Compton & Downlands Weekly News, Thursday 17 November 2022

Compton & Downland Weekly News header

Thursday 17 November 2022

This week we check out a Christmas disco, karate, an open evening, a Christmas fair and a medieval nativity play. We also take a peek in ward member Carolyne Culver’s latest newsletter and reflect on what hells us about all the things district councillors do (and some of the things they can’t) – our round-up of local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

This week’s news

• Compton Pre-School Christmas Disco is on Friday 2 December at 4pm. All Pre-School and reception aged children welcome (siblings welcome with a ticket). Food, music, tombola, sensory play and more.Ticket includes hot dog, crisps and a drink. Free tea and coffee for adults. (Hot dogs available to purchase on the night). £3 ticket if purchased in advance. £3.50 on the night. Tickets available to purchase through the Pre-School at compton-playgroup.sumupstore.com. Any questions please contact comptonpreschoolfundraising@gmail.com

• Compton Pre-school is running a World Cup sweepstake to raise charity funding. Get your ticket before they sell out. Tickets can also be purchased at https://compton-playgroup.sumupstore.com/ Please pick the Parents of Compton Pre-School World Cup Sweepstake 2022 . Scan the QR code or pay cash at Pre-school. Only £3.50 a surprise team and be in for a chance of winning £50.

• The Downs School Sixth form are having an open evening on Thursday 24 November at 6pm. Come and have a peek at what is on offer.

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.

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…

 Compton Pre-school is urgently seeking a Committee Chair. This would suit a proactive, business-minded, family-focused individual with some spare time. The ideal candidate would be a retiree – who doesn’t want to be retired.You do not need to have children in the setting. Unfortunately if a candidate can’t be found the Pre-school will close. Meeting details here.

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

• West Berks Council Environment News includes lots to get involved with in September.

• For the latest West Ilsley newsletter please see here.

• For the latest Chaddleworth newsletter please see here.

Christmas

• Friends of Brightwalton school (PTA) are organising Wintery Christmas Fair on Saturday November 25 from 3.15 to 6pm and are looking for stall holders to join our homemade/artisan afternoon.  No matter how big or small, come sell your goods whilst fundraising for the village School.  Get in touch if you’d like a stall or would like more information. The email address is friendsofbrightwalton@outlook.com.

• The York Nativity Play will be being performed in Aldermaston on Thursday 1 to Sunday 4 December. More details here.

• Have your kids grown out of their toys and you are looking for Christmas presents, then come and swap them on Saturday 12 November at Faircross Community Centre. Drop off toys between 9 and 112 am and then enjoy the Swap Shop from 11.30am to 2pm. Any toys remaining after the event will be donated to charity.

Life on the ward

Being a district councillor (aka ward member) is in many ways a thankless task. your ward member/s is or are your representatives on West Berkshire Council, just as your MP is at Westminster. They are there to assist residents with problems, which often  involves pointing them to services in WBC or elsewhere which can help. In certain cases they may intervene directly in an issue: this can include deciding if a planning application should be called in to be decided by committee. The phone can, and probably does, ring at any time of the day or night. You are never really off duty.

Furthermore, as many people are perhaps a but hazy about what a ward member can and cannot do, the range of problems they’re landed with might on occasions be way beyond their powers to solve. One sees posts online about some of the crazy reasons people have dialled 999: these include advice on where to buy a bacon sandwich at 4am, a request to deal with a 50p piece that was stuck in a washing machine at the local launderette and a demand that someone deal with a pair of foxes which were copulating in their back garden (my own favourite is the man who called 999 “as he was advised to call 111 but did not know the number.”) I suspect that many ward members could add equally strange requests to this list.

One of the matters ward members are encouraged to do (although not to the extent that WBC covers their  resulting mileage costs) is attend parish council meetings. This is fine if you are in a single-parish ward (like Lambourn) or if the ward has several parishes but also more than one councillor (like Hungerford & Kintbury). Neither of these apply to Carolyne Culver in the Ridgeway ward. She’s all on her tod there and has six parishes on her patch. Perhaps fortunately for her diary, most meet only every other month but may have other extraordinary ones at other times – so that could be 40 or 50 evenings a year spoken for if she attends every one, as she tries to do. A couple of weeks ago she had four different PC meetings on four consecutive nights. It must sometimes be easy to forget which meeting one is actually at. Clive Hooker (Downlands) is in much the same boat.

With the election on 4 May approaching and with it the opportunity to re-elect, or not, your representative, it’s worth having a quick look at some of the things that they actually can do. Carolyne Culver’s latest newsletter has just landed in my inbox: here are a few highlights.

  • One important role of ward members is drawing attention to the various initiatives that the Council has come up. As a result, a good part of her most recent newsletter highlights support schemes relating to the cost-of-living crisis provided by WBC and other organisations.
  • There are times when the Council’s plans don’t aways work as intended: here the ward member may need to step in. She reports, for instance, that she “chased WBC several times after its subcontractor missed out the whole of West Ilsley and Hampstead Norreys, and much of Frilsham, when delivering the new food-recycling bins.” It didn’t end there: she even filled her car with duplicate bins and redistributed them in Compton.
  • Some issues recur month after month on parish council agendas. One is speeding, a matter for which ward members have no magic wand. They can, however, lobby for specific changes to signage or speed limits and help parishes with traffic-calming initiatives. Earlier this year, Councillor Culver “secured match funding for a portable speed indicator device for Hampstead Norreys and Yattendon, which is now collecting data. This follows match funding for a vehicle-activated sign in West Ilsley that was secured in a previous funding round.”
  • Other things councillors do because of their personal views or in response to local requests. Her current newsletter refers to work that she’s done with planting and maintenance at several lockdown woods and community orchards in her ward and further afield.

When it comes to choosing where to cast your vote in May, I suggest that the most important thing is not the party the incumbent represents, but how well they’ve represented you. If you have no experience of dealing with them then others in the area may have. Ask around and see what the consensus is. Of course, if the situation arises when you have a problem you might want them to solve, put your one/s to the test – all their contact details can be found here. One word of advice, though: don’t ask them to help with late-night bacon sarnies, stuck 50p bits or over-sexed foxes…

Community notices

• See Compton Parish Council’s website for a list of current scams going around in the area that you should be aware of.

• Recovery in Mind and The Downland Practice host a free one hour introduction session for local adults wishing to further their knowledge on wellbeing and mental health. Please contact pm.downland@nhs.net to book your place.

• Downe House School in Cold Ash is offering term time Swimming Lessons on Mondays & Thursdays from 4pm and on Saturday from 9am. Non-swimmers and improvers from 3 1/2 years are invited to enjoy the 25 metre pool to hone this valuable life skill. Call 07788 427227 asap. There will only be 6 children per class so places are limited .

• Compton Karate based at Aldworth Village Hall is a small and friendly dojo that welcomes new members.

• Aldworth Parish Council would still like to hear from any residents who may have ideas or wishes for what the parish can do to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. An online survey can be answered.

• 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

 see Christmas section above

• Regular events and groups

• Stay, Play and Learn at Compton Village Hall on Thursday mornings during term for children 0-4 years to socialise with others, exploring a variety of play activities and crafts. Book online with West Berkshire Council here.

• Quiz night at The Crown and Horns in East Ilsley every Thursday from 7pm with prizes to be won. You can reserve a table by calling 01635281545 and see more information here.

• Brickleton Babes Baby and Toddler Group in Brightwalton Village Hall. Join their facebook group for details.

• Chuckles Playgroup is back at the Hampstead Norreys Village Hall 10am to 11.30am on Friday 14 October and Friday 28 October. No pre-booking required and a fee of £2 will be charged. See here.

• Autumn Group regular meetings include the Hobbies Club at the Wilkins Centre, Compton. Visit their facebook page for details. Anyone from surrounding villages very welcome.

• Aldworth Art/Painting Group at the Aldworth Village Hall on first and third Tuesday of every month from 9.30am to noon. Details on the East Ilsley Communicator (issue 105, p 21) here.

 Aldworth Craft Group meet at Aldworth Village Hall on the second and fourth Monday of every month (within the school term time) from 10am to noon. More details in the East Ilsley Communicator (issue 105, p 16), which you can download here.

• Hampstead Norreys Village Hall club and event information is on Hampstead Norreys Community website.

• Ilsley Under Fives meet every Wednesday between 10am to 11.30am at various locations throughout the Ilsley villages. Please join their Facebook group  or a see details here.

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 East Ilsley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 8 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: vegetation and speed sign on Abingdon Road; a report from ward member Carolyne Culver; planning matters; financial matters; play equipment; repairs and maintenance; waste management; the pond; the future of the parish magazine.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meetings of Ashampstead Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 7 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the defibrillator training course; planning matters; open spaces; CIL funds; and financial matters.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of West Ilsley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 10 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: grant funding for the play area; a report from ward member Carolyne Culver; planning matters; financial matters; web hosting; the Village Hall; speeding; and dog bins.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see minutes from past meetings please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Compton Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 3 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the digital working party; planning matters; the grassed area near Gordon Crescent; financial matters; grants awarded to 1st Compton Guides (£285); 1st Compton Scout Group (£285); Compton Parochial Church Council (£285); and  Compton Pre-School (£285); a jubilee tree and bench; councillor training; and a dog show.
There was also a shorter meeting on 26 October, the minutes for which you can read here, which was almost entirely concerned with the S106 agreements relating to the development at the former Animal Research Centre.
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 click herePlease click here for the latest on Compton’s neighbourhood development plan (which has now been ratified).

• The most recent meeting of Hampstead Norreys Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

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

• The most recent meeting of Chaddleworth Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 6 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Beedon Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 1 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereTo see minutes from past meetings please click here. Please click here for details of the planning applications currently active in the parish.

• The most recent meeting of Aldworth Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 14 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and mintues for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Peasemore Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 January 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

• Compton & Downlands area council contacts

Parishes: Hampstead Norreys Parish Council, Compton Parish CouncilAshampstead Parish CouncilBeedon Parish CouncilChaddleworth Parish CouncilBrightwalton Parish CouncilPeasemore Parish Council, Aldworth Parish CouncilWest Ilsley Parish Council and East Ilsley 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; Burghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Archives

To see earlier Compton & Downlands & Surrounding Area Weekly News columns, please click here.

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