Burghfield/Theale Area Weekly News sections – 2022 archive

To see the current Burghfield & Area Weekly News (the new name for this section), 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.

Click here for the 2024 archive

Click here for the 2023 archive

Thursday 12 January 2023

This week we cover a a forthcoming fayre, volunteers, bus fares, bikes and recycling centres. We also report on the last situation at the Easy Concrete site in Aldermaston and offer some advice about WBC’s local plan consultation – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information.

This week’s news

The Burghfield Residents Association is now accepting applications for this year’s May Fayre. If you would be interested in a stall, please send a brief overview of your wares or activities to the coordinator at burghfieldmayfayre@gmail.com.

• Burghfield Community Café B are looking for volunteers to help on Mondays and Wednesdays. There are multiple roles available including serving barista coffee, waiting on customers, operating the till or in the kitchen. Full training will be given. If that sounds interesting to you, get in touch at cafeb@togetherinmission.org.uk.

Burghfield Football Club are looking for new players in their Under 10s youth squad (year 5 equivalent). Training takes place on Tuesday evenings, with matches on Saturday mornings. Head to their website for more information.

• Do you have any time on your hands? Volunteering is good for the soul (and the CV) and can be very flexible, fitting around other commitments. This Saturday 14 January sees the return of the big V365 2023 Volunteer Recruitment Day at Newbury Corn Exchange. Organised by Volunteer Centre West Berkshire, it is a brilliant opportunity to meet over 50 local charities, find out what they do and how you can get involved. They really need your help. See here for more details.

• Now that groundwater levels are rising (and rain is falling), concerns about flooding and sewage discharges of from overwhelmed sewers are back with us again. On the latter point, you can keep your eye on this map which has been produced by Thames Water. Traffic-light colours are used: red for discharging now; orange for discharges having happened in the last 48 hours; and green for not discharging now (but shows discharges since April 2022). The overall picture is, as one might expect, pretty awful.

• Quick reminder that single bus fares are capped at a maximum of £2 from January to March across the Reading Buses, Thames Valley Buses, Green Line 702/703 and Newbury & District networks.  For more details about how the scheme will work, click here.

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.

Aldermaston Parish Council is considering the options for spending the £53,000 CIL contribution  from the Lidl development. All suggestions from parishioners are welcome: please contact the Parish Council office.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

Aldermaston’s concrete

The meeting of Aldermaston Parish Council on 10 January considered, as other meetings have done in the past, the situation regarding Easy Concrete’s activities at The Woodyard, Paices Hill.

The Chair explained that she had recently attended a site meeting with WBC Planning Enforcement and ur District Councillor, Dominic Boeck. Planning Enforcement confirmed that the engineering activities onsite necessitated a planning application, which has subsequently been submitted (but not yet validated).  Aldermaston PC has also received an email from WBC Planning Enforcement “explaining why they thought the site had permission for Easy Concrete’s proposals.” Aldermaston PC “remains concerned with what is happening at this site, and will continue to keep a close watch on it.”

The local plan for West Berkshire

Thursday 12 January update: WBC has announced a further delay to the Regulation 19 Consultation and it now seems likely that this will not start before Friday 20 January. If so, this means that it will end on 3 March.

Friday 6 January update: WBC has announced that Regulation 19 Consultation on the local plan has been delayed due to unforeseen circumstances. It is hoped it will have started by Friday 13 January. It will still run for six weeks from its commencement date.

A district’s local plan is the ultimate source of reference (subject always to any changes in national legislation) for planning officers and planning committee members when making decisions about planning and development. These generally have a life cycle of 15 years. WBC’s current local plan runs until 2026 and work has been taking place on updating this since 2018.

The final draft was submitted to WBC’s Full Council on 1 December 2022 and was approved to go to public consultation. This stage, which is known as Regulation 19, starts on 6 January 2023 and will run until 17 February 2023. This is an opportunity for everyone in the district, individuals and organisations, to have their say.

The document is important but also long and complex, to an extent that might make large parts of it unintelligible to anyone but a planning expert. In this separate post, we’ve suggested some local people or organisations whose advice you might want to get before making your comments. The good news is that these are all completely free…

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Theale Parish Council is often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events. Please check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking 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.

• The mini re-cycling centre at the end of Theale High Street has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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

Thurs 12 Jan Britain’s Railways in WW1 Talk, Reading Central Library.

Sat 14 Jan Games Evening, St Mary’s Church Burghfield.

Sun 5 Feb Repair Café, Spencer Wood Village Hall.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from as mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

All cyclists are welcome to join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group“which doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Aldermaston Parish Council for was on 10 January and the minutes will be available here in due course. Items covered included: Easy Concrete’s activities at The Woodyard, Paices Hill (see separate section above); a review of the 2023-24 budget (it was decided to keep the precept at £13,500 which is “ower than many other Parish Councils of equivalent size, and we will continue our efforts to ensure you get good value for your money”; planning matters (including “disappointment” that APC’s request for an extension had not been granted to the consultation on proposals for additional Light Industrial Units at Young’s Industrial Estate on Paices Hill; the Victorian Jubilee Water Fountain on the Loosey, which is deteriorating, “partly due to the heavy traffic on the nearby A340”;  power outages following SSE workmen Raghill; and the possibility of producing a neighbourhood development plan.
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 Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Chair’s report; the Clerk’s report; the report from ward member Alan Macro; planning matters; the play project; CCTV; the council’s response to the local plan; plans for Christmas 2023; the war memorial; the annual parish meeting; financial matters; and correspondence.
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 Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a proposed telephone mast; the Village Hall; a huge and ownerless oak tree; footways; tree replacement; planning matters; planning enforcement issues; a report from the ward member; highways; affordable homes; the 2023-24 budget; defibrillators; 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 for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: hedges; the grit bin; a councillor vacancy; planning matters; highways; parking at Mallard Way; the Community Room and School Hall; speeding; and financial matters.To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 November and you can read the minutes here
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

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

• The most recent meeting of Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 October 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 Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 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 and minutes, please click here.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; Swindon area.

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

Thursday 5 January 2023

This week we cover a repair café, congratulate the Santas, take a look at a mini recycling centre and admire a huge and ownerless oak tree in Bradfield. We also offer some advice about WBC’s local plan consultation and take a look at the latest news concerning Windmill Court – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information.

This week’s news

• Many congratulations to the Burghfield Santas, who throughout the course of 2022 raised an incredible £30,000 for Thames Valley Air Ambulance. The Burghfield Santas have been long-term supporters of the charity through events like their pop-up pub events and Burghfest. Their total fundraising over the years have contributed over £300,000 to the Air Ambulance service. If you would like to make a donation to the Thames Valley Air Ambulance to help save lives, you can do so through their website.

• The Spencer’s Wood Repair Café is back this weekend on Sunday 8 January at the Spencer Wood Village Hall. Bring along your broken household items, such as bikes, electrical items, sewing machines, phones, laptops, garden tools, tool sharpening, mechanical items, small furniture and broken zips, bags and clothes and the wonderful volunteers will try to fix them. There is also a book and CD exchange, as well as a café with snacks and beverages. New volunteers are always welcome especially seamstresses. Click here for further details.

• A new mini recycling centre has opened in Tilehurst at Cotswold Sports Centre, Downs Way, RG31 6SL. Click here for details.

Village halls that need finishing funds for well-developed projects can apply to the Platinum Jubilee Village Hall Fund by 20 January.

• The national government initiative to cap single bus fares at a maximum of £2 from January to March 2023 applies to all single journeys across the Reading Buses, Thames Valley Buses, Green Line 702/703 and Newbury & District networks. The only exceptions will be on football buses and buses allocated for school travel. The scheme is designed to help families, commuters and other passengers save money this winter, as well as help to increase the number of bus commuters, thereby reducing emissions and congestion. For more details about how the scheme will work, click here.

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.

Newbury Samaritans is looking for more volunteers to join its 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.

Aldermaston Parish Council is considering the options for spending the £53,000 CIL contribution  from the Lidl development. All suggestions from parishioners are welcome: please contact the Parish Council office.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

The local plan

Friday 6 January 2023 update: WBC has announced that Regulation 19 Consultation on the local plan has been delayed due to unforeseen circumstances. It is hoped it will have started by Friday 13 January. It will still run for six weeks from its commencement date.

A district’s local plan is the ultimate source of reference (subject always to any changes in national legislation) for planning officers and planning committee members when making decisions about planning and development. These generally have a life cycle of 15 years. WBC’s current local plan runs until 2026 and work has been taking place on updating this since 2018.

The final draft was submitted to WBC’s Full Council on 1 December 2022 and was approved to go to public consultation. This stage, which is known as Regulation 19, stars on 6 January 2023 and will run until 17 February 2023. This is an opportunity for everyone in the district, individuals and organisations, to have their say.

The document is important but also long and complex, to an extent that might make large parts of it unintelligible to anyone but a planning expert. In this separate post, we’ve suggested some local people or organisations whose advice you might want to get before making your comments. The good news is that these are all completely free…

Windmill Court

We’ve covered throughout 2022 the story of Sovereign Housing’s somewhat clumsy attempt to close the housing at Windmill Court in Mortimer. Discussions between Sovereign and WBC have been ongoing for some time, though with no public results. One thing I would like to see come from these is an understanding as to who is calling the shots in the relationship (it should surely be WBC) when it comes to deciding what facilities should be closed or renovated. As matters stand, this could happen again and cause a similar amount of confusion and upset.

In his latest newsletter published just before Christmas, WBC Councillor Graham Bridgman made the f0ollowing comment:

“Discussions with Sovereign have continued and as soon as there is something we are able to report we will do so. As I said in a recent Facebook post: ‘We have had meetings, both physical and virtual with Sovereign. The nature of the discussions have been necessarily confidential. As and when: (a) the request from Sovereign to WBC is discussed by WBC; and/or (b) the petition presented to the WBC Executive is discussed; and/or (c) any planning application by Sovereign comes forward; and/or (d) Sovereign agrees that the discussions can be made public; and/or (e) Sovereign make any announcements, I will be able to say more.'”

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Theale Parish Council is often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events. Please check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking 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.

• The mini re-cycling centre at the end of Theale High Street has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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

Sun 8 Jan Repair Café, Spencer Wood Village Hall.

Thurs 12 Jan Britain’s Railways in WW1 Talk, Reading Central Library.

Sun 5 Feb Repair Café, Spencer Wood Village Hall.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from as mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

All cyclists are welcome to join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group“which doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Aldermaston Parish Council for was on 13 December and the minutes will be available here in due course. Items covered included: a presentation by Jon Winstanley of WBC “who attended to respond to the petition organised by Shelley Fraser to express the views of Villagers concerned about a repeat of the 2007 floods”; a presentation by Mitro Homes (“although they described, at considerable length, the green credentials of the new builds, we explained that the new homes were unlikely to gain Planning Approval from WBC as they were within the AWE DEPZ. We were also concerned that they would be outside the settlement boundary, were on agricultural land, and could set a dangerous precedent”); a comment from a resident about the large heaps of soil that had appeared alongside The Woodyard, Paices Hill. The Chair said the she was “in regular contact with the developer, Easy Concrete, and WBC Planning Enforcement Team.  APC had major concerns about developments on the site, and were keeping a close watch on it”; other planning matters; The Loose; the budget; and bin emptying.
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 Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a proposed telephone mast; the Village Hall; a huge and ownerless oak tree; footways; tree replacement; planning matters; planning enforcement issues; a report from the ward member; highways; affordable homes; the 2023-24 budget; defibrillators; 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 for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: drains; wildflowers; the Village Hall; Roundhead Road; a report from the ward member Alan Macro; planning matters; committees and working groups; the play project; financial matters; £2,842 donated to the WBC Library Service; and financial matters.
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 Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: hedges; the grit bin; a councillor vacancy; planning matters; highways; parking at Mallard Way; the Community Room and School Hall; speeding; and financial matters.To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 November and you can read the minutes here
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

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

• The most recent meeting of Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 October 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 Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 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 and minutes, please click here.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; Swindon area.

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

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 a mobility, tree-cycling, local newsletters, toys and a tea dance. We also 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 other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information.

This week’s news

• The Burghfield and Mortimer Mobility Store received an early Christmas surprise. They have received a generous donation of £500 from the Burghfield Residents Association (B.R.A) who give out grants from the proceeds of their Annual May Fayre. Now the Mobility Store, which is free to use and volunteer-run, can replace its ageing stock as well as buy two new ‘all terrain’ wheelchairs, so that residents can access the local woodland with their families. You can read more about this story here.

• 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.

• Over at Spencers Wood there’s a Charity Christmas Trail taking place. Check out some lovely light display and be in for a chance to win some fabulous prizes. Trail maps can be picked up at the Spencer’s Wood OneStop or Dobbies.

• Quick reminder that Burghfield Parish Council has exciting new opportunity for a new café facility and is inviting expression of interest from local caterers, both experienced and those just starting out. For more information or to request a copy of the Information Package and Expression of Interest Form, please call 0118 983 1748 or email clerk@burghfieldparishcouncil.gov.uk. Expressions of interest forms must be submitted by Tuesday 3 January 2023.

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.

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 West Berkshire Toy Appeal 2022, needs your help! The appeal organised by the Swift Group involves donating a new unwrap gift to a local underprivileged child, as which there are several possible drop off point around Newbury and other places in West Berkshire. The Swift Group are suggesting local offices consider donating to the appeal in place of a Secret Santa this year. Click here to see a full list of drop-off points and click here for more details about how you can get involved.

Aldermaston Parish Council is considering the options for spending the £53,000 CIL contribution  from the Lidl development. Ideally this will be on facilities accessible to the south of the parish. All suggestions from parishioners are welcome: please contact the Parish Council office.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

Christmas

With the cost-of-living crisis affecting so many, Cafe B – Together in Mission (Burghfield Common’s first community cafe) would like to help to make Christmas a little better for the children of Burghfield by providing a gift for a child who may not receive one on Christmas Day. The Burghfield schools estimate that 130 children aged between four and 16 years old in Burghfield are unlikely to receive a gift this Christmas. Please help put a smile on these children’s faces by donating what you can.

• Thanks to the the Burghfield Community facebook group for this summary of Christmas events (click here to sign up for the Eye’s weekly events newsletter)
  • Friday 16 December
    Baby & Toddler Group Christmas Party – Burghfield Common Village Hall – 10am-12pm ( Ticketed Event!)
  • Saturday 17 December
    Christmas Carols Sing Along – Burghfield Village Hall 6pm – 8pm
    Silent Disco – The Six Bells – Burghfield Village – 8pm
  • Friday 23 December
    Rock & Roll Bingo – The Six Bells
  • Saturday 24 December
    Christingle Services – Burghfield St Mary’s Church – 2pm & 4pm

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 Village Hall renovation in Burghfield. Earlier this year there was a certain amount of criticism about how the parish council had handled this matter. We looked into it and found that, possible communication problems aside, there was little wrong with what had happened.
  • The temporary café in Burghfield. An almost identical story here: similar comments; similar investigation by us; similar conclusion.
  • Windmill Court. Sovereign Housing’s decision to close this facility in Mortimer attracted – with a lot more justification than with the two issues above in Burghfield – a good deal of criticism. The situation now seems to have resolved itself although it still leaves open the question as to which of WBC and Sovereign calls the shots in this important relationship.
  • The solar farm at Bloomfield Hatch near Mortimer. This is a big project and one that seems to us to be a good (and not permanent) use of the land and of WBC’s money. Others disagree. This was discussed in detail at a planning committee meeting in the summer and we looked at some of the issues, about renewable energy and the planning system, that this exposed.
  • Burghfest is always a popular event and we were delighted to help support and promote it in 2022.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Theale Parish Council is often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events. Please check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking 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.

• The mini re-cycling centre at the end of Theale High Street has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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 Burghfield Toddler Group Christmas Party, Burghfield Village Hall.

Sun 18 Dec Festive Tea Dance Party, Burghfield CSA Club, James Ln, Burghfield.

Sat 24 Dec Christingles Service, St Mary’s Church.

Sat 31 Dec New Years Eve Celebration, Silchester Farm.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from as mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

All cyclists are welcome to join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group“which doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Foudry Brook at the Station Road Bridge; a report from the Clerk; a proposed Friends of Mortimer Library; the coronation; CCTV and the Fairground; committee and working party reports; the Mortimer to Burghfield Cycleway and Footpath; the NDP; financial matters; 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. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Aldermaston Parish Council for was on 13 December and the minutes will be available here in due course. Items covered included: a presentation by Jon Winstanley of WBC “who attended to respond to the petition organised by Shelley Fraser to express the views of Villagers concerned about a repeat of the 2007 floods”; a presentation by Mitro Homes (“although they described, at considerable length, the green credentials of the new builds, we explained that the new homes were unlikely to gain Planning Approval from WBC as they were within the AWE DEPZ. We were also concerned that they would be outside the settlement boundary, were on agricultural land, and could set a dangerous precedent”); a comment from a resident about the large heaps of soil that had appeared alongside The Woodyard, Paices Hill. The Chair said the she was “in regular contact with the developer, Easy Concrete, and WBC Planning Enforcement Team.  APC had major concerns about developments on the site, and were keeping a close watch on it”; other planning matters; The Loose; the budget; and bin emptying.
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 Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 November 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 Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on I November 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 for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 October 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 Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 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 here.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 a Christmas trail, CIL ideas, local caterers, a wider pavement, 100m streams and a toy library – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information.

This week’s news

• Keep your eyes peeled for Father Christmas this Friday 9 December as he will be paying a visit to Mortimer on the evening of the 9 December. Organised by the Loddon Valley Lions Club, Santa will be starting at St John’s Church before taking a tour of the village. Click here for more details.

• Over at Spencers Wood there’s a Charity Christmas Trail taking place. Check out some lovely light display and be in for a chance to win some fabulous prizes. Trail maps can be picked up at the Spencer’s Wood OneStop or Dobbies.

• Thanks to Mortimer Life for covering this fairly unusual story of pavements being widened to make it safer for local children to walk to school. It also records that “in December 2014, Knutsford council approved plans to widen the pavements, 220 years after Lady Jane Stanley had paid for narrow pavements to be laid to prevent lovers strolling arm in arm.” The Iranian and Indonesian Presidents probably both have a picture of her as a screensaver.

• Congrats to Mortimer’s James Carter and Italy’s Meduza whose song Bad Memories (in collaboration with FAST BOY, Elly Duhe, Burghfield’s Mearsy and others) has just reached 100 million (Spotify) global streams.

• Quick reminder that Burghfield Parish Council has exciting new opportunity for a new café facility and is inviting expression of interest from local caterers, both experienced and those just starting out. For more information or to request a copy of the Information Package and Expression of Interest Form, please call 0118 983 1748 or email clerk@burghfieldparishcouncil.gov.uk. Expressions of interest forms must be submitted by Tuesday 3 January 2023.

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.

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 West Berkshire Toy Appeal 2022, needs your help! The appeal organised by the Swift Group involves donating a new unwrap gift to a local underprivileged child, as which there are several possible drop off point around Newbury and other places in West Berkshire. The Swift Group are suggesting local offices consider donating to the appeal in place of a Secret Santa this year. Click here to see a full list of drop-off points and click here for more details about how you can get involved.

Aldermaston Parish Council is considering the options for spending the £53,000 CIL contribution  from the Lidl development. Ideally this will be on facilities accessible to the south of the parish. All suggestions from parishioners are welcome: please contact the Parish Council office.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

Christmas

With the cost-of-living crisis affecting so many, Cafe B – Together in Mission (Burghfield Common’s first community cafe) would like to help to make Christmas a little better for the children of Burghfield by providing a gift for a child who may not receive one on Christmas Day. The Burghfield schools estimate that 130 children aged between four and 16 years old in Burghfield are unlikely to receive a gift this Christmas. Please help put a smile on these children’s faces by donating what you can.

• Thanks to the the Burghfield Community facebook group for this summary of Christmas events (click here to sign up for the Eye’s weekly events newsletter)
  • Saturday 10 December
    Christmas Decorations Craft Club – Burghfield Library – 10.30am-12pm
    Christmas Tree Festival – Burghfield St Mary Church- all day
    Christmas Jumper Disco – The Six Bells – Burghfield Village – 7pm -11pm
    The Bulging Sack Pop Up Pub – Burghfield Village Hall, Burghfield Common  5pm-11pm
  • Sunday 11 December
    Christmas Carols Sing Along – Sulhamstead Village Hall – 2pm-3.30pm
  • Wednesday 14 December
    Christmas Carols – Café B – Burghfield Methodist Church 10am-12pm
  • Thursday 15 December
    Christmas Party at The Hatch Gate Pub Live Music – 7pm-11pm
  • Friday 16 December
    Baby & Toddler Group Christmas Party – Burghfield Common Village Hall – 10am-12pm ( Ticketed Event!)
  • Saturday 17 December
    Christmas Carols Sing Along – Burghfield Village Hall 6pm – 8pm
    Silent Disco – The Six Bells – Burghfield Village – 8pm
  • Friday 23 December
    Rock & Roll Bingo – The Six Bells
  • Saturday 24 December
    Christingle Services – Burghfield St Mary’s Church – 2pm & 4pm

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Theale Parish Council is often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events. Please check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking 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.

• The mini re-cycling centre at the end of Theale High Street has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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 Aladdin Pantomime, St Johns Hall, Mortimer.

Sat 10 Dec Children’s Craft Club, Burghfield Library.

Sun 18 Dec Festive Tea Dance Party, Burghfield CSA Club, James Ln, Burghfield.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from as mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

All cyclists are welcome to join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group“which doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Foudry Brook at the Station Road Bridge; a report from the Clerk; a proposed Friends of Mortimer Library; the coronation; CCTV and the Fairground; committee and working party reports; the Mortimer to Burghfield Cycleway and Footpath; the NDP; financial matters; 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. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Aldermaston Parish Council for was on 8 November and the minutes will be available here in due course. Items covered included: four new planning applications; planning correspondence; light pollution at Rosebourne; two potential enhancements at The Loosey (the renovation of the Fountain Memorial and the provision of a replacement bench; bin collections; grass cutting; CIL funds; and planning and building-control issues at Woodyard in Paice’s Hill (see separate section above for part 2 of this).
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 Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the proposed new school at Hayward’s Farm; a report from ward member Alan Macro; planning matters; reports from the committees and working groups; cycle racks; Theale Green School; the official opening event for the new play area; tree works; street trading; the Pavilion; the draft Community Engagement Strategy; financial matters; and correspondence.
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 Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the 2023 Village Show; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; financial matters; planning matters; the Village Hall; repairs and maintenance work; and the Village Hall.
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 Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on I November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a proposed phone mast; the continuing saga of the Village Hall; the Almshouses; dog bins; repairs and maintenance work; trees; planning matters; affordable housing; highways and drainage; defibrillators; correspondence; 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 for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 October 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 Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 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 here.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 a market, ice, toys, volunteers and a medieval play  – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information.

This week’s news

Theale Parish Council’s annual Christmas Market kicks off this weekend on Saturday 3 December. There will be a variety of market stalls, a Santa’s grotto, children’s ride and carol singing. For more details click here.

• Also this Saturday 3 December Burghfield on Ice is going to be kicking off from 11am at Burghfield Village Hall, with a synthetic ice rink, street food, Christmas markets, live music, card making and much more.

•  On Sunday 4 December there will be more festivities at the Six Bells in Burghfield, with a Christmas Craft Fair from 10:30am to 1pm. Check out their Facebook page for more details.

• Quick reminder that Burghfield Parish Council has exciting new opportunity for a new café facility and is inviting expression of interest from local caterers, both experienced and those just starting out. For more information or to request a copy of the Information Package and Expression of Interest Form, please call 0118 983 1748 or email clerk@burghfieldparishcouncil.gov.uk. Expressions of interest forms must be submitted by Tuesday 3 January 2023.

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.

• The West Berkshire Toy Appeal 2022, needs your help! The appeal organised by the Swift Group involves donating a new unwrap gift to a local underprivileged child, as which there are several possible drop off point around Newbury and other places in West Berkshire. The Swift Group are suggesting local offices consider donating to the appeal in place of a Secret Santa this year. Click here to see a full list of drop-off points and click here for more details about how you can get involved.

Aldermaston Parish Council is considering the options for spending the £53,000 CIL contribution  from the Lidl development. Ideally this will be on facilities accessible to the south of the parish. All suggestions from parishioners are welcome: please contact the Parish Council office.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

Christmas

• If you want to keep up to date with all the news and info about Theale’s Christmas Lights Event on Saturday 3 December, Theale Parish Council requests you follow their official facebook event page.

The Burnham Copse Primary School in Tadley have their Christmas Fayre on Friday 2 December, from 3pm to 5pm.

With the cost-of-living crisis affecting so many, Cafe B – Together in Mission (Burghfield Common’s first community cafe) would like to help to make Christmas a little better for the children of Burghfield by providing a gift for a child who may not receive one on Christmas Day. The Burghfield schools estimate that 130 children aged between four and 16 years old in Burghfield are unlikely to receive a gift this Christmas. Please help put a smile on these children’s faces by donating what you can.

• Thanks to the the Burghfield Community facebook group for this summary of Christmas events:
  • Saturday 3 December
    Burghfield’s Christmas on ICE – The Village Hall Burghfield Common – 11am-5pm
    Burghfield & Mortimer Christmas Concert with South Berks Band – Burghfield St Mary Church –  7pm
  • Sunday 4 December
    Christmas Carols by the Tree, The Hatch – Burghfield Village – 5pm
  • Wednesday 7 December
    Elvis at The Hatch Gate – Burghfield Village – 7pm-11pm
  • Saturday 10 December
    Christmas Decorations Craft Club – Burghfield Library – 10.30am-12pm
    Christmas Tree Festival – Burghfield St Mary Church- all day
    Christmas Jumper Disco – The Six Bells – Burghfield Village – 7pm -11pm
    The Bulging Sack Pop Up Pub – Burghfield Village Hall, Burghfield Common  5pm-11pm
  • Sunday 11 December
    Christmas Carols Sing Along – Sulhamstead Village Hall – 2pm-3.30pm
  • Wednesday 14 December
    Christmas Carols – Café B – Burghfield Methodist Church 10am-12pm
  • Thursday 15 December
    Christmas Party at The Hatch Gate Pub Live Music – 7pm-11pm
  • Friday 16 December
    Baby & Toddler Group Christmas Party – Burghfield Common Village Hall – 10am-12pm ( Ticketed Event!)
  • Saturday 17 December
    Christmas Carols Sing Along – Burghfield Village Hall 6pm – 8pm
    Silent Disco – The Six Bells – Burghfield Village – 8pm
  • Friday 23 December
    Rock & Roll Bingo – The Six Bells
  • Saturday 24 December
    Christingle Services – Burghfield St Mary’s Church – 2pm & 4pm

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Theale Parish Council is often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events. Please check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking 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.

• The mini re-cycling centre at the end of Theale High Street has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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 1 to Sun 4 Dec York Nativity Play, Aldermaston.

Sat 10 Dec Aladdin Pantomime, St Johns Hall, Mortimer.

Sun 18 Dec Festive Tea Dance Party, Burghfield CSA Club, James Ln, Burghfield.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from as mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

All cyclists are welcome to join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group“which doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Foudry Brook at the Station Road Bridge; a report from the Clerk; a proposed Friends of Mortimer Library; the coronation; CCTV and the Fairground; committee and working party reports; the Mortimer to Burghfield Cycleway and Footpath; the NDP; financial matters; 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. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Aldermaston Parish Council for was on 8 November and the minutes will be available here in due course. Items covered included: four new planning applications; planning correspondence; light pollution at Rosebourne; two potential enhancements at The Loosey (the renovation of the Fountain Memorial and the provision of a replacement bench; bin collections; grass cutting; CIL funds; and planning and building-control issues at Woodyard in Paice’s Hill (see separate section above for part 2 of this).
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 Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the proposed new school at Hayward’s Farm; a report from ward member Alan Macro; planning matters; reports from the committees and working groups; cycle racks; Theale Green School; the official opening event for the new play area; tree works; street trading; the Pavilion; the draft Community Engagement Strategy; financial matters; and correspondence.
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 Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the 2023 Village Show; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; financial matters; planning matters; the Village Hall; repairs and maintenance work; and the Village Hall.
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 Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on I November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a proposed phone mast; the continuing saga of the Village Hall; the Almshouses; dog bins; repairs and maintenance work; trees; planning matters; affordable housing; highways and drainage; defibrillators; correspondence; 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 for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 October 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 Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 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 here.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 cover a wonderland, a catering opportunity, Christmas lights, a nativity play, a tea dance an a toy library  – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information.

This week’s news

• This weekend is the Burghfield St Mary’s Primary School Christmas Fair, at which there will be a Santa’s Grotto, a raffle with some fabulous prizes, lots of stalls, as well as BBQ and refreshments. The fair will ben taking place of Saturday 26 November from 11am, click here for more details.

• Also this Saturday, the Falcon Pub in Theale is holding a Winter Wonderland with entertainment, a Santa’s Grotto, and festive refreshments including mulled wine, mince pies, hot toasted chestnuts and much more. All proceeds will go towards charities Breast Cancer Now and the Air Ambulance.

• The next Toy Library, over at the Mortimer Methodist Church  is being held on Saturday 26 November. Due to Christmas, hire will effectively be for two months, rather than the usual one – ideal for entertaining any little holiday visitors. More information can be found on the events Facebook page.

Burghfield Parish Council has exciting new opportunity for a new café facility and is inviting expression of interest from local caterers – both experienced and those just starting out. For more information or to request a copy of the Information Package and Expression of Interest Form, please call 0118 983 1748 or email clerk@burghfieldparishcouncil.gov.uk. Expressions of interest forms must be submitted by Tuesday 3 January 2023.

• Mortimer NDP team is hosting drop-in sections on 26 and 27 November. This is your chance to find out more about and have your say on the planned topics for the new Mortimer Neighbourhood Plan (climate/environment, energy, services, housing, facilities, employment and transport). For more information, please click here. For more information about neighbourhood development plans generally, please click here.

• 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.

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.

• The West Berkshire Toy Appeal 2022, needs your help! The appeal organised by the Swift Group involves donating a new unwrap gift to a local underprivileged child, as which there are several possible drop off point around Newbury and other places in West Berkshire. The Swift Group are suggesting local offices consider donating to the appeal in place of a Secret Santa this year. Click here to see a full list of drop-off points and click here for more details abo9ut how you can get involved.

There is a lot of hype these days around Black Friday (25 November) and Cyber Monday (28 November). When it comes to shopping online, it’s tempting to grab a ‘good deal’ but it is also a great opportunity for scammers to take advantage of customers looking for a bargain. Please see these reminders from Citizen’s Advice on how to shop savvy and stay safe online. Remember, if an offer is too good to be true, it’s probably not true…

Quick reminder that the Artists at Mortimer Hill will be opening their doors again this November.  Sadie Brockbank is showing her sculpture, collage and prints, plus the occasional painting, alongside painters Sue Bartlett, Julie Pearson and Jonathan Newey (workshops available with Jonathan); contemporary textile art from Tracy Micklethwaite (our latest new and very welcome addition to the community); and Jason Leggett’s glass creations and workshop opportunities. The exhibition is open from 11am to 5pm daily on Friday 25, Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 November at Mortimer Hill Studios, The Street (entrance off Strawberry Fields), Mortimer, RG7 3PW.

Theale Parish Council needs volunteers to help man the road closures for their annual Christmas Market on Saturday 3 December. If you are able to help, please sign up to the mailing list on the volunteering page at thealeparishcouncil.gov.uk.  Or sign up here to give the council permission to contact you in the future to see if you would be willing to help out at community events or be notified about any volunteer activities.

Aldermaston Parish Council is considering the options for spending the £53,000 CIL contribution  from the Lidl development. Ideally this will be on facilities accessible to the south of the parish. All suggestions from parishioners are welcome: please contact the Parish Council office.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

Christmas

• If you want to keep up to date with all the news and info about Theale’s Christmas Lights Event on Saturday 3 December, Theale Parish Council requests you follow their official facebook event page.

The Burnham Copse Primary School in Tadley is currently looking for craft stall holders for their Christmas Fayre. The fayre will be taking place on Friday 2 December, from 3pm to 5pm. If you would like to book a space there get in contact with meljrussell71@gmail.com.

With the cost-of-living crisis affecting so many, Cafe B – Together in Mission (Burghfield Common’s first community cafe) would like to help to make Christmas a little better for the children of Burghfield by providing a gift for a child who may not receive one on Christmas Day. The Burghfield schools estimate that 130 children aged between four and 16 years old in Burghfield are unlikely to receive a gift this Christmas. Please help put a smile on these children’s faces by donating what you can.

• Thanks to the the Burghfield Community facebook group for this summary of Christmas events:
  • Saturday 26 November
    Christmas Fayre – Burghfield St Mary School – 11am – 2pm
    The Knight’s Tale Children’s Workshop – Burghfield Library- 11am-12pm
  • Saturday 3 December
    Burghfield’s Christmas on ICE – The Village Hall Burghfield Common – 11am-5pm
    Burghfield & Mortimer Christmas Concert with South Berks Band – Burghfield St Mary Church –  7pm
  • Sunday 4 December
    Christmas Carols by the Tree, The Hatch – Burghfield Village – 5pm
  • Wednesday 7 December
    Elvis at The Hatch Gate – Burghfield Village – 7pm-11pm
  • Saturday 10 December
    Christmas Decorations Craft Club – Burghfield Library – 10.30am-12pm
    Christmas Tree Festival – Burghfield St Mary Church- all day
    Christmas Jumper Disco – The Six Bells – Burghfield Village – 7pm -11pm
    The Bulging Sack Pop Up Pub – Burghfield Village Hall, Burghfield Common  5pm-11pm
  • Sunday 11 December
    Christmas Carols Sing Along – Sulhamstead Village Hall – 2pm-3.30pm
  • Wednesday 14 December
    Christmas Carols – Café B – Burghfield Methodist Church 10am-12pm
  • Thursday 15 December
    Christmas Party at The Hatch Gate Pub Live Music – 7pm-11pm
  • Friday 16 December
    Baby & Toddler Group Christmas Party – Burghfield Common Village Hall – 10am-12pm ( Ticketed Event!)
  • Saturday 17 December
    Christmas Carols Sing Along – Burghfield Village Hall 6pm – 8pm
    Silent Disco – The Six Bells – Burghfield Village – 8pm
  • Friday 23 December
    Rock & Roll Bingo – The Six Bells
  • Saturday 24 December
    Christingle Services – Burghfield St Mary’s Church – 2pm & 4pm

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 24 September. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Theale Parish Council is often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events. Please check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking 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.

• The mini re-cycling centre at the end of Theale High Street has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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 26 Nov Christmas Fair & Santa’s Grotto, St Mary’s Primary School.

• Thu 1 to Sun 4 Dec York Nativity Play, Aldermaston.

Sat 10 Dec Aladdin Pantomime, St Johns Hall, Mortimer.

Sun 18 Dec Festive Tea Dance Party, Burghfield CSA Club, James Ln, Burghfield.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from as mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

All cyclists are welcome to join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group“which doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Foudry Brook at the Station Road Bridge; a report from the Clerk; a proposed Friends of Mortimer Library; the coronation; CCTV and the Fairground; committee and working party reports; the Mortimer to Burghfield Cycleway and Footpath; the NDP; financial matters; 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. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Aldermaston Parish Council for was on 8 November and the minutes will be available here in due course. Items covered included: four new planning applications; planning correspondence; light pollution at Rosebourne; two potential enhancements at The Loosey (the renovation of the Fountain Memorial and the provision of a replacement bench; bin collections; grass cutting; CIL funds; and planning and building-control issues at Woodyard in Paice’s Hill (see separate section above for part 2 of this).
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 Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the proposed new school at Hayward’s Farm; a report from ward member Alan Macro; planning matters; reports from the committees and working groups; cycle racks; Theale Green School; the official opening event for the new play area; tree works; street trading; the Pavilion; the draft Community Engagement Strategy; financial matters; and correspondence.
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 Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the 2023 Village Show; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; financial matters; planning matters; the Village Hall; repairs and maintenance work; and the Village Hall.
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 Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 October 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 Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 4 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 for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 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 here.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 cover spices, candles and pins, art, CIL funds and Christmas lights. We also take another look the wall that fell down in Aldermaston and reflect again on what this tells us about planning enforcement in the district  – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information.

This week’s news

• A massive well done to The Hatch Gate and Burghfield Spices, who together have raised an amazing £1,100 to donate to St Mary’s primary school. The donations comprise of all profits made last Monday fund for improving school facilities and they had a brilliant day serving you all. Click here for a message from the pub.

This Friday 18 November sees the return of the historic candle and pin auction, over at Aldermaston’s The Hind’s Head pub. Reportedly, this traditional practice dates back at least to the 18th century and is held every three years in either November or December. You can read more about the event in the Newbury Today, and all are welcome to come along and watch the bidding.

• After the restrictions of the past few years, the members of Burghfield Branch of the Royal British Legion were glad to be able to celebrate Remembrance Sunday, on the 40th Anniversary of the Falklands War, with the traditional parade. Over 1,000 people attended on a dry, bright Remembrance Sunday this year at Burghfield St Mary’s Church. See here for full story and a gallery of photographs.

• The Burghfield Coop are currently looking for a new part-time team member. If you think you might be suitable click here for more details abo9ut the job and how to apply.

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.

• A reminder that there will be a road closure on the Bath Road Westbound exit and entry slip road and unnamed road from Bath Road to Station Road in Theale, between 9.30am and 3.30pm on Monday 21 November. The closure will be between its junction with Bath Road Westbound carriageway and its junction with Station Road/A4 Link Road roundabout. Click here for more information and detail on alternative routes.

• Burghfield Parish Council is still calling for stall holders, for the Burghfield On Ice. The event will take place Saturday 3 December from 11am to 5pm inside Burghfield Village Hall. There are only a few places left, so if you’re interested please get in touch ASAP by emailing enquiries@burghfieldparishcouncil.gov.uk or calling on 0118 9831748. There is also a booking form you can download from the website here.

Quick reminder there will be free bus travel starting in West Berkshire (and the return journey if going beyond the West Berkshire border) 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 Hungerford Newtown, 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.

There is a lot of hype these days around Black Friday (25 November) and Cyber Monday (28 November). When it comes to shopping online, it’s tempting to grab a ‘good deal’ but it is also a great opportunity for scammers to take advantage of customers looking for a bargain. Please see these reminders from Citizen’s Advice on how to shop savvy and stay safe online. Remember, if an offer is too good to be true, it’s probably not true…

Quick reminder that the Artists at Mortimer Hill will be opening their doors again this November.  Sadie Brockbank is showing her sculpture, collage and prints, plus the occasional painting, alongside painters Sue Bartlett, Julie Pearson and Jonathan Newey (workshops available with Jonathan); contemporary textile art from Tracy Micklethwaite (our latest new and very welcome addition to the community); and Jason Leggett’s glass creations and workshop opportunities. The exhibition is open from 11am to 5pm daily on Friday 25, Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 November at Mortimer Hill Studios, The Street (entrance off Strawberry Fields), Mortimer, RG7 3PW.

Theale Parish Council needs volunteers to help man the road closures for the forthcoming Remembrance Sunday procession and their annual Christmas Market. If you are able to help, please sign up to the mailing list on the volunteering page at thealeparishcouncil.gov.uk.  Or sign up here to give the council permission to contact you in the future to see if you would be willing to help out at community events or be notified about any volunteer activities.

Aldermaston Parish Council is considering the options for spending the £53,000 CIL contribution  from the Lidl development. Ideally this will be on facilities accessible to the south of the parish. All suggestions from parishioners are welcome: please contact the Parish Council office.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Theale District Councillor Alan Macro.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

Christmas

• The Christmas Craft Fair on Sunday 20 November at the Willink Leisure Centre is in aid of Flint House police Rehabilitation Centre at Goring Reading and Burghfield Football Club. They are grateful for the kind sponsorship of Davis Tate Estate Agents from Burghfield Common. If you would like to enquire about a pitch please call 07990 667 503. See more here.

• If you want to keep up to date with all the news and info about Theale’s Christmas Lights Event on Saturday 3 December, Theale Parish Council requests you follow their official facebook event page.

The Burnham Copse Primary School in Tadley is currently looking for craft stall holders for their Christmas Fayre. The fayre will be taking place on Friday 2 December, from 3pm to 5pm. If you would like to book a space there get in contact with meljrussell71@gmail.com.

With the cost-of-living crisis affecting so many, Cafe B – Together in Mission (Burghfield Common’s first community cafe) would like to help to make Christmas a little better for the children of Burghfield by providing a gift for a child who may not receive one on Christmas Day. The Burghfield schools estimate that 130 children aged between four and 16 years old in Burghfield are unlikely to receive a gift this Christmas. Please help put a smile on these children’s faces by donating what you can.

Burghfield & Mortimer Christmas Concert will be on Saturday 3 December at St Mary’s Church.

Another brick in the wall

We mentioned last week (see below) about the slightly strange tale of a concrete firm in Aldermaston that seemed unable to build a concrete wall but which was, on the other hand, able to get exactly what it wanted from the situation despite what appear to be slightly half-heated attempts by WBC’s planning department to prevent this.

In last week’s column, we said that a site visit from WBC had taken place and that it was requested that the contentious work stop in that part of the site, pending the submission of a retrospective planning application. They key word here is “requested”: neither “demanded” nor “insisted” were used. One local resident told me that work was continuing on the site in general in much the same way as before, though they weren’t sure if this had stopped in the problem area WBC had identified. The difference now is the owners effectively have WBC’s blessing.

I’m also unaware if any time limit has been set by which time the retrospective application should be filed. I don’t think it has. In any case, that only creates another problem for WBC if the date is missed. Then what does it do? Pay another visit and say “this time you really have to do it, or else”: to which the owners may reply “or else what?”

Don’t get me wrong here – I’m not saying that councils should have the power to boss us around or stop companies making money or generally mess with our heads, such as happened quite often in the more heavy-handed municipal days of the 60s and 70s. However, there is a planning system and although it sometimes gets things wrong, the solution is not just to ignore it. However, if its decisions aren’t enforced there’s little point in having a system at all.

There’s also a separate question with this issue: why the condition that the site only be used as a timber yard was seen as vital 15 years ago but now doesn’t seem to be regarded as being of the slightest importance. It’s easy to see why many of Aldermaston’s inhabitants are a bit miffed by this – particularly, I would imagine, the ones who have building projects of their own and are prepared to follow the rules. Why, they might be asking, should we bother if it’s easy as this to ignore the system and do what you want?

Mortimer’s neighbourhood development plan

Thanks to Mortimer Life for pointing out that the Mortimer NDP team is hosting drop-in sections on 26 and 27 November. This is your chance to find out more about and have your say on the planned topics for the new Neighbourhood Plan (climate/environment, energy, services, housing, facilities, employment and transport).

For more information, please click here.

For more information about neighbourhood development plans generally, please click here.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 24 September. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Theale Parish Council is often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events. Please check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking 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.

• The mini re-cycling centre at the end of Theale High Street has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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 18 Nov Historic Candle Auction, The Hind’s Head, Aldermaston.

Sat 19 Nov Live Music by Stoney Lane, Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Sun 20 Nov Christmas Craft Fair, Willink Leisure Centre, Burghfield.

Sat 26 Nov Christmas Fair & Santa’s Grotto, St Mary’s Primary School.

• Thu 1 to Sun 4 Dec York Nativity Play, Aldermaston.

Sat 10 Dec Aladdin Pantomime, St Johns Hall, Mortimer.

Sun 18 Dec Festive Tea Dance Party, Burghfield CSA Club, James Ln, Burghfield.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from as mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

All cyclists are welcome to join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group“which doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Aldermaston Parish Council for was on 8 November and the minutes will be available here in due course. Items covered included: four new planning applications; planning correspondence; light pollution at Rosebourne; two potential enhancements at The Loosey (the renovation of the Fountain Memorial and the provision of a replacement bench; bin collections; grass cutting; CIL funds; and planning and building-control issues at Woodyard in Paice’s Hill (see separate section above for part 2 of this).
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 Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the proposed new school at Hayward’s Farm; a report from ward member Alan Macro; planning matters; reports from the committees and working groups; cycle racks; Theale Green School; the official opening event for the new play area; tree works; street trading; the Pavilion; the draft Community Engagement Strategy; financial matters; and correspondence.
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 Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the 2023 Village Show; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; financial matters; planning matters; the Village Hall; repairs and maintenance work; and the Village Hall.
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 Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a review of Operation London Bridge; resurfacing at there swing dome; the Youth Club; the neighbourhood development plan; reports from committees and working parties; the village newsletter; the Fairground Utility Square; the Fairground footpath; financial matters; planning matters; the neighbourhood action group; speeding; and a wasps’ nest.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 October 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 Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 4 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 for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 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 here.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 cover Burghfield on Ice, suggestions needed on spending £53,000, artists’ open days and Christmas lights. We also take a look at a not very good wall that fell down in Aldermaston and reflect on what this tells us about planning enforcement in the district  – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information.

This week’s news

• Burghfield Parish Council is still calling for stall holders, for the Burghfield On Ice. The event will take place Saturday 3 December from 11am to 5pm inside Burghfield Village Hall. There are only a few places left, so if you’re interested please get in touch ASAP by emailing enquiries@burghfieldparishcouncil.gov.uk or calling on 0118 9831748. There is also a booking form you can download from the website here.

• This weekend is Remembrance Sunday and  the Remembrance Parade will start from the Triangle at 10.15am, arriving at St Mary’s Church around 10.30am. The service will all be held outside, gathered round the memorial. All are welcome to join and pay their respects. Please click here for more information about the event.

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 Stratfield Mortimer, 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.

The Artists at Mortimer Hill will be opening their doors again this November.  Sadie Brockbank is showing her sculpture, collage and prints, plus the occasional painting, alongside painters Sue Bartlett, Julie Pearson and Jonathan Newey (workshops available with Jonathan); contemporary textile art from Tracy Micklethwaite (our latest new and very welcome addition to the community); and Jason Leggett’s glass creations and workshop opportunities. The exhibition is open from 11am to 5pm daily on Friday 25, Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 November at Mortimer Hill Studios, The Street (entrance off Strawberry Fields), Mortimer, RG7 3PW.

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.

Theale Parish Council needs volunteers to help man the road closures for the forthcoming Remembrance Sunday procession and their annual Christmas Market. If you are able to help, please sign up to the mailing list on the volunteering page at thealeparishcouncil.gov.uk.  Or sign up here to give the council permission to contact you in the future to see if you would be willing to help out at community events or be notified about any volunteer activities.

• Please note that there will be a road closure on the Bath Road Westbound exit and entry slip road and unnamed road from Bath Road to Station Road in Theale, between 9.30am and 3.30pm on Monday 21 November. The closure will be between its junction with Bath Road Westbound carriageway and its junction with Station Road/A4 Link Road roundabout. Click here for more information and detail on alternative routes.

Aldermaston Parish Council is considering the options for spending the £53,000 CIL contribution  from the Lidl development. Ideally this will be on facilities accessible to the south of the parish. All suggestions from parishioners are welcome: please contact the Parish Council office.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Theale District Councillor Alan Macro.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

Christmas

• The Christmas Craft Fair on Sunday 20 November at the Willink Leisure Centre is in aid of Flint House police Rehabillitation Centre at Goring Reading and Burghfield Football Club. They are grateful for the kind sponsorship of Davis Tate Estate Agents from Burghfield Common. If you would like to enquire about a pitch please call 07990 667 503. See more here.

• If you want to keep up to date with all the news and info about Theale’s Christmas Lights Event on Saturday 3 December, Theale Parish Council requests you follow their official facebook event page.

The Burnham Copse Primary School in Tadley is currently looking for craft stall holders for their Christmas Fayre. The fayre will be taking place on Friday 2 December, from 3pm to 5pm. If you would like to book a space there get in contact with meljrussell71@gmail.com.

With the cost-of-living crisis affecting so many, Cafe B – Together in Mission (Burghfield Common’s first community cafe) would like to help to make Christmas a little better for the children of Burghfield by providing a gift for a child who may not receive one on Christmas Day. The Burghfield schools estimate that 130 children aged between four and 16 years old in Burghfield are unlikely to receive a gift this Christmas. Please help put a smile on these children’s faces by donating what you can.

Burghfield & Mortimer Christmas Concert will be on Saturday 3 December at St Mary’s Church.

Wall-building in Aldermaston

It’s been mentioned before in Penny Post that WBC doesn’t have enough planning enforcement officers. Every application that’s approved comes with conditions, often quite a lot of them. Many govern matters like tree planting and construction times and so only apply for a finite period. Others, like hours of operation and the maintenance of drainage works, are never-ending. With hundreds of new applications granted each month, the amount of work enforcement officers have to do is therefore only ever going to increase. The actual number of them, however, is less than it should be and less than it is in the Vale of White Horse, a planning authority of roughly similar size.

However, one incident in Aldermaston recently did result in the appearance of one of these shy and rare beasts, although this was more for planning-control reasons. This concerned the Easy Concrete site at Woodyard, Paice’s Hill.

The new owners acquired this earlier this year and over the summer went to work with a bulldozer. Aldermaston Parish Council (APC) raised the matter with WBC but it appears the Planning Department was happy that the B8 industrial use was still being adhered to and so took no action. As part of these works, the site was bounded by a wall that might politely be called rudimentary. As this was backed up with extra soil as a result of the cut-and-fill groundworks, it was clearly dangerous. APC sent photos to WBC and again received no immediate response. It was only when, last week, part of the wall collapsed very close to the A340,– a busy road that’s also a key access route to and from AWE in the event of a nuclear emergency – that it became clear that something had to be done. Following a site visit, WBC requested that all work in that area stop pending a retrospective planning application. AT the time of writing, it’s unclear if it has.

I’ve seen the photos of the “wall”  as it was.nI’m no expert but it looks pretty poor to me, simply a line of concrete blocks without foundations or mortar, in places leaning alarmingly into a fence. I’ve also seen photos of the wall after it collapsed. It’s not easy to tell the difference between the two. Given what Easy Concrete does (the clue’s in the name), the shoddiness seems even more remarkable.

APC feels that the site shouldn’t be able to operate on this new business model at all. The original planning approval for the site in the 2000s specified it should be used for forestry-related businesses only, which satisfied a then, and perhaps current, policy about promoting rural industries. This conferred a B8 rating, one that it appears also works for the very different businesses proposed by the new owners. These might include concrete, toilet hire and construction and demolition equipment.

Once a site has a particular grade it would seem that this trumps any qualifications or conditions that might be appended. If that’s the case, what’s the point of making the qualifications and conditions at all? There are enough such things in decision notices anyway without adding ones that the planning authority doesn’t subsequently regard as being relevant.

When the retrospective application is filed, I wonder if APC may ask its ward member to call it in to planning committee so that the matter can be looked at thoroughly (10 letters of objection will have the same result).

There would also be another advantage: if any of the planning committee members have any experience at building walls, this would also be a good opportunity for them to pass on some tips to the applicant. These seem to be sorely needed.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 24 September. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Theale Parish Council is often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events. Please check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking 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.

• The mini re-cycling centre at the end of Theale High Street has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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

Sun 13 Nov Remembrance Parade and Service, St Mary’s Church.

Sat 19 Nov Live Music by Stoney Lane, Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Sun 20 Nov Christmas Craft Fair, Willink Leisure Centre, Burghfield.

Sat 26 Nov Christmas Fair & Santa’s Grotto, St Mary’s Primary School.

• Thu 1 to Sun 4 Dec York Nativity Play, Aldermaston.

Sun 18 Dec Festive Tea Dance Party, Burghfield CSA Club, James Ln, Burghfield.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from as mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

All cyclists are welcome to join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group“which doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Aldermaston Parish Council for was on 8 November and the minutes will be available here in due course. Items covered included: four new planning applications; planning correspondence; light pollution at Rosebourne; two potential enhancements at The Loosey (the renovation of the Fountain Memorial and the provision of a replacement bench; bin collections; grass cutting; CIL funds; and planning and building-control issues at Woodyard in Paice’s Hill (see separate section above).
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 Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a review of Operation London Bridge; resurfacing at there swing dome; the Youth Club; the neighbourhood development plan; reports from committees and working parties; the village newsletter; the Fairground Utility Square; the Fairground footpath; financial matters; planning matters; the neighbourhood action group; speeding; and a wasps’ nest.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 4 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Village Hall; tree planting; the dog bin; village repairs and maintenance; planning matters; a proposed radio mast; enforcement issues; Admoor Lane; highways; Remembrance Sunday; defibrillators; trees and hedges; financial matters; bore holes near the Pang; and warm hubs.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Englefield Estate; financial matters; dog bins; a councillor vacancy; and planning matters.
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 Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; a councillor vacancy; planning matters; village repairs and maintenance; the Community Room; and financial matters.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the circus’s lorries; a report from ward member Alan Macro; planning matters; reports from the committees and working groups; the play project; the John Cumber Hall; TPC’s social-media policy; and financial matters.
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 Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 July 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 Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 July 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.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 cover a repair café, volunteers in Theale, a shoebox, fireworks and a proposed radio mast – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information.

This week’s news

• St Mary’s church are holding a Shoebox Packing ‘Party’, on Saturday 5 November. The initiative apart of Christian outreach programme, Operation Christmas Child which offers gift filled shoeboxes to children in need worldwide. For more information click here.

• This weekend, Aldermaston Primary School are organising a firework display on Sunday 6 November on the field by Padworth Village Hall with plenty of parking. See here for details.

• 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.
• Two historic sights at Burghfield Common have been recommended by The West Berkshire Heritage Forum Selection Panel held on 27 October 2022 as heritage assets for local listing. See here for details of the Well Head Structure on Bunces Lane and the Water Pump on School Lane.

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).

• Also happening this weekend, the Repair Cafe, will be on at Spencer Wood Village Hall, on Sunday 6 November. Bring along your broken household items such as bikes, electrical items, sewing machines, phones, laptops, garden tools, mechanical items, small furniture and broken zips, bags and clothes, etc, to hopefully get fixed by the Cafe’s wonderful volunteers. There is also a book exchange and Cafe. Click here for more info.

Theale Parish Council needs volunteers to help man the road closures for the forthcoming Remembrance Sunday procession and their annual Christmas Market. If you are able to help, please sign up to the mailing list on the volunteering page at thealeparishcouncil.gov.uk.  Or sign up here to give the council permission to contact you in the future to see if you would be willing to help out at community events or be notified about any volunteer activities.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Theale District Councillor Alan Macro.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

Christmas

• The Christmas Craft Fair on Sunday 20 November at the Willink Leisure Centre is in aid of Flint House police Rehabillitation Centre at Goring Reading and Burghfield Football Club. They are grateful for the kind sponsorship of Davis Tate Estate Agents from Burghfield Common. If you would like to enquire about a pitch please call 07990667503. See more here.
• If you want to keep up to date with all the news and info about Theale’s Christmas Lights Event on Saturday 3 December, Theale Parish Council requests you follow their official facebook event page.
The Burnham Copse Primary School in Tadley is currently looking for craft stall holders for their Christmas Fayre. The fayre will be taking place on Friday 2 December, from 3pm to 5pm. If you would like to book a space there get in contact with meljrussell71@gmail.com.
With the cost-of-living crisis affecting so many, Cafe B –  Together in Mission (Burghfield Common’s first community cafe) would like to help to make Christmas a little better for the children of Burghfield by providing a gift for a child who may not receive one on Christmas Day. The Burghfield schools estimate that 130 children aged between four and 16 years old in Burghfield are unlikely to receive a gift this Christmas. Please help put a smile on these children’s faces by donating what you can.
Burghfield & Mortimer Christmas Concert will be on Saturday 3 December at St Mary’s Church.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 24 September. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Theale Parish Council is often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events. Please check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking 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.

• The mini re-cycling centre at the end of Theale High Street has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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 5 Nov Shoebox Packing ‘Party’, St Mary’s Church, Burghfield.

Sun 6 Nov Fireworks Display, Aldermaston C of E Primary School.

Sun 6 Nov Repair Cafe, Spencer Wood Village Hall.

Sat 19 Nov Live Music by Stoney Lane, Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Sun 18 Dec Festive Tea Dance Party, Burghfield CSA Club, James Ln, Burghfield.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from as mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

All cyclists are welcome to join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group“which doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a review of Operation London Bridge; resurfacing at there swing dome; the Youth Club; the neighbourhood development plan; reports from committees and working parties; the village newsletter; the Fairground Utility Square; the Fairground footpath; financial matters; planning matters; the neighbourhood action group; speeding; and a wasps’ nest.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 4 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Village Hall; tree planting; the dog bin; village repairs and maintenance; planning matters; a proposed radio mast; enforcement issues; Admoor Lane; highways; Remembrance Sunday; defibrillators; trees and hedges; financial matters; bore holes near the Pang; and warm hubs.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Englefield Estate; financial matters; dog bins; a councillor vacancy; and planning matters.
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 Aldermaston Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 September will be available here in due course. Items covered included: the announcement that “Out of respect during the period of mourning we opted to go ahead with a significantly reduced schedule covering urgent planning and finance decisions only”; and two commercial and four residential planning applications.
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 Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; a councillor vacancy; planning matters; village repairs and maintenance; the Community Room; and financial matters.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the circus’s lorries; a report from ward member Alan Macro; planning matters; reports from the committees and working groups; the play project; the John Cumber Hall; TPC’s social-media policy; and financial matters.
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 Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 July 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 Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 July 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.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 cover a governor, spooky cocktails, soul, volunteers and a clean-up – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information.

This week’s news

• St Mary’s School in Burghfield is currently looking for a new co-opted governor, to join the schools governing body. The role is voluntary and would involve attending around six governing meetings a year, as well as several committee meetings and two days per term in school. The role of the governing body is to set long-term goals for the school, see where improvements can be made and identify how to achieve them. There will be training available and attending regular training sessions is enco9uraged.  For further details click here and an application form email scherry@burghfield.w-berks.sch.uk.

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.

• Have you heard of the ‘Hallowclean’? It’s a week long initiative set by Tidy Up Britain to help keep or communities clean and tidy. The idea of the HallowClean is that you dress up in your scariest costume and go litter picking with your friends. Kind of like trick or treating but the real treat is a cleaner environment! You can even post #HallowClean with pictures in your costumes to let people know what you’re doing and maybe even more of your friends will want to get involved. Happy HallowClean!

• Looking for some fun and Halloween-y things to do this weekend? Well over at Mortimer there’s a Scarecrow Trail which is on now until Sunday 30 October. You can collect a map of the trail from Mortimer Library, Dad’s Shop, the Co-Op or online. Those that complete the trail quiz are in for a chance of winning a cash prize.

If that’s not spooky enough for you, then over at Spencer’s Wood and Mile Cross there’s a Halloween Trail, on now until Monday 31 October with family fun trail of scarecrows, decorated houses with prizes for those that reach the end.

• Slightly older ghouls and ghosts might prefer the spooky cocktails and DJ set at the Booze & Bones Party at the Victoria Arms (Mortimer), or the Thriller Dance Party with music from the 50s through to 90s, over at the Theale Community Hall. Both events take place on Saturday 29 October.

• Aldermaston Primary School are organising a firework display on Sunday 6 November on the field by Padworth Village Hall with plenty of parking. See here for details.
Back in September, the Six Bells pub held a fundraiser with the Club Biscuit Soul Festival. The money raised has been totted up to an incredible £2348, which is going towards Motor Neurone disease charity. Amazing work!
• 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.

Theale Parish Council needs volunteers to help man the road closures for the forthcoming Remembrance Sunday procession and their annual Christmas Market. If you are able to help, please sign up to the mailing list on the volunteering page at thealeparishcouncil.gov.uk.  Or sign up here to give the council permission to contact you in the future to see if you would be willing to help out at community events or be notified about any volunteer activities.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Theale District Councillor Alan Macro.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

CHRISTMAS

• If you want to keep up to date with all the news and info about Theale’s Christmas Lights Event on Saturday 3 December, Theale Parish Council requests you follow their official facebook event page.
With the cost-of-living crisis affecting so many, Cafe B –  Together in Mission (Burghfield Common’s first community cafe) would like to help to make Christmas a little better for the children of Burghfield by providing a gift for a child who may not receive one on Christmas Day. The Burghfield schools estimate that 130 children aged between four and 16 years old in Burghfield are unlikely to receive a gift this Christmas. Please help put a smile on these children’s faces by donating what you can.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 24 September. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Theale Parish Council is often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events. Please check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking 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.

• A new mini re-cycling centre has opened up at the end of Theale High Street. Replacing the previous smaller re-cycling point, the facility currently has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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 Mon 31 Oct Halloween Family Trail, Spencer’s Wood and Mile Cross.

Fri 28 Oct Freestyle Dance Party, Burghfield CSA Club, James Ln, Burghfield.

Sat 29 Oct Booze & Bones Halloween Party, Victoria Arms, Mortimer.

Sat 29 Oct Halloween Thriller Dance, Theale Community Hall.

Sun 4 Nov Repair Cafe, Spencer Wood Village Hall.

Sat 19 Nov Live Music by Stoney Lane, Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Sat 3 Dec Theale’s Christmas Lights Event

Sun 18 Dec Festive Tea Dance Party, Burghfield CSA Club, James Ln, Burghfield.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from as mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

All cyclists are welcome to join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group“which doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a review of Operation London Bridge; resurfacing at there swing dome; the Youth Club; the neighbourhood development plan; reports from committees and working parties; the village newsletter; the Fairground Utility Square; the Fairground footpath; financial matters; planning matters; the neighbourhood action group; speeding; and a wasps’ nest.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Englefield Estate; financial matters; dog bins; a councillor vacancy; and planning matters.
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 Aldermaston Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 September will be available here in due course. Items covered included: the announcement that “Out of respect during the period of mourning we opted to go ahead with a significantly reduced schedule covering urgent planning and finance decisions only”; and two commercial and four residential planning applications.
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 Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available, was on 6 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Village Hall; advertising boards; dog bins; the Almshouses; cherry trees; grass curling; planning matters; highways; trees and hedges; picnic benches; defibrillators; financial matters; and the scarecrow trail.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; a councillor vacancy; planning matters; village repairs and maintenance; the Community Room; and financial matters.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the circus’s lorries; a report from ward member Alan Macro; planning matters; reports from the committees and working groups; the play project; the John Cumber Hall; TPC’s social-media policy; and financial matters.
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 Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 July 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 Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 July 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.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 cover a pick-your-own, Halloween, Christmas and a choir – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information.

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.

• Looking for something fun and Halloween-y to do this half-term? Well the Wasing Estate near Aldermaston have a Pick your own Pumpkin and Woodland Trail between Friday 21 and Saturday 29 October. Visitors are invited to follow the enchanting woodland trail through Wasing’s stunning autumnal woodland and along the way, encounter some creatures inspired by those living on the Estate. Collect a wheelbarrow and head for the pumpkin patch to choose your perfect pumpkin to take home and carve. There’s plenty of entertainment for children along the way & as well as tasty seasonal snacks. Click here for more information. Weekend slots have sold out but there is still weekday availability and pre-booking tickets is recommended at wasing.digitickets.co.uk

• If that’s not spooky enough for you, then over at Spencer’s Wood and Mile Cross there’s a Halloween Trail, from Sunday 23 to Monday 31 October with family fun trail of scarecrows, decorated houses with prizes for those that reach the end. Check out their Facebook page for more updates.

• Slightly older ghouls and ghosts might prefer the spooky cocktails and DJ set at the Booze & Bones Party at the Victoria Arms (Mortimer), or the Thriller Dance Party with music from the 50s through to 90s, over at the Theale Community Hall. Both events take place on Saturday 29 October.

• Aldermaston Primary School are organising a firework display on Sunday 6 November on the field by Padworth Village Hall with plenty of parking. See here for details.

With the cost-of-living crisis affecting so many, Cafe B –  Together in Mission (Burghfield Common’s first community cafe) would like to help to make Christmas a little better for the children of Burghfield by providing a gift for a child who may not receive one on Christmas Day. The Burghfield schools estimate that 130 children aged between four and 16 years old in Burghfield are unlikely to receive a gift this Christmas. Please help put a smile on these children’s faces by donating what you can.

Theale Parish Council needs volunteers to help man the road closures for the forthcoming Remembrance Sunday procession and their annual Christmas Market. If you are able to help, please sign up to the mailing list on the volunteering page at thealeparishcouncil.gov.uk.  Or sign up here to give the council permission to contact you in the future to see if you would be willing to help out at community events or be notified about any volunteer activities.

• If you want to keep up to date with all the news and info about Theale’s Christmas Lights Event on Saturday 3 December, Theale Parish Council requests you follow their official facebook event page.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Theale District Councillor Alan Macro.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 24 September. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Theale Parish Council is often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events. Please check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking 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.

• A new mini re-cycling centre has opened up at the end of Theale High Street. Replacing the previous smaller re-cycling point, the facility currently has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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

Sun 23 to Mon 31 Oct Halloween Family Trail, Spencer’s Wood and Mile Cross.

Fri 28 Oct Freestyle Dance Party, Burghfield CSA Club, James Ln, Burghfield.

Sat 29 Oct Booze & Bones Halloween Party, Victoria Arms, Mortimer.

Sat 29 Oct Halloween Thriller Dance, Theale Community Hall.

Sun 4 Nov Repair Cafe, Spencer Wood Village Hall.

Sat 3 Dec Theale’s Christmas Lights Event

Sun 18 Dec Festive Tea Dance Party, Burghfield CSA Club, James Ln, Burghfield.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from as mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

All cyclists are welcome to join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group“which doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Englefield Estate; financial matters; dog bins; a councillor vacancy; and planning matters.
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 Aldermaston Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 September will be available here in due course. Items covered included: the announcement that “Out of respect during the period of mourning we opted to go ahead with a significantly reduced schedule covering urgent planning and finance decisions only”; and two commercial and four residential planning applications.
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 Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: public questions; the Clerk’s report; repairs and maintenance; youth funding; committee and working -party reports; the co-option of a new member; the NDP; the Windmill Common boundary; financial matters; a report from ward member Graham Bridgman; planning matters; and the fitness equipment.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available, was on 6 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Village Hall; advertising boards; dog bins; the Almshouses; cherry trees; grass curling; planning matters; highways; trees and hedges; picnic benches; defibrillators; financial matters; and the scarecrow trail.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; a councillor vacancy; planning matters; village repairs and maintenance; the Community Room; and financial matters.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the circus’s lorries; a report from ward member Alan Macro; planning matters; reports from the committees and working groups; the play project; the John Cumber Hall; TPC’s social-media policy; and financial matters.
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 Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 July 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 Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 July 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.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 cover an award at the Willink, an appeal for volunteers, fireworks and cycling. We also re-visit the recent planning approval for the solar farm near Mortimer and look for any sighs of systemic corruption – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information.

This week’s news

• Congratulations to the Willink School in Burghfield for being awarded the British Council’s prestigious International School Award in recognition of its work to bring the world into the classroom. On their facebook page, Headteacher Mr Fry says: “The Willink school is delighted to have received this accolade by the British Council. At The Willink, our ‘Village School, Global Outlook’ ethos is truly embedded in the DNA of our school. We are extremely proud of all our students, who always seize every possible opportunity to take part in international and global activities. Our school collectively looks forward to continuing to be part of many more exciting and meaningful international projects over the coming years.”

Theale Parish Council needs volunteers to help help man the road closures for the forthcoming Remembrance Sunday procession and their annual Christmas Market. If you are able to help, please sign up to the mailing list on the volunteering page at thealeparishcouncil.gov.uk.  Or sign up here to give the council permission to contact you in the future to see if you would be willing to help out at community events or be notified about any volunteer activities.

• If you want to keep up to date with all the news and info about Theale’s Christmas Lights Event on Saturday 3 December, Theale Parish Council requests you follow their official facebook event page.

• All businesses in Theale are invited to the Theale Business Engagement Forum on Tuesday 18 October to share your needs, gain a greater understanding of the Parish Council’s remit, what it does and how the Parish Council can help you engage with the local community. See more details here. There will be a free breakfast courtesy of Arlington Business Park Park. To register, please email enquiries@thealeparishcouncil.gov.uk

• Aldermaston Primary School are organising a firework display on Sunday 6 November on the field by Padworth Village Hall with plenty of parking. See here for details.

With the cost-of-living crisis affecting so many, Cafe B – Together in Mission (Burghfield Common’s first community cafe) would like to help to make Christmas a little better for the children of Burghfield by providing a gift for a child who may not receive one on Christmas Day. The Burghfield schools estimate that 130 children aged between four and 16 years old in Burghfield are unlikely to receive a gift this Christmas. Please help put a smile on these children’s faces by donating what you can.

Burghfield Library is closed this week inclusive for preparatory work (moving all the books), followed by redecoration, and that during this period no books borrowed from the library will be due for return.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Theale District Councillor Alan Macro.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

Buying the sunshine

An article in this week’s Newbury Weekly News suggests that secret payments were made by West Berkshire Council to the tenant farmer who will lose part of the land he has farmed for some time to make way for a solar farm that WBC plans to build at Bloomfield Hatch near Mortimer. The resident who spoke to paper said that this had come to light as the result of an “embarrassing disclosure” at the committee meeting which determined the matter. The payment demonstrated, he continued, “systemic corruption” which falls foul of the council’s bribery and corruption policy and which makes the decision unlawful.

I watched the 24 August Eastern Area Planning Committee meeting at which the matter was decided and reported on it the following day (visit the archive post of this column and scroll down to Out of Sight, Out of Mind on 25 August) and didn’t get any sense of an “embarrassing disclosure.” What was mentioned was the fact that “there has been conversation with the farmer about what the future might look like.” If this is going to involve a payment as compensation, goodwill or whatever then I don’t see this as falling foul of anything in particular: indeed, were WBC not to have done so this would have provoked a far more justifiable outcry.

The accusation certainly struck a nerve with WBC which produced a statement refuting the claims:

“West Berkshire Council expressed its intention to seek planning permission to build a Solar Farm near Grazeley earlier this year as part of its Environment Strategy. This followed an extensive feasibility study which found that a solar farm of the proposed scale could offset around 30% of the Council’s carbon footprint. The freehold of the proposed site, at Bloomfield Hatch, is owned by West Berkshire Council and is currently let under an Agricultural Tenancy. If the Project were to go ahead, it would be necessary for the tenancy to be varied. Details of the negotiations are confidential but the Council confirms that officers have had conversations with the tenant to reach a possible agreement. This is a lawful, commonplace approach within the powers of the Council as landowner and does not raise any issues relating to bribery, corruption or fraud.

“The Council takes allegations made against it very seriously and will thoroughly and consistently investigate any reports it receives. In the case of this particular matter, the circumstances have been reviewed and there is no evidence to substantiate allegations of bribery. West Berkshire Council looks forward to proceeding with this project which, if completed, would be an integral part of its carbon neutral aspirations for the district.”

As regards the solar farm itself, I agree with the committee’s decision to approve it. It’s also worth pointing out that the fact that the EAPC didn’t go into the details of any financial settlement (even assuming that these had been agreed) was partly because of normal commercial confidentiality;, but mainly because this is not a planning matter; and it is only planning matters which planning committees can take into account.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 24 September. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Theale Parish Council is often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events. Please check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking 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.

• A new mini re-cycling centre has opened up at the end of Theale High Street. Replacing the previous smaller re-cycling point, the facility currently has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from as mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

All cyclists are welcome to join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group“which doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Englefield Estate; financial matters; dog bins; a councillor vacancy; and planning matters.
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 Aldermaston Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 September will be available here in due course. Items covered included: the announcement that “Out of respect during the period of mourning we opted to go ahead with a significantly reduced schedule covering urgent planning and finance decisions only”; and two commercial and four residential planning applications.
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 Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: public questions; the Clerk’s report; repairs and maintenance; youth funding; committee and working -party reports; the co-option of a new member; the NDP; the Windmill Common boundary; financial matters; a report from ward member Graham Bridgman; planning matters; and the fitness equipment.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available, was on 6 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Village Hall; advertising boards; dog bins; the Almshouses; cherry trees; grass curling; planning matters; highways; trees and hedges; picnic benches; defibrillators; financial matters; and the scarecrow trail.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the co-option of a new member; planning matters; parking issues. highways; repairs and maintenance work; mobile coverage; speeding; and financial matters. 
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Theale 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 July 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 Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 July 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.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 at dancing, a relay, further progress at Windmill Court and a temporary closure at Burghfield Library – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information.

This week’s news

Judy’s Barn Dance is making a welcome return this Saturday 8 October at Burghfield Community Sports Association. This year the event’s proceeds will be going to Thames Valley Air Ambulance. Find out how to get your toe-tapping tickets here.

• Quick reminder that the world’s longest, non-stop relay ever attempted will be passing from Woolhampton through Theale to Reading on Friday 7 October. The Running Out of Time relay started in Glasgow, home of COP26 last year, and will finish in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, on 6 November for the start of COP27, the next UN summit of world leaders discussing the climate crisis. Runners, cyclists and sailors will carry a baton containing a climate message that’ll be delivered to world leaders urging more support to help people tackle the climate crisis where they live. Sarah-Jane Lock will take the baton on Stage 142 leaving Woolhampton at 12.25, passing through Theale around 1.30pm to arrive at Lidl, Soutcote at 2.10pm.

With the cost-of-living crisis affecting so many, Cafe B – Together in Mission (Burghfield Common’s first community cafe) would like to help to make Christmas a little better for the children of Burghfield by providing a gift for a child who may not receive one on Christmas Day. The Burghfield schools estimate that 130 children aged between 4 years old and 16 years old in Burghfield are unlikely to receive a gift this Christmas. Please help put a smile on these children’s faces by donating what you can.

• 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.

Burghfield Library will be closed from Monday 10 to Friday 14 October inclusive for preparatory work (moving all the books), followed by redecoration, and that during this period no books borrowed from the library will be due for return.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Theale District Councillor Alan Macro.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

Wheels turning at the Windmill

As we’ve mentioned several times before (see the archive section, the link to which can be found at the foot of this post), discussions continue to provide a solution to the confusions at Windmill Court which earlier this year seemed likely to be closed by Sovereign Housing. Amongst other representations, a petition was set up on the subject which was considered at the WBC Full Council meeting on 22 September.

In his latest e-newsletter, ward member Graham Bridgman says that he is “hoping that the conversations we are having with Sovereign mean that many of the issues raised will be resolved before the Executive comes to consider the petition.”

The discussions seem to be producing positive results in other ways, as Councillor Bridgman explains. “The conversations we’ve been having with Sovereign about Windmill Court have meant that when I was approached recently by the neighbour of a Sovereign property with concerns about that property, I was able to pass those concerns on to my contacts, such that action took place later the same day – much to the delight if the neighbour.”

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 24 September. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Theale Parish Council is often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events. Please check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking 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.

• A new mini re-cycling centre has opened up at the end of Theale High Street. Replacing the previous smaller re-cycling point, the facility currently has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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 8 Oct Judy’s Barn Dance, Burghfield Community Sports Association

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from as mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

All cyclists are welcome to join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group“which doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Englefield Estate; financial matters; dog bins; a councillor vacancy; and planning matters.
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 Aldermaston Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 ocytober, the minutes for which will be available here in due course. Items covered included: a presentation by EasyConcrete (the new owners of the site at The Woodyard, Paices Hill); one planning application; the parish resilience plan; a forthcoming meeting with WBC’s CEO; the ditch along Fisherman’s Lane; the new skateboard ramp; the Recreation Ground; and the Queen Victoria Jubilee fountain on the Loosey.
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 Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: public questions; the Clerk’s report; repairs and maintenance; youth funding; committee and working -party reports; the co-option of a new member; the NDP; the Windmill Common boundary; financial matters; a report from ward member Graham Bridgman; planning matters; and the fitness equipment.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available, was on 6 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Village Hall; advertising boards; dog bins; the Almshouses; cherry trees; grass curling; planning matters; highways; trees and hedges; picnic benches; defibrillators; financial matters; and the scarecrow trail.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the co-option of a new member; planning matters; parking issues. highways; repairs and maintenance work; mobile coverage; speeding; and financial matters. 
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Theale 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 July 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 Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 July 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.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 look at volunteers, spices, bikes and a pantry. We also have a reassurance about the plans for the 70-acre solar farm near Mortimer – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information.

This week’s news

• As highlighted on the Burghfield Community Page, Burghfield Methodist Church has set up a Little Free Pantry with the idea being ‘Give what you can, share what you need’ and nourish our community by sharing with our neighbours. Maybe if there’s something you’re in need of, or if you have an excess supply of something that could be shared with someone else, maybe swing by. The Little Free Pantry initiative started in America and is not connected to FoodBank.

Burghfield Spices at The Hatch Gate are truly delighted to be recognised as a finalist for the south central award at the Asian Restaurant and Takeaway Awards (ARTA). They thank the community for their continued support and we wish them luck at the ceremony on Sunday 2 October.

• The world’s longest, non-stop relay ever attempted will be passing from Woolhampton through Theale to Reading on Friday 7 October. The Running Out of Time relay in the name of climate action will start in Glasgow, home of COP26 last year, on 30 September and finish in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, on 6 November for the start of COP27, the next UN summit of world leaders discussing the climate crisis. Runners, cyclists and sailors will carry a baton containing a climate message that’ll be delivered to world leaders urging more support to help people tackle the climate crisis where they live.  Sarah-Jane Lock will take the baton on Stage 142 leaving Woolhampton at 12.25, passing through Theale around 1.30pm to arrive at Lidl, Soutcote at 2.10pm.

• There are a lot of bikes being stolen at the moment by theives 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.

• West Berkshire Library Service are looking for local library volunteers in Mortimer and Burghfield, to help keep the libraries running smoothly. If you think that could be you, get in touch at volunteeringinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk or call 01635 519533 for further details.

• Theale Parish Council aisre often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events, as well as activities to keep the local environment in good order. Whether it’s staffing stalls and summer or Christmas fete’s, planting trees or picking up litter, the council rely on member of the community to help make these things possible. If you would like to find out more about local volunteer opportunities, check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Theale Parish Council has released a list of projects currently being funded by the Greenham Trust. Click here to see the work being done.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Theale District Councillor Alan Macro.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

Sun still shines on solar scheme 

Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, there is no threat having over the solar farm at Bloomfield Hatch which was approved at the Eastern Area Planning Committee in August. (See the archive of this column for 25 August). It is true that there are regulations in place to prevent local councils from using the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) as a means of raising cheap long-term loans to fund speculative investments which are designed only to produce profits. However, not only were these regulations introduced some time ago but they also do not prevent councils from raising funds for projects such as this.

The PWLB rate has recently increased as a result of the financial confusions. Therefore the scheme will be a bit more expensive, as will everything else, but still viable. The central reason for doing it at all – to produce sustainable electricity in a way that isn’t at the whim of any outs power – remains as valid as ever: indeed, probably more so.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 24 September. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking here.

• A new mini re-cycling centre has opened up at the end of Theale High Street. Replacing the previous smaller re-cycling point, the facility currently has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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 1 Oct Guide Dog Family Fun Day, Burghfield Common.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from as mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

All cyclists are welcome to join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group“which doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Aldermaston Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 September will be available here in due course. Items covered included: the announcement that “Out of respect during the period of mourning we opted to go ahead with a significantly reduced schedule covering urgent planning and finance decisions only”; and two commercial and four residential planning applications.
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 Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: public questions; the Clerk’s report; repairs and maintenance; youth funding; committee and working -party reports; the co-option of a new member; the NDP; the Windmill Common boundary; financial matters; a report from ward member Graham Bridgman; planning matters; and the fitness equipment.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the co-option of a new member; planning matters; parking issues. highways; repairs and maintenance work; mobile coverage; speeding; and financial matters. 
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Theale 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available, was on 2 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 for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 July 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 Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 July 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 Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June 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.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 look at slow progress at Windmill Court, a sponsored beer barrel, the pride of Reading and a free pantry – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information.

This week’s news

• Burghfield Parish Council is organising a MacMillan Coffee Morning on Friday 23 September at the Burghfield Village Hall, between 10am and 12:30pm. Proceeds will go towards supporting those with cancer. More information can be found here.

• Ticket sales have gone so well for Burghfest 2022 this Friday and Saturday that the organisers are busy counting glasses to see how many more tickets they can release…Please see their facebook page for latest updates.

• As highlighted on the Burghfield Community Page, Burghfield Methodist Church has set up a Little Free Pantry with the idea being ‘Give what you can, share what you need’ and nourish our community by sharing with our neighbours. Maybe if there’s something you’re in need of, or if you have an excess supply of something that could be shared with someone else, maybe swing by. The Little Free Pantry initiative started in America and is not connected to FoodBank.

• This weekend is also Mary’s Churches Festival of Creation, with a range of different activities for the whole community to enjoy. There will be a pre-loved book sale on both 24 and 25 September, as well as a display of entries from the young photographers competition. On Saturday there will also be a talk on Wildlife Conservation Through the Lens by Bridget Fry, a wildlife photographer with charity Big Paws 4 Thought. Check out their Facebook page for more information.

• Congratulations to all those who were nominated for Pride of Reading Awards 2022. According to the Burghfield Community Facebook page, we can celebrate Mashiur Rahman, nominated as Community Champion, for his work donating meals to hospitals and school as well as being involved in numerous fundraising events. Also, a massive well done to Stephanie Awbery, nominated for the Chris Tarrant Award, for her work fundraising for various charities and organising the West Berkshire Motor Show. Excellent work.

• Local charity The Cowshed have just launched a new appeal, the Warm Winter Campaign, which aims to raise £10,000 towards coats, blankets, pillows and duvets for families trying to keep warm this winter. The Cowshed is a crisis charity that provides clothing and support for individuals and families in Berkshire experiencing hardship. They have 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 or you can make a general donation to the charity here.

• West Berkshire Library Service are looking for local library volunteers in Mortimer and Burghfield, to help keep the libraries running smoothly. If you think that could be you, get in touch at volunteeringinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk or call 01635 519533 for further details.

• Did you know Theale Parish Council are often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events, as well as activities to keep our local environment nice? Whether it’s manning stalls and summer or Christmas fete’s, planting trees or picking up litter, the council rely on member of the community to help make these things possible. If you would like to find out more about local volunteer opportunities, check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Theale Parish Council has released a list of projects currently being funded by the Greenham Trust. Click here to see the work being done.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Theale District Councillor Alan Macro.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

Mortimer’s Windmill

We’ve written several times (see the archive of this column via the link at the foot) about Sovereign Housing’s plans to re-develop its facility at Windmill Court in Mortimer, which provided about as good an example of poor communication as one can hope to find. One of the results of this was a petition, which you can see here, which called upon WBC “to ensure its Executive reject any request(s) they receive from Sovereign Housing Association to lift restrictive covenant(s) or any other restrictions in respect of Windmill Court, the lifting of which would allow the eviction of residents from Windmill Court.”

Mortimer Life reports that, including paper copies, this has attracted over 1,100 signatures and that “as a result, the item is on the agenda of the next meeting of the West Berkshire Council Executive on 22 September. There’s been no request yet from Sovereign Housing Association to lift restrictions preventing eviction, so the Executive may defer a decision until any request comes.” 

I spoke to WBC Executive member, and Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council (SMPC), Graham Bridgman about the background to this. “In late 2004,” he explained, “the then Executive agreed a plan in conjunction with Sovereign to, amongst other things, “increase the provision of sheltered housing for older people with high support needs”.  Planning permission was granted in 2005 and various agreements were entered into in early 2006 – these are the agreements that the petition refers to.” (He went on to stress that he had no hand in the writing of the petition, has not signed it and has abstained in any vote on Windmill Court at the SMPC so as not to prejudice his position on the Executive.)

“Recently,” he continued, “Sovereign has approached this Council seeking to remove those restrictions so as to allow it to redevelop the site.  Early on, I had conversations with Democratic Services and there was agreement that, because the Executive had agreed to the restrictions, the Executive should decide on whether to remove them.”

The problem was that Sovereign revealed its plans to empty the site before establishing if WBC would set aside or amend these restrictions, and without telling SMPC. Graham Bridgman described the residents’ reaction as one of “consternation”: I have heard stronger terms used.

Work has since taken place to try to solve this problem. “Since all this blew up,” graham Bridgman went on, “I have been in discussions with fellow parish councillors and with Sovereign, as well as with Councillor Woollaston as portfolio holder. Most recently, and following a meeting involving SMPC Councillors Danusia Morsley, Steve Hill, me and representatives of Sovereign, a message has been delivered to Windmill Court residents that includes “We are exploring how and whether we can amend the proposals to provide a better mix of homes to serve a range of different customers, including older people.”  We are now waiting to see what Sovereign propose and how it differs – if it does – from what everyone has been told to date.”

To its credit, West Berkshire Council appears to have acted fairly quickly once it realised what Sovereign was proposing. It shows that bad decisions can be reversed providing something is done quickly, there’s some acceptance of and ideally apology for this, a new course of action is identified and the whole thing is communicated effectively as soon as possible. So far the first three seem to have been happening, albeit largely out of public view. The real test comes when the fourth happens: after then, the proverbial line can be drawn and everyone can move on in a spirit of co-operation, rather than stand around snarling at each other.

WBC here is the facilitator rather than the instigator. The recent change of policy about the Notrees Care Home in Kintbury has shown that it can also itself admit that it’s not on the right path and change direction. Let’s hope that this can be extended to other cases where the Council has taken a wrong turning. It’s never too late to admit that this happened: but the longer you leave it, the more difficult this becomes.

Burghfield’s fest

If you like cask-conditioned ales, craft beers, gin, cider, a range of food, a children’s funfair and live music (or any combination of these) then Burghfest on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 September would be a pretty good place to be. You can click here for more information.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to make it as this clashes with the Home Energy event in Hungerford which Penny is much involved in (and we only have one car). Penny Post will be represented, however, as we’ve sponsored one of the beers, a 4.8% IPA called Can’t Kick up the Roots. It’s not a brew I’ve heard of before but then again I suspect that there are more different kinds of beer in the world – and probably just in England – than there are days in average lifetime in which to sample them. I hope it goes well (the forecast looks pretty good) and well done to the Santas for organising it.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 24 September. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking here.

• A new mini re-cycling centre has opened up at the end of Theale High Street. Replacing the previous smaller re-cycling point, the facility currently has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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

• Fri 23 Sept Macmillan Coffee Morning, Burghfield Village Hall.

• Fri 23 to Sat 24 Sep BurghFest 2022, Burghfield Common Recreation Ground.

• Sat 24 to Sun 25 Sep Festival of Creation, St Mary’s Church, Burghfield.

Sat 1 Oct Guide Dog Family Fun Day, Burghfield Common.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from as mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

All cyclists are welcome to join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group“which doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Aldermaston Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 September will be available here in due course. Items covered included: the announcement that “Out of respect during the period of mourning we opted to go ahead with a significantly reduced schedule covering urgent planning and finance decisions only”; and two commercial and four residential planning applications.
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 Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: litter; bonfires; a barrier at the Village Hall; a report from ward member Alan Macro; the new mini-recycling centre; reports from the committees and working groups; licensing matters; planning matters; and a plan to creat a business engagement forum (see separate sections above).
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 Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available, was on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the continuing saga of the Village Hall, which seems to have been going on for years; hedges and trees; planning matters; repairs and maintenance around the parish; picnic benches; the PC’s asset register; the Almshouses; highways; the Jubilee Shield; correspondence; financial matters; dog bins; the May Fair; and a “very unprofessional” communication from Sovereign regarding a property in Admoor Lane.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included :two councillor vacancies; planning matters; speed limits; road closures; parking at Mallard Way; mobile phone coverage; repairs and maintenance work; financial matters; and the Community Room and School Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 July 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 Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 July 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. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 July 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 Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June 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.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 look at volunteers, spices, bikes and a pantry. We also have a reassurance about the plans for the 70-acre solar farm near Mortimer – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information.

This week’s news

• As highlighted on the Burghfield Community Page, Burghfield Methodist Church has set up a Little Free Pantry with the idea being ‘Give what you can, share what you need’ and nourish our community by sharing with our neighbours. Maybe if there’s something you’re in need of, or if you have an excess supply of something that could be shared with someone else, maybe swing by. The Little Free Pantry initiative started in America and is not connected to FoodBank.

Burghfield Spices at The Hatch Gate are truly delighted to be recognised as a finalist for the south central award at the Asian Restaurant and Takeaway Awards (ARTA). They thank the community for their continued support and we wish them luck at the ceremony on Sunday 2 October.

• The world’s longest, non-stop relay ever attempted will be passing from Woolhampton through Theale to Reading on Friday 7 October. The Running Out of Time relay in the name of climate action will start in Glasgow, home of COP26 last year, on 30 September and finish in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, on 6 November for the start of COP27, the next UN summit of world leaders discussing the climate crisis. Runners, cyclists and sailors will carry a baton containing a climate message that’ll be delivered to world leaders urging more support to help people tackle the climate crisis where they live.  Sarah-Jane Lock will take the baton on Stage 142 leaving Woolhampton at 12.25, passing through Theale around 1.30pm to arrive at Lidl, Soutcote at 2.10pm.

• There are a lot of bikes being stolen at the moment by theives 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.

• West Berkshire Library Service are looking for local library volunteers in Mortimer and Burghfield, to help keep the libraries running smoothly. If you think that could be you, get in touch at volunteeringinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk or call 01635 519533 for further details.

• Theale Parish Council aisre often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events, as well as activities to keep the local environment in good order. Whether it’s staffing stalls and summer or Christmas fete’s, planting trees or picking up litter, the council rely on member of the community to help make these things possible. If you would like to find out more about local volunteer opportunities, check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Theale Parish Council has released a list of projects currently being funded by the Greenham Trust. Click here to see the work being done.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Theale District Councillor Alan Macro.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

Sun still shines on solar scheme 

Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, there is no threat having over the solar farm at Bloomfield Hatch which was approved at the Eastern Area Planning Committee in August. (See the archive of this column for 25 August). It is true that there are regulations in place to prevent local councils from using the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) as a means of raising cheap long-term loans to fund speculative investments which are designed only to produce profits. However, not only were these regulations introduced some time ago but they also do not prevent councils from raising funds for projects such as this.

The PWLB rate has recently increased as a result of the financial confusions. Therefore the scheme will be a bit more expensive, as will everything else, but still viable. The central reason for doing it at all – to produce sustainable electricity in a way that isn’t at the whim of any outs power – remains as valid as ever: indeed, probably more so.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 24 September. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking here.

• A new mini re-cycling centre has opened up at the end of Theale High Street. Replacing the previous smaller re-cycling point, the facility currently has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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 1 Oct Guide Dog Family Fun Day, Burghfield Common.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from as mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

All cyclists are welcome to join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group“which doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Aldermaston Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 September will be available here in due course. Items covered included: the announcement that “Out of respect during the period of mourning we opted to go ahead with a significantly reduced schedule covering urgent planning and finance decisions only”; and two commercial and four residential planning applications.
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 Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: public questions; the Clerk’s report; repairs and maintenance; youth funding; committee and working -party reports; the co-option of a new member; the NDP; the Windmill Common boundary; financial matters; a report from ward member Graham Bridgman; planning matters; and the fitness equipment.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the co-option of a new member; planning matters; parking issues. highways; repairs and maintenance work; mobile coverage; speeding; and financial matters. 
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Theale 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available, was on 2 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 for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 July 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 Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 July 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 Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June 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.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 look at slow progress at Windmill Court, a sponsored beer barrel, the pride of Reading and a free pantry – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information.

This week’s news

• Burghfield Parish Council is organising a MacMillan Coffee Morning on Friday 23 September at the Burghfield Village Hall, between 10am and 12:30pm. Proceeds will go towards supporting those with cancer. More information can be found here.

• Ticket sales have gone so well for Burghfest 2022 this Friday and Saturday that the organisers are busy counting glasses to see how many more tickets they can release…Please see their facebook page for latest updates.

• As highlighted on the Burghfield Community Page, Burghfield Methodist Church has set up a Little Free Pantry with the idea being ‘Give what you can, share what you need’ and nourish our community by sharing with our neighbours. Maybe if there’s something you’re in need of, or if you have an excess supply of something that could be shared with someone else, maybe swing by. The Little Free Pantry initiative started in America and is not connected to FoodBank.

• This weekend is also Mary’s Churches Festival of Creation, with a range of different activities for the whole community to enjoy. There will be a pre-loved book sale on both 24 and 25 September, as well as a display of entries from the young photographers competition. On Saturday there will also be a talk on Wildlife Conservation Through the Lens by Bridget Fry, a wildlife photographer with charity Big Paws 4 Thought. Check out their Facebook page for more information.

• Congratulations to all those who were nominated for Pride of Reading Awards 2022. According to the Burghfield Community Facebook page, we can celebrate Mashiur Rahman, nominated as Community Champion, for his work donating meals to hospitals and school as well as being involved in numerous fundraising events. Also, a massive well done to Stephanie Awbery, nominated for the Chris Tarrant Award, for her work fundraising for various charities and organising the West Berkshire Motor Show. Excellent work.

• Local charity The Cowshed have just launched a new appeal, the Warm Winter Campaign, which aims to raise £10,000 towards coats, blankets, pillows and duvets for families trying to keep warm this winter. The Cowshed is a crisis charity that provides clothing and support for individuals and families in Berkshire experiencing hardship. They have 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 or you can make a general donation to the charity here.

• West Berkshire Library Service are looking for local library volunteers in Mortimer and Burghfield, to help keep the libraries running smoothly. If you think that could be you, get in touch at volunteeringinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk or call 01635 519533 for further details.

• Did you know Theale Parish Council are often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events, as well as activities to keep our local environment nice? Whether it’s manning stalls and summer or Christmas fete’s, planting trees or picking up litter, the council rely on member of the community to help make these things possible. If you would like to find out more about local volunteer opportunities, check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Theale Parish Council has released a list of projects currently being funded by the Greenham Trust. Click here to see the work being done.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Theale District Councillor Alan Macro.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

Mortimer’s Windmill

We’ve written several times (see the archive of this column via the link at the foot) about Sovereign Housing’s plans to re-develop its facility at Windmill Court in Mortimer, which provided about as good an example of poor communication as one can hope to find. One of the results of this was a petition, which you can see here, which called upon WBC “to ensure its Executive reject any request(s) they receive from Sovereign Housing Association to lift restrictive covenant(s) or any other restrictions in respect of Windmill Court, the lifting of which would allow the eviction of residents from Windmill Court.”

Mortimer Life reports that, including paper copies, this has attracted over 1,100 signatures and that “as a result, the item is on the agenda of the next meeting of the West Berkshire Council Executive on 22 September. There’s been no request yet from Sovereign Housing Association to lift restrictions preventing eviction, so the Executive may defer a decision until any request comes.” 

I spoke to WBC Executive member, and Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council (SMPC), Graham Bridgman about the background to this. “In late 2004,” he explained, “the then Executive agreed a plan in conjunction with Sovereign to, amongst other things, “increase the provision of sheltered housing for older people with high support needs”.  Planning permission was granted in 2005 and various agreements were entered into in early 2006 – these are the agreements that the petition refers to.” (He went on to stress that he had no hand in the writing of the petition, has not signed it and has abstained in any vote on Windmill Court at the SMPC so as not to prejudice his position on the Executive.)

“Recently,” he continued, “Sovereign has approached this Council seeking to remove those restrictions so as to allow it to redevelop the site.  Early on, I had conversations with Democratic Services and there was agreement that, because the Executive had agreed to the restrictions, the Executive should decide on whether to remove them.”

The problem was that Sovereign revealed its plans to empty the site before establishing if WBC would set aside or amend these restrictions, and without telling SMPC. Graham Bridgman described the residents’ reaction as one of “consternation”: I have heard stronger terms used.

Work has since taken place to try to solve this problem. “Since all this blew up,” graham Bridgman went on, “I have been in discussions with fellow parish councillors and with Sovereign, as well as with Councillor Woollaston as portfolio holder. Most recently, and following a meeting involving SMPC Councillors Danusia Morsley, Steve Hill, me and representatives of Sovereign, a message has been delivered to Windmill Court residents that includes “We are exploring how and whether we can amend the proposals to provide a better mix of homes to serve a range of different customers, including older people.”  We are now waiting to see what Sovereign propose and how it differs – if it does – from what everyone has been told to date.”

To its credit, West Berkshire Council appears to have acted fairly quickly once it realised what Sovereign was proposing. It shows that bad decisions can be reversed providing something is done quickly, there’s some acceptance of and ideally apology for this, a new course of action is identified and the whole thing is communicated effectively as soon as possible. So far the first three seem to have been happening, albeit largely out of public view. The real test comes when the fourth happens: after then, the proverbial line can be drawn and everyone can move on in a spirit of co-operation, rather than stand around snarling at each other.

WBC here is the facilitator rather than the instigator. The recent change of policy about the Notrees Care Home in Kintbury has shown that it can also itself admit that it’s not on the right path and change direction. Let’s hope that this can be extended to other cases where the Council has taken a wrong turning. It’s never too late to admit that this happened: but the longer you leave it, the more difficult this becomes.

Burghfield’s fest

If you like cask-conditioned ales, craft beers, gin, cider, a range of food, a children’s funfair and live music (or any combination of these) then Burghfest on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 September would be a pretty good place to be. You can click here for more information.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to make it as this clashes with the Home Energy event in Hungerford which Penny is much involved in (and we only have one car). Penny Post will be represented, however, as we’ve sponsored one of the beers, a 4.8% IPA called Can’t Kick up the Roots. It’s not a brew I’ve heard of before but then again I suspect that there are more different kinds of beer in the world – and probably just in England – than there are days in average lifetime in which to sample them. I hope it goes well (the forecast looks pretty good) and well done to the Santas for organising it.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 24 September. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking here.

• A new mini re-cycling centre has opened up at the end of Theale High Street. Replacing the previous smaller re-cycling point, the facility currently has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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

• Fri 23 Sept Macmillan Coffee Morning, Burghfield Village Hall.

• Fri 23 to Sat 24 Sep BurghFest 2022, Burghfield Common Recreation Ground.

• Sat 24 to Sun 25 Sep Festival of Creation, St Mary’s Church, Burghfield.

Sat 1 Oct Guide Dog Family Fun Day, Burghfield Common.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from as mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

All cyclists are welcome to join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group“which doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Aldermaston Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 September will be available here in due course. Items covered included: the announcement that “Out of respect during the period of mourning we opted to go ahead with a significantly reduced schedule covering urgent planning and finance decisions only”; and two commercial and four residential planning applications.
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 Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: litter; bonfires; a barrier at the Village Hall; a report from ward member Alan Macro; the new mini-recycling centre; reports from the committees and working groups; licensing matters; planning matters; and a plan to creat a business engagement forum (see separate sections above).
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 Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available, was on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the continuing saga of the Village Hall, which seems to have been going on for years; hedges and trees; planning matters; repairs and maintenance around the parish; picnic benches; the PC’s asset register; the Almshouses; highways; the Jubilee Shield; correspondence; financial matters; dog bins; the May Fair; and a “very unprofessional” communication from Sovereign regarding a property in Admoor Lane.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included :two councillor vacancies; planning matters; speed limits; road closures; parking at Mallard Way; mobile phone coverage; repairs and maintenance work; financial matters; and the Community Room and School Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 July 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 Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 July 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. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 July 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 Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June 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.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 look at slow progress at Windmill Court, a sponsored beer barrel, the pride of Reading and a free pantry – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information.

This week’s news

• Burghfield Parish Council is organising a MacMillan Coffee Morning on Friday 23 September at the Burghfield Village Hall, between 10am and 12:30pm. Proceeds will go towards supporting those with cancer. More information can be found here.

• Ticket sales have gone so well for Burghfest 2022 this Friday and Saturday that the organisers are busy counting glasses to see how many more tickets they can release…Please see their facebook page for latest updates.

• As highlighted on the Burghfield Community Page, Burghfield Methodist Church has set up a Little Free Pantry with the idea being ‘Give what you can, share what you need’ and nourish our community by sharing with our neighbours. Maybe if there’s something you’re in need of, or if you have an excess supply of something that could be shared with someone else, maybe swing by. The Little Free Pantry initiative started in America and is not connected to FoodBank.

• This weekend is also Mary’s Churches Festival of Creation, with a range of different activities for the whole community to enjoy. There will be a pre-loved book sale on both 24 and 25 September, as well as a display of entries from the young photographers competition. On Saturday there will also be a talk on Wildlife Conservation Through the Lens by Bridget Fry, a wildlife photographer with charity Big Paws 4 Thought. Check out their Facebook page for more information.

• Congratulations to all those who were nominated for Pride of Reading Awards 2022. According to the Burghfield Community Facebook page, we can celebrate Mashiur Rahman, nominated as Community Champion, for his work donating meals to hospitals and school as well as being involved in numerous fundraising events. Also, a massive well done to Stephanie Awbery, nominated for the Chris Tarrant Award, for her work fundraising for various charities and organising the West Berkshire Motor Show. Excellent work.

• Local charity The Cowshed have just launched a new appeal, the Warm Winter Campaign, which aims to raise £10,000 towards coats, blankets, pillows and duvets for families trying to keep warm this winter. The Cowshed is a crisis charity that provides clothing and support for individuals and families in Berkshire experiencing hardship. They have 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 or you can make a general donation to the charity here.

• West Berkshire Library Service are looking for local library volunteers in Mortimer and Burghfield, to help keep the libraries running smoothly. If you think that could be you, get in touch at volunteeringinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk or call 01635 519533 for further details.

• Did you know Theale Parish Council are often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events, as well as activities to keep our local environment nice? Whether it’s manning stalls and summer or Christmas fete’s, planting trees or picking up litter, the council rely on member of the community to help make these things possible. If you would like to find out more about local volunteer opportunities, check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Theale Parish Council has released a list of projects currently being funded by the Greenham Trust. Click here to see the work being done.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Theale District Councillor Alan Macro.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

Mortimer’s Windmill

We’ve written several times (see the archive of this column via the link at the foot) about Sovereign Housing’s plans to re-develop its facility at Windmill Court in Mortimer, which provided about as good an example of poor communication as one can hope to find. One of the results of this was a petition, which you can see here, which called upon WBC “to ensure its Executive reject any request(s) they receive from Sovereign Housing Association to lift restrictive covenant(s) or any other restrictions in respect of Windmill Court, the lifting of which would allow the eviction of residents from Windmill Court.”

Mortimer Life reports that, including paper copies, this has attracted over 1,100 signatures and that “as a result, the item is on the agenda of the next meeting of the West Berkshire Council Executive on 22 September. There’s been no request yet from Sovereign Housing Association to lift restrictions preventing eviction, so the Executive may defer a decision until any request comes.” 

I spoke to WBC Executive member, and Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council (SMPC), Graham Bridgman about the background to this. “In late 2004,” he explained, “the then Executive agreed a plan in conjunction with Sovereign to, amongst other things, “increase the provision of sheltered housing for older people with high support needs”.  Planning permission was granted in 2005 and various agreements were entered into in early 2006 – these are the agreements that the petition refers to.” (He went on to stress that he had no hand in the writing of the petition, has not signed it and has abstained in any vote on Windmill Court at the SMPC so as not to prejudice his position on the Executive.)

“Recently,” he continued, “Sovereign has approached this Council seeking to remove those restrictions so as to allow it to redevelop the site.  Early on, I had conversations with Democratic Services and there was agreement that, because the Executive had agreed to the restrictions, the Executive should decide on whether to remove them.”

The problem was that Sovereign revealed its plans to empty the site before establishing if WBC would set aside or amend these restrictions, and without telling SMPC. Graham Bridgman described the residents’ reaction as one of “consternation”: I have heard stronger terms used.

Work has since taken place to try to solve this problem. “Since all this blew up,” graham Bridgman went on, “I have been in discussions with fellow parish councillors and with Sovereign, as well as with Councillor Woollaston as portfolio holder. Most recently, and following a meeting involving SMPC Councillors Danusia Morsley, Steve Hill, me and representatives of Sovereign, a message has been delivered to Windmill Court residents that includes “We are exploring how and whether we can amend the proposals to provide a better mix of homes to serve a range of different customers, including older people.”  We are now waiting to see what Sovereign propose and how it differs – if it does – from what everyone has been told to date.”

To its credit, West Berkshire Council appears to have acted fairly quickly once it realised what Sovereign was proposing. It shows that bad decisions can be reversed providing something is done quickly, there’s some acceptance of and ideally apology for this, a new course of action is identified and the whole thing is communicated effectively as soon as possible. So far the first three seem to have been happening, albeit largely out of public view. The real test comes when the fourth happens: after then, the proverbial line can be drawn and everyone can move on in a spirit of co-operation, rather than stand around snarling at each other.

WBC here is the facilitator rather than the instigator. The recent change of policy about the Notrees Care Home in Kintbury has shown that it can also itself admit that it’s not on the right path and change direction. Let’s hope that this can be extended to other cases where the Council has taken a wrong turning. It’s never too late to admit that this happened: but the longer you leave it, the more difficult this becomes.

Burghfield’s fest

If you like cask-conditioned ales, craft beers, gin, cider, a range of food, a children’s funfair and live music (or any combination of these) then Burghfest on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 September would be a pretty good place to be. You can click here for more information.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to make it as this clashes with the Home Energy event in Hungerford which Penny is much involved in (and we only have one car). Penny Post will be represented, however, as we’ve sponsored one of the beers, a 4.8% IPA called Can’t Kick up the Roots. It’s not a brew I’ve heard of before but then again I suspect that there are more different kinds of beer in the world – and probably just in England – than there are days in average lifetime in which to sample them. I hope it goes well (the forecast looks pretty good) and well done to the Santas for organising it.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 24 September. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking here.

• A new mini re-cycling centre has opened up at the end of Theale High Street. Replacing the previous smaller re-cycling point, the facility currently has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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

• Fri 23 Sept Macmillan Coffee Morning, Burghfield Village Hall.

• Fri 23 to Sat 24 Sep BurghFest 2022, Burghfield Common Recreation Ground.

• Sat 24 to Sun 25 Sep Festival of Creation, St Mary’s Church, Burghfield.

Sat 1 Oct Guide Dog Family Fun Day, Burghfield Common.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from as mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

All cyclists are welcome to join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group“which doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Aldermaston Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 September will be available here in due course. Items covered included: the announcement that “Out of respect during the period of mourning we opted to go ahead with a significantly reduced schedule covering urgent planning and finance decisions only”; and two commercial and four residential planning applications.
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 Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: litter; bonfires; a barrier at the Village Hall; a report from ward member Alan Macro; the new mini-recycling centre; reports from the committees and working groups; licensing matters; planning matters; and a plan to creat a business engagement forum (see separate sections above).
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 Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available, was on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the continuing saga of the Village Hall, which seems to have been going on for years; hedges and trees; planning matters; repairs and maintenance around the parish; picnic benches; the PC’s asset register; the Almshouses; highways; the Jubilee Shield; correspondence; financial matters; dog bins; the May Fair; and a “very unprofessional” communication from Sovereign regarding a property in Admoor Lane.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included :two councillor vacancies; planning matters; speed limits; road closures; parking at Mallard Way; mobile phone coverage; repairs and maintenance work; financial matters; and the Community Room and School Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 July 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 Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 July 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. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 July 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 Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June 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.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 respect for the Queen, photographers, books, volunteers, food and coffee. We also preview the forthcoming Burghfest event and provide some reassuring news about its zero impact on local arrest statistics – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information.

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. 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.

• Chairman of Burghfield Parish Council, Cllr T Ansell reported that the council “offers its condolences to the Royal Family on the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her duty, service and devotion to the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth was unparalleled….’ For further announcements regarding any local arrangements please visit the council’s facebook page.

St Mary’s Church have a ‘Book of Condolence’ for to write messages in, as well as candles, and any floral tributes may be placed outside by the wooden cross. For updates see the church’s facebook page.

The Six Bells in Burghfield are inviting locals to the pub to view the Queen’s funeral on Monday 19 September, to ‘raise a glass’ in her memory.  The pub will be open from 9am, with the service due to start around 11am.  For any updates, keep an eye on their Facebook page.

• Burghfield Santas are busy preparing for Burghfest 2022 at the Recreation Ground on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 September. They are expecting 2,000 visitors to come and enjoy the drink, food, live music and family entertainment. There are still a few sponsorship opportunities available and more volunteers are always welcome. Please see their burghfest.org.uk website for all details.

• Calling young photographers: St Mary’s Church, Burghfield invites you to enter their Festival of Creation photography competition with the theme All Creatures Great and Small. Entry deadline is this Thursday 22 September.

• Also at St Mary’s Church will be a pre-loved book sale on 24 and 25 September. They are welcoming any donations of second hand, unwanted books for the sale, and these can be left in the church porch, or you can contact alison.eves@stmarysburghfield.org. More information 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.

• 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.

• Burghfield Parish Council is organising a MacMillan Coffee Morning on Friday 23 September at the Burghfield Village Hall, between 10am and 12:30pm. Proceeds will go towards supporting those with cancer. If you would like to donate a cake, you can drop it off at the hall between 6:30pm and 8:30pm on Thursday 22 September or at 9am on the day itself. More information can be found here.

• If you like cycling why not join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group “a social cycling group that doesn’t take itself too seriously! Suitable for all cyclists, it doesn’t matter if you ride a commuter or a mountain bike. We plan to cover 15 or so miles and visit a pub or cafe halfway.”

• West Berkshire Library Service are looking for local library volunteers in Mortimer and Burghfield, to help keep the libraries running smoothly. If you think that could be you, get in touch at volunteeringinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk or call 01635 519533 for further details.

• Did you know Theale Parish Council are often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events, as well as activities to keep our local environment nice? Whether it’s manning stalls and summer or Christmas fete’s, planting trees or picking up litter, the council rely on member of the community to help make these things possible. If you would like to find out more about local volunteer opportunities, check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Theale Parish Council has released a list of projects currently being funded by the Greenham Trust. Click here to see the work being done.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Theale District Councillor Alan Macro.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

No arrest at Burghfest

If you like cask-conditioned ales, craft beers, gin, cider, a range of food, a children’s funfair and live music (or any combination of these) then Burghfest on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 September would be a pretty good place to be. You can click here for more information.

Over the past six months it’s been suggested to me more than once that open-air events such as the ones run by the Santas cause or can cause problems of anti-social behaviour. We went to one of the Friday pop-up pubs in the summer and saw no sign whatsoever of anything remotely resembling this but merely about 200 people enjoying themselves.

Anecdotal evidence is one thing and, of course, subjective: so, what about the police stats? One would expect any systemic disorder to have translated into arrest figures. I spoke to one of the organisers of Burghfest (which has been running every year since 2016 with the exception of a Covid-enforced gap in 2020) and can provide the re-assuring news that across all these events, the total number of people arrested stands at zero. No reason to suppose this clear pattern won’t continue in 2022 and beyond. There may be a few hangovers, of course, but I don’t believe these are included in police statistics.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 24 September. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking here.

• A new mini re-cycling centre has opened up at the end of Theale High Street. Replacing the previous smaller re-cycling point, the facility currently has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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

• Fri 16 Sep Flushed Away Film Night, St Mary’s Church Burghfield.

• Fri 23 to Sat 24 Sep BurghFest 2022, Burghfield Common Recreation Ground.

Sat 24 Sep Festival of Creation Event, St Mary’s Church.

Sat 1 Oct Guide Dog Family Fun Day, Burghfield Common.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from As mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

• Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

News from your local council

• The most recent meeting of Aldermaston Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 September will be available here in due course. Items covered included: the announcement that “Out of respect during the period of mourning we opted to go ahead with a significantly reduced schedule covering urgent planning and finance decisions only”; and two commercial and four residential planning applications.
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 Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: litter; bonfires; a barrier at the Village Hall; a report from ward member Alan Macro; the new mini-recycling centre; reports from the committees and working groups; licensing matters; planning matters; and a plan to creat a business engagement forum (see separate sections above).
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 Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available, was on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the continuing saga of the Village Hall, which seems to have been going on for years; hedges and trees; planning matters; repairs and maintenance around the parish; picnic benches; the PC’s asset register; the Almshouses; highways; the Jubilee Shield; correspondence; financial matters; dog bins; the May Fair; and a “very unprofessional” communication from Sovereign regarding a property in Admoor Lane.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included :two councillor vacancies; planning matters; speed limits; road closures; parking at Mallard Way; mobile phone coverage; repairs and maintenance work; financial matters; and the Community Room and School Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 July 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 Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 July 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. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 July 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 Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June 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.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 respect for the Queen, a charity football match, cycling, coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon. We also have another look at the proposed costs of the solar farm near Mortimer and the aspects of the scheme that the planning committee was and was not able to consider  – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information

This week’s news

• Chairman of Burghfield Parish Council, Cllr T Ansell reports that the council “offers its condolences to the Royal Family on the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her duty, service and devotion to the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth was unparalleled. We have lived in a truly golden Elizabethan age, the likes of which we will never see again. Burghfield Parish Council join with the people around the world in mourning her loss.” For further announcements regarding any local arrangements please visit the council’s facebook page.

• As a wider community and local congregation in Burghfield, St Mary’s Church“mourns with the rest of our country on the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We give thanks for her long life of humble service, her deep committed faith and the example she set for us all. Please note that our church is open for prayer through these next ten days of mourning. We have placed a ‘Book of Condolence’ for messages, and candles which can be lit in church, as well as the wooden cross placed outside where any floral tributes may be placed. All these are available for anyone in Burghfield, or if they are passing through, to offer their prayers or personal tributes.” For updates see the church’s facebook page.

• Calling young photographers: St Mary’s Church, Burghfield invites you to enter their Festival of Creation photography competition with the theme All Creatures Great and Small. Entry deadline is 22 September.

• Burghfield Parish Council is organising a MacMillan Coffee Morning on Friday 23 September at the Burghfield Village Hall, between 10am and 12:30pm. Proceeds will go towards supporting those with cancer. If you would like to donate a cake, you can drop it off at the hall between 6:30pm and 8:30pm on Thursday 22 September or at 9am on the day itself. More information can be found here.

• Last month saw a charity football match in Burghfield raise an impressive £2,000 for the Sue Ryder Hospice charity. The James Cup was created in honour of James Sturgess, who sadly died of cancer in 2017.  The 11-a-side competition was created by his brother, Mark Sturgess, and many of James’s friends take part at the Burghfield Community Sports Association (BCSA) every August. You can read more on this story in the Newbury Today‘s article.

• If you like cycling why not join the On Your Bike Burghfield facebook group “a social cycling group that doesn’t take itself too seriously! Suitable for all cyclists, it doesn’t matter if you ride a commuter or a mountain bike. We plan to cover 15 or so miles and visit a pub or cafe halfway.”

• This Saturday 10 September the Berkshire MS Therapy Centre in Reading is holding a Jubilee Afternoon Tea to Support MS, with live music, a sparkling reception and delicious food and a raffle. Then on Sunday 11 September there’s the Hampshire and IOW Air Ambulance Horse Show, a short drive away at Farley Hill. All proceeds go towards supporting the Air Ambulance rescue team.

• West Berkshire Library Service are looking for local library volunteers in Mortimer and Burghfield, to help keep the libraries running smoothly. If you think that could be you, get in touch at volunteeringinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk or call 01635 519533 for further details.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 24 September. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Did you know Theale Parish Council are often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events, as well as activities to keep our local environment nice? Whether it’s manning stalls and summer or Christmas fete’s, planting trees or picking up litter, the council rely on member of the community to help make these things possible. If you would like to find out more about local volunteer opportunities, check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Theale Parish Council has released a list of projects currently being funded by the Greenham Trust. Click here to see the work being done.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Theale District Councillor Alan Macro.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

Paying for the panels

As mentioned before (see below) on 24 August the Eastern Area Planning Committee (EAPC) considered an approved the application for a 70-acre solar farm at Bloomfield hatch near Mortimer. There still seems to be some concern as to how much this is likely to cost and whether as a consequence the thing should be being built at all. Two points strike me about this.

The first is that, having watched the entire debate on this, I think the financials were dealt with at EAPC with about as much certainty as any figures can be at present which involve construction costs and energy prices. I round numbers, the farm will cost about £20m to build which will be funded by a low-interest lan from the Public Works Load Board. The revenue will, if energy prices go up to anything like the predicted rate, is likely to be at least £4m a year.

The second point is that the question of whether the solar farm should be built was a matter of WBC policy long before the matter came to EAPC, having already been decided at the Executive. (The plan also seems to have cross-party support and indeed was, as the Shadow Environment Portfolio-holder Adrian Abbs told Penny Post on 4 September, originally proposed by the Lib Dems in March 2020.) The EAPC was merely looking at the application as part of the planning authority. The political (and environmental) decision had already been taken by the Executive of the district council.

Admittedly, one of the matters a planning committee will look at is the economic viability: but only at a high level. It would be reluctant to grant permission for something with such obvious commercial deficiencies that there was a real risk it would need to be pulled down in six months’ time. However, it would not go into all the details of the business case or the cash-flow projections. This is not the committee’s concern: also, if matters got this granular the members would be there all night (rather than just half the night as is often the case). In any case, recent events have made the likely returns all the more attractive. The environmental and energy-security justifications are now even more compelling. All in all, it still seems like the right call.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking here.

• A new mini re-cycling centre has opened up at the end of Theale High Street. Replacing the previous smaller re-cycling point, the facility currently has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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 Sep Jubilee Afternoon Tea To Support MS, Sindlesham Court.

Sun 11 Sep Hampshire and IOW Air Ambulance Horse Show, Farley Hill.

• Fri 16 Sep Flushed Away Film Night, St Mary’s Church Burghfield.

• Fri 23 to Sat 24 Sep BurghFest 2022, Burghfield Common Recreation Ground.

Sat 24 Sep Festival of Creation Event, St Mary’s Church.

Sat 1 Oct Guide Dog Family Fun Day, Burghfield Common.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer, between April and October. There are three walk lengths to chose from As mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

• Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 17).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (September edition, p 11).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

News from your local council

• The most recent meeting of Aldermaston Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 August and the minutes will be available here in due course. Items covered included: AWE’s response to the Parish Council’s comments on AWE’s Planning Application for its Hub development; planning matters; clay-pigeon shooting; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; bat surveys; and three potential planning enforcement 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 Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: litter; bonfires; a barrier at the Village Hall; a report from ward member Alan Macro; the new mini-recycling centre; reports from the committees and working groups; licensing matters; planning matters; and a plan to creat a business engagement forum (see separate sections above).
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 Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available, was on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the continuing saga of the Village Hall, which seems to have been going on for years; hedges and trees; planning matters; repairs and maintenance around the parish; picnic benches; the PC’s asset register; the Almshouses; highways; the Jubilee Shield; correspondence; financial matters; dog bins; the May Fair; and a “very unprofessional” communication from Sovereign regarding a property in Admoor Lane.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here for 2021 and here for 2022. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included :two councillor vacancies; planning matters; speed limits; road closures; parking at Mallard Way; mobile phone coverage; repairs and maintenance work; financial matters; and the Community Room and School Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 July 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 Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 July 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. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 July 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 Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June 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.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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.

We’ve covered a number of issues in the Burghfield area over the last four or five months. Some of these, including the controversy surrounding the costs of re-furbishing the Village Hall and the plans to build a temporary café in the Recreation Ground, have now been dealt with (the café has not been built but planning approval has been granted). Others, such as the rather inelegant way Sovereign Housing elected to handle the proposed closure of Windmill Court in Mortimer, have yet to be finally resolved.

One issue which we recently covered in some detail was the approval for the 70-acre solar farm at Bloomfield Hatch near Mortimer (see Out of sight, out of mind in the 25 August column). The debate here was not the straight fight between financial gain and farming land suggested by an article in this week’s Newbury Weekly News. The point made by the applicant (WBC itself) – which is supported by experts and was accepted by the planning committee – is that climate change poses a far greater threat to agricultural productivity than do solar farms. This article from Regen argues that even if all the solar farms that were required for the country to become zero-carbon were built, these would only occupy 0.5% of our agricultural land. In any event, the land at Bloomfield Hatch is only a mid-table grade 3. Nor is it a permanent change, as the panels are only planned to be in place for 30 years (by then, perhaps, there will be another solution to energy creation: a solar array is one of the solutions that is available now). It’s certainly true that that the scheme seems set to make a profit but that would seem to be a benefit, assuming these are ploughed back into the district. Even if it only washed its face for WBC there would still be a case to be made for it.

The planning committee would thus seem to have made the right decision, rather than the cynical one which the NWN article implied. It was certainly not arrived at lightly, involving as it did studying a particularly large pile of documents, doing a site visit and having a debate lasting nearly two hours. There are rumours that the approval may be the subject of a judicial review . If so, I understand this can only be on grounds of wrong process rather than disagreement with the decision. On the basis of the scrutiny that was applied by there committee it’s hard to see what process problems there might be. We’ll be keeping our eye on this: also on other solar-farm applications in the district (we’ve been covering two in detail, in Beenham and Enborne), the proposers of which may take heart from this outcome.

Thursday 25 August 2022

This week we look forward to an annual show, check out a couple of councillors’ newsletters and have a look at a local toy library. It’s also been a busy seven days on the planning front, with Burghfield’s café finally geeing the nuclear green light and two applications, for a solar far and a waste centre, approved by committee on 24 August  – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information

This week’s news

• As we’ve mentioned previously, the Burghfield Santas have been running Bulging Sack pop-up pub events on Fridays throughout the summer. However, with summer now drawing to a close, this Friday 26 August will be their last pop-up event of the season: ‘Last of the summer sacks’. The Santas have their own craft beer called Reinbeer of the Mohicans which they’ve been serving, as well as other local real ale, craft beers and lagers. So far these events have managed to raise over £6,000, most of which will go to the Thames Air Ambulance. More on this story here on newburytoday.

• Also coming up this weekend is the Mortimer West End and District Annual Show on Saturday 27 August. Come along to enjoy a variety of stalls from local businesses, as well as there will be lots of different craft activities for children to try. Follow their Facebook page for more info.

• West Berkshire Library Service are currently looking for local library volunteers in Mortimer and Burghfield, to help keep the libraries running smoothly. If you think that could be you, get in touch at volunteeringinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk or call 01635 519533 for further 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.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Theale District Councillor Alan Macro.

• The Mortimer and Burghfield toy library is a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 24 September. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Did you know Theale Parish Council are often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events, as well as activities to keep our local environment nice? Whether it’s manning stalls and summer or Christmas fete’s, planting trees or picking up litter, the council rely on member of the community to help make these things possible. If you would like to find out more about local volunteer opportunities, check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Theale Parish Council has released a list of projects currently being funded by the Greenham Trust. Click here to see the work being done.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

Out of sight, out of mind

The Eastern Area Planning Committee (EAPC) met on 24 August to look at three applications (you can see a recording of the meeting here). These included “Construction and operation of a solar farm and battery storage system together with cable route and all associated works, equipment and necessary infrastructure  on land north of Bloomfield Hatch Farm Bloomfield Hatch, Mortimer” (22/0133o/RE5) and “Development of an energy recovery centre and adjacent data centre and associated infrastructure at Reading Quarry, Berrys Lane, Burghfield” (20/02029/COMIND). After lengthy and at times technical debates, both were passed, the former by seven votes to zero with one abstention, the latter by seven votes to one.

The main opposition to the solar-farm application was on the grounds of the loss of agricultural land. The proposer countered this by claiming that 70% of the UK’s most valuable agricultural land could be lost due to climate change and that the best way of supporting farmers in the log term was dealing with carbon emissions. The proposer also pointed out that the country imports nearly twice as much energy now as it did in 2020 (38% v 20%): renewables were, in conclusion, “the solution, not the problem.”

There was also discussion about the economic viability of the scheme. Even at the the lowest likely rate the project would, the proposer claimed, “wash its face”, but costs seem likely to rise substantially and certainly by far more than any increases from the PWLB (which would be funding the scheme). On being questioned by Councillor Geoff Mayes (who clearly knew more about electrical engineering than did anyone else at the meeting), it was established that a connection to the mains grid could be made. There were also discussions about other matters ranging from bird nesting to sheep farming and from drainage to vehicle movements. Some of these were quite technical and each ate up more time: but considering these was what the committee was there to do. That it has considered them is now a matter of record. In any event, the one hour and fifty minutes spent discussing it would have been dwarfed by the amount of time the members needed to spend reading all the paperwork: Councillor Ross MacKinnon told me afterwards that the document pack was the biggest he’d ever seen for a planning committee meeting.

I’ve mentioned several time about “the proposer” and so the time has come to put a name to it. The proposer in this case is none other than West Berkshire Council itself. It may seem odd that a council is sitting in judgment on its own application but there’s no real alternative. In any event, they are technically two separate bodies: WBC as a district council (which wants to build the solar farm) and WBC as a planning authority (which has to decide if it can). For anyone who feels that such dualities of approach always produce incompatible conflicts of interest, I must declare that I wouldn’t have known I wasn’t watching an application by a third-party organisation. As mentioned above, there were plenty of the questions. The whole EAPC show was, as ever, very well managed by the Chair, Graham Pask, who adopted a tone of friendly urgency throughout which gave everyone a chance to speak but kept matters moving along.

Ultimately, the EAPC felt that the demands of the climate emergency, which WBC declared three years ago, trumped the competing claims of the agricultural land use, while the economic case (which cannot be ignored) appeared to stack up. There are losers in every change and here it seemed to be the farmer as it’s unclear if the farm will at its reduced size remain viable. Our sympathies to him. One officer mentioned at the meeting, “there has been a conversation with the farmer about what the future might look like,” which might be a coded reference to compensation. Few if any projects create a perfect outcome; and the perfect can be the enemy of the good.

Much the same could be said for the next item on the agenda, concerning the energy recovery centre (a waste incinerator to you and me) on the eastern edge of the district. Two interesting facts that came from the debate were, first, that a large facility in Oxfordshire to which WBC currently sends a large amount of waste will be closing by 2030; and second that burning waste in this kind of controlled way produces less greenhouse gas than does landfilling it which eventually allows the very harmful methane it produces to leak out into the atmosphere.

The facility thus seems to be needed – unless we’re suddenly going to start producing a lot less waste, and there seems little chance of that. As with the solar farm decision, there will be winners and losers. However, it seems unlikely than any other location for either of these schemes would have been completely loser-free.

What they both have in common, aside from the timing of their decisions, is that both are a reminder than neither the energy we use nor the waste we create can come from, or be shoved into, a hole in the ground conveniently distant from us. Energy needs to be created not only sustainably but also locally. Inevitably, this also means visibly. The solar farm, however, is not a permanent project and is scheduled to be in place only for 30 years. By that time there might be better solutions such as fusion. And when, having served its purpose, it is closed down and the materials need to be disposed of, there is at least an energy recovery centre a few miles down the road. All in all, future generations may see the EAPC meeting on 24 August 2022 as having done a pretty good (and long) evening’s work.

Café society

Burghfield’s café passed its final, nuclear, hurdle last week. The application had been approved at the Eastern Area Planning Committee on 13 July but, because of Burghfield’s location in the emergency zone caused by the AWE establishments, the Office for Nuclear Regulation had the final say in deciding whether the facility would pose a risk in the event of an atomic incident. On 15 August, the ONR finally announced that it would not be taking the matter any further. Perhaps the month-long wait was just to draw attention to the fact that it did have the power to intervene. If so, it has made its point but common sense has prevailed.

Some local residents disagree. As we’ve previously reported many times, some of these objections have their origins in a leaflet which was distributed around the village in April and about which I wrote in detail on 21 April (see the archive section and scroll down). I also referred to some of these issues since, so frequently they seem to reappear.

I have nothing much to add to the points I made in April. The leaflet confused and conflated several unrelated points and was not in my view a fair reflection of what had happened, how the Parish Council had arrived at its decision and, indeed, how parish councils generally are expected to operate. I accepted that Burghfield PC could perhaps have communicated slightly better but that all the matters were discussed in public sessions for those who had wanted to attend or were available from the office for anyone who wanted to ask; and that I could see no evidence of the combination of corruption and incompetence which the various opposing statements claimed. Burghfield PC is actually doing things, which is what it was elected to accomplish, and these have achieved positive results. One of the things it cannot do is turn the clock back to some halcyon age in the past which probably in any case never existed.

The decision notice (which along with the other documents you can see here) comes with 14 conditions and six informative, which is pretty standard. I spoke to Burghfield PC on 25 August and was told that the conditions would be considered at the next appropriate committee meeting. The overwhelming reaction in the community to the decision appears to be positive. Penny and I were at the pop-up pub on the Recreation Ground last Friday and saw nothing more sinister than a lot of people of all ages drinking and eating and chatting and enjoying themselves. It’s very hard to believe that the café is going to produce any other result. I wish it well.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking here.

• A new mini re-cycling centre has opened up at the end of Theale High Street. Replacing the previous smaller re-cycling point, the facility currently has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper.

• 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 26 Aug ‘Last of the Summer Sacks’ Pop-Up Bar, Burghfield Recreation Ground.

Sat 27 Aug Mortimer West End & District Annual Show, Mortimer.

• Sun 4 Sep Aldermaston & Wasing Show, Aldermaston.

Sat 10 Sep Jubilee Afternoon Tea To Support MS, Sindlesham Court.

Sun 11 Sep Hampshire and IOW Air Ambulance Horse Show, Farley Hill.

• Fri 16 Sep Flushed Away Film Night, St Mary’s Church Burghfield.

• Fri 23 to Sat 24 Sep BurghFest 2022, Burghfield Common Recreation Ground.

Sat 24 Sep Festival of Creation Event, St Mary’s Church.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI (The Woman’s Institute) meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer. There are three walk lengths to chose from As mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

• Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 16).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 8)

 Aldermaston & Wasing Ladies Group meets on the second Thursday of each month from 2pm at Aldermaston Parish Hall, please see Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (p 3, February 2022 ) for further information.

Padworth and Aldermaston WI meets at Padworth Village Hall on the third Tuesday of every month at 7.30pm. Further information on the group can be found in Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (No 155 February 2022 Edition p 3).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

News from your local council

• The most recent meeting of Aldermaston Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 August and the minutes will be available here in due course. Items covered included: AWE’s response to the Parish Council’s comments on AWE’s Planning Application for its Hub development; planning matters; clay-pigeon shooting; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; bat surveys; and three potential planning enforcement matters. 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 Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: litter; bonfires; a barrier at the Village Hall; a report from ward member Alan Macro; the new mini-recycling centre; reports from the committees and working groups; licensing matters; planning matters; and a plan to creat a business engagement forum (see separate sections above). 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 Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available,was on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the continuing saga of the Village Hall, which seems to have been going on for years; hedges and trees; planning matters; repairs and maintenance around the parish; picnic benches; the PC’s asset register; the Almshouses; highways; the Jubilee Shield; correspondence; financial matters; dog bins; the May Fair; and a “very unprofessional” communication from Sovereign regarding a property in Admoor Lane. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included:two councillor vacancies; planning matters; speed limits; road closures; parking at Mallard Way; mobile phone coverage; repairs and maintenance work; financial matters; and the Community Room and School Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a report on the Village Show; the co-option of a new councillor; another councillor vacancy; a grant to Swings and Smiles; financial matters; the Village Hall; planning matters; and a possible future development at the Padworth Sawmills site. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Windmill Court (see separate section above); reports from committees and working parties; the NDP; jubilee VAT issues; formal matters; financial matters; correspondence; and village repairs and maintenance. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 July 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 Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can read the minutes here. I To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 look at a mini re-cycling centre, craft sessions, a couple of newsletters from ward members and a forthcoming show. We also remind you about a petition concerning Windmill Court and check out  the plans for a 70-acre solar farm in Bloomfield Hatch, which raises some questions about matters ranging from the remit of planning committees to the performance of our government on meeting its carbon targets  – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information

This week’s news

• A brand new mini re-cycling centre has opened up at the end of Theale High Street. Due to replace the current, smaller re-cycling point, the facility currently has banks for plastic pots, tubs, trays cans, small electricals, cardboard and paper. Reportedly, food can and carton, as well as textile recycling banks will be coming soon. Click here to read the report by the Newbury Today.

• West Berkshire Library Service are currently looking for local library volunteers in Mortimer and Burghfield, to help keep the libraries running smoothly. If you think that could be you, get in touch at volunteeringinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk or call 01635 519533 for further details.

• You may be aware that the Burghfield Santas have been running ‘Bulging Sack’ pop-up pub events on Fridays throughout the summer. The Santas have their own craft beer called Reinbeer of the Mohicans which they’ve been serving at the events, as well as other local real ale, craft beers and lagers. These events have so far managed to raise over £6,000, most of which will go to the Thames Air Ambulance. The next event will be this Friday 12 August on Burghfield Recreation Ground and then continue from 5.30pm til sunset on every Friday in August, so the current fundraising total should have been comfortable exceed come September. More on this story here on newburytoday.

• 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.

• Burghfield Library is holding regular free craft sessions, every Thursday throughout the summer holidays, for children aged 3 to 10 years old. The next session is on Thursday 25 August, just drop in between 10.30am and noon. For more information please contact the library at burghfieldlibrary@westberks.gov.uk, or visit their Facebook page. For more holiday activities, please see our Guide to Summer Fun.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Theale District Councillor Alan Macro.

• The Mortimer West End and District Annual Show will be taking place on Saturday 27 August. Come along to enjoy a variety of stalls from local businesses, as well as there will be lots of different craft activities for children to try. There are also various competitions with you can enter to show off your talents and for a chance of winning first place. There will be categories for fruit, vegetables and flower, as well as artistic crafts such as flower arranging, photography, art work or handicrafts. To find out how to enter and keep up-to-date with the details, follow their Facebook page for more info.

• Have you heard about the Mortimer and Burghfield toy library? It’s a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 24 September. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Did you know Theale Parish Council are often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events, as well as activities to keep our local environment nice? Whether it’s manning stalls and summer or Christmas fete’s, planting trees or picking up litter, the council rely on member of the community to help make these things possible. If you would like to find out more about local volunteer opportunities, check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Theale Parish Council has released a list of projects currently being funded by the Greenham Trust. Click here to see the work being done.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

Bloomfield Hatch’s panels

The Eastern Area Planning Committee will next week be considering WBC’s application for the “construction and operation of a solar farm and battery storage system together with cable route and all associated works, equipment and necessary infrastructure on land north Of Bloomfield Hatch Farm ,Bloomfield Hatch, Mortimer.” You can see the agenda for the EAPC here and the application on WBC’s planning portal here. The site is a large one (about the size of 35 football pitches) and would, if approved go some way to meeting WBC’s climate-change targets. Indeed, some councillors believe it should be larger still.

When a matter is due to come before a planning committee, a site visit will take place, usually a week before. This happened on 17 August. Perhaps in an attempt to make the situation appear more dramatic and divisive than it really is, an article in this week’s Newbury Weekly News suggested that residents and farmers “would attempt to block” the committee members from visiting the site. It even helpfully printed the time they were due, perhaps in case anyone wanted to join in. I spoke to three members of the EAPC on 18 August and was told that noting remotely like that took place. There were protestors there but no attempt was made to prevent access. This would probably have been illegal and certainly wouldn’t have helped their cause.

There are currently 16 letters of objection to the proposal which cover a wide range of issues including traffic, access, flooding, loss of bio-diversity, loss of farmland, a fall in the value of the nearby properties and the possible presence of other more suitable sites elsewhere. Not all the issues raised my be planning matters which the committee can consider. One such is the fact that there is a covenant on the land, dating back to when it was gifted to the then Berkshire CC, which states that it be used for agricultural purposes. This will be for the applicant, WBC, to sort out. It’s unclear if the covenant can be changed: one assumes that WBC believes it can be but the question could be asked whether this should not have been sorted out first.

Another issue which remains unclear, but which is also not a planning matter, is what if any benefit the local residents will receive from this. The applicant is not obliged to provide any payment but it would certainly help dilute local opposition were it to do so. CIL isn’t payable on such schemes so there’ll be no 15% share going to the Parish Council. Perhaps WBC can be persuaded to perform some improvements to the pre-existing drainage problems with some neighbouring properties which some objectors claim, correctly or otherwise, will be exacerbated by the solar farm.

The problem with these kind of local benefits is that there’s not much in the way of policy, protocol or precedent to say what an applicant might be expected to contribute by way of mitigation or gesture of goodwill (the Local Electricity Bill, when passed, may provide some clarity). Indeed, solar panels are such a new thing that many councils as yet have no clear policy about any aspect of their permission. It’s therefore hard for a committee to know how much weight should be given to the fact that local energy will be generated when making decisions. With gambling licences, the law specifies that there should be a pre-disposition in favour of approval: the objectors, in other words, have to prove their case. Many feel that this should apply to renewable energy projects such as this: others disagree. What is needed to assist planning authorities in making these decisions swiftly and correctly is some guidance from Whitehall.

Sadly, this has not happened. Indeed, only last month the government lost a court case brought by the Good Law Project, Friends of the Earth and others claiming that its net-zero policy is unlawful. The applicants argued, and the judge agreed, that “the proposals for achieving Net Zero approved by the Secretary of State were too vague to enable him to be satisfied that the statutory targets would be met; and that the report placed before Parliament lacked the specificity necessary to meet the Secretary of State’s duty to inform Parliament and the public of his plans.” The government has been told to provide, by April 2023, more detail as to how this target can be met. As the summary on the Good Law Project’s website observes, “The dangerous heatwave this week is a stark reminder of the very real threat we face. Our infrastructure and homes were designed for a climate that no longer exists. This cannot wait. The Net Zero target must be a road map to a sustainable future – not a lie we tell our children.”

It could be claimed that a policy which is high on soundbites but low on detail and which ends up with legal action is a fair reflection of our outgoing government, or certainly of its leader. His replacement – and there are still nearly three weeks of mud-slinging and mud-wrestling to go before we know who it is – will have a very full in-tray, dominated by the cost of living crisis (which will probably result in an increase in the use of fossil fuels). Seriously addressing climate change seems only to be possible in the rare periods when there’s not something more immediate to worry about. If the government can’t get a grip on this itself, it needs to give local planning authorities the tools, starting with some clear guidelines about the target for solar farms (just as it already does for housing numbers). This needs to happen soon. Councils are naturally cautious and understandably reluctant to make decisions which may result in expensive appeals. Following government strategy is a pretty good defence. The problem, as the High Court last month established, is that there is currently no strategy to follow.

Windmill Court

A reminder that there’s a petition concerning the rather muddled way in which the proposed closure of Sovereign’s Windmill Court has been handled:

“Sovereign Housing Association’s proposal to evict the residents of Windmill Court from their homes, without suitable alternative accommodation being available within the village that would allow them to retain family and/or personal ties, is not reasonable. All current restrictive covenant(s) or other restrictions, the existence of which currently prevent the Association’s plans that may lead to eviction from Windmill Court, should remain in place.” Click here for more and for a link to the petition (you can also sign it on paper at the Baobab). You have until 5 September 2022 to have your say.

I understand that meetings have been taking place between Sovereign, WBC and Stratfield Mortimer PC at various levels to try to agree, and then communicate, a common position on this (which should have happened before all this kicked off). As soon as we have it, we’ll publish it.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• 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

Thurs 25 Aug Crafty Make and Take for Children, Burghfield Common Library.

Sat 27 Aug Mortimer West End & District Annual Show, Mortimer.

Sat 10 Sep Jubilee Afternoon Tea To Support MS, Sindlesham Court.

Sun 11 Sep Hampshire and IOW Air Ambulance Horse Show, Farley Hill.

• Fri 16 Sep Flushed Away Film Night, St Mary’s Church Burghfield.

• Fri 23 to Sat 24 Sep BurghFest 2022, Burghfield Common Recreation Ground.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking here.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer. There are three walk lengths to chose from As mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

 Holy Trinity Church, Theale is open for West Berks Food Bank donations on Sundays and Wednesdays from 10.30am to 6pm. Please see the church’s website for regularly updated lists of what is most needed at the food bank.

• Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 16).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 8)

 Aldermaston & Wasing Ladies Group meets on the second Thursday of each month from 2pm at Aldermaston Parish Hall, please see Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (p 3, February 2022 ) for further information.

Padworth and Aldermaston WI meets at Padworth Village Hall on the third Tuesday of every month at 7.30pm. Further information on the group can be found in Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (No 155 February 2022 Edition p 3).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

News from your local council

• The most recent meeting of Aldermaston Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 August and the minutes will be available here in due course. Items covered included: AWE’s response to the Parish Council’s comments on AWE’s Planning Application for its Hub development; planning matters; clay-pigeon shooting; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; bat surveys; and three potential planning enforcement matters. 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 Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: litter; bonfires; a barrier at the Village Hall; a report from ward member Alan Macro; the new mini-recycling centre; reports from the committees and working groups; licensing matters; planning matters; and a plan to creat a business engagement forum (see separate sections above). 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 Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available,was on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the continuing saga of the Village Hall, which seems to have been going on for years; hedges and trees; planning matters; repairs and maintenance around the parish; picnic benches; the PC’s asset register; the Almshouses; highways; the Jubilee Shield; correspondence; financial matters; dog bins; the May Fair; and a “very unprofessional” communication from Sovereign regarding a property in Admoor Lane. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included:two councillor vacancies; planning matters; speed limits; road closures; parking at Mallard Way; mobile phone coverage; repairs and maintenance work; financial matters; and the Community Room and School Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a report on the Village Show; the co-option of a new councillor; another councillor vacancy; a grant to Swings and Smiles; financial matters; the Village Hall; planning matters; and a possible future development at the Padworth Sawmills site. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Windmill Court (see separate section above); reports from committees and working parties; the NDP; jubilee VAT issues; formal matters; financial matters; correspondence; and village repairs and maintenance. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 July 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 Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can read the minutes here. I To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 congratulate the pop-up Santas, look forward to the Mortimer show, reflect on another PR muddle and provide news of Theale’s planned business engagement forum. We also take a close look at plans for a large solar farm in Beenham and reflect on what this tells us about local engagement, land allocation and the role of the AONB  – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information

This week’s news

• You may be aware that the Burghfield Santas have been running ‘Bulging Sack’ pop-up pub events on Fridays throughout the summer. The Santas have their own craft beer called Reinbeer of the Mohicans which they’ve been serving at the events, as well as other local real ale, craft beers and lagers. These events have so far managed to raise over £6,000, most of which will go to the Thames Air Ambulance. The next event will be this Friday 12 August on Burghfield Recreation Ground and then continue from 5.30pm til sunset on every Friday in August, so the current fundraising total should have been comfortable exceed come September. More on this story here on newburytoday.

• Well done to Tigers Day Nurseries group, who have raised an impressive £645 for local children’s charity Swings & Smiles. The group, which has nurseries in Theale, Thatcham 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.

• Congratulations again to self taught DJ and producer James Carter – Mortimer born and bred – has amassed more than 150 million streams and over 4m Spotify followers. He continues to release original material and unique remixes, including for the likes of Rihanna, James Arthur, Ava Max and David Guetta. His 2018 single Hands In The Fire went viral on TikTok, with more than 150 million views on the short-video platform. His latest collaboration Bad Memories with Italian Grammy-nominated Meduza and featuring US singer Elly Duhé and Berlin duo Fastboy is described as “a mesmerising, addictive and atmospheric creation.” It featured highly in Spotify’s New Music Friday in 45 countries at launch on July 22 and was given BBC Radio 1’s prestigious Hottest Record accolade that weekend.

• Attention all stargazers: the peak of the Perseids meteor shower over the UK will be this Friday night, into the small hours of Saturday morning. With the warm weather we’ve been having, there’s a good chance of great viewing conditions, unobstructed by clouds or rain. However it will be competing with the light of a full moon, which may affect visibility. According to Steve from Newbury Astronomical Society, the meteors will appear to radiate from a point in the sky in the north. They will radiate across the whole sky from this point. So look anywhere except towards the full moon.

• Burghfield Library is holding regular free craft sessions, every Thursday throughout the summer holidays, for children aged 3 to 10 years old. The next session is on Thursday 18 August, just drop in between 10.30am and noon. For more information please contact the library at burghfieldlibrary@westberks.gov.uk, or visit their Facebook page. For more holiday activities, please see our Guide to Summer Fun.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Theale District Councillor Alan Macro.

• The Mortimer West End and District Annual Show will be taking place on Saturday 27 August. Come along to enjoy a variety of stalls from local businesses, as well as there will be lots of different craft activities for children to try. There are also various competitions with you can enter to show off your talents and for a chance of winning first place. There will be categories for fruit, vegetables and flower, as well as artistic crafts such as flower arranging, photography, art work or handicrafts. To find out how to enter and keep up-to-date with the details, follow their Facebook page for more info.

• Have you heard about the Mortimer and Burghfield toy library? It’s a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 24 September. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Did you know Theale Parish Council are often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events, as well as activities to keep our local environment nice? Whether it’s manning stalls and summer or Christmas fete’s, planting trees or picking up litter, the council rely on member of the community to help make these things possible. If you would like to find out more about local volunteer opportunities, check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Theale Parish Council has released a list of projects currently being funded by the Greenham Trust. Click here to see the work being done.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

Poor at Admoor

I’ve mentioned a few times that Sovereign Housing hasn’t covered itself in glory in its handling of the fiasco of Windmill Court. Matters do not seem to have improved if this item from the 2 August meeting of Bradfield Parish Council is anything to go by. I know no more of the issue than is reported in the minutes, but the story seems to have a depressingly familiar ring to it. I reproduce item 78.2 from the Council’s official record here verbatim.

“A property in Admoor Lane has recently been advertised by Sovereign Housing. There was a very short window for applications, but it is understood that there were 69 applicants for the property. Sovereign Housing is understood to have offered the property to an applicant but withdrew the offer pending nomination of an applicant from BPC in line with the S106 agreement on the Admoor Lane properties. To make a nomination, BPC needs to have a list of applicants. Two separate applicants have contacted BPC directly, who both fulfil at least some of the criteria in the S106 agreement. 

“The whole situation is very unprofessional and stressful for the parties concerned.”

Theale’s engagement

The meeting of Theale Parish Council on 8 August included the following motion:

“To create a business engagement forum to enable communication and build relationships between the parish council and local businesses. This is an essential measure in securing and sustaining a business voice to help inform local policies and place-based decisions and to guide action to enable businesses and the local economy to thrive, following the impact of the pandemic and the decline of UK high streets, especially in more rural areas. To form a business engagement working group to manage this forum and report any matters back for the council’s attention and consideration.”

The motion was submitted by Councillor Fenwick and was passed with one objection and one abstention.

Beenham’s panels

A preliminary application has been lodged by Grundon Waste Management (which you can see here) for “a temporary [25 years] 10MW ground- mounted solar photovoltaic system and battery storage at land northeast of Beenham Industrial Area.”  (The application has the suffix /SCREEN which means that the applicant is requesting of WBC whether an environmental impact assessment (EIA) is required for the project: I suspect it will be.) The site is about 30 hectares, about the size of 45 football pitches. The supporting statement claims that the panels will be “able to power c.2,400 residential homes with clean, decentralised, renewable energy. Battery storage will enable excess energy generated from the array to be stored during periods of ample generation which can later be released during peak demand.” That would be enough to keep the lights on across the whole of Benham and eleven other villages of the same size.

One objection to the plan may, however, be that as the facility will be privately run there it’s unlikely there will be any community benefit. This is in contrast to the proposed development in Enborne where Calleva Community Energy will plough some of the proceeds back into the trust which owns the land for local distribution as the trust sees fit. CIL developer contributions may be payable, in which case the parish will get 15%, but that’s it. If this were for housing or commercial there would be some local benefit in terms of homes or jobs. No such benefit applies here. Producing renewable energy is self-evidently a good thing for the world as a whole but it’s easier to put up with a large solar farm in your community if there’s some local upside.

The supporting statement also looks at the planning history of the site. This dates back nearly 80 years to when gravel extraction was first permitted in the late 1940s. Since then other uses, including landfill and green-waste composting and the extraction of landfill gas. However, the statement (or this par of it) is silent on what I understand to be the case, that when these functions cease (as I believe they have or are about to) then the land returns to agricultural use. Whether this is good and productive agricultural land I’m not qualified to judge (though I imagine the authors of an EIA would be). One immediate problem is that it must be re-established as the same grade of land as it was when the change of use happened. I doubt any land-grading system (see below) existed in 1948 or that, if it did, there would be a record of it now. However, agricultural land of one kind or another is what it must revert to. By granting permission, a precedent would be set for every farmer who felt that sunshine was a more profitable crop than barley. We need power but we need food too.

There’s also the status of the North Wessex Downs AONB. in which the site is situated. Recent decisions, such as at Lancaster Park in Hungerford, have shown that this doesn’t afford automatic protection. However, were permission to be granted here, many might ask whether there was any point in having an AONB at all.

All of these opens up a number of other questions. Farming land is graded by DeFRA from one to five, with one being the best. The better the land, the more reluctant most planning authorities will be to give permission for a change away from agricultural use. However, a site that’s ideal for solar generation (for example, with an optimum aspect and an easy connection to the grid) might be better used this way for the national good even if was on good-quality land. As mentioned above, it might prove to be hard to determine what grade the land should be. The applicants would want this to be as low as possible as this would increase the chances of permission.

Regarding the AONBs – which were established between 1956 and 1995, so well before the climate emergency – are solar panels on this scale, or any scale, automatically seen as undesirable? Is the new requirement for renewable and local power generation now more important than the preservation of the landscape in every case?

Regarding the community benefits, would solar-farm applicants reduce local opposition (which can be very divisive and time-consuming) by ensuring some regular local benefit (in addition to a one-off CIL payment), even if the applicants were not compelled to do this? Would the PR benefits outright the extra costs and delays? Should this be a legal requirement of such an application, or would the element of compulsion make the issue even more divisive?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions but this application seems to raise all of them and I suggest that all are pertinent to this and other similar applications. If you have any comments, please let me know on brian@pennypost.org.uk. Suspect this won’t be the last time I’ll be writing about it.

We contacted Grundon Waste Management on 11 August for its comments on the application but no response had been received by the time this column was published. We’ll let you know what the company has to stay when we’ve had a chance to talk to them.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• 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 Mortimer West End & District Annual Show, Mortimer.

Sat 10 Sep Jubilee Afternoon Tea To Support MS, Sindlesham Court.

Sun 11 Sep Hampshire and IOW Air Ambulance Horse Show, Farley Hill.

• Fri 16 Sep Flushed Away Film Night, St Mary’s Church Burghfield.

• Fri 23 to Sat 24 Sep BurghFest 2022, Burghfield Common Recreation Ground.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking here.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer. There are three walk lengths to chose from As mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

 Holy Trinity Church, Theale is open for West Berks Food Bank donations on Sundays and Wednesdays from 10.30am to 6pm. Please see the church’s website for regularly updated lists of what is most needed at the food bank.

• Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 16).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 8)

 Aldermaston & Wasing Ladies Group meets on the second Thursday of each month from 2pm at Aldermaston Parish Hall, please see Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (p 3, February 2022 ) for further information.

Padworth and Aldermaston WI meets at Padworth Village Hall on the third Tuesday of every month at 7.30pm. Further information on the group can be found in Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (No 155 February 2022 Edition p 3).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

News from your local council

• The most recent meeting of Aldermaston Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 August and the minutes will be available here in due course. Items covered included: AWE’s response to the Parish Council’s comments on AWE’s Planning Application for its Hub development; planning matters; clay-pigeon shooting; a report from ward member Dominic Boeck; bat surveys; and three potential planning enforcement matters. 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 Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: litter; bonfires; a barrier at the Village Hall; a report from ward member Alan Macro; the new mini-recycling centre; reports from the committees and working groups; licensing matters; planning matters; and a plan to creat a business engagement forum (see separate sections above). 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 Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available,was on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the continuing saga of the Village Hall, which seems to have been going on for years; hedges and trees; planning matters; repairs and maintenance around the parish; picnic benches; the PC’s asset register; the Almshouses; highways; the Jubilee Shield; correspondence; financial matters; dog bins; the May Fair; and a “very unprofessional” communication from Sovereign regarding a property in Admoor Lane. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included:two councillor vacancies; planning matters; speed limits; road closures; parking at Mallard Way; mobile phone coverage; repairs and maintenance work; financial matters; and the Community Room and School Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a report on the Village Show; the co-option of a new councillor; another councillor vacancy; a grant to Swings and Smiles; financial matters; the Village Hall; planning matters; and a possible future development at the Padworth Sawmills site. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Windmill Court (see separate section above); reports from committees and working parties; the NDP; jubilee VAT issues; formal matters; financial matters; correspondence; and village repairs and maintenance. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can read the minutes here. I 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 Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 June and you can read the minutes here. You can also click here to see a report on the annual parish meeting on 12 May.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 listen to a mix from a local music producer, provide a heads-up on a local show and highlight some local newsletters. We also look at the latest on the recurring issues of Burghfield’s café application and the next steps at Windmill Court in Mortimer – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information

This week’s news

Click here for the latest newsletter from Burghfield and Mortimer District Councillor Graham Bridgman.

Click here for the latest newsletter from Theale District Councillor Alan Macro.

• The Mortimer West End and District Annual Show will be taking place on Saturday 27 August. Come along to enjoy a variety of stalls from local businesses, as well as there will be lots of different craft activities for children to try. There are also various competitions with you can enter to show off your talents and for a chance of winning first place. There will be categories for fruit, vegetables and flower, as well as artistic crafts such as flower arranging, photography, art work or handicrafts. To find out how to enter and keep up-to-date with the details, follow their Facebook page for more info.

• Burghfield Library is holding regular free craft sessions, every Thursday throughout the summer holidays, for children aged 3 to 10 years old. The next session is on Thursday 11 August, just drop in between 10.30am and noon. For more information please contact the library at burghfieldlibrary@westberks.gov.uk, or visit their Facebook page. For more holiday activities, please see our Guide to Summer Fun.

• Burghfield Football Club are looking for three Welfare Officer Assistants to work alongside their Child Welfare Officer.  For a more details and how to apply please see here. Alongside these roles they are always keen to hear from anybody who is interested in helping make a difference to the local community, and would like to help them continue to grow as a club.

• Congratulations to self taught DJ and producer James Carter – Mortimer born and bred – has amassed more than 150 million streams and over 4m Spotify followers. He continues to release original material and unique remixes, including for the likes of Rihanna, James Arthur, Ava Max and David Guetta. His 2018 single Hands In The Fire went viral on TikTok, with more than 150 million views on the short-video platform. His latest collaboration Bad Memories with Italian Grammy-nominated Meduza and featuring US singer Elly Duhé and Berlin duo Fastboy is described as “a mesmerising, addictive and atmospheric creation.” It featured highly in Spotify’s New Music Friday in 45 countries at launch on July 22 and was given BBC Radio 1’s prestigious Hottest Record accolade that weekend.  It marks Meduza’s first single release since the viral Tell It To My Heart featuring Hozier, a track currently sitting at 112 million Spotify streams.

• Have you heard about the Mortimer and Burghfield toy library? It’s a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am to 11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 27 August. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Did you know Theale Parish Council are often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events, as well as activities to keep our local environment nice? Whether it’s manning stalls and summer or Christmas fete’s, planting trees or picking up litter, the council rely on member of the community to help make these things possible. If you would like to find out more about local volunteer opportunities, check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Theale Parish Council has released a list of projects currently being funded by the Greenham Trust. Click here to see the work being done.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

The atomic café

As mentioned in this column on 14 July (click here and scroll down a bit) the matter of Burghfield’s café was discussed, and approved, by the Eastern Area Planning Committee the previous day. This wasn’t, however, the absolutely final word on the matter. As Burghfield is in the DEPZ (the emergency area that surrounds the AWE sites there and at Aldermaston), the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has a say in this as well. The DEPZ was extended a few years ago as a result of which it then included the site of the café and most of the rest of Burghfield. Whether this extension was due to an excess of caution or in response to a genuine fear that one of the AWE sites was about to go wrong I have no idea. It certainly put paid to the proposed massive housing project at Grazeley, which also came under the new DEPZ. The fall-out from this is being felt as far away as Thatcham where the plan for 2,500 homes as a partial replacement for this scheme was announced in 2020. But I digress.

For Burghfield, the DEPZ has created another level of planning uncertainty, as if there weren’t enough already. Not only does every application need to be looked at through the prism of regulations that refer to a possible catastrophic event which most people in West Berkshire cannot imagine and – unless they come from Chernobyl – have never experienced: but also, the Secretary of State can call in any planning consent to be scrutinised by the ONR’s atomic boffins. As my report on the meeting explain, this was the only planning issue on the application which concerned the officers; and it concerned them so much that they recommend refusal. The EAPC took a different – some might say a more common-sense – view and unanimously voted to approve it. The ONR had 21 days to decide what it wanted to do, a deadline which has now been extended slightly to 21 August.

As I mentioned, if the café is refused on these grounds it seems reasonable to ask if people should be allowed to live in Burghfield at all. Perhaps the whole place should be rebuilt brick by brick just outside the DEPZ. Now that would be a planning application worth seeing…

An eviction notice

Particularly in these digital days, many people are apt to blame anything which goes wrong or don’t work out in exactly the way they’d like on a conspiracy of some kind, often at quite a deep level. In extreme cases, finding no evidence of it almost amounts to positive proof – it just shows how good the conspirators have been at covering their tracks and how devilishly dangerous they therefore are. In my view, however, most things that go wrong or have seemed to have gone wrong have done so because of one of two things: incompetence or poor communication.

The second of these would seem to describe the way that the proposed closure of Windmill Court in Mortimer was first handled by Sovereign. There has been quite a lot of discussion involving Sovereign, WBC, the residents and Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council since then, not least because the plan of finding appropriate new homes for all the current tenants has not preceded as quickly as Sovereign might have hoped. One result of the discussions has been the creation of a petition by residents. This says that:

“Sovereign Housing Association’s proposal to evict the residents of Windmill Court from their homes, without suitable alternative accommodation being available within the village that would allow them to retain family and/or personal ties, is not reasonable All current restrictive covenant(s) or other restrictions, the existence of which currently prevent the Association’s plans that may lead to eviction from Windmill Court, should remain in place.” Click here for more and for a link to the petition (you can also sign it on paper at the Baobab). You have until 5 September 2022 to have your say.

Another result of these conversations may be the issuing of a statement in the next week or so which will confirm how the issue will be resolved. In the meantime, please do sign the petition if you support its aims as the more people who do so the more likely it is that action will be taken that helps bring these about.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• 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 Art Mortimer West End & District Annual Show, Mortimer.

Sat 10 Sep Jubilee Afternoon Tea To Support MS, Sindlesham Court.

Sun 11 Sep Hampshire and IOW Air Ambulance Horse Show, Farley Hill.

• Fri 16 Sep Flushed Away Film Night, St Mary’s Church Burghfield.

• Fri 23 to Sat 24 Sep BurghFest 2022, Burghfield Common Recreation Ground.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking here.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer. There are three walk lengths to chose from As mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

 Holy Trinity Church, Theale is open for West Berks Food Bank donations on Sundays and Wednesdays from 10.30am to 6pm. Please see the church’s website for regularly updated lists of what is most needed at the food bank.

• Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 16).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the café at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 8)

 Aldermaston & Wasing Ladies Group meets on the second Thursday of each month from 2pm at Aldermaston Parish Hall, please see Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (p 3, February 2022 ) for further information.

Padworth and Aldermaston WI meets at Padworth Village Hall on the third Tuesday of every month at 7.30pm. Further information on the group can be found in Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (No 155 February 2022 Edition p 3).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

News from your local council

• The most recent meeting of Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a report on the Village Show; the co-option of a new councillor; another councillor vacancy; a grant to Swings and Smiles; financial matters; the Village Hall; planning matters; and a possible future development at the Padworth Sawmills site. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Windmill Court (see separate section above); reports from committees and working parties; the NDP; jubilee VAT issues; formal matters; financial matters; correspondence; and village repairs and maintenance. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Aldermaston Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 July and the minutes will be available here in due course. Items covered included: the Wasing Medicine Festival (18 to 21 August); Padworth Sawmills; HGV movements; no planning applications (unusually); speeding; repair works at The Loosey; and a £300 grant for Citizens Advice in Tadley. 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 Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available,was on 5 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the continuing saga of the Village Hall; hedges and trees; planning matters; a report from ward member Ross Mackinnon; speeding; dog fouling; highways; speeding; the Jubilee Shield; correspondence; financial matters; and potholes. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.

• The most recent meeting of Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 4 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the lack of street traders (see this Week’s news above); a report from ward member Alan Macro; reports from committees and working parties; planning and licensing matters; GreenFest; and a possible fête in 2023. 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 Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 4 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: mobile-phone coverage; a councillor vacancy; planning matters; Beenham Primary’s security assessment; speeding; rights of way; financial matters; and repairs and maintenance issues. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: financial matters; donations to Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Standby Volunteer Group; a councillor vacancy; and planning matters. 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 Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 June and you can read the minutes here. You can also click here to see a report on the annual parish meeting on 12 May.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; Swindon area.

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

Thursday 28 July 2022

This week we consider a toy library, a sewing project and the strange dearth of street traders in Theale. There’s also a protest in Burghfield and a letter to be written in Mortimer – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils’ information

This week’s news

• Burghfield Football Club are looking for three Welfare Officer Assistants to work alongside their Child Welfare Officer.  For a more details and how to apply please see here. Alongside these roles they are always keen to hear from anybody who is interested in helping make a difference to the local community, and would like to help them continue to grow as a club.

• The 4 July meeting of Theale Parish Council revealed a strange fact about the parish. It appears that “unlike the rest of West Berkshire, street trading was prohibited in Theale because of a decision dating back to the 1990s.” My curiosity as been stirred but too late in the day to be satisfied by making further enquiries. One hears of such strange legal survivals, like taxis technically being forbidden from picking up passengers in Bloomsbury Square and it being illegal to be drunk in charge of a cow (that one’s actually quite sensible) but goodness knows how Theale was allowed to fall off the kebab-van map. I’ll try to find out more and report back.

• This is your last chance to have your say on West Berkshire Council’s Bus Improvement Plan, as the survey deadline ends this weekend. 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.

• Have you heard about the Mortimer and Burghfield toy library? It’s a service run by volunteers providing toys to local families. It runs on the fourth Saturday of the month at Mortimer Methodist church 9.30am-11am. Toys can be hired through a yearly membership or individually for a months hire and toys can be renewed on payment of another months hire. The next one will be Saturday 27 August. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

• Burghfield Library is holding regular free craft sessions, every Thursday throughout the summer holidays, for children aged 3 to 10 years old. The next session is on Thursday 4 August, just drop in between 10.30am and noon. For more information please contact the library at burghfieldlibrary@westberks.gov.uk, or visit their Facebook page.

• Are you handy with a sewing machine? Ufton Court Educational Trust are looking for volunteers to help with a Tudor costume sewing project. All sewing materials – except the sewing machine – will be provided, there will be free refreshments and also a guided tour of the Manor House. The volunteer event will take place on Tuesday 8 August, anytime between 9:30am and 3pm. For more information and to register your interest, please call 01189 832099 or email enquiries@uftoncourt.org.uk.

• Did you know Theale Parish Council are often looking for volunteers to help run fun community events, as well as activities to keep our local environment nice? Whether it’s manning stalls and summer or Christmas fete’s, planting trees or picking up litter, the council rely on member of the community to help make these things possible. If you would like to find out more about local volunteer opportunities, check out their website to find out more and register your  interest.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Theale Parish Council has released a list of projects currently being funded by the Greenham Trust. Click here to see the work being done.

• The Mortimer West End and District Annual Show has been announced, taking place on 27 August 2022. The full schedule and details are available here, boasting vegetables, flowers, handicrafts, artwork and more.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

Digging in

There’s a letter in this week’s Newbury Weekly News from the man who staged a protest with a digger at the play area on Burghfield Rec earlier this month. The starts with his saying that he has “been asked to justify” why he did this. No such justification follows, however. Instead there’s a series of accusations about various local matters, some dating back several years, which have been conflated in a way that makes it very hard to see what connects them; and which in any event seem to have nothing to do with the playground.

The immediate reality is that Burghfield PC has said that the incident resulted in a cost over-run of £2,500. As matters stand, that’s therefore the amount that the PC and so the residents are out of pocket (that’s about £1 for every household in the parish). It remains to be seen how BPC plans to deal with this.

A particularly odd aspect of the business is why the contractors left when the protestor arrived. As the Parish Council was employing them, presumably only it could have told them to knock off ; but clearly the Parish Council wouldn’t have given this sort of instruction. Distinctly rum, as Bertie Wooster might have said.

Windmill Court

The matter of the imminent closure of this Sovereign-owned site was discussed at the meeting of Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council on 14 July 2022 and the following is taken from the minutes:

“To receive an update on Windmill court and resolve that the Council write to West Berkshire Council’s portfolio holder for Windmill Court to seek further clarification and information.

“Councillor Morsley confirmed that since his attendance at the June Full Council meeting, Nigel Lynn, CEO of West Berkshire Council (WBC), has not responded with regards to the questions put to him regarding Windmill Court. The Clerk will contact Mr Lynn requesting an update. Councillor Morsley summarised the points to be raised with the WBC portfolio holder:

  • To highlight the need for retaining suitable accommodation for the elderly in Mortimer with regards to the social benefits enabling downsizing from larger Sovereign properties, and the Neighbourhood Development Plan policies.
  • To question the need for even more family homes given the housing mix being provided by the Tower House Farm development.
  • To establish why there has been a lack of maintenance of the Windmill Court site and properties, and a lack of letting of the units.
  • To seek an understanding of WBC’s housing requirements, and confirmation as to what Sovereign are being asked to provide.
  • To seek clarification of the decision-making process with regards to Windmill Court.

“The proposal was agreed with one abstention.”

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• 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

Sun 31 Jul Classic Car Show Fundraiser, Swings & Smiles, Theale.

Sat 27 Art Mortimer West End & District Annual Show, Mortimer.

Sat 10 Sep Jubilee Afternoon Tea To Support MS, Sindlesham Court.

Sun 11 Sep Hampshire and IOW Air Ambulance Horse Show, Farley Hill.

• Fri 16 Sep Flushed Away Film Night, St Mary’s Church Burghfield.

• Fri 23 to Sat 24 Sep BurghFest 2022, Burghfield Common Recreation Ground.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking here.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer. There are three walk lengths to chose from As mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

 Holy Trinity Church, Theale is open for West Berks Food Bank donations on Sundays and Wednesdays from 10.30am to 6pm. Please see the church’s website for regularly updated lists of what is most needed at the food bank.

• Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 16).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the cafe at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 8)

 Aldermaston & Wasing Ladies Group meets on the second Thursday of each month from 2pm at Aldermaston Parish Hall, please see Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (p 3, February 2022 ) for further information.

Padworth and Aldermaston WI meets at Padworth Village Hall on the third Tuesday of every month at 7.30pm. Further information on the group can be found in Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (No 155 February 2022 Edition p 3).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

News from your local council

• The most recent meeting of Padworth Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a report on the Village Show; the co-option of a new councillor; another councillor vacancy; a grant to Swings and Smiles; financial matters; the Village Hall; planning matters; and a possible future development at the Padworth Sawmills site. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Windmill Court (see separate section above); reports from committees and working parties; the NDP; jubilee VAT issues; formal matters; financial matters; correspondence; and village repairs and maintenance. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Aldermaston Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 July and the minutes will be available here in due course. Items covered included: the Wasing Medicine Festival (18 to 21 August); Padworth Sawmills; HGV movements; no planning applications (unusually); speeding; repair works at The Loosey; and a £300 grant for Citizens Advice in Tadley. 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 Bradfield Parish Council for which minutes are available,was on 5 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the continuing saga of the Village Hall; hedges and trees; planning matters; a report from ward member Ross Mackinnon; speeding; dog fouling; highways; speeding; the Jubilee Shield; correspondence; financial matters; and potholes. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.

• The most recent meeting of Theale Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 4 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the lack of street traders (see this Week’s news above); a report from ward member Alan Macro; reports from committees and working parties; planning and licensing matters; GreenFest; and a possible fête in 2023. 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 Beenham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 4 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: mobile-phone coverage; a councillor vacancy; planning matters; Beenham Primary’s security assessment; speeding; rights of way; financial matters; and repairs and maintenance issues. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Englefield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: financial matters; donations to Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Standby Volunteer Group; a councillor vacancy; and planning matters. 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 Burghfield Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 June and you can read the minutes here. You can also click here to see a report on the annual parish meeting on 12 May.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Burghfield area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; Swindon area.

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

Thursday 21 July 2022

This week we look at Mortimer’s equivalent of painting the Forth Bridge, the latest on the issues at Windmill Court, cost increases at Burghfield’s playground and Theale’s request for volunteers – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and local councils information

This week’s news

• Burghfield Library is holding regular free Craft Sessions, every Thursday throughout the summer holidays, for children aged 3 to 10 years old. The next session is on Thursday 28 July, just drop in between 10.30am and noon. For more information please contact the library at burghfieldlibrary@westberks.gov.uk, or visit their Facebook page.

• Are you handy with a sewing machine? Ufton Court Educational Trust are looking for volunteers to help with a Tudor costume sewing project. All sewing materials – except the sewing machine – will be provided, there will be free refreshments and also a guided tour of the Manor House. The volunteer event will take place on Tuesday 8 August, anytime between 9:30am and 3pm. For more information and to register your interest, please call 01189 832099 or email enquiries@uftoncourt.org.uk.

• The last free Craft and Care class at Theale Library before the summer break is next Tuesday 26 July as part of the Corn Exchange’s Link to Thrive programme for mental health. See details here for how to self-refer or be referred to the classes by your GP or Social Prescriber.

• The last free Creating Journalling class at Mortimer Library before the summer break is next Thursday 28 July as part of the same programme. See details here for how to self-refer or be referred to the classes by your GP or Social Prescriber.

• The Holy Trinity Church of Theale is offering a two-morning summer club for children in Years 1 to 6 at Theale Primary School on 27 and 28 of July. To book a slot, you can visit here and also here to find out more information. For more ideas for what to do this summer see our Summer Holiday Guide here.

Theale Primary PTA were sad to have to cancel their end of year disco due to the heatwave. See their facebook page here for more ways to support their fundraising.

Have your say on West Berkshire’s bus service (by 31 July) and possible rise in black cab farese you say (by 28 July).

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Theale Parish Council has released a list of projects currently being funded by the Greenham Trust. Click here to see the work being done.

• The Mortimer West End and District Annual Show has been announced, taking place on 27 August 2022. The full schedule and details are available here, boasting vegetables, flowers, handicrafts, artwork and more.

Click here for information about the range of activities organised by the Burghfield Community Sports Association.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from the Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

Refreshing the plan

Mortimer was the first parish in West Berkshire to create a neighbourhood development plan: this was adopted in 2017, covers the period to 2026. In a nutshell, NDPs give local communities the opportunity to work with the planning authority – WBC in this case – to write the part of the local plan which affects them. It cannot prevent development but it can influence where and of what kind it is and also specify a number of matters which need to be borne in mind when considering any planning application in the parish.  The main focus of Mortumer’s NDP was managing the 110 new houses, many of  which are now being or have been built.

Like the proverbial painting of the Forth Bridge – or, in an image more relevant to me, the production of a weekly newsletter – you no sooner finish the job than you have to start thinking about updating it. Five years is long enough for several of the priorities to have changed. The climate emergency, for example, had not been declared when the original plan was adopted. A parish council-led group is therefore shaping a an update to the NDP, aimed at reflecting emerging national and local planning policies (including the refresh of WBC’s own local plan) and adding new policies that the community wants.

Please click here to visit the page on Mortimer Life’s website with more information and a link to the consultation that’s currently open (and will be until 30 July) so you can have your say about what you think needs to be changed.

Windmill Court

Last week (see below for the link to the archive post for this column) I asked a few questions about how well the current triptych of planning authority, housing associations and private developers was doing in terms of providing the housing that the area needs (the verdict was “could do better”). I stress again that I was not seeking do a hatchet job on any of these but pointed out how all were prisoners wither of past decisions or of present arrangements and circumstances which meant that their interests were not always aligned. There are solutions to this: whether thy can be grasped is another matter.

The proposed closure of Windmill Court in Mortimer by Sovereign Housing seemed to provide a good example of some of these issues. I mentioned that Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council had a number of questions about the relationship between WBC and Sovereign and also about exactly where matters stand with regard to Windmill Court which it discussed at its meeting on 14 July. On 21 July, a spokesperson for SMPC told Penny Post that “it was agreed to write to WBC about Windmill Court,” and that this email is currently being finalised. If SMPC feels able to share the details of this with me I’ll let you know. In addition, it was agreed “to assist the residents with a petition with the aim of getting enough signatures for it to be reported to a Full Council meeting for debate by the elected Members of West Berkshire Council.” This requires 1,500 signatures or, I understand, 500 if the matter relates to more than two WBC wards. As soon as the petition is finalised I’ll publish the link.

Burghfield’s costs

We’ve done several articles in the last few months on this subject (see below for the link to the archive post for this column) normally referring either to the proposed (and recently approved, subject to a possible appeal) café or to the Village Hall. This latest one comes from Burghfield PC itself, commenting on the delays to and extra costs of the repairs to the playground. You can see the full exchange, dating back to 14 July, on BPC’s FB page. The 14 July entry says that “Following a disturbance [a protest involving a digger] to the works at the Common Recreation play area on Monday for the preparation of new safety surfacing, please be advised that completion has been delayed by a week.”

On 19 July, BPC added that “The play area safer surfacing is planned to be finished tomorrow, just in time for the school holidays! We are very thankful to the contractors, who took some serious convincing to swap their work around to finish up, especially after the delays last week. The disruption, caused by a local resident with concerns over root damage to nearby trees, has sadly meant additional costs to the council as both the contractors and machinery were needed for an extra day to recover the time. The costs are estimated at £2,500, not a small number. We hope you all enjoy the play area again – once the heat has eased off, of course! As always, if you do have any questions or concerns about on-going projects in the Parish, please feel free to reach out to the parish council.” Click here to visit the BPC website.

I’ve written to BPC to ask if the extra cost was solely due to the delay or whether it involved any extra or different work not envisaged at the outset (perhaps inspired by the protestor) and will let you know when I hear back.

Theale’s volunteers

In common with other parish councils, Theale PC relies on the generosity of local residents to help run events such as the Christmas Market, summer fetes or activities such as community litter picks and tree planting and watering. TPC has recently set up a form for people to join its volunteering mailing list. This will enable it to keep a list of potential volunteers for parish council events and activities whom it can contact.

If you would like to add your details to its volunteering database, please register your interest by completing the form. TPC will contact you before events to see if you would like to get involved. The parish council is grateful for whatever time you can offer, be it 30 minutes a week or occasional assistance at an annual event. TPC reassures people that by completing the form you are not obliged to volunteer and that all details will be retained in line with the parish council’s privacy policy, available here. I believe that you can register even if you are not a parish resident.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• 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 22 Jul Pop-Up Pup Beer Festival, Burghfield Common.

• Sat 23 Jul Pop and Rock Cover Gig, The Six Bells, Burghfield.

• Sat 28 Jul Live Music from The Blagabond, The Hatch Gate Pub, Burghfield.

Sun 31 Jul Classic Car Show Fundraiser, Swings & Smiles, Theale.

Sat 10 Sep Jubilee Afternoon Tea To Support MS, Sindlesham Court.

Sun 11 Sep Hampshire and IOW Air Ambulance Horse Show, Farley Hill.

• Fri 16 Sep Flushed Away Film Night, St Mary’s Church Burghfield.

• Fri 23 to Sat 24 Sep BurghFest 2022, Burghfield Common Recreation Ground.

• Regular events

Burghfield WI meets at 7.30pm on the second Tuesday of the month at Burghfield Village Hall. See their facebook page for details.

Burghfield Community Sports Association

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking here.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer. There are three walk lengths to chose from As mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

 Holy Trinity Church, Theale is open for West Berks Food Bank donations on Sundays and Wednesdays from 10.30am to 6pm. Please see the church’s website for regularly updated lists of what is most needed at the food bank.

• Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 16).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the cafe at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 8)

 Aldermaston & Wasing Ladies Group meets on the second Thursday of each month from 2pm at Aldermaston Parish Hall, please see Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (p 3, February 2022 ) for further information.

Padworth and Aldermaston WI meets at Padworth Village Hall on the third Tuesday of every month at 7.30pm. Further information on the group can be found in Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (No 155 February 2022 Edition p 3).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Aldermaston Parish Council took place on 12 July and the minutes will be available here in due course. Items covered included: the Wasing Medicine Festival (18 to 21 August); Padworth Sawmills; HGV movements; no planning applications (unusually); speeding; repair works at The Loosey; and a £300 grant for Citizens Advice in Tadley. 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 Englefield Parish Council took place on 21 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: financial matters; donations to Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Standby Volunteer Group; a councillor vacancy; and planning matters. 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 Burghfield Parish Council took place on 9 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the co-option of two new councillors; the May Fair; a possible youth group in the village; committee reports; financial matters; and first-aid training. You can also click here to see a report on the annual parish meeting on 12 May.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council took place on 9 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: an address by WBC’s CEO Nigel Lynn; the co-option of two new councillors; reports from committees and working parties; the neighbourhood development plan; the jubilee; financial matters; tree works; Windmill Common; planning matters; and repair and maintenance work around the parish. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bradfield Parish Council took place on 7 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the jubilee; the Village Hall (the minutes report a number of questions and concerns regarding the revised business plan as a result of which BPC maintained its “position of no support for the current project. Everyone wants a new hall, but it has to be supported by the community and sustainable for the future.”); planning matters; a report from ward member Ross Mackinnon; picnic benches; Ukrainian refugees; highway issues; tree preservation orders; 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 for 2021 and here for 2022.

• The most recent meeting of Theale Parish Council took place on 6 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation from green ham trust; a report from ward member Alan Macro; the public toilets (see also above); village infrastructure (see alas above); planning matters; 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.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council took place on 6 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a review of the jubilee; a typo corrected; two councillor vacancies; planning matters; the agreement that BPC “should closely monitor the proposed development to the north east of Thatcham”; rights of way; the Recreation Ground; speeding; various repairs and maintenance issues; a grant to Citizens Advice West Berkshire; financial matters; and vandalism at the school. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Padworth Parish Council took place on 14 March and you can read the minutes here. The annual parish assembly took place on 16 May and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Theale area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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 explain this section’s name change. We then take consider this week’s decision on Burghfield’s café and explain why there’ll be a three-week pause before the decision can be confirmed. We also take a look at Sovereign’s plans to re-develop Windmill Court in Mortimer and question whether the current arrangements are providing the housing the local people need – plus our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and local councils information

This week’s news

Congratulations to Theale Primary PTA for their successful fete last Saturday. See their facebook page here for more ways to support their fundraising.

Burghfield’s film and food night for 8 to 13 year olds in St Mary’s Church is being rescheduled from Friday 15 July to Friday 16 September. They are showing Flushed Away (which we highly recommend!). Parents can stay or drop off. The evening is free but please pre-register here.

• And due to the heat, the proposed Guide Dogs Fun Day has been postponed until September due to the potential danger to animals. See more here on the Burghfield Community Facebook page.

• An important note here as Burghfield Mobility Stores is closed this weekend until Monday 18 July. In the meantime, it is important to call either the British Red Cross on 0118 935 8236 or WBC Adult Social Care on 01635 503050.

• The Hampshire and IOW Air Ambulance Horse Show has been postponed from September 4 to September 11. Definitely worth noting in your calendars if you’re interested.

• The Holy Trinity Church of Theale is offering a two-morning summer club for children in Years 1 to 6 at Theale Primary School on 27 and 28 of July. To book a slot, you can visit here and also here to find out more information. For more ideas for what to do this summer see our Summer Holiday Guide here.

West Berkshire Council‘s latest Residents Bulletin from Thursday 14 July includes big investment in Calcot school facility, how to beat the heat and how to have your say on West Berkshire’s bus service (by 31 July).

• Please also have you say about a possible rise in black cab fares (by 28 July).

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in the Patient Participation Group which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Theale Parish Council has released a list of projects currently being funded by the Greenham Trust. Click here to see the work being done.

• The Mortimer West End and District Annual Show has been announced, taking place on 27 August 2022. The full schedule and details are available here, boasting vegetables, flowers, handicrafts, artwork and more.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from theBenefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

Changing the name

Attentive readers may have noticed that we’ve changed the name of this column from “Theale & area” to “Burghfield & area”. Let me re-assure Thealites (if that’s a word) that no slight is intended. It seemed like the obvious name when we divided the news sections up a few years ago because of its motorway junction and railway station.

However, in recent months, we’ve found ourselves covering Burghfield far more closely. The fact also can’t be ignored that the parish of Burghfield has about twice as many people as does that of Theale. We shall, however, continue to do our best to provide information about the whole of this area. If there’s anything you’d like to see included in this section, please email brian@pennypost.org.uk (by Wednesday evening for inclusion in the following day’s column). We’re a broad church so anything from divisive planning applications to fundraising appeals and from parish-council initiatives or consultations to cats stuck up trees in interesting ways are all good.

Not quite the last word

I said last week (see below) that the Eastern Area Planning Committee (EAPC) would have the last word on deciding the application for the café, barring appeals. I went on to say that I thought an appeal was unlikely. I was wrong.

The EAPC did meet to discuss and you can see the livestream here (it was the first item). In a debate that lasted for over two hours (which could easily have been longer but for the excellent chairing of Graham Pask) it was eventually decided to approve the application for the temporary café in Burghfield. There was a very big “if”, however, as a planning officer said that the Secretary of State had already decided to call it in if it were approved. For a café in a village in West Berkshire? Really?

The issue, as I mentioned last week, is that the café is in the emergency planning zone (DEPZ) for AWE Burghfield and this led to objections from the emergency planning team (which needs to take into account the views of 27 separate agencies) and which resulted in WBC’s officers recommending refusal. Indeed, this was the only reason the officers offered. There were many number of common-sense objections to this opinion, most of which were eloquently expressed by the resident who spoke in favour of the application (from 34′). These weighed more heavily with the committee members than either the less specific views of the objectors or the more process-driven ones of the officers.

The project’s architect also assured the EAPC that the construction of the building (described as little more than “pre-fabricated” in the application) was in fact of a standard similar to that of new-build houses and thus as well able to withstand the effects of a nuclear incident. As some of the emergency planning team’s objections assumed the building would be more flimsy than was planned, I can’t help wondering if these objections would have been different were the officers to have asked for, or the applicant to have provided, more information about the construction method.

All the members who spoke during the debate were of one mind, best summed up by Councillor Ross MacKinnon’s observation that “what we have here is an undoubtedly well-meaning regulation being applied in such a blanket way that it might seem to be failing the communities affected by it.” Whether the Office for Nuclear Regulation and all the others would be happy with the damning-with-faint-praise description of its rules as “well-meaning” is a separate issue: but Councillor MacKinnon’s point was a good one and caught the mood of the meeting. Neither the objectors nor the officers spoke with any particular fluency and the anti case was not helped by the fact that their respective reasons for opposing the scheme were predicated on completely different issues. Those supporting it, however, did so on the related matters of common sense and community benefit.

A number of questions were asked about details, some of them quite technical planning and legal ones, as well as others regarding matters such as the aesthetics of the design (Councillor Alan Law was particularly keen that some form of cladding be used to soften the lines of the building). It was confirmed that licensing issues and, if required, any foundations would need to be the subject of separate applications. A number of possible conditions were discussed, covering matters such as construction times, delivery and operational hours, the return of the site to its previous condition if the café failed, CCTV and permitted uses.

At the vote, it was unanimously agreed that the the plans should be approved, so going against officers’ recommendations. The whole business took a bit of time but seemed to me to be a good example of a planning committee doing what it was meant to do (ie asking questions, listening to the answers and making a decision).

There will now be a pause of 21 days during which the Office for Nuclear Regulation will decide if it wishes to object. As I understand matters, if this doesn’t happen a decision notice can be issued. The ONR may view this attempt to over-ride its recommendations as an affront to its dignity; or it may feel that its amour-propre has been satisfied by having its right to object recognised and that the matter can be allowed to be regarded as as an exception. (It’s worth pointing out that the DEPZ, which extended a couple of years ago, is not something that WBC decided even though it has to play its part in enforcing regulations relating to it.) Hopefully common sense will again prevail, as it did on 13 July. If the matter is refused on these grounds then it does rather make one wonder whether it’s safe for anyone to be living in Burghfield at all…

Windmill uncertainty

In May, Sovereign Housing announced that it was going to close this 35-place sheltered housing development, find alternative homes for the tenants and re-develop the site. This led to some alarm and confusion among residents who contacted Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council, clearly not feeling that the communications they’d had from Sovereign addressed their concerns. SMPC had not been told about this which must have been a bit galling and also left them ill-placed to offer any help. After a few weeks the immediate problems arising from this comms error seem to have been resolved. (See the archive section (link at the foot of the post) and search for “windmill” for more.)

Since then, however, matters seem to have slowed. I understand that Sovereign continues to look for suitable alternative accommodation for its tenants but this is difficult as there doesn’t seem to be any available in the immediate area: which undermines the claim that the current facility isn’t needed. No further certainty can be provided by a planning application as it makes no sense for Sovereign to submit this until it is clear that it can legally develop the site in the way it wishes to. This in turn can’t happen until WBC has examined the various 20-year-old covenants on the land (I understand that there are about half a dozen) and decided whether some or all of these can be set aside. This needs to be decided by the Executive and won’t happen before September. It will therefore the autumn before things become any clearer. It seems odd that the legal issues were not looked into before the decision was announced to close the site.

I suspect the WBC would probably like to see the issue deferred until it, or it and Sovereign, has been able to acquire or build some suitable homes. Sovereign is, perhaps, regretting making an announcement about doing something that required a re-location exercise that is proving impossible. WBC’s officers, grappling with the much-delayed local plan, probably don’t welcome the extra pressure on analysing the documents. There’s the suspicion that, as well as not discussing the matter with Stratfirld Mortimer PC, Sovereign’s announcement rather caught WBC on the hop too. Meanwhile, the tenants are living in a state of deep uncertainty. All in all, not a great look so far.

Although WBC (as the planning authority) is responsible for approvals and (as a council) is responsible for the welfare of its elderly and vulnerable residents, it is Sovereign which in most cases owns the land. This is very similar to the situation WBC finds itself in with regard to the private housing market vis-à-vis the developers. I’m not saying anything against Sovereign or private developers as such but it’s undeniable that their interests and those of WBC may not always be aligned. At the very least, the relations between them are complex and often governed by decades-old legal documents: look at the Windmill Court covenants, for instance, or the even more tangled paper trail regarding who did or did not do what on the flood maintenance work at the Spring Gardens development in Enborne. It’s also unclear to me which of WBC or Sovereign calls the shots when it comes to deciding if a site is going to be closed and re-developed or whether a new one needs to be created elsewhere.

In these and many other cases, if anything goes wrong then WBC has to clean up the problem. Outsourcing all the councils housing stock must have seemed like a good idea 20 years ago but it doesn’t appear to address current needs, any more than the private sector has proved able to provide the requisite number of “affordable” and social-rent homes. WBC may have obligations and ambitions but is always going to be in a weak position (ie relying on others) if it doesn’t have the land. (This is much the same challenge it faces in the London Road impasse in Newbury.)

The time seems to have come for the council to go on the offensive on this – set up a Housing Board or similar and become a homebuilder like its predecessors were. It then needs to buy or swap land all across the district to provide each community with the sheltered, social-rent or whatever housing that the areas need. It also has the power to use compulsory purchase orders. To repeat myself, I’m not knocking Sovereign or private developers but, the last time I checked, I can’t vote for who runs them and I can’t do much to change how they operate. WBC may have its faults but at least it’s directly tasked with providing for its residents and meeting housing targets. It’s also answerable and an administration will be judged every four years by how well it’s done this. The current system doesn’t seem to be either productive or responsive.

I understand that one organisation that will be going on the offensive is Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council at its meeting on 14 July. I believe it has a number of questions about the relationship between WBC and Sovereign and also about exactly where matters stand with regard to Windmill Court. Asking these kind of questions seems to me exactly what a responsible parish council should be doing. More on this when there’s more to say.

Community notices

• Free, weekly Craft and Care classes at Theale Library continue until Tuesday 26 July as part of the Corn Exchange’s Link to Thrive programme for mental health. You can drop in on a weekly basis to learn a variety of craft techniques offering new skills and an opportunity to share progress with others in a supportive and relaxed environment… See details here for how to self-refer or be referred to the classes by your GP or Social Prescriber.

• Free, weekly Creating Journalling classes at Mortimer Library also continue until Thursday 28 July as part of the same programme offering a chance to reflect and explore using mixed media, mindfulness and lots of creative fun techniques to produce a private journal just for you. See details here for how to self-refer or be referred to the classes by your GP or Social Prescriber.

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• 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 22 Jul Heritage Live at Englefield House.

Sun 11 Sep Hampshire and IOW Air Ambulance Horse Show.

• Fri 16 Sep Flushed Away Film Night at St Mary’s Church Burghfield (rescheduled from Fri 15 July).

• Regular events

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking here.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer. There are three walk lengths to chose from As mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

 Holy Trinity Church, Theale is open for West Berks Food Bank donations on Sundays and Wednesdays from 10.30am to 6pm. Please see the church’s website for regularly updated lists of what is most needed at the food bank.

• Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 16).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the cafe at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 8)

 Aldermaston & Wasing Ladies Group meets on the second Thursday of each month from 2pm at Aldermaston Parish Hall, please see Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (p 3, February 2022 ) for further information.

Padworth and Aldermaston WI meets at Padworth Village Hall on the third Tuesday of every month at 7.30pm. Further information on the group can be found in Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (No 155 February 2022 Edition p 3).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Aldermaston Parish Council took place on 12 July and the minutes will be available here in due course. Items covered included: the Wasing Medicine Festival (18 to 21 August); Padworth Sawmills; HGV movements; no planning applications (unusually); speeding; repair works at The Loosey; and a £300 grant for Citizens Advice in Tadley. 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 Englefield Parish Council took place on 21 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: financial matters; donations to Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Standby Volunteer Group; a councillor vacancy; and planning matters. 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 Burghfield Parish Council took place on 9 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the co-option of two new councillors; the May Fair; a possible youth group in the village; committee reports; financial matters; and first-aid training. You can also click here to see a report on the annual parish meeting on 12 May.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council took place on 9 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: an address by WBC’s CEO Nigel Lynn; the co-option of two new councillors; reports from committees and working parties; the neighbourhood development plan; the jubilee; financial matters; tree works; Windmill Common; planning matters; and repair and maintenance work around the parish. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bradfield Parish Council took place on 7 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the jubilee; the Village Hall (the minutes report a number of questions and concerns regarding the revised business plan as a result of which BPC maintained its “position of no support for the current project. Everyone wants a new hall, but it has to be supported by the community and sustainable for the future.”); planning matters; a report from ward member Ross Mackinnon; picnic benches; Ukrainian refugees; highway issues; tree preservation orders; 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 for 2021 and here for 2022.

• The most recent meeting of Theale Parish Council took place on 6 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation from green ham trust; a report from ward member Alan Macro; the public toilets (see also above); village infrastructure (see alas above); planning matters; 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.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council took place on 6 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a review of the jubilee; a typo corrected; two councillor vacancies; planning matters; the agreement that BPC “should closely monitor the proposed development to the north east of Thatcham”; rights of way; the Recreation Ground; speeding; various repairs and maintenance issues; a grant to Citizens Advice West Berkshire; financial matters; and vandalism at the school. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Padworth Parish Council took place on 14 March and you can read the minutes here. The annual parish assembly took place on 16 May and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Theale area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborough 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 look at what should be the last planning hurdle to crossed for Burghfield’s proposed café (despite some rather strange objections to it) and have the latest on the new Castle@Theale school. We also have our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and local councils information

This week’s news

Theale C of E Primary School Summer Fete will be this Saturday 9 July from 11am to 2pm. Covid disrupted children’s education across the county, but it also stopped celebrations like the annual Fete from taking place as well. This Saturday will see the return of this community celebration for the first time since 2019 and offers a variety of attractions to entertain old and young alike. There will be a bouncy castle, a variety of stalls, sporting competitions and excitingly, a Bake Off competition to enjoy with all the family. A day to celebrate  community again, and it looks like the weather is going to be kind as well. There will also be guided tours around the school, should you be looking for a suitable school for your little one. Click here for more details.

• There will be an open sports day on Burghfield Common on Sunday 10 July between noon and 3pm for those that may want to get fitter this summer. With a whole host of different activities, it’s definitely worth having a look. See here for those interested.

• Free, weekly Craft and Care classes at Theale Library continue until Tuesday 26 July as part of the Corn Exchange’s Link to Thrive programme for mental health. You can drop in on a weekly basis to learn a variety of craft techniques offering new skills and an opportunity to share progress with others in a supportive and relaxed environment.. See details here for how to self-refer or be referred to the classes by your GP or Social Prescriber.

• Free, weekly Creating Journalling classes at Mortimer Library also continue until Thursday 28 July as part of the same programme offering a chance to reflect and explore using mixed media, mindfulness and lots of creative fun techniques to produce a private journal just for you. See details here for how to self-refer or be referred to the classes by your GP or Social Prescriber.

Newly opened eco-friendly St Birinus House in Theale is an example of sustainability in action and the proud home of staff from the Diocese of Reading. Featuring a green roof, an air source heat pump, fabric first insulation and water saving appliances, the electric car charging points in the grounds signal that the church is leading by example in the war over climate change. Ecology and biodiversity is at the heart of the project, offering a safe haven for local wildlife from bugs to bats to birds, and thought has even been taken about recycling or repurposing the building in the future.

• The Holy Trinity Church of Theale is offering a two-morning summer club for children in years one to six at Theale Primary School on 27 and 28 of July. To book a slot, you can visit here and also here to find out more information.

• We reported a few weeks ago about the closing of a footpath between Graham Court and Station Road due to a dangerous fence panel; after a review, this footpath has been reported as fixed and the footpath is now reopened.

• 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.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in your Patient Participation Group, which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Theale Parish Council has released a list of projects currently being funded by the Greenham Trust. Click here to see the work being done.

• The Mortimer West End and District Annual Show has been announced, taking place on 27 August 2022. The full schedule and details are available here, boasting vegetables, flowers, handicrafts, artwork and more.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

• For the latest news from theBenefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

Café D-day

As mentioned last week, the application for the temporary café in Burghfield has now all but completed its journey through the protracted obstacle course that is the English planning system. The final hurdle that needs to be crossed will take place on 13 July when it will be considered by the Eastern Area Planning Committee. I have previously looked at both these issues in detail – see the archive section below (link at the foot of the post) and search for “café” or “EAPC”.

The agenda for the meeting can be seen here. The event will be live-streamed and will also be available for viewing afterwards. The café is currently the first item on the agenda so the discussion will start soon after the 6.30 kick off.

The letter sent to interested parties by WBC confirms that “Any comments that have been made will be summarised in the Officer’s Report, will be taken into account in the determination of the application, and therefore do not need to be restated. However, this Council does allow applicants, agents, parish/town council representatives, objectors and supporters to speak on applications being considered by the planning committees; details of the procedure which explains the scheme and provides some advice may be found overleaf. It is not obligatory for you to attend or speak and, if you choose not to do so your previously submitted observations will be available for inspection by the committee, and will be summarised in the report to the Planning Committee. If you do wish to speak at the meeting, please let us know by 4pm on the working day before the meeting by sending an email to planningcommittee@westberks.gov.uk (please do not email individual officers). It is not possible to agree to requests to speak after this time.”

“If,” the letter goes on, “If you wish to speak at the meeting via Zoom (strongly recommended), please advise so when you submit your request to speak, and include an email address and telephone number. Zoom invites will be sent to your email address in advance of the meeting. If you wish to speak at the meeting in person, please advise so when you submit your request to speak, and include an email address and telephone number.”

Barring an appeal, the decision of the EAPC on the matter will be the final word. Of course, assuming the application is passed, one more thing then remains to be done – building the café. Projects like this often take less time to construct than they do secure the permission. This was was validated in early March, so has gone through the system at lightening speed by the standards of the planning system. If successful, the applicants (Burghfield Parish Council) may also want to get cracking as soon as possible as material costs are rising pretty much by the day.

You can click here to see the view of the planning officer, which is to refuse the application. Why is this? On the grounds of character and appearance, highways, amenity, noise, public rights of way, green infrastructure, the rural economy, ecology and flooding and drainage the application is in accordance with WBC’s policies. On grounds of sustainable construction it is accepted that the BREEAM regulations do not apply. All of these, however, are trumped by the fact that it fails to accord with the DEPZ and emergency planning requirements due to the site’s proximity to AWE Burghfield. The officer’s reason for refusal (the only one) is worth quoting in full:

“The site is located within the AWE Burghfield Detailed Emergency Planning Zone (DEPZ). The temporary prefabricated structure would not afford sufficient protection to the public in the case on an emergency event. Additionally, there is also concerned with regard to the building ability to provide sufficient level of welfare for customers and staff for a period of 48 hours. Thus, it has been identified that the proposal would compromise local public health in the event of an emergency evacuation in the locality. Furthermore, the submission fails to provide adequate assurance that the proposed development can be accommodated within off-site emergency planning arrangements. This is contrary to policy CS8 of West Berkshire Core Strategy (2006-2026).”

Given this verdict, it seems amazing that the entire parish of Burghfield has not been permanently evacuated: it’s clearly a very dangerous place. The park, being in the open air, should certainly by this logic be closed. I wonder how many other public buildings, including at the local schools, would afford a suitable level of protection. At least the café would have some food and drink, and a toilet.

This document summarises the 100-odd objections under 17 headings. The DEPZ  issue is one of these but all the others seem either to have been dealt with by the officer’s summary or else are not planning matters at all. None of the comments I’ve seen about this on social media refer to the existential DEPZ threat but instead to vaguer concerns and preoccupations that perhaps have more to do with past disputes than with this application.

The applicant is Burghfield Parish Council: perhaps that may have something to do with it. My enquiries into local issues over the last few months suggest that in some matters it could have communicated better. However, communication works both ways: any resident can also ask BPC, and not rush onto social media until there’s been a reply or a decent interval allowed for one. I know of at least one case where accusations were made without BPC having been contacted at all.

Hungerford, on the west of the district, is a town of about the same size as Burghfield and one I know far better. It has six pubs, about ten cafés and about six restaurants. Several of these are quite new. Yes, the town has problems of littering and anti-social behaviour but nothing that has caused any of these applications to have been refused or subsequently regretted. True, it isn’t in a DEPZ zone: but that doesn’t seem to be the real issue in the minds of some of Burghfield’s objectors. I’m an outsider, so forgive my ignorance – but what social cataclysm is this café expected to unleash on the community? I genuinely don’t get it. Please email brian@pennypost.org.uk if you have any thoughts on this (I’ve received several already, anonymously or otherwise).

In conclusion, the reasons suggested by the planning officer seem to me, if carried to their logical conclusion, to forbid more or less any public building from operating and are therefore perverse. Planning committees exist to review and re-consider the views decisions of officers – which must be based on the policy implications of the application – and also to apply some common sense. It will be interesting to see how things go on 13 July.

Building the Castle

Construction of a new provision for secondary aged children with Social Emotional and Mental Health needs at the site of the old Theale Primary School is “well underway,” according to West Berkshire Council and it will be known as The Castle@Theale.

“The setting will take its first cohort of 12 children in September 2022 and will eventually accommodate 42 children. The multi-million pound project is a significant investment which will provide a boost in facilities for pupils with special educational needs Demolition and site clearance has already taken place on site and work is now underway to establish a new multi-use games area and car park. In addition, planned refurbishment of a modular building has nearly been completed. Further work is planned to refurbish the main school site, old school house and to build a new horticulture and design technology block for pupils.”

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• 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

Sun 10 Jul Open Sports Day at Burghfield Common.

Fri 22 Jul Heritage Live at Englefield House

• Regular events

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking here.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer. There are three walk lengths to chose from As mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

 Holy Trinity Church, Theale is open for West Berks Food Bank donations on Sundays and Wednesdays from 10.30am to 6pm. Please see the church’s website for regularly updated lists of what is most needed at the food bank.

• Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 16).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the cafe at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 8)

 Aldermaston & Wasing Ladies Group meets on the second Thursday of each month from 2pm at Aldermaston Parish Hall, please see Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (p 3, February 2022 ) for further information.

Padworth and Aldermaston WI meets at Padworth Village Hall on the third Tuesday of every month at 7.30pm. Further information on the group can be found in Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (No 155 February 2022 Edition p 3).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Englefield Parish Council took place on 21 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: financial matters; donations to Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Standby Volunteer Group; a councillor vacancy; and planning matters. 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 Aldermaston Parish Council took place on 14 June and the minutes will be available here in due course. Items covered included: a planning application from AWE Aldermaston for its major “hub” development (to which APC did not object but concerning which it requested “several conditions to minimise our concerns, including restrictions on working hours and funding of parish projects”); an objection to the Lidl site on the Tadley border; the problem of large lorries going to and from Padworth Sawmills; speeding; news of a meeting with the preferred supplier for the skateboard ramp; an update on APC’s refurbishment projects; and questions about whether WBC is committing sufficient resources to its Conservation Area appraisal. 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 Burghfield Parish Council took place on 9 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the co-option of two new councillors; the May Fair; a possible youth group in the village; committee reports; financial matters; and first-aid training. You can also click here to see a report on the annual parish meeting on 12 May.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council took place on 9 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: an address by WBC’s CEO Nigel Lynn; the co-option of two new councillors; reports from committees and working parties; the neighbourhood development plan; the jubilee; financial matters; tree works; Windmill Common; planning matters; and repair and maintenance work around the parish. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bradfield Parish Council took place on 7 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the jubilee; the Village Hall (the minutes report a number of questions and concerns regarding the revised business plan as a result of which BPC maintained its “position of no support for the current project. Everyone wants a new hall, but it has to be supported by the community and sustainable for the future.”); planning matters; a report from ward member Ross Mackinnon; picnic benches; Ukrainian refugees; highway issues; tree preservation orders; 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 for 2021 and here for 2022.

• The most recent meeting of Theale Parish Council took place on 6 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation from green ham trust; a report from ward member Alan Macro; the public toilets (see also above); village infrastructure (see alas above); planning matters; 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.

• The most recent meeting of Beenham Parish Council took place on 6 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a review of the jubilee; a typo corrected; two councillor vacancies; planning matters; the agreement that BPC “should closely monitor the proposed development to the north east of Thatcham”; rights of way; the Recreation Ground; speeding; various repairs and maintenance issues; a grant to Citizens Advice West Berkshire; financial matters; and vandalism at the school. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Padworth Parish Council took place on 14 March and you can read the minutes here. The annual parish assembly took place on 16 May and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Theale area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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

This week we highlight an important diary date for Burghfield’s proposed café and look back to an article explaining the work of the Eastern Area Planning Committee (which will decide this). We also have our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• The Holy Trinity Church of Theale is offering a two-morning summer club for children in years one to six at Theale Primary School on 27 and 28 of July. To book a slot, you can visit here and also here to find out more information.

• We reported a few weeks ago about the closing of a footpath between Graham Court and Station Road due to a dangerous fence panel; after a review, this footpath has been reported as fixed and the footpath is now reopened.

• There will be an open sports day on Burghfield Common on Sunday 10 July between noon and 3pm for those that may want to get fitter this summer. With a whole host of different activities, it’s definitely worth having a look. See here for those interested.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in your Patient Participation Group, which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Theale Parish Council has released a list of projects currently being funded by the Greenham Trust. Click here to see the work being done.

• Another 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.

• West Berkshire Council has received funding from the Government to help improve bus services for the next three 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.

• 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 Mortimer West End and District Annual Show has been announced, taking place on 27 August 2022. The full schedule and details are available here, boasting vegetables, flowers, handicrafts, artwork and more.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

Click here for a report on Burghfield’s annual parish meeting on 12 May (many thanks to David Gregory of Burghfield Community FB Group and Cally Morris of Burghfield Parish Council for providing the main part of this.)

• For the latest news from theBenefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

A date for the café

As mentioned in this column several times before, there is an application pending by Burghfield Parish Council for “the rection of a temporary cafe (prefabricated unit) at the Recreation Ground, Recreation Road, Burghfield Common. I have previous looked at the several aspects of this – see the archive section below (link at the foot of the post) and search for “café”.

This mention isn’t to add to any of these observations but simply to confirm somer information recently received: the matter will be decided by the Eastern Area Planning Committee (whose activities I have also described: again, see below, 28 April) on 13 July, as the usual prelude to which there will be a site meeting at 6.30pm on 6 July. The official communication from WBC has this to say on the subject of the site visit:

“The purpose of the visit, which you may wish to attend, is for the Committee to inspect the site. The site visit is not a forum to discuss the merits of the application. Furthermore, members of the public need to be aware that access to the site is at the discretion of the land owner or their representative, who may refuse permission for third parties to enter a site. Members of the public do have the right to speak, for or against an application, at the relevant Planning Committee.

“If you choose to be at the site visit with the intention of pointing out any features you think the Committee Members should observe, you should wait in a public area close to the site access and make yourself known when the group arrives. No special arrangements can be made in advance. Interested parties may request that the Committee view a site from adjoining land or buildings but it is entirely up to the discretion of the Chairman to decide whether it is necessary. Please note that if such a visit is agreed to by the Chairman, before entering the adjoining site/property, the Chairman and Planning Officer will first establish with the owner/occupier of the property/site being entered that there are no issues of Covid-19 present. Particular access to that adjoining site is also at the discretion of that landowner.”

Except in exceptional circumstances, which seem unlikely in this case, and unless there is an appeal, the EAPC’s decision on the night will be the final word on the matter (though there’s nothing to stop a separate application being lodged if this one is refused). More information on the EAPC and this meeting can be found here. The agenda when published should include the link to the live-stream of the event which will also be able to be viewed later. I shall be watching it in this way, at the time or shortly after, and will write about this in this column as soon as possible thereafter.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• Free Craft and Care classes at Theale 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 a variety of craft techniques offering new skills and an opportunity to share progress with others in a supportive and relaxed environment.. See details here for how to self-refer or be referred to the classes by your GP or Social Prescriber.

• Free Creating Journalling classes at Mortimer Library on Thursdays as part of the Corn Exchange’s Link to Thrive programme for mental health. You can drop in on a weekly basis for a chance to reflect and explore using mixed media, mindfulness and lots of creative fun techniques to produce a private journal just for you. See details here for how to self-refer or be referred to the classes by your GP or Social Prescriber.

• 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

Sun 10 Jul Open Sports Day at Burghfield Common.

Fri 22 Jul Heritage Live at Englefield House

• Regular events

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking here.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer. There are three walk lengths to chose from As mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

 Holy Trinity Church, Theale is open for West Berks Food Bank donations on Sundays and Wednesdays from 10.30am to 6pm. Please see the church’s website for regularly updated lists of what is most needed at the food bank.

• Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 16).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the cafe at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 8)

 Aldermaston & Wasing Ladies Group meets on the second Thursday of each month from 2pm at Aldermaston Parish Hall, please see Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (p 3, February 2022 ) for further information.

Padworth and Aldermaston WI meets at Padworth Village Hall on the third Tuesday of every month at 7.30pm. Further information on the group can be found in Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (No 155 February 2022 Edition p 3).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Aldermaston Parish Council took place on 14 June and the minutes will be available here in due course. Items covered included: a planning application from AWE Aldermaston for its major “hub” development (to which APC did not object but concerning which it requested “several conditions to minimise our concerns, including restrictions on working hours and funding of parish projects”); an objection to the Lidl site on the Tadley border; the problem of large lorries going to and from Padworth Sawmills; speeding; news of a meeting with the preferred supplier for the skateboard ramp; an update on APC’s refurbishment projects; and questions about whether WBC is committing sufficient resources to its Conservation Area appraisal. 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 Theale Parish Council took place on 6 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation from green ham trust; a report from ward member Alan Macro; the public toilets (see also above); village infrastructure (see alas above); planning matters; 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.

• The most recent meeting of Burghfield Parish Council took place on 9 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the co-option of two new councillors; the May Fair; a possible youth group in the village; committee reports; financial matters; and first-aid training. You can also click here to see a report on the annual parish meeting on 12 May.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council took place on 9 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: an address by WBC’s CEO Nigel Lynn; the co-option of two new councillors; reports from committees and working parties; the neighbourhood development plan; the jubilee; financial matters; tree works; Windmill Common; planning matters; and repair and maintenance work around the parish. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bradfield Parish Council took place on 7 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the jubilee; the Village Hall (the minutes report a number of questions and concerns regarding the revised business plan as a result of which BPC maintained its “position of no support for the current project. Everyone wants a new hall, but it has to be supported by the community and sustainable for the future.”); planning matters; a report from ward member Ross Mackinnon; picnic benches; Ukrainian refugees; highway issues; tree preservation orders; 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 for 2021 and here for 2022.

• The most recent meeting of Englefield Parish Council took place on 19 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of the Chair; a councillor vacancy; financial matters; and formal matters. 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 Beenham Parish Council took place on 9 May and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Padworth Parish Council took place on 14 March and you can read the minutes here. The annual parish assembly took place on 16 May and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Theale area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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

This week we look at two proposed improvements to Theale’s infrastructure (complete with artist’s impressions, thanks to the local councillor) and take another brief look at the costs of Burghfield’s Hall. We also have our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Quite literally a good update from Theale Green Secondary School as they have just received a ‘Good’ Ofsted Rating after their Requires Improvement rating in 2017. Great work from everyone involved, see here for the full report on the Reading Chronicle.

Action for River Kennet is seeking volunteers to help get rid of threatening non-native species in the river at Balsam Bashing, Burghfield this Friday 24 June. Equipment and refreshments are provided and more information can be found here.

• The Midsummer Music event this Sunday 26 June at the Little Manor in Burghfield village is hosted by the Kennet Branch of Save The Children. More information and ticket details are available here.

Spencers Wood Repair Cafe is running on Sunday 26 June in the village hall for those with broken household items that are a nightmare to fix. Open from 9.30am to 12.30pm you can find more information here.

• 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.

• 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.

• Theale Parish Council has urged residents to take part in your Patient Participation Group, which aims to support and improve the way services are delivered by your GP Practice. See more here on the goals and how to join.

• Theale Parish Council has released a list of projects currently being funded by the Greenham Trust. Click here to see the great work being done.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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 Mortimer West End and District Annual Show has been announced, taking place on 27 August 2022. The full schedule and details are available here, boasting vegetables, flowers, handicrafts, artwork and more.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

Click here for a report on Burghfield’s annual parish meeting on 12 May (many thanks to David Gregory of Burghfield Community FB Group and Cally Morris of Burghfield Parish Council for providing the main part of this.)

• For the latest news from theBenefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

Lifts, plans and play equipment

Theale District Councillor Alan Macro has recently published his latest e-newsletter which you can read here. This covers three areas (the first two of which are illustrated with artists’ impressions):

The lifts at Theale station. Network Rail has let the contract to build the new footbridge and lifts at Theale Station and work is expected to start on site in the autumn and be completed by next summer. There have, he points out, been “many false dawns on this much-needed project, but it really looks like it’s going ahead at last. Let’s hope that the strikes by the rail unions don’t delay things…”

Play equipment at Theale Rec. Theale Parish Council has applied for planning permission to install a multi-use sports area (MUSA) and new playground on Theale Recreation Ground with the facilities including a five-station outdoor gym, a multi-use games are and monkey bars. The play equipment will replace the existing playground on the same site. The MUSA will be sited alongside the path running along the boundary of the old primary school.

Planning applications in Theale. As usual, there are quite a few of these ranging from sizeable developments to minor amendments to existing buildings.

The Village Hall costs, again

A few weeks ago, I referred to the costs of the re-furbishment of Burghfield’s Village Hall, the costs of which had risen from an estimated £200,000 to £261,000. I recently received a communication from a resident drawing attention to this increase and pointing out that this is an increase of over 30%. Costs can increase for a number of reasons but what the reasons were in this case I wasn’t sure. Last week I therefore asked Burghfield Parish Council this exact question. The Clerk is currently away but I’ve been promised a response once she’s back.

Given the amount of coverage in local social-media groups and elsewhere that this has received I was assuming that someone had contacted BPC for its version of where the extra money had gone and had, perhaps, found the response unsatisfactory. It seems, however, that no one has done this. Until I’ve heard from BPC with its comments on why the costs increased it seems pointless to speculate on whether or not these were justified. I suggested a couple of reasons why they might have done, mainly the well-documented increase in material costs over the last couple of years. About a year ago I was talking to someone in Hungerford who was re-building a house who told me that his costs had gone up by about a third for this reason. If so, these seem in line with Burghfield’s increase. However, this is just a guess on my part. Let’s wait until BPC has offered its opinions and decide then.

If anyone wants to know any information about how this or any other parish council spends its money or conducts its business, my suggestion is to ask them. BPC’s contact details can be found here. In addition, most parish councils meet once a month and any member of the public can attend and ask questions in the public forum which generally takes place at the start of the meeting. For more information on this, contact the Clerk.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• Free Craft and Care classes at Theale 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 a variety of craft techniques offering new skills and an opportunity to share progress with others in a supportive and relaxed environment.. See details here for how to self-refer or be referred to the classes by your GP or Social Prescriber.

• Free Creating Journalling classes at Mortimer Library on Thursdays as part of the Corn Exchange’s Link to Thrive programme for mental health. You can drop in on a weekly basis for a chance to reflect and explore using mixed media, mindfulness and lots of creative fun techniques to produce a private journal just for you. See details here for how to self-refer or be referred to the classes by your GP or Social Prescriber.

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 24 June Volunteering for ARK at Balsam Bashing, Burghfield.

Fri 22 Jul Heritage Live at Englefield House

• Regular events

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking here.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer. There are three walk lengths to chose from As mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

 Holy Trinity Church, Theale is open for West Berks Food Bank donations on Sundays and Wednesdays from 10.30am to 6pm. Please see the church’s website for regularly updated lists of what is most needed at the food bank.

• Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 16).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the cafe at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 8)

 Aldermaston & Wasing Ladies Group meets on the second Thursday of each month from 2pm at Aldermaston Parish Hall, please see Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (p 3, February 2022 ) for further information.

Padworth and Aldermaston WI meets at Padworth Village Hall on the third Tuesday of every month at 7.30pm. Further information on the group can be found in Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (No 155 February 2022 Edition p 3).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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 Aldermaston Parish Council took place on 14 June and the minutes will be available here in due course. Items covered included: a planning application from AWE Aldermaston for its major “hub” development (to which APC did not object but concerning which it requested “several conditions to minimise our concerns, including restrictions on working hours and funding of parish projects”); an objection to the Lidl site on the Tadley border; the problem of large lorries going to and from Padworth Sawmills; speeding; news of a meeting with the preferred supplier for the skateboard ramp; an update on APC’s refurbishment projects; and questions about whether WBC is committing sufficient resources to its Conservation Area appraisal. 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 Theale Parish Council took place on 6 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation from green ham trust; a report from ward member Alan Macro; the public toilets (see also above); village infrastructure (see alas above); planning matters; 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.

• The most recent meeting of Burghfield Parish Council took place on 9 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the co-option of two new councillors; the May Fair; a possible youth group in the village; committee reports; financial matters; and first-aid training. You can also click here to see a report on the annual parish meeting on 12 May.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stratfield Mortimer Parish Council took place on 9 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: an address by WBC’s CEO Nigel Lynn; the co-option of two new councillors; reports from committees and working parties; the neighbourhood development plan; the jubilee; financial matters; tree works; Windmill Common; planning matters; and repair and maintenance work around the parish. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. See this page on Stratfield Mortimer PC’s website for more information on the refresh of its neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bradfield Parish Council took place on 7 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the jubilee; the Village Hall (the minutes report a number of questions and concerns regarding the revised business plan as a result of which BPC maintained its “position of no support for the current project. Everyone wants a new hall, but it has to be supported by the community and sustainable for the future.”); planning matters; a report from ward member Ross Mackinnon; picnic benches; Ukrainian refugees; highway issues; tree preservation orders; 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 for 2021 and here for 2022.

• The most recent meeting of Englefield Parish Council took place on 19 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the election of the Chair; a councillor vacancy; financial matters; and formal matters. 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 Beenham Parish Council took place on 9 May and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here for 2021 and here for 2022.  Click here for details of Beenham’s Community Plan.

• The most recent meeting of Padworth Parish Council took place on 14 March and you can read the minutes here. The annual parish assembly took place on 16 May and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Theale area council contacts

Parishes: Theale Parish CouncilAldermaston Parish CouncilPadworth Parish CouncilStratfield Mortimer Parish Council, Englefield Parish CouncilBeenham Parish CouncilBradfield Parish Council and Burghfield Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Thatcham area; Compton & DownlandsWantage area; Marlborougharea; 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

This week we look at two resolutions from Theale PC following a discussion at its annual parish assembly, point to new information added to the energy recovery centre’s application and consider where parts of Burghfield and parts of Mortimer actually are. We also have our usual round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• The play area on Theale recreation ground is getting a revamp, with new equipment and CCTV in planning, this is a great development for the community. Find details of the planning application here.

• Fancy something a little different? What better way to enjoy the sun than near the water; ASC Reading is hosting an open day for those wanting to try out sailing, windsurfing and more. If you’re interested, have a look here for more information and here to reserve your spot.

Spencers Wood Repair Cafe is running on Sunday 26 June in the village hall for those with broken household items that are a nightmare to fix. Open from 9.30am to 12.30pm you can find more information here.

• Theale Parish Council has released a list of projects currently being funded by the Greenham Trust. Click here to see the great work being done.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• The Midsummer Music event is returning on Sunday 26 June, hosted by the Kennet Branch of Save The Children at the Little Manor in Burghfield village. More information and ticket details are available here.

• The next Padworth Jumble sale will take place on Sunday 18 June as noted on p3 of the Padworth newsletter :however, it’s worth noting that there won’t be a sale on 2 July.

• The Mortimer West End and District Annual Show has been announced, taking place on 27 August 2022. The full schedule and details are available here, boasting vegetables, flowers, handicrafts, artwork and more.

Action for River Kennet is seeking volunteers to help get rid of threatening non-native species in the river at Balsam Bashing, Burghfield on Friday 24 June. Equipment and refreshments are provided and more information can be found here.

• The latest edition of the Englefield Parish Magazine is available to read here.

• Ditto here with the latest Padworth Village Newsletter.

• Holy Trinity Church has posted an updated list of necessities for the Foodbank which you can view here.

Click here for a report on Burghfield’s annual parish meeting on 12 May (many thanks to David Gregory of Burghfield Community FB Group and Cally Morris of Burghfield Parish Council for providing the main part of this.)

• For the latest news from theBenefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates and events across Theale area please visit its website and click on Letters, Notices & Magazine.

• Latest news from Aldermaston Parish Council can also be found on the website aldermaston.co.uk and this month includes the celebration of a new florist and children’s nursery in the village.

Theale’s resolutions

At its meeting on 6 June, Theale PC discussed two items that had been raised at the annual parish meeting on 23 May. The discussions on these are reproduced below verbatim from the minutes.

Public toilets. Cllr Clifford explained that the parish council had surveyed Theale residents in 2021 to ascertain their thoughts on the recreation ground and what facilities they wanted: public toilets did not feature as notably desirable. Cllr Gallop said that public toilets was a popular request on the councillor High Street walkabouts, and that Theale Tigers FC might benefit from available toilets. It was recognised that the latter was a separate issue which could be discussed between Theale Tigers and the parish council.

After a discussion of the merits and drawbacks of providing public toilets it was resolved to conduct a feasibility study on whether the parish council could provide public toilets on the recreation ground, and then ask the parishioners whether they would be prepared to fund the building and running of toilets by a specified increase in their precept. (Clerk to conduct a feasibility study, having first found out whether the land’s lessor – Englefield Estate – would allow the building of public toilet in principle. Feasibility study to include estimated cost to the parish council estimated increase to parishioners’precepts.)

Proposer: Cllr Cox. Seconder: Cllr Gallop. Vote in favour, 2 against.

Village infrastructure. Concerns were raised over the inadequacy of the village’s infrastructure (eg doctors’ surgery, schools, sewerage) after completion of: the Lakeside housing development, The Green housing development, and allocated developments on the site of the old sewage works and Whitehart Meadow.

It was resolved to petition the appropriate authorities involved in any decisions to improve the village’s infrastructure, including the local MP and neighbouring parish councils, stating the parish council’s concerns over the infrastructure’s inadequacy in light of the expected significant population increase. Further resolved to ask local schools and doctors’ surgery what plans they have for the expected increase in demand, prior to sending the above petition.

Proposer: Cllr Hopcroft. Seconder: Cllr Church. Vote in favour.

Whose pavements?

One of the odd things about Burghfield (though it probably doesn’t often come up in day-to-day life) is that it’s split between two WBC wards. This is quite rare for a settlement of this size and probably should be adjusted. All of Burghfield and almost all of Burghfield Common is in the ward called, logically enough, Burghfield and Mortimer (with three councillors, one Conservative and two Lib Dem). However, the extreme south-western part including the area of Normoor Road is in the Bradfield ward (with one councillor, a Conservative). This only really matters if you need to get your councillor (also known as a ward member) to intervene on your behalf. As with an MP, they can only get involved with issues that are in the area they represent. You can click here for an online map of West Berkshire which will, by use of the filters, show you a vast range of information, including ward boundaries: and click here for a list of all the councillors/ward members and their contact details.

This issue came up recently when some residents in the Normoor Road area were complaining about the state of the pavements and the matter was looked into by the Bradfield ward member, Ross Mackinnon. “Thanks to all the residents in Normoor Road who I spoke to today,” he commented on the Burghfield Community FB page. “The pavements are in a terrible condition in places and I’ll be pushing for this to be addressed as soon as possible.” I wondered if this was a similar pavement issue to the one reported recently in Hungerford where repairs had been done to a shockingly low standards by one of WBC’s sub-sub-contractors. No, Councillor Mackinnon told me: they had just been allowed to deteriorate to a point that in parts they’re next to unusable by wheelchairs, mobility scooters or buggies: or perhaps even people travelling on two legs who don’t watch their step. I don’t know how often such things are inspected, or if they are inspected at all. Assume this doesn’t happen – so, if you see a problem, report it online here. If you want to take the matter further, get in touch with your ward member (see link above). It’s what they’re there for.

On the subject of local administrative geography, you might think that if a ward called “Burghfield and Mortimer” didn’t contain all of Burghfield then it might not contain all of Mortimer either. If so, you’d be right. Mortimer West End isn’t in the B&M ward; indeed, isn’t in West Berkshire at all but in the Basingstoke and Deane district of Hampshire; in fact, is the northernmost point in the county. If you continue west for a couple of miles you’re back in West Berkshire again. Why this bite was taken out of Berkshire back in the 19th century is a mystery, to me at least. Doubtless it seemed like a good idea to someone at the time.

Burghfield’s energy recovery centre

Thanks to the Burghfield Community FB group for pointing out that some new documents appear to have been uploaded to the application for the proposed energy recovery centre in Berrys Lane. Click here to see the relevant section on the WBC planning portal.

A covering letter from WBC explains that it’s not necessary to repeat any comments already made on this application but that further comments can be made until 18 July 2022.

Community notices

• West Berkshire Library Service is appealing for local volunteers at Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries. Please see this post on Facebook, call 01635 519533 or email volunteerinyourlibrary@westberks.gov.uk for further information.

• Free Craft and Care classes at Theale 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 a variety of craft techniques offering new skills and an opportunity to share progress with others in a supportive and relaxed environment.. See details here for how to self-refer or be referred to the classes by your GP or Social Prescriber.

• Free Creating Journalling classes at Mortimer Library on Thursdays as part of the Corn Exchange’s Link to Thrive programme for mental health. You can drop in on a weekly basis for a chance to reflect and explore using mixed media, mindfulness and lots of creative fun techniques to produce a private journal just for you. See details here for how to self-refer or be referred to the classes by your GP or Social Prescriber.

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 24 June Volunteering for ARK at Balsam Bashing, Burghfield.

Fri 22 Jul Heritage Live at Englefield House

• Regular events

• Holy Trinity Church is seeking donations for the Foodbank that is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 9am to 6pm. With another rise in people’s need for foodbank support, you can find out what has been requested each week by clicking here.

 Theale Library hosts in-person events for people of all ages. To find out more information on future clubs and events click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or email Theale Library at thealelibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

Mortimer Library also host regular events, such as their Rhymetime group who meet every Tuesday (during school term time) at 2.30pm.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday at the community centre car park opposite the Horse & Groom, Mortimer. There are three walk lengths to chose from As mentioned on mortimervillage.org.uk,

 Holy Trinity Church, Theale is open for West Berks Food Bank donations on Sundays and Wednesdays from 10.30am to 6pm. Please see the church’s website for regularly updated lists of what is most needed at the food bank.

• Beenham Art Group every Tuesday from 10am to noon at Victory Hall, Beenham. More details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 16).

• Aldermaston Coffee Club meet at the cafe at Rosebourne, Aldermaston between 10am to 11.30am on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Further details in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (February edition, p 8)

 Aldermaston & Wasing Ladies Group meets on the second Thursday of each month from 2pm at Aldermaston Parish Hall, please see Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (p 3, February 2022 ) for further information.

Padworth and Aldermaston WI meets at Padworth Village Hall on the third Tuesday of every month at 7.30pm. Further information on the group can be found in Padworth Parish Council Newsletter (No 155 February 2022 Edition p 3).

Holy Trinity Church, Theale free choir group rehearses on Thursdays between 7pm to 8pm and performs at Sunday services from 10.30am. All are welcome to join. Send enquiries to office@holytrinitytheale.org.uk.

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