Hungerford Town Council Update December 2022/January 2023

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the HTC meeting on 3 January 2023, 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 first 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 following report was provided for the meeting:

“I shall start by wishing everyone a Happy New Year.

“December has been a quiet month in Hungerford and with no reported shopliftings. There was one report of anti-social behaviour, one of criminal damage and one theft (of number plates).

“On 13 December a vehicle collided with a property on the High Street causing substantial damage. This had meant a full road closure was in place until the buildings had been surveyed in daylight by a building inspector. Subsequently one lane has been opened to traffic and temporary traffic lights have been installed until the buildings have been repaired and deemed safe by building control. An investigation into the incident is currently ongoing by our Roads Policing colleagues.

“The team has been busy elsewhere with a spike in rural theft and burglary offences. Items taken have been Stihl equipment, trailers, quad bikes and such like. Targeted premises have been visited and crime prevention surveys have been carried out to prevent them from becoming repeat victims.

From 9 January the remaining members of the team that have been based out of the TRI Station since Covid will be moving back to Newbury Police Station where the rest of the team are based. We also welcome a new Police Officer, PC Josh Harrop, to the team.”

The local police team

The current set-up of the team is one Inspector, one Sergeant, two 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 accident in the High Street on 13 December 2022

On the afternoon of Tuesday 13 December, a vehicle collided with premises at the top (south) end of Hungerford High Street with such force that serious structural damage was caused to several properties and the gas mains. You can find more information in this separate post.

The meeting was attended by Hungerford resident Helen Armstrong who lives on the opposite side of the street and whose front-door camera captured footage of the incident, which was shown at the meeting. It was also attended by WBC’s Highways Service Director Jon Winstanley.

Helen Armstrong suggested that there had recently been far too many such incidents on the High Street, this happening to the most recent and most serious (in the town centre, building damage on the junction of Park Street and High Street involving HGVs has become increasingly frequent). As well as incurring householders in serious repair costs or insurance claims, there’s also the even more important matter of public safety. The video footage clearly showed a woman and a child and another pedestrian passing the area only seconds before the accident occurred. She also pointed out that WBC has a duty of care to protect walkers and cyclists and also to protect Hungerford’s conservation area. These sentiments were echoed and supported by several councillors, who added that they too had witnessed dangerous driving in the High Street.

Jon Winstanley of WBC admitted that this was a serious incident and one that WBC took seriously but added that the council had many responsibilities as a highways authority, one of which was to ensure that traffic kept moving and that the A338 was an “A” road and thus designed for through traffic. He added that WBC welcomed any suggestions that emerged from HTC’s Highways and Transport Committee meeting on 23 January at which the matter would be discussed and possible solutions identified.

As Councillor Richard Hudson (himself a transport officer in another authority) and Jon Winstanley agreed,  solving the issue involved striking a delicate balance between the needs to the various people who used the A338 or who, directly or indirectly, derived their livelihoods from it. The aim would be to create a policy covering traffic and road-safety across the whole town, not merely a reaction to this one incident.

It was agreed at the meeting that

  • Residents should be encouraged to reply to Hungerford’s town-centre strategy consultation (which closes at midnight on Sunday 9 January);
  • Residents should attend the meeting on the subject at 6pm on Thursday 19 January;
  • HTC would consider the matter at its Highways and Transport Committee meeting on 23 January and apprise WBC of its conclusions;
  • WBC would provide any assistance and advice during this process;
  • Data (including speeding, photographic and traffic volumes) would be gathered to help provide evidence to support any proposals.

The Mayor’s report

I’d like to wish you all a very happy, healthy new year. I hope you all had a good Christmas break. This month’s report is really a diary of attended events in December

7 Dec: Year 2 Christmas Play

This was an absolute delight and a great start to the festivities. Year 2s, you were incredible and very talented.

8 Dec: JOG OAP Christmas Party

Another fantastic evening hosted by year 6 students and staff. A lovely meal was served by Donna and her team. Great bingo calling by Headteacher Mr Hawthorne. Thank you for allowing us to share in the fun.

9 Dec: Christmas Hungerford Extravaganza

This is another highlight of my civic year.  I was able to wear my beautiful handmade costume by Marion from the Hub. The Scottish pipe band always give me a lump in my throat, just so moving to parade behind. Congratulations Chamber of Commerce, I know the work this takes each year to organise. Derek, you work so incredibly hard, but can you make it a little warmer next year please!  It was so cold.

10 Dec: Town Band Concert

Always so much fun, and really makes me feel festive. The solo performances were outstanding, and the lovely refreshments went down a treat…Tim’s jokes however definitely need some work (only kidding…)

11 Dec: Mayor’s Carol Service

The service was very well attended and we had a full church. Thank you to my readers and to Keith for the solo performance and to Hungerford Town band for donating their time. A whopping £600 was raised from our collection which, I shared with the church and Tuesday Burchett Club.

12 Dec: Tuesday Club Lunch

Another fun lunch with a huge raffle. Thank you for inviting me again, it’s always great fun.

14 Dec: Chamber of Commerce Drinks

The last of the civic Christmas gatherings. Wonderful company and delicious food from The Plume.

Sadly, I came down (again) with Covid on 16 December and was ill until Christmas Eve. Luckily, I’d recovered enough to host the family at Christmas following a negative test…

District Councillor Claire Rowles

The Mayor said that she had written a letter to WBC leader Lynne Doherty on the subject of DC Rowles’ removal from all her committee positions on 1 December 2022 (see last month’s HTC update for more on this) and that she had recently received a response. She added that she “was not satisfied” with this and was considering whether or not she would reply.

District Councillors’ report

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

  • DC Claire Rowles (see section above). DC James Cole said there had been a number of letters sent to local media outlets on the matter.
  • The Tri-station (see Police report above). DC Cole sympathised with HTC’s disappointment that the Police would be removing to Newbury and suggested that one solution was to see if the existing building could be expanded. He said that the local Police team shared the frustration that about an hour a day of policing time was lost as a result of travel between Newbury and Hungerford. he added that such a solution, though possible, wouldn’t be easy.
  • Sewage flooding had been reported in Cottrell Close (with rats also being sighted). Thames Water was reported to be on the scene.
  • The reaction to the above-mentioned accident. WBC’s officers were praised for how quickly they had reacted to this incident.

A vote of thanks

Regarding the last point, HTC proposed a vote of thanks to Jon Winstanley and his colleagues in the Highways Department for getting the High Street re-opened so quickly after the accident: at one stage it appeared that the whole street would need to be closed over the Christmas period.

HTC’s environmental aims and objectives

An interim report prepared by Councillors Downe and Greenwell was presented to the meeting and some “useful” comments by Councillor Richard Hudson were noted. It was agreed that the final version would be be made publicly available following the HTC meeting in February after councillors and officers had been able to study this in more detail.

EV charge points in Hungerford

This matter was raised yet again, as it has been at pretty much every meeting in 2022. The plans for EV charge points at the Station Road car park have got hopelessly bogged as a result of the difficulties in securing a wayleave agreement (by which a property owner permits, usually for fee, an organisation to run a cable, pipe or similar through or under their property). It remains unclear, however, what objection the landowner has to the proposal and whether this can be overcome.

In December, 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 solved. 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.

At the meeting in January it was announced by the two DCs present that, once again, little progress appeared to have been made. WBC’s CEO Nigel Lynn will be attending the March HTC meeting. The hope was expressed by HTC that the matter would have been resolved by then or, at the very least, that he would be able to announce a resolution when he addresses the meeting.

Streetlight upgrade

One the last few years, HTC has been conducting a rolling upgrade of its streetlights to LED operation. This upgrade is a pre-condition demanded by WBC before it adopts the street lights and is thereafter responsible fore all maintenance and energy costs. To date about 60 have been upgraded and handed over. The meeting approved the upgrade of the final eight, in Prospect Road and Southview.

This will still leave HTC with about 30 streetlights which WBC is not prepared to adopt as their spacing and location do not meet its policies. HTC will therefore need to decide if these are to be upgraded, so reducing the maintenance and running costs which HTC will continue to bear.

The Skate Park

It was announced at the meeting that all the funding necessary for providing this had been secured, from a mixture of WBC’s CIL bids. match funding from Greenham Trust and HTC’s own contributions. Many Councillors reported that public reaction to the plans had been very positive. A start date should be announced in February 2023.

The Croft Field Centre

Funding for phase one of this project had been secured and it was hoped that work would start in February 2023.

Newbury Soup Kitchen in Hungerford

Newbury Soup Kitchen is a local charity which provides more than soup for vulnerable people across the area. In response to the cost of living crisis, it is trialling a free weekly food provision in Hungerford. Starting on Tuesday 10 January, its mobile van in Hungerford Library car park on Tuesdays from 6pm to 7pm.

For more information, including on how to volunteer, click here.

HTC’s budget 

As mentioned last month, this was agreed for 2023-24 as being £344,691, an increase of 4.97% 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.

  • Environment and Planning. (Last meeting 12 December 2022 – click here to see the minutes.) Items covered included: updates on actions from the previous meeting; six planning applications (four no-objections, one objection and one support); and WBC case officers’ reports.
  • Finance and General Purposes. (Last meeting 1 December 2022 – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: updates on actions from the previous meeting; 2023-24 committee budgets; the Croft Field project; mowing work at the Triangle Field.
  • 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.

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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