Hungerford Town Council Update August/September 2022

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the extraordinary HTC meeting on 5 September 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 an extraordinary one may take place to conduct necessary or formal business). Sometimes meetings 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

The local police team provided the following report for the meeting:

“At the beginning of the month members of our team along with colleagues from our Problem-solving Team at Newbury successfully obtained a three-month House Closure Order at an address in Hungerford. PC Morris said at the time that “anti-social behaviour, disorder and nuisance behaviour will not be tolerated and we will continue to protect the community.” Due to the ongoing Police investigation we will not be making further comment at this time.

“This month there has been one reported burglary to a business premise on the outskirts of town and three reported shopliftings. Considering we are in the midst of school holidays there have only been three reports of anti-social behaviour, none of which involved youngsters.”

The local police team

The majority of the team has 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 Constable sand 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 them via the email address below. While local TVP representatives cannot guarantee always to be able to attend, they will make every effort to do so. 

General information (including contacts)

  • Please report all incidents to the Police or otherwise they will not be officially recorded – news travels fast round a community but if no one 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.

The Mayor’s report

Have we got a new Prime Minister yet? Seems to be going on for ever…

Welcome back!

I hope you’ve all enjoyed the summer-break; it certainly got a bit hot under the collar with the temperatures.

I enjoyed a wonderful trip to Norway and came home feeling rather disappointed by the UK. Not only is Norway impeccably clean (absolutely everywhere), the public transport system is amazing, the roads are quiet, electric vehicles are the norm. So many lessons still to be learnt in the UK. I stayed with friends who work in the healthcare system which (although expensive in taxes) is also pretty impressive.

A thank you

August is a month where no meetings generally take place, other than a small full council and finance meeting. None the less, there is still a lot which goes on behind the scenes.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the office staff, firstly for surviving the heat and secondly for getting through various tenders, contractor meetings and for working to achieve the good council award scheme (HTC’s long -standing ambition). I’m pleased to say we are very nearly there (well done Claire, I know this was a lot of extra work).

The Freedom of the Town

I was thrilled to be able to contact this year deserving recipients. It’s probably my most favourite part of the role, being able to recognise the incredible efforts and commitment of Hungerford volunteers. Huge congratulations to Penny Locke, Jennifer Bartter and Martin Crane OBE. I can’t wait to celebrate your incredible achievements and commitment to Hungerford.

Hungerford Care Home

Councillor Shatford and I attended a leaving party at Hungerford care home for two long-standing members of staff. We had a lovely afternoon with the patients and staff and met the new care home manager, Carol Marsh.

Meeting of town and parish council chairs

Councillor Fyfe and I met with other parish and town chairs to discuss some on-going concerns and challenges that collectively we all face from time to time and trying to gauge how we could improve our communications with WBC. I genuinely believe HTC’s working relationship with WBC is better now than in previous years and we’ve worked incredibly hard as a town to be heard.

Sadly, we missed the follow-up meeting, but this has resulted in our DCs securing a meeting with WBC’s CEO Nigel Lynn to address some of the points which have been raised. I think this will go some way to building good relations and better communication for both parties.

Focus for September

The form main things on my to-do list for this month are the Croft Field improvements; the skate park project; the annual report; and the Freedom of the Town Ceremony. This may, of course, change if something unexpected emerges.

District Councillors’ report

Two DCs, James Cole and Dennis Benneyworth, were at the meeting. The matters they covered included the following:

  • The tidy-up following the travellers’ incursion at the Triangle Field and the Common: thanks to the volunteers and Town Councillors who litter picked on the Common and Triangle Field and also to WBC which collected the filled sacks of rubbish quickly.
  • Recycling binsHTC is keen to trial a three-in-one bin unit to include collection of litter and recyclables. A general rubbish bin has been requested for Lancaster Park.
  • The parish chairs meeting: a follow-up session has been arranged with WBC’s CEO (see Mayor’s report as well). The main issue that appears to cause friction between WBC and its towns and parishes is (perhaps unsurprisingly) planning and in particular the lack of feedback about decisions from WBC to these organisations which are statutory consultees.
  • Verges: some grass verges at road junctions in the town are constantly being damaged and some site visits will soon be taking place to establish what can be done about this.

Speed indicator devices (SIDs)

The  meeting was told that the use of SIDs in the town not only seemed to be effective in reducing traffic speeds but was also proving very popular with some businesses, one of which is interested in helping to fund or co-fund one near its premises so that it can remain there permanently (at present the plan is that the three SIDs owned by HTC are rotated to different locations from time to time).

EV charge points

The seemingly perennial issue of the installation date for the EV charge points at the Station Road car park was mentioned at the meeting but once again there seems no firm date for this. Part of the problem, as mentioned before, is that a wayleave agreement (by which a property owner permits, usually for fee, an organisation to run a cable, pipe or similar through their property).

A longer discussion was occasioned by an article in the 1 September issue of Newbury Weekly News which referred to the actual or potential problem caused by householders with no off-street parking running EV charge cables from their house to their vehicles across a pavement which can therefore cause a trip hazard.

Councillor John Downe pointed out that HTC had raised this very issue with WBC in November 2021 and was told that the proposed policy was for WBC to construct gullies in the pavement to run cables, for which householders would be charged. He added that nothing more had been heard on this and questioned what the current policy on this matter was, or indeed if there was one. He pointed out that other councils including Hampshire had adopted a more pragmatic approach involving recommending rubber cable protectors which help reduce the risk of tripping; also that the cost of having such a gully installed would act as a disincentive for people to switch to EVs.

The DCs agreed that WBC’s position on this matter would be chased and the current policy clarified.

Penny Post has also written to the portfolio holder on this matter and will report on any response received.

War memorial repairs

The area about the war memorial in Bridge Street is in need of repair as a result of damage caused by the roots of a nearby tree. The meeting was told that a solution had been identified which should provide a long-term fix. This would avoid cutting the tree’s roots and was, it was hoped, something that HTC’s own staff could accomplish.

The youth council

As reported last month, work continues on this project, including finalising the terms of reference and dealing with the various compliance issues that are required. Work has slowed down due to the summer holidays

If anyone would like to get involved in the Youth Council’s work, please contact Councillor Derek Alford on cllr.derek.alford@hungerford-tc.gov.uk , Councillor Jon Shatford on cllr.jon.shatford@hungerford-tc.gov.uk or Councillor Daniel Lewis on cllr.daniel.lewis@hungerford-tc.gov.uk.

The skate park

The Mayor reported that discussions had taken place with the appointed contractors. This was followed by site visits to other skate parks in the area which led to a number of other ideas. As a result of this, the Mayor said that she felt further discussion should take place with the contractors to explore these, as a result of which there would then possibly be a public consultation. She pointed out that it was important to get this right as the results would be in place for many years.

HTC’s environmental aims and objectives

It was agreed at the July meeting that HTC should provide leadership, example-setting and active dialogue with other organisations including WBC in order to do its bit towards the climate emergency. Councillor John Downe told the meeting that he felt the best way forward would be to ask Councillors through a limited-circulation questionnaire what they felt the priorities should be and use this to frame HTC’s policy. This approach was agreed and Councillor Downe said that he would work with Councillor Mark Greenwell and circulate the questions soon.

Attention was also drawn to the home-energy initiative organised by HEAT in the Corn Exchange complex on 24 September.

See also the section below, which shows that HTC is installing sustainable features in the properties which it owns or leases.

New heating systems at Swimming Pool House and the Hungerford Hub

Councillor John Downe gave an update on the recent installation of a air-source heat pump system (including seven radiators and an immersion tank) in this property off Bulpit Lane (which HTC holds on a long lease and rents out). This appears to have gone very smoothly and the family there is delighted with the results, including how quiet it is.

It was also noted that a similar system will soon be being installed in the Hungerford Hub to replace the 14-year-old gas boiler which packed up in the summer. A new zoned heating control system has also recently been installed there which will ensure only the parts of the building that are being used are actively heated at any one time.

Wildflower verges on the A4

After a discussion at the meeting, it was agreed that the matter would be deferred until HTC had taken further advice about the best solution.

HTC’s committees

The following committee meetings have recently taken place (“last meeting” refers to the last meeting for which minutes were available on the day this post was published). Note also that most committees do not meet in August.

  • Environment and Planning. (Last meeting 8 August 2022 – click here to see the minutes.) Items covered included: updates on actions from the previous meeting; four planning applications (all receiving no objections); one pre-consultation notice; and one appeals notice.
  • Highways and Transport. (Last meeting 25 July 2022 – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: Feedback from WBC on availability of combined recycling/litter bins; the noticeboards under the bridge; CCTV at the Triangle Field; cycle parking in the town; speed indicator device training; footways, signage and parking issues, including at The Croft and Parsonage Lane; streetlights; outside seating at hospitality venues; and dog bins and Lancaster Park.
  • Recreation, Amenities and War Memorials. (Last meeting 19 July 2022 – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: an update on actions from the previous meeting; maintenance work; the RoSPA report; the Youth Council; Swimming Pool House; the play parks; the Croft Field Activity Centre; the skate park; and trees. 
  • Finance and General Purposes. (Last meeting 13 July 2022 – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: updates on actions from the previous meeting; financial and formal matters matters; the passing of a resolution “supporting the aspiration of the Hub to fit an air-source heat pump. Review their fundraising progress at a later date and consider any shortfall then.”

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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