Hungerford Town Council Update October/November 2022

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the HTC meeting on 7 November 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 report

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

“Since the beginning of October there have been nine reports of anti-social behaviour in the town. Six of these are attributed to the same location where youngsters were congregating, littering and generally being anti-social in a residential area. Four youngsters have recently been caught in this location. Their details have been taken and words of advice given. We have, so far received no further reports for this location.

There have been two reported shop-liftings in the town; and one report of criminal damage, which was to farmland following a report of hare coursing. Over the last month across the Hungerford and Lambourn rural areas there continues to be an increase in reports of rural crime. This is specifically hare-coursing offences and burglaries to out-buildings targeting machinery and tools.

The team held a catalytic convertor awareness event in Tesco car park on 4 November which included handing out information leaflets and offering advice.  This was in response to there being three reports of catalytic convertors being stolen from vehicles in our policing area. One of these reports was of a vehicle parked on driveway in Hungerford.

The local police team

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

New Constable at the Town & Manor

Sadly, Peter Joseph has stepped down from his role as Constable of the Town & Manor due to health reasons. Peter, I will miss working alongside you on our many joint engagements. I would like to offer HTC’s congratulations to the newly appointed Constable Julie Lloyd. Julie, I am looking forward to building on the good relationship HTC holds with the T&M and attending the Christmas invitations over the festive period. (For more information on the Town & Manor’s recent activities, please see this separate post.)

Remembrance Sunday

This year’s remembrance parade will take place this Sunday 13 November. Anyone wishing to take place in the parade should arrive at the Town Hall by 10.30am. Laura Farris MP will be joining Hungerford’s parade this year. Hungerford’s Remembrance parade is always very special as we come together to reflect and remember our fallen service members. “Lest we Forget”

The skate park

The public consultation for the skate park has gone live. I hope we will get good community feedback on the preferred options. Please spread the word.

The Gallery

I was kindly invited to opening night at the new art gallery opened in Bridge Street. The event was well attended and there was a lovely buzz about a new business opening with the town. I really hope the business thrives and is well supported by visitors and resident in the town. Very best wishes from Hungerford Town Council. 

Opening of Judiciary – Church Service at Reading Minster

This is one of the larger civic events of the year, with Town Mayors across the district coming together to officially join in with the opening the Judiciary service for the year. The High Sheriff of Berkshire Alka Kharbanda held the service, which was attended by the Lord Lieutenant. I really enjoyed the service this year which was colourful and vibrant with Indian drums and a combined religious ceremony. Thanks to Councillor Keates for attending with me at such short notice.

The Freedom of the Town Awards

This is my favourite award of the year which honours exceptional service to our community. This year’s awardees were Penny Locke, Jennifer Bartter and Former Mayor Martin Crane. Thank you all for your outstanding voluntary contributions to Hungerford. I am thrilled you have accepted HTC’s request to turn on this year’s Christmas Lights, I can’t think of anyone else more deserving of this special honour. Huge congratulations to all three and special thanks to Deputy Lord Lieutenant Sarah Scrope for reading the citations.

Greenham Trust 25th Anniversary

I was delighted to attend the celebrations held to celebrate Greenham Trust’s 25th anniversary. The trust support so many groups and organisations within West Berkshire. Here’s to the next 25 years – congratulations! 

Parish Chairs’ Meeting

I was delighted to attend with Councillor Fyfe (the first of its kind), a meeting of local parish/town council chairs with WBC’s Chief Executive Officer. This was a really useful meeting, we were able to raise concerns, ask questions and give feedback on a number of topics relating to the working relationships between the parish/town councils and WBC.

I believe we now have a better understanding of the process and concerns raised from both sides of the table, we are working towards better communications, training and understanding between all parties. Thank you to our ward members for pulling this meeting together.

Christmas lights

With the cost of living crisis facing us all, HTC felt it should be doing what it can to reduce its energy consumption over the Christmas period. As you know the Christmas lights are normally on for 24 hours a day. HTC is looking to put timers on each set of lights which will mean they can be turned off in daylight hours. Although there’s an initial outlay for purchasing the timers, we hope this will reduce our energy costs over the their lifetime.

The Deputy Mayor

It was unanimously agreed at the meeting that Councillor Claire Winser would act as Deputy Mayor until May 2023.

District Councillors’ report

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

  • The cost-of-living crisis. The Cost-of-living Hub (which is a re-purposed version of the structure that served the district so well during Covid) is now active and appears to be working well. More information can be found here.
  • Food-waste collection. This has now started for most residents (households which receive a communal bin store collection will have their service starting on 28 November) and, like the Hub, also seems to be working well, with a few inevitable teething problems. See this article on Penny Post for more on this, including the reasons why doing it should not only earn WBC money but also make it compliant with national legislation.
  • The meeting between WBC’s CEO and Parish Chairs (see also the Mayor’s report above). This was felt to have been useful and exposed some problems with the planning system that the DCs will be following up on.
  • Air quality in Hungerford. The local Public Protection Partnership has this as one of its remits and has a monitoring unit in Bridge Street. The DCs were able to report that, from a high (ie bad) point in 2018, the air quality as measured there has improved ever since. (In 2017 the level of micrograms of fine particulate matter per cubic metre was 28.4 and in 2021 was 18.5.)
  • Chestnut Walk. The original (2021) application for the creation of social-rent homes on the site of the former care home was roundly criticised by the DCs and HTC for lacking ambition with regard to its sustainable features. It now seems that most of the concerns have been addressed, including its being designed to the 2025 building regulations and with air-source used for both hot water and heating.
  • Pavements on the A4. The DCs’ attention had been drawn to the problem of the build-up of silt between Cottrell Close and the A338 junction, as well as the problem of overhanging vegetation on the other side of the road. The DCs have already raised these issues with WBC’s officers.
  • 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.

Parking on verges and pavements

At the start of the meeting, a member of the public asked what policies existed at WBC to prevent cars parking on verges and pavements and, if such policies existed, why they were not enforced. The two DCs present at the meeting promised to look into the matter.

Pavements in the A4 and A338

Work on improving these started on 7 November and is expected to be completed on all four of the A-road access routes into Hungerford by the end of January. WBC has advised that this schedule might be changed if more urgent work cropped up elsewhere in the district. Councillor Fyfe was congratulated for his efforts in getting this to happen.

Pavement improvements in Croft Road

Over the summer, HTC conducted a survey among local residents about the state of the footway on Croft Road, particularly under the railway bridge, and the need of a safe route to the Surgery and Nursery. The response rate was very high and over 75% were in favour of HTC’s proposals to widen and improve the footpath, with the loss of three car-parking spaces. This recommendation has been accepted by WBC and this has been added to its highways work schedule, although there is currently no definite date when these will take place.

The Quality Council Award

The policies as recommended by the Finance and General Purposed Committee and the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) were agreed at the meeting. All the completed documentation has been submitted and approved by NALC. As this has now been ratified by Town Council, NALC will be able to issue the Quality Award.

The NALC website defines the award as  being “to celebrate the successes of the very best local councils and to provide a framework to support all local councils to improve and develop to meet their full potential. The scheme offers councils the opportunity to show that they meet the standards set by the sector, assessed them by their peers, and put in place the conditions for continued improvement.”

EV charge points at the Station Road car park

There still seems to be no progress on 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.

HTC has previously suggested to WBC that, given the seemingly insoluble way leave problems, the EV charge points be re-located to the Library car park.

Lorries in Hungerford

There was a discussion at the meeting about the problems caused by lorries turning off the High Street and into Park Street, a junction that was not wide enough for this to be conducted safely. Similar  problems had also been reported at the canal bridge in Denford. It was agreed that the issue would be raised with WBC in the coming days and weeks.

The Library

It was agreed at the meeting that a grant of £9,000 would be again granted to the the Library for 2023-24. Councillor Knight explained that, despite the recent installation of a air-source heating system, overall energy bills were unlikely to decrease over the next 12 months – the big change had been making an investment to move away from gas,, although even de-commissioning this involved costs.

The skate park

Discussions between HTC, the constructors and the local community has resulted in a choice of two possible designs and HTC wants to know which one you prefer. Please click here to take part in the online survey (by 1 December 2022).

H2036 (neighbourhood development plan)

A change in government legislation has given the H2036 team more time to work on the NDP. As it was a while ago that we put out a call for sites, we have decided to conduct a second call where we invite local landowners again to put forward any sites that they would like considered for development during this time. We are not just considering sites for housing but for other land uses such as employment, leisure or retail.

If you have already submitted details of potential sites to West Berkshire Council HELAA and there has been no change you do not need to duplicate any entries.

If you haven’t, and you have a site you would like us to consider, we would encourage you to contact us to confirm your interest by completing the application form and emailing it to claire.barnes@hungerford-tc.gov.uk ahead of our deadline of 30 December 2022. Please click here for more information and to download the form.

Please click here for more on the H2036 project.

Works at the Rugby Club building

Concern was expressed at the October 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.

The extractor flue has been checked by HTC’s Health & Safety Consultants. They will suggest some additional measures to make this safer and HTC awaits their report. One suggestion is railings to guide public around it rather than walking underneath.

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 10 October 2022 – click here to see the minutes.) Items covered included: updates on actions from the previous meeting; 12 planning applications (seven no-objections, three objections (one requested to be called in), one support and one had already been refused by WBC); and WBC case officers’ reports.
  • Highways and Transport. (Last meeting 25 July 2022 – click here to read the minutes.) A more recent meeting took place on 31 October and the minutes will appear here in due course.
  • Recreation, Amenities and War Memorials. (Last meeting 17 October  2022 – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: the future of the Marsh Lane allotments; repairs and maintenance works; play parks; the Youth Council; the Triangle Field; tree works; the friendship bench; the Croft Field Activity Centre; and the skate park.
  • Finance and General Purposes. (Last meeting 12 October 2022 – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: updates on actions from the previous meeting; financial and formal matters matters; the Local Council Quality Award; funding for the skate park; the heritage project; grant applications; and the budget review.

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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