Hungerford Town Council Update April/May 2022

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the Full HTC meeting on 3 May 2022, the agenda for which can be found here. The official minutes of the meeting will in due course be found on the HTC site. Any references below to ‘the meeting’ refer to this event unless specified otherwise. Any such issues are not necessarily covered here in the order in which they were discussed.  This report may also include information about HTC’s activities which were not discussed at the meeting. See the foot of this post for more information.

Full Council Meetings take place generally at 7.00pm in the Library on the first working Monday of every month except August (when there is no meeting), although this may take place on the Tuesday if the first Monday is a bank holiday. The agenda for the next one (as well as for the Council’s various committee meetings) can be found in this section of the HTC website

See the foot of this post for more information.

HTC = Hungerford Town Council; WBC = West Berkshire Council; WAPC = WBC’s Western Area Planning Committee. NDP = Neighbourhood Development Plan. H2036 = Hungerford’s NDP. DC = District Councillor.

For HTC updates from previous months, please visit the archives here.

Police report

The local police team supplied a report for the meeting:

  • On 24 April we received a report of criminal damage to the cricket nets belonging to Hungerford Cricket Club. Approximately eight youngsters were spotted jumping on the nets (as if they were a trampoline) Lines of enquiry are currently be looked at to see if these youngsters can be identified.
  • There have been two separate reports of criminal damage in the town during the month
  •  Tools were stolen from a van in Coldharbour Road and a car was accessed and searched but nothing stolen.
  • There have been four reported shoplifting in the last month. These are currently under investigation.
  • In the last month there have been five reports of anti-social behaviour in the town.
  • This past month the team have been into our primary schools for talks with the year 6 on Internet Safety. We were also at Dobbies Garden centre on Easter Saturday with our mobile police station holding a crime-prevention event.

The local police team

The majority of the team have now re-located back to Newbury Police Station leaving only two PCSOs based at Hungerford TRI Station. The whole team will eventually be back at Newbury as the move was only temporary during the pandemic.

The current set-up of the team is one Inspector, one Sergeant, three Police Constables and five PCSOs to cover the Hungerford and Downlands area. Please see below for how to contact them.

Local events

If you have any community events for which you would like representation from your local NHPT, please contact us via the above email address. While we cannot guarantee we will always be able to attend, we will make every effort to do so (the local team did at the Hungerford Town meeting in March 2022). 

General information (including contacts)

  • Please report all incidents to the Police or otherwise they will not be officially recorded – news travels fast round a community but if no one tells reports incidents the police may not know about it. Mentioning an incident on social media does not count as reporting the crime.
  • People are encouraged to sign up for Thames Valley Alerts. As well as local crime information, you can receive details of the latest scams.
  • Thames Valley Police has a Facebook page.
  • The local policing team also wants to draw attention to the ‘what three words’ app which is used to help with the prevention of rural crime by locating people. The app provides a three-word code for each grid which is mapped over the world. By ringing 999 and quoting it the police can locate you.
  • You can report incidents online but if it is urgent please continue to call on 101 (non-emergency) and 999 in an emergency.
  • If you would like to report anonymously you can do so via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online.
  • The team’s email address is HungerfordandDownlandsNHPT@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk  This is not monitored 24/7 and should not be used to report a crime.
  • The local police team is keen to promote the Herbert Protocol initiative which helps us all to try to keep vulnerable members of our community safe.

Mayor’s report

Schools Rugby Tournament

Schools’ rugby tournament

The month started with an invitation to attend a school’s rugby tournament which was extremely well attended by many local primary schools. The children were excited and really enjoyed a fun afternoon. I watched lots of games and was delighted to hand out medals to all participants. The smiles on the children faces really did say it all. I would like to congratulate HRFC’s youth section for hosting such a lovely event for primary aged children.

Rugby Club lease

Negotiations have now concluded, HTC’s working party was pleased to get the lease for HRFC over the finish line. This was quite a long process. Thanks to Claire Barnes for her perseverance on this task.

Commandants’s Parade at Sandhurst

Claire W and I were thrilled to be invited to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst to watch the dress rehearsal of the officers commissioning. Claire and I thoroughly enjoyed the event, our guided tour around the grounds was amazing. I think we purchased most of the items in the trust gift shop between us. We’d like to thank the Lord Lieutenant James Puxley and his deputy Richard Anderson for personally  hosting us. My best friend’s son happened to be commissioning in this parade, which made the event personally very special.

Opening the bowls season

I was thrilled to be invited to open the season at Hungerford’s Bowls Club. I was delighted to roll the first bowl of the season (definitely need more practisc) on the immaculately kept green. Micky has been tending the green, cutting it twice weekly for 42 years – outstanding commitment Micky! I stayed to watch some friendly matches, I would encourage anyone interested to have a chat with the team. The club would be delighted to welcome new members and will be holding an open day in May. Please pop along and show your support to this much-loved local club.

Easter church service

I was invited to read at the Easter service along with the Constable and guests. The service was well attended, and we all enjoyed the refreshments held after the service.

Mayor’s reception

I was delighted to host the Mayor’s reception for the first time since Covid restrictions were lifted. The evening was well attended and gave me an opportunity to thank all those who support myself and the council throughout the civic year (or three as it was this time). I hope you all enjoyed this networking opportunity and the refreshments. Thank you to all those who attended and particular thanks to Claire Winser and Jon Shatford for hosting the Lord Lieutenant’s visit.

Ale tasting, the Hocktide lunch and the Constable’s service

I was invited to attend the Hocktide celebrations, these have not been held in recent Covid times, it was nice to have them back this year. Claire Winser attended as my guest to lunch. This is always such a lovely event in the civic diary, steeped in history. Peter’s guest speaker was absolutely incredible and held the audience’s attention throughout. Peter I’d like to congratulate you on your appointment as Constable for a second term. I hope you have a fun-filled year attending all the engagements within the town.

Jubilee arrangements

Arrangements are going well. Sadly I’ve missed a couple of meetings but huge thanks to Jerry and the team for working so hard on this. I’m really looking forward to hearing more about the arrangements at this week’s meeting. Not long now!

The pavements in Clark’s Gardens

I have been extremely disappointed in the remedial repairs undertaken on the poor footway surface in Clarks gardens. I have received a detailed reply to my email and queries from WBC: sadly, the reply I’ve received hasn’t helped to solve the problems. I have invited WBC to visit the site personally to inspect for themselves sometime this week, I will report back with news as soon as I have any. Hungerford residents deserve to have their pavements repaired to a much better standard than currently provided.

Drug dealing

Over the bank holiday weekend, I received correspondence from two local residents about a Hungerford address which is causing concerns to two long-standing local families. I have raised the concern with the police (who are aware) and will look to follow this up this week.

The annual meeting

Much of the meeting was, as is common at this time of year, devoted considering and approving a number of HTC’s policies and financial arrangements as well as electing the key positions on the council. The list below doesn’t cover all the matters discussed in this way (see the agenda and, in due course, the minutes for a full list of these).

Elections and re-elections

Parish and town councils are at this time obliged to elect members to various key roles for the coming year. In HTC’s case, this involved the following positions:

  • Mayor: Helen Simpson was elected for a fifth (and, as she stressed, final term).
  • Deputy Mayor: Jon Shatford was elected, replacing Claire Winser (who proposed him).
  • Chair of Finance and General Purposes Committee: Claire Winser was re-elected.
  • Deputy Chair of Finance and General Purposes Committee: Keith Knight was elected, replacing Jon Shatford.

All these were passed unanimously.

HTC’s assets

These were confirmed as being worth approximately £857,000.

Representation on external bodies

There are quite a few of these, indicating the amount of work which HTC’s members conduct outside of their direct council work. These included CHAIN, HEAT, the Leisure Centre, The Royal British Legion and the Library.

Confirmation of HTC’s general powers of competence

This was re-confirmed at the meeting. More details on this can be seen here. “In simple terms,” this document from the Local Government Association explains on p8, “it gives councils the power to do anything an individual can do provided it is not prohibited by other legislation.” For parish and town councils this only applies if (i) at least two-thirds of the members are elected rather than co-opted; and (ii) that the Clerk is fully qualified. Both of these have for many years applied in HTC’s case.

Insurance

If further proof were needed that the cost-of-living crisis is biting in unexpected ways, it was announced at the meeting that the best insurance quote for HTC has come in at nearly double the budgeted figure. Further quotes are being sought.

Venue for future meetings

After some discussion, it was agreed (with one abstention) that future meetings should continue to take place in the Library.

Committee membership

All the members present at the meeting said they were happy to retain the current committee memberships and the councillors who were not present will be asked their views.

The new skate park

Terms on which the Town Council will seek to obtain quotes for a new skate park were agreed. Full details of the tender invite can be found here on HTC’s website.  HTC is looking to appoint a contractor to provide a concept design and build a new skate park replacing the existing ramps.

District councillors’ reports

Two DCs, Claire Rowles and James Cole, were present at the meeting. The points they raised included the following:

  • Changes at WBC. As is customary at this time of year there will be some changes to committee memberships announced shortly. There has already be one change on the Executive with Thomas Marino replacing Hilary Cole.
  • Members’ bids. The latest round of this funding opportunity, by which ward members can bid for grants for specific projects in the ward they represent, closes on 3 June. HTC has asked its ward members to bid for some wildflower matting at the approaches to the town along the A4. WBC has already agreed to fund wildflower matting on the roundabout by the Co-op garage. There was currently no news as to whether another round of CIL bids would be launched by WBC.
  • Women in politics. On 1 June, WBC will be hosting a webinar, Women in Politics, which will look at why we need more women in local politics representing their communities and helping shape West Berkshire’s future.

The platinum jubilee celebrations

As mentioned last month, the main event will take place from 2pm until 7pm on Sunday 5 June in the Croft Green with stalls on the Croft Field. All are welcome. Bring a picnic and chairs: refreshments and food will be available from various vendors. Please don’t bring your pets, although service and assistance dogs are welcome. There will be musical and other forms of entertainment with sing-a-longs and flag-waving likely to feature prominently.

Please keep your eye on the HTC website’s homepage and the website’s events section for more information on these or other events.

Hungerford 2036 (neighbourhood development plan)

There is currently nothing to report on this but further news will be expected at the end of the month.

For more information, see the Hungerford 2036 post here.

Direct train services between Hungerford and Paddington

As reported before, the Bedwyn Train Passenger Group (BTPG) provides regular information about how these are threatened to be considerably reduced from May 2022 as a result of cost cuts which have been demanded by the DfT of GWR. HTC agreed at the meeting that every effort should be used to lobby for these to be reversed. The BTPG’s most recent message on 1 May (added to the above post) records some minor concessions but many more are still be pursued.

The BTPG has proved itself to be an effective advocate for rail services in the area. It also provides timely and comprehensible information about any service disruptions. Anyone who uses these services, even occasionally, is recommended to subscribe to its newsletters and to respond to any advice it gives about improving the services.

HTC announced at the meeting that it had written a letter to Laura Farris expressing its concern at these changes. There was evidence that several people who had been planning to move to Hungerford had changed their mind for this very reason. The Mayor said that she was “{very worried” by the long-term implications of this decision and promised that HTC would so all it could to see this reversed.

The see-saw at the Smitham Bridge playground

This has been ordered but the delivery was specified as September. It’s hoped this might improve.

Lateral-flow tests for HTC

As mentioned last month, LFTs have been purchased for the office staff and such councillors who require them, given that government regulations demand that all meetings at which votes are cast must take place in-person if a legal challenge is to be avoided.

HTC’s committees

The following committee meetings have recently taken place:

  • Environment and Planning. (Last meeting 11 April – click here to see the minutes.) Items covered included: the co-option of a new committee member; updates on previous actions; eight new applications; case officers’ reports..
  • Highways and Transport. (Last meeting 28 March – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: committee membership; lamp posts; re-cycling; Hungerford in Bloom; traffic speed signs; parking at the station; footpaths; pavement work; pigeons; and rubbish bins.
  • Recreation, Amenities and War Memorials. (Last meeting 22 March – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: the allotments; the Smitham Bridge playground; the Cemetery; the Croft Field Activity Centre; the skate park; the Triangle Field; trees; and the establishment of a Hungerford Youth Working Party.
  • Finance & General Purposes. (Last meeting 16 March – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: annual water testing at HTC sites; the war memorial; and various financial matters.

Note: if the links above don’t work, this may be because they were linked to unadopted (draft) minutes which have since been replaced by adopted ones. If so, please visit this page of HTC’s website for the most up-to-date information on meetings past and the agendas of those yet to come.

For details on HTC’s committees, including membership, agendas and minutes, please click here (and go to the “Town Council” tab).

Contacting HTC

HTC can be contacted in the following ways:

  • By email to townclerk@hungerford-tc.gov.uk
  • By post to The Town Clerk, Hungerford Town Council, The Library, Church Street, Hungerford RG17 0JG.
  • In person at the above address between 10am and 2pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • By phone on 01488 686 195.

Any questions for an HTC meeting need to arrive by 2pm on the day (please allow more time if you have left this on the ansafone).

Members of the public are also welcome to attend any meetings.

Contacting WBC in an emergency

You can also contact West Berkshire Council out of office hours for emergencies. These are considered to include:

  • Major incidents such as major accidents or significant flooding.
  • Fallen trees and other debris blocking or restricting roads or causing potential danger to road users.
  • Traffic lights not working (West Berkshire Council only manages fixed traffic lights, not temporary ones).
  • Emergency repairs to council-owned temporary accommodation (tenants of properties should contact their housing association, landlord or agent).

 

The sections above cover the main issues with which HTC has recently been involved or concerned: it by no means describes all of HTC’s activities. Nor is this an official record of any meeting nor of any other aspect of HTC’s activities. Links to the official minutes of this and other meetings are provided in this post. For more information on HTC, please click here.

If there’s anything that you’d like to see addressed by HTC, and perhaps also covered in this way in future editions of Penny Post Hungerford, please email claire.barnes@hungerford-tc.gov.uk. Any such suggestions should be received at least four working days before the end of the month (and preferably sooner) if they are to be included in the corresponding post for the following month. That is not, of course, to say that HTC will not in any case give the matter its attention and respond personally if appropriate.

This information has been compiled by Penny Post from information supplied by HTC and others. Every reasonable effort has been made to provide a clear and dispassionate summary of the points covered but these may contain expressions of opinion which may not accord with HTC’s official view on the matter. Links have been provided to other posts, on the Penny Post site or elsewhere, to give additional information where this has been judged useful or necessary. The presence of such a link should not be taken to imply that HTC necessarily agrees with, endorses or supports any of the material contained therein.

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