strikes is also available here on the GWR site.

• A fantastic new reason to celebrate this summer, as this July will see West Berkshire’s first Pride march. Originally planned for 2020 but postponed due to the pandemic, Newbury Pride will be West Berkshire’s very first Pride celebration of its kind. It will take place on Saturday 2 July, starting at Victoria Park at 1pm. The march will be a celebration of LGBTQIA+ identify, individuality and community and everyone from all identities are welcome to join in and support our friends and neighbours. Visit the Newbury Pride website or FaceBook page for more information about the event or read more in our article here.

• On the day of the Pride march, a new exhibit ‘Hope and Pride’ will open at West Berkshire Museum. Running for the rest of 2022, the exhibition will take a look at the history of Pride in the UK, as well as contributions from our local LGBTQIA+ community. Come along to learn something new about the incredible people in our diverse community. See here for museum opening times.

• Thatcham Library is hosting another book fun day of reading and colouring for children. The book in focus is “Do you know the colours of the rainbow?” and will be on display and for sale on July 9 at 11am. For more information, you can visit here.

• West Berkshire Council’s June Business news includes recruitment support for employers, low carbon workspace grants to save on energy bills, online networking and an appeal to eco-conscious independent cafes, restaurants and pubs to be part of a sustainable eateries campaign. Click here to read more.

• The June Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

West Berkshire Action for Refugees requests donations of trainers (desperately needed for men and women), jeans, T-shirts, sports shirts and shorts for the asylum seekers currently living locally. Donations can be dropped off to Thatcham Town Council office or please contact Karen on Teamleader@westberksrefugees.org

• Quick reminder that scammers are taking advantage of the cost-of-living crisis to defraud people who are under financial pressure. Our local Citizens Advice West Berkshire office has seen recent cases where clients have lost thousands of pounds to investment scams and fake energy rebate scams from energy companies or local authorities. See here for how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught. Above all don’t feel ashamed, this is what the scammers rely on so you don’t warn others. Penny got caught once. You need to tell family, friends and report it to protect others.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. According to the Newbury Today, there currently around 170 hosts in West Berkshire, but a total of 390 Ukrainians have applied for visas to stay in the area – with 228 refugees having already arrived. With more still to arrive, there is a real struggle to find enough hosts to meet the demand. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• West Berkshire Council has received funding from the Government to help improve bus services for the next 3 years. Your views are being sought on how the service can be improved. The survey is running until Sunday 3 July and you can find more about it here and the survey can be found here.

• Thatcham Town FC is campaigning to raise enough money for a 3G community pitch by setting out squares which cost £20 each and can be bought by anyone who loves and wishes to support the club. All money raised is to be matched by Greenham Trust. Click here to read more about the campaign.

• 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 bailed hay and ends with Lemony Snicket.

• 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.

Non-car travel to Thatcham Fun Day

Last week we commented on the lack of details of eco travel options on the Thatcham Fun Day poster, so we were pleased to see detailed instruction on the Town Council’s facebook page this week about the Jet Black 1 Bus which runs once an hour past the venue.

Cyclists are also encouraged, especially as there will be a brand new Cycle Zone at the event with plenty of bike racks and an opportunity to meet local cycling groups. There will also be help you with your maintenance issues and minor repairs and free bike security marking from the police.

If you have to drive please park at the nearly West Berkshire Community Hospital which is FREE on Sundays. It’s a 10 minute walk past some pretty fields and there will be plenty of refreshments (and seating) on offer for when you arrive. The council asks that people do not park in any of the residential streets to cause minimum disruption to local residents.

Community notices

• Free Art for Wellbeing classes at Thatcham Library on Tuesdays as part of the Corn Exchange’s Link to Thrive programme for mental health. You can drop in on a weekly basis to learn new art techniques in a relaxed, friendly and sociable atmosphere under the guidance of professional artists and illustrators. See details here for how to self-refer or be referred to the classes by your GP or Social Prescriber.

Thatcham Town Harriers are seeking new players for their next season. The under 13’s team could be perfect for those that are looking for sports outside of school. If your child may be interested, have a look here on the website or click here for the Facebook link where you can message a coach.

• Friends of Thatcham Library is rallying volunteers to help maintain the standards of the facility. To become a “new friend” of the library please email friendsofthatcham@gmail.com

• All are welcome at the open sessions at the 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’s Wellbeing Festival through June offers free or low-cost yoga, belly dancing, pilates and allotment gardening. Click here for the full schedule.

Sun 26 June Thatcham Family Fun Day

Sun 26 June Pond Mini Beasts at Greenham and Crookham Common.

Sat 2 July Young Rangers at Nature Discovery Centre.

Mon 11 July Nature Tots at Nature Discovery Centre.

• 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 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 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 9 May 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 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a review of the jubilee events; speeding; the lease of the land at the Village Hall; planning matters; financial matters; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and members’ bids. 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 24 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: unpermitted tree removal in Gladstone Lane; a councillor co-option; the jubilee; the Manor Park football pitch; the prettiest front garden competition; the neighbourhood development plan; and 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 Hermitage Parish Council took place on 19 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of the Chair and Deputy; formal business; planning matters; financial matters; speeding; inspections and maintenance work around the parish; and the neighbourhood development plan. 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 Midgham Parish Council took place on 18 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of the Chair and Deputy; formal matters; financial matters; and planning matters. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 10 May 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 11 April 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 9 March and you can read the minutes here.  There was also an extraordinary meeting on 30 March and you can read the minutes here. (This was mainly concerned with the Beechfield Lane Improvement Project.) To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

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 16 June 2022

See below for our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• An update has been issued by Newbury Today on the Lawrence Lane site situation, after a refused application of a number of static caravans, day rooms and touring caravans on the land, the application for appeal has been started after the ruling was confirmed it was “valid” by the planning inspectorate. A full decision is estimated to arrive around early November.

• Thatcham Library is hosting another book fun day of reading and colouring for children. The book in focus is “Do you know the colours of the rainbow?” and will be on display and for sale on July 9 at 11am. For more information, you can visit here.

• The June release of The Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches has been released and is available to read here.

• Unfortunately scammers are taking advantage of the cost-of-living crisis to defraud people who are under financial pressure. Our local Citizens Advice West Berkshire office has seen recent cases where clients have lost thousands of pounds to investment scams and fake energy rebate scams from energy companies or local authorities. See here for how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught. Above all don’t feel ashamed, this is what the scammers rely on so you don’t warn others. Penny got caught once. You need to tell family, friends and report it to protect others.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• West Berkshire Council has received funding from the Government to help improve bus services for the next 3 years. Your views are being sought on how the service can be improved. The survey is running until Sunday 3 July and you can find more about it here and the survey can be found here.

• The North Wessex Downs Walking Festival is going really well with something for everyone, from family friendly and wheelchair accessible guided walks to 9 mile hikes. See here for how to book your walks.

• Thatcham Town FC is campaigning to raise enough money for a 3G community pitch by setting out squares which cost £20 each and can be bought by anyone who loves and wishes to support the club. All money raised is to be matched by Greenham Trust. Click here to read more about the campaign.

West Berkshire Action for Refugees requests donations of trainers (desperately needed for men and women), jeans, T-shirts, sports shirts and shorts for the asylum seekers currently living locally. Donations can be dropped off to Thatcham Town Council office.

• And speaking of the Rotary Club, they are organising a car show as part of the Council’s Thatcham Family Fun Day on Sunday 26 June. More details on the Rotary’s website here as well as information for car owners that want to take part.

• Categories for the popular Fun Dog Show at the Thatcham Family Fun day on Sunday 26 June at Henwick Playing Fields can be seen here.

• 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 big lunch and ends with silence.

• 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.

Community notices

• Free Art for Wellbeing classes at Thatcham Library on Tuesdays as part of the Corn Exchange’s Link to Thrive programme for mental health. You can drop in on a weekly basis to learn new art techniques in a relaxed, friendly and sociable atmosphere under the guidance of professional artists and illustrators. See details here for how to self-refer or be referred to the classes by your GP or Social Prescriber.

Thatcham Town Harriers are seeking new players for their next season. The under 13’s team could be perfect for those that are looking for sports outside of school. If your child may be interested, have a look here on the website or click here for the Facebook link where you can message a coach.

• Friends of Thatcham Library is rallying volunteers to help maintain the standards of the facility. To become a “new friend” of the library please email friendsofthatcham@gmail.com

• All are welcome at the open sessions at the 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’s Wellbeing Festival through June offers free or low-cost yoga, belly dancing, pilates and allotment gardening. Click here for the full schedule.

Sun 26 June Thatcham Family Fun Day

• 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 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 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 28 March 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 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a review of the jubilee events; speeding; the lease of the land at the Village Hall; planning matters; financial matters; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; and members’ bids. 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 24 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: unpermitted tree removal in Gladstone Lane; a councillor co-option; the jubilee; the Manor Park football pitch; the prettiest front garden competition; the neighbourhood development plan; and 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 Hermitage Parish Council took place on 19 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of the Chair and Deputy; formal business; planning matters; financial matters; speeding; inspections and maintenance work around the parish; and the neighbourhood development plan. 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 Midgham Parish Council took place on 18 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of the Chair and Deputy; formal matters; financial matters; and planning matters. 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 11 April 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 9 March and you can read the minutes here.  There was also an extraordinary meeting on 30 March and you can read the minutes here. (This was mainly concerned with the Beechfield Lane Improvement Project.) 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.

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 9 June 2022

This week we consider a poster and summarise the state of play in Thatcham Town Council’s efforts to get its voice heard as apart of a 30-year vision. We also have a look back at local jubilee celebrations, our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• A big well done to everyone who got out and celebrated the Jubilee last weekend, some of the events being attended by the Mayor. Have a peek here at the flag that was flown outside of the Council offices, too.

• Indeed, many congratulations to everyone involved in organising the numerous jubilee events all across the district. All the ones that we attended or have heard about were hugely successful. A particular vote of thanks goes to whoever was in charge of the weather: the forecast for much of the weekend was depressingly dire but generally seems to have relented at the last moment. You can click here to see our look back at some of the celebrations across the area. If there are any you would like to see included, please email penny@pennypost.org.uk and include a link to the relevant website or FB page.

• Free Art for Wellbeing classes started this week at Thatcham Library on Tuesday 7 June as part of the Corn Exchange’s Link to Thrive programme for mental health. You can drop in on a weekly basis to learn new art techniques in a relaxed, friendly and sociable atmosphere under the guidance of professional artists and illustrators. See details here for how to self-refer or be referred to the classes by your GP or Social Prescriber.

• The North Wessex Downs Walking Festival kicks off this Saturday 11 June offering 28 walks across the length and breadth of the stunning North Wessex Downs. There is something for everyone, from family friendly and wheelchair accessible guided walks to 9 mile hikes. See here for how to book your walks.

• The Barn on Chapel Street which has been empty for a number of years is supposed to get an uplift soon after plans were submitted to turn the building into a house. After two failed applications previously, this is a good facelift for the Thatcham eyesore.

• On the topic of uplifts, which seems to be a reoccurring theme for Thatcham lately, number 9 on Thatcham High Street which used to be a bank is to be turned into two shops and four flats. With only a mild concern for parking spaces, it’s still great to hear Thatcham getting the love it needs. See more here on Newbury Today.

• Thatcham Town FC is campaigning to raise enough money for a 3G community pitch by setting out squares which cost £20 each and can be bought by anyone who loves and wishes to support the club. All money raised is to be matched by Greenham Trust. Click here to read more about the campaign.

• Thatcham Rotary Club has once again been doing its part for the community by donating 22 speakers and memory sticks to the My Speaker Friend project to help tackle loneliness and isolation in the area. See more here.

West Berkshire Action for Refugees requests donations of trainers (desperately needed for men and women), jeans, T-shirts, sports shirts and shorts for the asylum seekers currently living locally. Donations can be dropped off to Thatcham Town Council office.

• And speaking of the Rotary Club, they are organising a car show as part of the Council’s Thatcham Family Fun Day on Sunday 26 June. More details on the Rotary’s website here as well as information for car owners that want to take part.

• Categories for the popular Fun Dog Show at the Thatcham Family Fun day on Sunday 26 June at Henwick Playing Fields can be seen here.

• 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 beacon and ends with experience.

• 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 mixed message?

One of the many slogans during WW2 was the question “is your journey really necessary?”, the idea being that scarce fuel resources and space on trains should be reserved for those who really needed to travel. That has, for different reasons, now been replaced by the unspoken question “is your journey by a fossil-fuel powered vehicle really necessary?” This is one that Thatcham Town Council implicitly asks in the poster for its Family Fun Day on 26 June – “Think eco travel.”

My quibble with this is that the next line has details about where you should park, not about where you can find information about bus services, including any that might have been laid on for the event, or whether bike racks will be available on-site. The exhortation slightly has the look of something that’s been added in at the last minute (an impression re-inforced by its coming straight after the mention of free entry, which doesn’t have anything to do with eco travel that I can see).

Am I being mean-spirited and picky? Perhaps. A useful reminder, perhaps, that no matter how good the headline it needs to be backed up by the small print.

The 2,500 homes

I have no quibbles at all with the way the Town Council is conducting itself on this issue. As I mentioned last week, thishas dominated our coverage of news in the town and surrounding area for over a year. The plan is strongly opposed by Thatcham Town Council and the three neighbouring parishes of Cold Ash, Bucklebury and Midgham. Because of the scale of the proposals, this has also resulted in a serious delay to WBC’s emerging local plan as new government regulations issued in 2021 demanded that a 30-year vision (rather than the usual 15-year one) be developed to justify the proposal.

Recent controversy has centred on how this vision is being developed and the extent to which the views of the above-mentioned councils and their residents are being taken into account. There are also suggestions that WBC is not paying sufficient mind to alternative proposals which would spread development across the town, one of which would provide what many see as a badly-needed railway bridge by the railway station. it has also been pointed out that some of the mitigating infrastructure (including a new secondary school, only half of the costs for which the developers have so far agreed to meet) will being provided too late. Others argue that demographic predictions suggest the secondary school isn’t needed at all. As there there are four developers involved (there were two at Sandleford, which in many ways proved to be one too many) there are many possibilities for delays caused by disputes between them. Concerns about sustainability, the effect on town’s existing infrastructure deficit, transport issues and the  sheer scale of the this many-eggs-in-one-basket approach have also been voiced.

Complex, technical, emotive and increasingly politicised, this issue will ruble on for years.  Even if the project is given the go-ahead it will be years before anything is built and probably decades before it’s completed. If it does, the open space between Thatcham and Bucklebury will largely have disappeared for good. More on this when there’s more to say (which there often is…)

Community notices

Thatcham Town Harriers are seeking new players for their next season. The under 13’s team could be perfect for those that are looking for sports outside of school. If your child may be interested, have a look here on the website or click here for the Facebook link where you can message a coach.

• Friends of Thatcham Library is rallying volunteers to help maintain the standards of the facility. To become a “new friend” of the library please email friendsofthatcham@gmail.com

• All are welcome at the open sessions at the 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’s Wellbeing Festival through June offers free or low-cost yoga, belly dancing, pilates and allotment gardening. Click here for the full schedule.

Sun 26 June Thatcham Family Fun Day

• 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 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 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 18 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of the Chair and Deputy; formal matters; financial matters; and planning 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 10 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of the Chair and Deputy; speeding; formal matters; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; financial matters; the jubilee; the neighbourhood development plan; and rights of way.  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 3 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of a Chair and Deputy; a presentation about the proposed development at Hyde End Farm; a seeming mix-up with WBC’s waste collection following April’s litter pick; a review of policies; the jubilee; speeding; repairs to a bench; potholes; planning matters; financial matters; and formal matters. 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 21 April and you can read the minutes hereTo 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 11 April 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 9 March and you can read the minutes here.  There was also an extraordinary meeting on 30 March and you can read the minutes here. (This was mainly concerned with the Beechfield Lane Improvement Project.) 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.

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 2 June 2022

This week we take a look back at some of the main stories in this area that we’ve covered in the last six months or so, many of which are still live and will be returned to in due course. We also have our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities (including jubilee-related ones) and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Click here for our guide to Jubilee events including Churches of Thatcham’s Jubilee Picnic and family day on Sunday 5 June on Kennet School Field, Stoney Lane. From 10am to 4pm there will be lots of free fun to enjoy. See their poster for more details.

• Free Art for Wellbeing classes start at Thatcham Library on Tuesday 7 June as part of the Corn Exchange’s Link to Thrive programme for mental health. You can drop in on a weekly basis to learn new art techniques in a relaxed, friendly and sociable atmosphere under the guidance of professional artists and illustrators. See details here for how to self-refer or be referred to the classes by your GP or Social Prescriber.

• As part of the ongoing support for Broadway, the public toilets are getting further improvements. In the latest set of works planned, better ventilation and replacing signage are on the table. For more details see Newbury Today‘s post here.

• Thatcham Town Council’s Heritage Working Party is requesting your votes by Tuesday 7 June for the 2022 blue plaque from the short list of Lieutenant Colonel Vernon Watkins, The Cedars, Dunston House, Thatcham Ordnance Depot, Reeds Boards & Field Packaging and Wyatts Butchers. See more on the Town Council’s website here.

• The latest concern revolving around the Lower Way developments is energy efficiency or better referred to as energy “deficiency”. See more here on Newbury Today.

• More improvements are coming to the local area, this time to help prevent flooding. A new plan has been submitted for flood basins in Bowling Green Lane and West Heath Lane in Cold Ash and Floral Way in Thatcham. The basins, which can hold more than 7,900 cubic metres of water will span 29 metres.

• Categories for the popular Fun Dog Show at the Thatcham Family Fun day on Sunday 26 June at Henwick Playing Fields can be seen here.

• 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.

• 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 look back…

See below for a brief summary of some of the recurring issues we’ve covered, often more than once, in the last six months or so. Many of these are still live and so will be returned to in the future. In all cases, you can see more by clicking on link to the archive section at the foot of this post (there’s also a further link at the foot of that to earlier columns) and then then searching for the relevant key word/s.

If there are any other matters that you think should be covered, or if you have any views or comments and the ones we’ve covered to date, please email brian@pennypost.org.uk

The 2,500-home plan. This issue has dominated our coverage of news in the town and surrounding area for over a year. The plan is strongly opposed by Thatcham Town Council and the three neighbouring parishes of Cold Ash, Bucklebury and Midgham. Because of the scale of the proposals, this has also resulted in a serious delay to WBC’s emerging local plan as new government regulations issued in 2021 demanded that a 30-year vision (rather than the usual 15-year one) be developed to justify the proposal.

Recent controversy has centred on how this vision is being developed and the extent to which the views of the above-mentioned councils and their residents are being taken into account. There are also suggestions that WBC is not paying sufficient mind to alternative proposals which would spread development across the town, one of which would provide what many see as a badly-needed railway bridge by the railway station. it has also been pointed out that some of the mitigating infrastructure (including a new secondary school, only half of the costs for which the developers have so far agreed to meet) will being provided too late. Others argue that demographic predictions suggest the secondary school isn’t needed at all. As there there are four developers involved (there were two at Sandleford, which in many ways proved to be one too many, there are all manner of possibilities for delays caused by disputes between them. Concerns about sustainability, the effect on town’s existing infrastructure deficit, transport issues and the  sheer scale of the this many-eggs-in-one-basket approach have also been voiced.

Complex, technical, emotive and increasingly politicised, this issue will ruble on for years.  Even if the project is given the go-ahead it will be years before anything is built and probably decades before it’s completed. If it does, the open space between Thatcham and Bucklebury will largely have disappeared for good.

Smartening up the town centre. This has recently been accomplished by the Town Council with the help of some money provided by, of all organisations, the EU. Most agree that the area around The broadway is much more attractive as a result.

Readibus. Quite why WBC appeared to have turned on this long-standing  community transport provider in 2018 remains a bit of a mystery. It’s certainly not because, despite WBC’s assertions to the contrary, like-for-like replacement services exist. Nor is it because the so-called gagging clause that the council insists upon is widely regarded by charities as an acceptable condition. It certainly isn’t because demand for the service has declined – I’ve spoken to several of the users – or that, in an ageing society it’s likely to in the future. Hopefully common sense will prevail in time: if it does we’ll be letting you know. Fingers crossed.

The Library. It’s long been recognised that – like so many of the town’s facilities – this is not adequate for current demand. Having narrowly escaped closure as a result of the attempted effective closure of the Library Service in the mid/late 2010s, WBC now recognises that the building needs to be renovated and enlarged. Some works are in hand to make it compliant with present-day accessibility rules and expectations and it’s intended that more substantial renovation, possibly involving an empty neighbouring building, will take place in the next few years.

Community notices

Thatcham Town Harriers are seeking new players for their next season. The under 13’s team could be perfect for those that are looking for sports outside of school. If your child may be interested, have a look here on the website or click here for the Facebook link where you can message a coach.

• Friends of Thatcham Library is rallying volunteers to help maintain the standards of the facility. To become a “new friend” of the library please email friendsofthatcham@gmail.com

• All are welcome at the open sessions at the 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’s Wellbeing Festival through June offers free or low-cost yoga, belly dancing, pilates and allotment gardening. Click here for the full schedule.

Sun 5 June Churches of Thatcham’s Big Jubilee Lunch

Sun 26 June Thatcham Family Fun Day

• 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 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 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 18 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of the Chair and Deputy; formal matters; financial matters; and planning 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 10 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of the Chair and Deputy; speeding; formal matters; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; financial matters; the jubilee; the neighbourhood development plan; and rights of way.  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 3 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of a Chair and Deputy; a presentation about the proposed development at Hyde End Farm; a seeming mix-up with WBC’s waste collection following April’s litter pick; a review of policies; the jubilee; speeding; repairs to a bench; potholes; planning matters; financial matters; and formal matters. 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 21 April and you can read the minutes hereTo 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 11 April 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 9 March and you can read the minutes here.  There was also an extraordinary meeting on 30 March and you can read the minutes here. (This was mainly concerned with the Beechfield Lane Improvement Project.) 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.

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 26 May 2022

The plans for the 2,500 homes in north east Thatcham is back in the news, as it has been for most weeks. This time we take a look at what other alternative proposals exist, how inclusive the visioning exercise is and what the independent inspector might think to it. We also have reaction from Thatcham Town Council to the way its opinions have been handled. We also cover the jubilee events in the area, anti-social behaviour, a blur plaque, the arrival of Educafé and a young cow from Cold Ash that thinks it’s Robert de Niro.

Scroll down for these and other local news stories, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• You are probably aware that there will be lots of Jubilee celebrations taking place between 2 and 5 June. Click here for our guide to events in Thatcham and further afield.

• On which subject, full details of Thatcham Town Council’s Jubilee Beacon Lighting are now available here. The evening includes an exciting line-up of fireworks, dance and brass band at Dunstan Green on Thursday 2 June. Please note it will not be possible to park at Dunstan Green on the day of the event and the council asks the public to make alternative arrangements. Nearest parking is at Bradley-Moore Square car park or the Kingsland Centre car park in the Town Centre.

• The Churches of Thatcham are hosting a Jubilee Picnic and family day on Sunday 5 June on Kennet School Field, Stoney Lane. From 10am to 4pm there will be lots of free fun to enjoy. See their poster for more details.

• We’ve mentioned several times anti-social behaviour in Thatcham, whether it’s parks being vandalised or the Broadway in a mess, there’s always been a higher demand for more police action. A survey that was administered by WBC came back with over an 80 per cent approval rating for the release of a Public Spaces Protection Order. What happens next will be decided by an individual officer after a recent committee meeting made this official. See more here on Newbury Today.

St Finian’s Primary School marked its 10th anniversary on May 18 since moving to Cold Ash. The school embraced the anniversary by aligning pupils and staff to create the number 10. More can be found on Newbury Today.

Thatcham Town Harriers are seeking new players for their next season. The under 13’s team could be perfect for those that are looking for sports outside of school. If your child may be interested, have a look here on the website or click here for the Facebook link where you can message a coach.

• All welcome to join a Nature Walk at Bucklebury Common this Saturday 28 May as part of the Educafe Wellbeing Festival. Please meet at Upper Bucklebury Memorial Hall carpark at 10am.

• Women from all walks of life across the county are invited to join West Berkshire Council’s Women in Politics webinar on Wednesday 1 June to find out how to get involved in local decision-making panels or become a Councillor. WBC also would like to invite any and all local residents interested in what happens behind the scenes at the Council or how decisions are made, to join them for this event. Details can be found on the council website.

• Thatcham Town Council’s Heritage Working Party is requesting your votes by 7 June for the 2022 blue plaque from the short list of Lieutenant Colonel Vernon Watkins, The Cedars, Dunston House, Thatcham Ordnance Depot, Reeds Boards & Field Packaging and Wyatts Butchers. See more on the Town Council’s website here.

• Keep your eyes on the skies on Thursday 2 June for the spectacular military flyby in celebration of the Jubilee. Over 70 aircraft will be participating, including the Red Arrows, Spitfires and Hurricanes, taking off in the east of the country, flying over Buckingham Palace, London and then heading the South and West. If all goes according to plan, Berkshire should see the aircraft overhead roughly between 12:50pm and 1:30pm – so keep your eyes peeled. More information can be found here.

• Thames Valley Police’s firearms surrender will hopefully see a good response, with those surrendering them not receiving prosecution and staying anonymous. See more here on the appeal that is lasting until Sunday 29 May.

• The popular community Educafe which meets every Wednesday in Newbury Library brought their crafts, games, Chatty Corner, baby play area, befriending service, free drinks and cake and chat to Thatcham Library last Friday and they will be back this Friday 27 May from 12pm to 2.30pm. Do pop in to say hello, they would love to see you. These pop-ups are testing out how the Educafe model works in different locations across West Berkshire. They hope that one day, every village and town will have its own Educafe where local people and services can come together to share knowledge, support each other, drink tea and eat cake! See more details here.

• Thatcham will soon host a Family Fun Day and Car Show, detailing funfair rides, market stalls and classic cards on 31 May on the Memorial Field. See here for more.

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

• 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 bovine de Niro impersonator and finishes with waiting and hoping.

• 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.

Looking at alternatives

As mentioned several times before (see below), West Berkshire Council is currently looking at a 30-year vision for two aspects of its local plan (Sandleford and the proposed 2,500 homes in NE Thatcham, known as THA20). The former is a separate issue as this has been around for ages. With the second, though, there’s a suspicion that matters are being done the wrong way round.

To an extent, this isn’t WBC’s fault. The 2,500-home plan was proposed 18 months ago but the need for a 30-year vision to support it only demanded by the government last July (whether WBC might have anticipated the need for this is a separate matter). We therefore have a situation where a vision is being created to justify a site-led decision that seems to have been taken already. Ideally, the vision comes first and one then looks at the ways by which it can be realised. Given that a particular outcome is being sought, it therefore follows that options which don’t accord with these are not given the consideration they merit. This is supported by the fact that the consultants employed by WBC were unaware that one of the alternative schemes would provide a road bridge across the railway (which THA20 does not) until they were apprised of this by a parish councillor. It’s very hard to see that a vision based on such a selective reading list can truly be called a vision at all, except in the narrow way that it’s defined for the purposes of this exercise.

Certainly the proposers of the two sites at Colthrop (which provide the bridge) and Henwick Park feel this way. They have set up a joint website to promote “an alternative housing strategy for Thatcham.” These do not seem to be half-baked, back-of-a-fag-packet things but serious schemes which need at least to be considered. There is a brief survey at the borrow of the page and anyone who’s interested in the issue is invited to participate. I believe this closes on 31 May so do so as soon as you can.

On 26 May I spoke to David McFarlane, a director of SP Broadway which is acting as consultants for the two schemes. “We want to raise the public profile of the options that are available,” he told me. “Both of the schemes have merit and also serve to disperse housing around Thatcham.”

Thatcham Town Council also continues its attempts to understand the process and what role it has to play in the discussions. As mentioned last week, TTC has produced a detailed commentary of numerous aspects of the baseline documents despite not having been asked to do so. TTC Leader Lee Dillon is quoted in this week’s NWN as saying that “it would have been helpful for Iceni to come to us as well and treated us like a client.” I spoke to him on 26 May to discuss this further. “Planning is a very emotive issue,” he told me. “You need to be absolutely sure that any decision is evidence-based. Here, however, we appear to have a situation where evidence is being created or selectively used to support a decision that’s effective already been made.”

The only person whose view really matters on whether the visioning has been sufficiently wide-ranging is the indecent examiner who must approve the new local plan before it can be adopted. Given the ongoing delays, it’s currently uncertain when they will have the chance to examine this.

Community notices

• 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.

• Friends of Thatcham Library is rallying volunteers to help maintain the standards of the facility. To become a “new friend” of the library please email friendsofthatcham@gmail.com

• All are welcome at the open sessions at the 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.

Sat 28 May Bowling Open Day at Thatcham Bowling Club.

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 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 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 18 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of the Chair and Deputy; formal matters; financial matters; and planning 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 10 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of the Chair and Deputy; speeding; formal matters; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; financial matters; the jubilee; the neighbourhood development plan; and rights of way.  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 3 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of a Chair and Deputy; a presentation about the proposed development at Hyde End Farm; a seeming mix-up with WBC’s waste collection following April’s litter pick; a review of policies; the jubilee; speeding; repairs to a bench; potholes; planning matters; financial matters; and formal matters. 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 21 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a smoking lawnmower; planning matters; the neighbourhood development plan; financial matters; speeding; repairs around the parish; 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 11 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: street light costs; 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 Frilsham Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the minutes here.  There was also an extraordinary meeting on 30 March and you can read the minutes here. (This was mainly concerned with the Beechfield Lane Improvement Project.) 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.

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 2 June 2022

This week we take a look back at some of the main stories in this area that we’ve covered in the last six months or so, many of which are still live and will be returned to in due course. We also have our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities (including jubilee-related ones) and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Click here for our guide to Jubilee events including Churches of Thatcham’s Jubilee Picnic and family day on Sunday 5 June on Kennet School Field, Stoney Lane. From 10am to 4pm there will be lots of free fun to enjoy. See their poster for more details.

• Free Art for Wellbeing classes start at Thatcham Library on Tuesday 7 June as part of the Corn Exchange’s Link to Thrive programme for mental health. You can drop in on a weekly basis to learn new art techniques in a relaxed, friendly and sociable atmosphere under the guidance of professional artists and illustrators. See details here for how to self-refer or be referred to the classes by your GP or Social Prescriber.

• As part of the ongoing support for Broadway, the public toilets are getting further improvements. In the latest set of works planned, better ventilation and replacing signage are on the table. For more details see Newbury Today‘s post here.

• Thatcham Town Council’s Heritage Working Party is requesting your votes by Tuesday 7 June for the 2022 blue plaque from the short list of Lieutenant Colonel Vernon Watkins, The Cedars, Dunston House, Thatcham Ordnance Depot, Reeds Boards & Field Packaging and Wyatts Butchers. See more on the Town Council’s website here.

• The latest concern revolving around the Lower Way developments is energy efficiency or better referred to as energy “deficiency”. See more here on Newbury Today.

• More improvements are coming to the local area, this time to help prevent flooding. A new plan has been submitted for flood basins in Bowling Green Lane and West Heath Lane in Cold Ash and Floral Way in Thatcham. The basins, which can hold more than 7,900 cubic metres of water will span 29 metres.

• Categories for the popular Fun Dog Show at the Thatcham Family Fun day on Sunday 26 June at Henwick Playing Fields can be seen here.

• 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.

• 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 look back…

See below for a brief summary of some of the recurring issues we’ve covered, often more than once, in the last six months or so. Many of these are still live and so will be returned to in the future. In all cases, you can see more by clicking on link to the archive section at the foot of this post (there’s also a further link at the foot of that to earlier columns) and then then searching for the relevant key word/s.

If there are any other matters that you think should be covered, or if you have any views or comments and the ones we’ve covered to date, please email brian@pennypost.org.uk

The 2,500-home plan. This issue has dominated our coverage of news in the town and surrounding area for over a year. The plan is strongly opposed by Thatcham Town Council and the three neighbouring parishes of Cold Ash, Bucklebury and Midgham. Because of the scale of the proposals, this has also resulted in a serious delay to WBC’s emerging local plan as new government regulations issued in 2021 demanded that a 30-year vision (rather than the usual 15-year one) be developed to justify the proposal.

Recent controversy has centred on how this vision is being developed and the extent to which the views of the above-mentioned councils and their residents are being taken into account. There are also suggestions that WBC is not paying sufficient mind to alternative proposals which would spread development across the town, one of which would provide what many see as a badly-needed railway bridge by the railway station. it has also been pointed out that some of the mitigating infrastructure (including a new secondary school, only half of the costs for which the developers have so far agreed to meet) will being provided too late. Others argue that demographic predictions suggest the secondary school isn’t needed at all. As there there are four developers involved (there were two at Sandleford, which in many ways proved to be one too many, there are all manner of possibilities for delays caused by disputes between them. Concerns about sustainability, the effect on town’s existing infrastructure deficit, transport issues and the  sheer scale of the this many-eggs-in-one-basket approach have also been voiced.

Complex, technical, emotive and increasingly politicised, this issue will ruble on for years.  Even if the project is given the go-ahead it will be years before anything is built and probably decades before it’s completed. If it does, the open space between Thatcham and Bucklebury will largely have disappeared for good.

Smartening up the town centre. This has recently been accomplished by the Town Council with the help of some money provided by, of all organisations, the EU. Most agree that the area around The broadway is much more attractive as a result.

Readibus. Quite why WBC appeared to have turned on this long-standing  community transport provider in 2018 remains a bit of a mystery. It’s certainly not because, despite WBC’s assertions to the contrary, like-for-like replacement services exist. Nor is it because the so-called gagging clause that the council insists upon is widely regarded by charities as an acceptable condition. It certainly isn’t because demand for the service has declined – I’ve spoken to several of the users – or that, in an ageing society it’s likely to in the future. Hopefully common sense will prevail in time: if it does we’ll be letting you know. Fingers crossed.

The Library. It’s long been recognised that – like so many of the town’s facilities – this is not adequate for current demand. Having narrowly escaped closure as a result of the attempted effective closure of the Library Service in the mid/late 2010s, WBC now recognises that the building needs to be renovated and enlarged. Some works are in hand to make it compliant with present-day accessibility rules and expectations and it’s intended that more substantial renovation, possibly involving an empty neighbouring building, will take place in the next few years.

Community notices

Thatcham Town Harriers are seeking new players for their next season. The under 13’s team could be perfect for those that are looking for sports outside of school. If your child may be interested, have a look here on the website or click here for the Facebook link where you can message a coach.

• Friends of Thatcham Library is rallying volunteers to help maintain the standards of the facility. To become a “new friend” of the library please email friendsofthatcham@gmail.com

• All are welcome at the open sessions at the 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’s Wellbeing Festival through June offers free or low-cost yoga, belly dancing, pilates and allotment gardening. Click here for the full schedule.

Sun 5 June Churches of Thatcham’s Big Jubilee Lunch

Sun 26 June Thatcham Family Fun Day

• 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 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 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 18 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of the Chair and Deputy; formal matters; financial matters; and planning 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 10 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of the Chair and Deputy; speeding; formal matters; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; financial matters; the jubilee; the neighbourhood development plan; and rights of way.  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 3 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of a Chair and Deputy; a presentation about the proposed development at Hyde End Farm; a seeming mix-up with WBC’s waste collection following April’s litter pick; a review of policies; the jubilee; speeding; repairs to a bench; potholes; planning matters; financial matters; and formal matters. 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 21 April and you can read the minutes hereTo 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 11 April 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 9 March and you can read the minutes here.  There was also an extraordinary meeting on 30 March and you can read the minutes here. (This was mainly concerned with the Beechfield Lane Improvement Project.) 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.

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 26 May 2022

The plans for the 2,500 homes in north east Thatcham is back in the news, as it has been for most weeks. This time we take a look at what other alternative proposals exist, how inclusive the visioning exercise is and what the independent inspector might think to it. We also have reaction from Thatcham Town Council to the way its opinions have been handled. We also cover the jubilee events in the area, anti-social behaviour, a blur plaque, the arrival of Educafé and a young cow from Cold Ash that thinks it’s Robert de Niro.

Scroll down for these and other local news stories, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• You are probably aware that there will be lots of Jubilee celebrations taking place between 2 and 5 June. Click here for our guide to events in Thatcham and further afield.

• On which subject, full details of Thatcham Town Council’s Jubilee Beacon Lighting are now available here. The evening includes an exciting line-up of fireworks, dance and brass band at Dunstan Green on Thursday 2 June. Please note it will not be possible to park at Dunstan Green on the day of the event and the council asks the public to make alternative arrangements. Nearest parking is at Bradley-Moore Square car park or the Kingsland Centre car park in the Town Centre.

• The Churches of Thatcham are hosting a Jubilee Picnic and family day on Sunday 5 June on Kennet School Field, Stoney Lane. From 10am to 4pm there will be lots of free fun to enjoy. See their poster for more details.

• We’ve mentioned several times anti-social behaviour in Thatcham, whether it’s parks being vandalised or the Broadway in a mess, there’s always been a higher demand for more police action. A survey that was administered by WBC came back with over an 80 per cent approval rating for the release of a Public Spaces Protection Order. What happens next will be decided by an individual officer after a recent committee meeting made this official. See more here on Newbury Today.

St Finian’s Primary School marked its 10th anniversary on May 18 since moving to Cold Ash. The school embraced the anniversary by aligning pupils and staff to create the number 10. More can be found on Newbury Today.

Thatcham Town Harriers are seeking new players for their next season. The under 13’s team could be perfect for those that are looking for sports outside of school. If your child may be interested, have a look here on the website or click here for the Facebook link where you can message a coach.

• All welcome to join a Nature Walk at Bucklebury Common this Saturday 28 May as part of the Educafe Wellbeing Festival. Please meet at Upper Bucklebury Memorial Hall carpark at 10am.

• Women from all walks of life across the county are invited to join West Berkshire Council’s Women in Politics webinar on Wednesday 1 June to find out how to get involved in local decision-making panels or become a Councillor. WBC also would like to invite any and all local residents interested in what happens behind the scenes at the Council or how decisions are made, to join them for this event. Details can be found on the council website.

• Thatcham Town Council’s Heritage Working Party is requesting your votes by 7 June for the 2022 blue plaque from the short list of Lieutenant Colonel Vernon Watkins, The Cedars, Dunston House, Thatcham Ordnance Depot, Reeds Boards & Field Packaging and Wyatts Butchers. See more on the Town Council’s website here.

• Keep your eyes on the skies on Thursday 2 June for the spectacular military flyby in celebration of the Jubilee. Over 70 aircraft will be participating, including the Red Arrows, Spitfires and Hurricanes, taking off in the east of the country, flying over Buckingham Palace, London and then heading the South and West. If all goes according to plan, Berkshire should see the aircraft overhead roughly between 12:50pm and 1:30pm – so keep your eyes peeled. More information can be found here.

• Thames Valley Police’s firearms surrender will hopefully see a good response, with those surrendering them not receiving prosecution and staying anonymous. See more here on the appeal that is lasting until Sunday 29 May.

• The popular community Educafe which meets every Wednesday in Newbury Library brought their crafts, games, Chatty Corner, baby play area, befriending service, free drinks and cake and chat to Thatcham Library last Friday and they will be back this Friday 27 May from 12pm to 2.30pm. Do pop in to say hello, they would love to see you. These pop-ups are testing out how the Educafe model works in different locations across West Berkshire. They hope that one day, every village and town will have its own Educafe where local people and services can come together to share knowledge, support each other, drink tea and eat cake! See more details here.

• Thatcham will soon host a Family Fun Day and Car Show, detailing funfair rides, market stalls and classic cards on 31 May on the Memorial Field. See here for more.

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

• 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 bovine de Niro impersonator and finishes with waiting and hoping.

• 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.

Looking at alternatives

As mentioned several times before (see below), West Berkshire Council is currently looking at a 30-year vision for two aspects of its local plan (Sandleford and the proposed 2,500 homes in NE Thatcham, known as THA20). The former is a separate issue as this has been around for ages. With the second, though, there’s a suspicion that matters are being done the wrong way round.

To an extent, this isn’t WBC’s fault. The 2,500-home plan was proposed 18 months ago but the need for a 30-year vision to support it only demanded by the government last July (whether WBC might have anticipated the need for this is a separate matter). We therefore have a situation where a vision is being created to justify a site-led decision that seems to have been taken already. Ideally, the vision comes first and one then looks at the ways by which it can be realised. Given that a particular outcome is being sought, it therefore follows that options which don’t accord with these are not given the consideration they merit. This is supported by the fact that the consultants employed by WBC were unaware that one of the alternative schemes would provide a road bridge across the railway (which THA20 does not) until they were apprised of this by a parish councillor. It’s very hard to see that a vision based on such a selective reading list can truly be called a vision at all, except in the narrow way that it’s defined for the purposes of this exercise.

Certainly the proposers of the two sites at Colthrop (which provide the bridge) and Henwick Park feel this way. They have set up a joint website to promote “an alternative housing strategy for Thatcham.” These do not seem to be half-baked, back-of-a-fag-packet things but serious schemes which need at least to be considered. There is a brief survey at the borrow of the page and anyone who’s interested in the issue is invited to participate. I believe this closes on 31 May so do so as soon as you can.

On 26 May I spoke to David McFarlane, a director of SP Broadway which is acting as consultants for the two schemes. “We want to raise the public profile of the options that are available,” he told me. “Both of the schemes have merit and also serve to disperse housing around Thatcham.”

Thatcham Town Council also continues its attempts to understand the process and what role it has to play in the discussions. As mentioned last week, TTC has produced a detailed commentary of numerous aspects of the baseline documents despite not having been asked to do so. TTC Leader Lee Dillon is quoted in this week’s NWN as saying that “it would have been helpful for Iceni to come to us as well and treated us like a client.” I spoke to him on 26 May to discuss this further. “Planning is a very emotive issue,” he told me. “You need to be absolutely sure that any decision is evidence-based. Here, however, we appear to have a situation where evidence is being created or selectively used to support a decision that’s effective already been made.”

The only person whose view really matters on whether the visioning has been sufficiently wide-ranging is the indecent examiner who must approve the new local plan before it can be adopted. Given the ongoing delays, it’s currently uncertain when they will have the chance to examine this.

Community notices

• 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.

• Friends of Thatcham Library is rallying volunteers to help maintain the standards of the facility. To become a “new friend” of the library please email friendsofthatcham@gmail.com

• All are welcome at the open sessions at the 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.

Sat 28 May Bowling Open Day at Thatcham Bowling Club.

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 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 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 18 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of the Chair and Deputy; formal matters; financial matters; and planning 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