Hungerford Town Council Update November/December 2022

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the HTC meeting on 5 December 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

No Police attended the meeting and no report was provided.

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 award

At the start of the meeting, the Mayor presented an award to Tim Williams and Marcus Barton for flying the Tiger Moth above the Remembrance Day event; and to Lee Sainsbury from Oxygen Photography for acting as HTC’s unofficial “pop-up photographer” at various public events. (See also section below).

A presentation from James Wilcox of Age Concern Newbury

James Wilcox explained that Age Concern Newbury (ACN) runs the Fair Close Centre in the town which currently provides each day up to 450 meals-on-wheels and up to 50 sit-down meals a day at the Centre. Recently, ACN has widened its activities and is now running the restaurant at Redwood House in Hungerford: here it provides a two-course hot meal for people of 60+ for only £7. James Wilcox said that this price would be held for the next six months at least. He added that continuation of the service depended on the tale-up but that the initial response was encouraging. Booking is essential: contact t Louise on 01635 40488 or 07496 587904.

To continue to provide this service, volunteers are needed. The shifts are currently from 11.30 to 1.30 Mondays to Thursdays: visit the website for more information.

He added that the organisation also intended to launch a meals-on-wheels service in the town and, in the longer term, a service to help support those suffering dementia and their carers.

The Mayor’s report

Remembrance parade and poppy appeal

Another successful poppy appeal in Hungerford. I really enjoyed volunteering at the stand and it always amazes me how generous Hungerford is as a community. The Hungerford poppy appeal raised over £28,000. Congratulations Di and team. Outstanding!

The parade was again very well attended. Nigel Lynn (CEO of WBC) and Laura Farris (MP) both joined Hungerford’s parade. Thank you to Tim Williams and Marcus Barton for flying the Tiger Moth, it really does make the event so special. I am looking forward to awarding them and photographer Lee Sainsbury with a Mayor’s coin for their valuable contribution to the town (see also section above). Thanks also to the RBL, Sandy Crouter and Derek Loft.

Thanksgiving service for the late Queen at St Nic’s Newbury

This was a really touching tribute to the late Queen, her beautiful horse Barber Shop attended the ceremony and was a treat to witness. The service was well attended and very personal. It was lovely to hear the racing community give personal accounts of the late Queen’s love of horse racing and the local connection to Lambourn.

Parish chairs meeting with WBC’s CEO Nigel Lynn

This meeting was attended by Councillor Alistair Fyfe and me alongside other parish council Chairs. Useful and informative, all agreed the meeting was helpful and some positives outcomes were gained. It was suggested that Town Cllr’s will be offered the same training as ward members, in planning which will hopefully help support planning knowledge at parish/town council level.

Town strategy meeting

Again, this first meeting was well attended with good representation from the community. Working in groups, everyone contributed to aspirations for improving the town, as and when funding opportunities become available. The next meeting will be held in January.

Youth & Community Centre ten-year anniversary

Congratulations to team Y&CC for a lovely day of celebrations and ice skating. It was a pleasure to witness the unveiling of the new centre mural designed by members of the youth centre. A fun filled afternoon was enjoyed at the centre which continues to thrive for the town’s youth.

Tuesday Burchett Club talk

I was invited to give a talk to the members of the Tuesday Club, about my role as Town Mayor and the Town Council. I was informed my talk must have been fairly interesting as all members stayed awake, I had a lovely afternoon with tea and cake. The club has had a difficult year, their minibus was written off due to an accident earlier in the year. Any donations made at the Mayors Carol concert will be shared between St Lawrence’s church and the Tuesday club as my chosen charity donation.

Highways meeting  with Nick Coulson

I attended this meeting alongside Councillor Alistair Fyfe to go through the schedule of works planned for Hungerford. All will near completion by the end of the year. I was delighted to hear the grass verges n Coldharbour Road will become hard-standing iby the end of December. I’m thrilled for the residents who have been struggling with the condition of the verges for a few years. Alistair, thank you for your dedication to this project – Hungerford’s footpaths are now greatly improved due to your detailed documentation. £200,000 funding for footway improvements was an enormous sum for the town to secure. Good job!

Croft Field Project

Meetings were held to discuss last-minute details for the tender responses. All contractors were given an opportunity to look again and to give final responses (six months on). HTC will shortly be making a decision on the responses received. This is a large financial commitment for Hungerford but will ensure the Centre’s future and will give much greater access to disabled users. This was one of the first projects I became involved with in HTC and I’m very excited to see its conclusion.

John O’Gaunt 3G pitch

I am hoping to hear positive news on the projects funding soon. HTC will be discussing its own contribution to the project in December.

Planning enforcement training

I attended this on-line training held by WBC. It gave a good overview of WBC’s planning enforcement and shared future aspirations for the department.

Christmas lights switch-on

Last Sunday we turned on Hungerford’s Christmas lights. It was a lovely dry evening and well attended by the community. We sadly had a few technical issues on the evening but, the Town Band, Hungerford Primary School, Hungerford Theatre Company, Abbie Cleary, Kennet Radio and HTC’s very own Councillor Jerry Keates ensured the evening continued without too much drama. I loved how excited the Primary School were to sing with the band and they absolutely smashed it!

And finally…

I hope to see many of you at the Mayor’s Carol concert on Sunday 11 December and throughout the many civic engagements I’ll attend over the next two weeks.

On behalf of the whole team at Hungerford Town Council, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy healthy new year.

District Councillor Claire Rowles

The Mayor mentioned that she’d watched part of WBC’s Full Council meeting on 1 December and told the HTC meeting that during it a slide had been put up which stated – without any commentary or explanation – that DC Claire Rowles had with immediate effect been removed from all of her six committee positions on WBC. A recording of the event can be seen here (from 40′).

She said that she was “shocked and appalled” by both the decision and the way it was communicated. She added that it left the public, HTC and other parishes in the ward and indeed her two ward colleagues  unsure about whether, in the opinion of WBC’s Leader and in the light of these unspecified charges, DC Rowles was fit to be a district councillor at all. The Mayor said that DC Rowles had always been an excellent and tireless advocate for Hungerford and stressed that she was very unhappy with the development. The Mayor concluded that as a female representative and in support of another female councillors (or any councillor in fact), she could not sit back and witness such intimidation and bullying of a colleague who is held in such high regard.

DC James Cole then explained his understanding of the background to this. DC Rowles had told WBC’s Full Council meeting in September 2022 that she felt she could not vote on any matter, as she was waiting for clarification on a conflict-of-interest issue which stemmed from a Governance and Ethics meeting in January 2022 and a Full Council meeting in March. Without clarity on this she felt she was “at the risk of a future conflict, unknowingly.” Even now, in December, this issue has yet to be resolved.

One of her committee appointments was on WAPC which meets, unlike the others she sat on, every three weeks. She therefore asked WBC Leader Lynne Doherty if she could step down from this one. However, DC Cole continued, “she was told that she couldn’t pick and choose and so Lynne decided to remove her from all committees and outside bodies.” DC Rowles “accepted the diktat”: which was, DC Cole suggested, not the same as agreeing with it. He added that “this sort of vindictiveness is totally unacceptable.” He added that “this could be read as Claire not being an appropriate person to be your councillor – to me this is an insult to Claire and therefore by association to me and Dennis. It will not surprise you to hear that I find my own future as a WBC councillor open to considerable doubt, well in advance of the election.” DC Dennis Benneyworth, who was also present at the meeting, added he was “surprised” by the decision.

After a brief discussion, it was agreed that two motions would be put. There first was that HTC was very unhappy with the way in which DC Rowles had been treated; the second was that HTC authorised the Mayor to write to Lynne Doherty expressing HTC’s feelings. Both were passed unanimously.

District Councillors’ report

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

  • CIL petition. DC Cole said that he had presented this on behalf of DC Rowles at WBC’s Full Council meeting on 1 December. (You can read more here: scroll down to “CIL payments.”)
  • WBC’s local plan. This was approved at the same meeting to move to its next stage, a “Regulation 19” consultation, which will start on 6 January 2023. The DCs advised that all residents should have their say. DC Cole said that, as Hungerford is currently doing an NDP, the details of the town’s site allocations and other agreed policies will be added to the local plan when the NDP has been agreed. In the meantime, he stressed that this doesn’t mean that there will be a developers’ free-for-all: communities are given a year or two the finalise their NDPs and have them incorporated but that “it would make sense to push on.”
  • The Hungerford place-making strategy. (Note that this is is completely separate from the above-mentioned WBC local plan.) This consultation stage on this has now opened and will remain so until 9 January 2023. Click here for more information.
  • The cost-of-living hub. This is working well and is helping with an ever-increasing number of enquiries. Click here for more information.
  • WBC’s community champions. You can make your nominations until 2 January 2023. Click here for more information.
  • The sustainable warmth scheme. The deadline for applications is 31 December 2022. Click here for more information.

Parking on verges and pavements

At the start of the meeting, a member of the public again asked what policies existed at WBC to prevent cars parking on verges and pavements and, if such policies existed, why they were not enforced. He pointed out that the only document on WBC’s site was a consultation one from 2008 that was, it was claimed, now completely out of date.

It was agreed at the meeting that the points made, some of which had already been expressed by other residents, would be added to next Highways and Transport Committee agenda. Councillor Richard Hudson suggested that it would be useful to start keeping a log, with dates, locations and photographs, of any infringements as this was likely to be the kind of evidence WBC would require before taking any action.

HTC’s environmental aims and objectives

A report prepared by Councillors Downe and Greenwell was presented. This used as its starting point work by CSE, Exeter University and BEIS Impact Study which suggested what Hungerford’s carbon emissions currently were. A discussion then followed as to which of these could feasibly be influenced by HTC, given that it it had little control over many aspect of people’s lives and that, as regarded planning, it was only a consultee and not a decision-maker or policy-setter (the NDP notwithstanding).

The points raised included: looking at energy-generation projects; applying more pressure on WBC; reviewing HTC’s own actions to see how emission from these could be cut; encouraging, facilitating or lobbying for things such as allotments, repair cafés and EV charge points; and looking at ways of encouraging local installers of gas or oil boilers to acquire new skills in installing heat pumps.

It was agreed that Councillors would study the report and revert to Councillors Downe and Greenwell by the end of December. The responses should, it was agreed, concentrate on what things HTC could itself do.

Highways and pavements

Work on improving the pavements on the A4 and A338 started in 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. In addition, work has been completed on improving the pavement outside Coffee#1 on the High Street, while work has started on the verge improvements at park Street and Coldharbour Road.

Councillor Fyfe was again congratulated for his efforts in getting this to happen.

The Quality Council Award

It was announced at the meeting that HTC had now achieved this and the Mayor offered her congratulations to the Clerk Claire Barnes and all the staff for the work they had put in to achieving this accolade.

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

This matter was raised yet again, as it has been at pretty much every meeting this year. The problem appears to be that the installation plans for EV charge points at the Station Road car park have got hopelessly bogged down by the problem 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 and the Mayor told the DCs at the meeting that they demanded that someone at the highest level at WBC get a grip on the issue and establish once and for all if the problem could or could not be overcome. If it could, then the necessary actions should be implemented: if it could not, then an alternative site (such as the Library car park) be found. It was pointed out that this matter has now been dragging on for over 18 months.

The skate park

It was announced that, following the consultation, there had been a clear support for option A (which, it was announced at the meeting, had been HTC’s preferred choice, although this hadn’t been publicly stated). This had the advantage of appealing to a wider age-range. It was agreed at the meeting that this would be proceeded with.

HTC’s budget 

This was agreed for 2023-24 as being £344,691, an increase of 5% on the previous year.

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.

  • Highways and Transport. (Last meeting 28 November 2022 – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: updates from previous meetings; recycling bins; CCTV; bus stops on the A338 to the south of the town; speeding; footpaths and highways; the 2023-24 budget; and EV charge points.
  • Recreation, Amenities and War Memorials. (Last meeting 21 November  2022 – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: the Marsh Lane allotments; repairs and maintenance works; the Triangle Field; the Youth Council; the cemetery; tree works; health-and safety issues; the Croft Field Activity Centre; the skate park; and the 2023-24 budget.
  • Environment and Planning. (Last meeting 14 November 2022 – click here to see the minutes.) Items covered included: updates on actions from the previous meeting; 12 planning applications (eight no-objections, two objections (one requested to be called in) and one support); and WBC case officers’ reports.
  • Finance and General Purposes. (Last meeting 16 November 2022 – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: updates on actions from the previous meeting; the skate park; lampposts; the asset register; and the draft budget.

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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