Hungerford Town Council Update September/October 2022

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the HTC meeting on 3 October 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.

Heating the Library

At the start of the meeting, Councillor Downe pointed out that the library is now being heated using a heat-pump system which will reduce the building’s carbon footprint by two thirds (this will fall further as more electricity is sourced from sustainable sources).

Police

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

“Several members of the team were involved in the policing operation in Windsor following the death of her Majesty the Queen. This was the largest operation in the history of the force. It was both an honour and privilege.

“Since the beginning of September there have been six reports of anti-social behaviour and one of shoplifting. There has also been one reported burglary to a business premise on the outskirts of town and 3 reported shopliftings. There have been two reports of criminal damage, one of which was to farmland on the outskirts of town. An estate in Hungerford was subject to a non-dwelling burglary during which tack rooms and outbuildings were broken into and items stolen. A further farm in Hungerford was broken into and a vehicle was stolen, amongst other items.

“We are starting to see an increase in rural crime offences, specifically in the last week across our area as well as over the borders into Wiltshire. This includes hare coursing offences as well as rural burglaries.

“Two males have been arrested in connection with an incident of GBH in Hungerford. Two males aged 18 and 20, both from Hungerford, were arrested on suspicion of GBH with intent. The incident happened on Tuesday 20 September near to Hungerford Cricket club Bulpit Lane. The victim, a man in his 20s, was found to have been stabbed in the hands and one of his legs. He was taken to hospital for treatment and has subsequently been discharged. The two man arrested have since been released on bail until the 20 October.”

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 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 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

Death of Queen Elizabeth II

Hungerford Town Council (HTC) has not held any committee meetings this month, due to a period of mourning following the death of her late Majesty the Queen.

The protocol following the death of a senior royal was immediately implemented and HTC produced a press statement, sending our sincere condolences following the official notice from the palace announcement. HTC worked closely with the Town & Manor, opening a public book of condolence in the foyer of the Town Hall ,and allowed public floral tributes to be placed on the town hall steps. The book of condolence has also been taken to Crown Mews and the Constable is arranging for it to be sent to Redwood House. Thank you to Constable Peter Joseph for arranging the red roses on the table and for supporting HTC throughout this period. Thanks also to the office for being so prepared.

I was privileged to read the Proclamation of Assession to the community of Hungerford. Thank you to all Councillors and Trustees who joined me for this historic event. Special thanks also to Bellman Julian Tubb, Roger Ballard for the staging and Derek and Di Loft for provided the sound system and for keeping me calm – what an emotional day it was!

HEAT – Home Energy Conference

Congratulations on this hugely successful event for the town. We certainly punch above our weight in terms of environmental matters.

I spent around four hours at the event and attended the speaker sessions. I was hugely impressed and learnt a great deal. I often find these events a little heavy in tech, but I was really impressed with the delivery, pitched at just the right level for all, but with more detailed information for those who required  it. The event was really busy with around 400 to 500 people popping in throughout the day. The timed sessions were all fully attended and the exhibitors received a good number of follow-ups. Congratulations HEAT, especially John Downe, all of whose members worked so hard to make this event a huge success for HEAT and for Hungerford.

Crown Mews

I enjoyed a very relaxed afternoon with the Crown Mews residents for their monthly get-to-together. I took the opportunity to present their Hungerford in bloom certificate. The residents thanked me again for taking over the book of condolence.

Pigeons

I am receiving more and more complaints about the fact that the pigeon population growing again within the town. HTC’s Town Clerk has recently met with a pest controller who will write a report for H&T. As most of the buildings are privately owned or rented, HTC can only encourage pigeon proofing and offer advice to occupants.

H2036 (neighbourhood development plan)

A meeting has been scheduled shortly to discuss next steps on this project. WBC’s  local plan has been pushed back to 2024 and H2036 will be considering the impact this may or may not have on Hungerford’s plan moving forward.

Chamber of Commerce

I went to the recent Chamber meeting which was well attended. The team is working hard to recruit new members to the group. Karen Salmon has been re-elected as Chair. The committee remains the same as previously. Guest speakers were from Trindledown (National Animal Welfare Trust) and from the Retreat Hotel and Spa at Elcot. Thank you to Karen for staying on for a second year.

October

October is looking to be a hugely busy month with committee meetings and public engagements alongside the Freedom of the Town awards. I’m really looking forward to the opening of the ‘The Gallery’ in bridge street plus attending a careers fair at Newbury College.

District Councillors’ report

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

  • The cost-of-living crisis. It was pointed out that a number of schemes were already operative and others would be soon, including re-purposing the Hub (which served the district so well during Covid). More information can be found here.
  • A new round of members’ bids. These are available for ward members to bid (individually or in combination) for a project or projects that will benefit the communities they represent and must be match-funded. On this occasion these are capped at £3,000 per member. Please contact your town or parish council or your ward member directly for more information on how and by whom and by when bids need to be prepared.
  • A new round of CIL bids. These are for larger projects of between £10,000 and £100,000 and do not need to be match funded. DC Cole suggested that the skate park would be a good candidate for these. Please contact your town or parish council or your ward member directly for more information on how and by whom and by when bids need to be prepared.
  • Notrees care home in Kintbury. Questions were asked about the future of this facility, following a presentation by the home’s manager at the HTC meeting on 6 June. As reported by Penny Post here (see 14 July column), in the light of the consultation responses WBC decided to reverse its previous position to close the home.
  • 5G in Hungerford. The DCs were aware that there were, rightly or wrongly, concerns about this technology and promised to forward some information about the proposed roll-out in the town to HTC (click here to see it, This was published by Mobile UK, “the voice of the UK’s mobile network operators.”).
  • The Fairfields allotments. The DCs had been asked by the Hungerford Allotment-holders’ Association (HAHA) to identify the best person at Sovereign (which owns the lease) with whom discuss increasing the site’s bio-diversity. DC Benneyworth reported that he was investigating this.
  • Inflation. The DCs warned that this was already starting to bite as regards WBC’s budgets and is likely to get worse before it gets better. HTC agreed that when it came to preparing its budget in the next month or so that a similar pattern would be seen.

Pavements and hedges

Councillor Fyfe expressed dismay that the repair works on the pavement on the A338 to the north had stopped two weeks ago with no explanation and no response from WBC.

Dismay was also expressed by several councillors that work on the hedge trimming in Atherton Road appear to be incomplete, still blocking about half the pavement and still leaving a (statutory) road sign obscured by vegetation.

The DCs agreed to look into both of these issues.

EV charge points at the Station Road car park

Once again, Councillor Downe raised the matter of the installation date for the EV charge points at the Station Road car park. 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). It remains unclear, however, what objection the landowner has to the proposal and whether this can be overcome.

Councillor Downe suggested that a senior person at WBC take control of this issue which had, he said, now be running for nearly 18 months, to establish what the problem is and – if it’s insuperable – to find a different solution. It was agreed was that HTC would write formally to ward councillors who would put it to WBC’s CEO in advance of a meeting with him on 1 November.

Chestnut Walk

As mentioned several times in the past (and also the Hungerford Area Weekly News columns in Penny Post), the original plans for the re-development of the care home near the football ground were heavily criticised in 2021 by HTC and others for lacking ambition in terms of their sustainable features. The plans not only failed to live up to WBC’s stated response to the climate emergency it had itself declared but also risked leaving its residents at the mercy of expensive energy solutions.

As a result, the joint venture between WBC and Sovereign (which will be re-developing the site) agreed to have another look at this. It also said that a final decision would be deferred until after plans for a similar development at the Phoenix Centre in Newbury had been approved; the justification was that the two could then proceed in tandem, so offering WBC economies of scale.

As reported in Penny Post’s above-mentioned Hungerford Area Weekly News column (September 29), the Phoenix plans have recently been approved. At the meeting, Councillor Downe asked the DCs if they could provide information on the specifics at what was proposed in Hungerford. He pointed out that, if the Phoenix centre model were followed, this would give the residents hot-water from heat pumps but would leave them relying on the expensive method of electric central-heating. The Phoenix plans also had solar panels only added as a (negotiable) condition of the approval rather than an integral part of it.

DC Cole said he was already looking into this and would report back, hopefully by 7 October.

The skate park

The Mayor reported that further discussions had taken place with the appointed contractors. As a result, a new plan would be prepared which incorporated some of there new suggestions which had been made. A new plan will soon be created which will be followed by a public consultation. If all went well, it was hoped that this would be open in the spring of 2023. This also assumes that all the funding is in place: the project still needs to raise a significant amount  before it can proceed.

Wildflower verges on the A4

After some discussion it was eventually decided that, partly due to the current financial climate, that the best option was to accept WBC’s offer of planting wildflowers on the Co-op roundabout on the A4, even though this meant foregoing funds that would otherwise have come from a members’ bid: this would have required HTC match-funding it by £2,500, money which the council felt could better be used elsewhere.

Works at the Rugby Club building

Concern was expressed at the meeting about one aspect of the Rugby Club’s recent works at the clubhouse, a large exterior extractor-fan flue. The three points discussed were the aesthetics, the possible health-and-safety risk and the fact that HTC had not been consulted about the works. It was agreed that members would make a site visit before HTC decided on its response.

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. Note also that because of the period of mourning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, any meeting scheduled for September 2022 were cancelled.

  • 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.

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Email
Print

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up to the free weekly

Penny Post
e-newsletter 

 

For: local positive news, events, jobs, recipes, special offers, recommendations & more.

Covering: Newbury, Thatcham, Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage, Lambourn, Compton, Swindon & Theale