Newbury Area Weekly News – 2023 Archive

To see the current Newbury Area Weekly News section, please click here.

Please note that this section is presented as an archive of past columns and is not updated (except by the addition of the previous post every week). Some web links may no longer be active (usually indicated by a score-through), for instance when draft parish council minutes are replaced by adopted ones or when a consultation has closed.

Click here for the 2022 archive

Click here for the 2024 archive

Thursday 4 January 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes repairs, recruitment, consultations, cracker tubs. and music – plus the plans for Newbury’s wharf, the 2024 Newbury Show, reporting burst rivers, precept setting and Draughtbusters in Shaw-cum-Donnington.  See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Newbury events include: adventure talk, volunteer recruitment event & digital WWII collection day. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• Is your new years resolution to do volunteer work and make a difference in your community? The Volunteer Centre West Berkshire is holding their 50th Anniversary Volunteer Recruitment Event on Saturday 13 January at the Corn Exchange in Newbury. There will be a diverse range of charities and non-profits attending, so whatever your interests or skillsets are, there is sure to be something for you. Click here to learn more.

• You might remember that a little while ago we mentioned that a new monthly Repair Café is coming to Newbury and Thatcham. The first one will be on Saturday 25 February at Newbury Methodist Church Hall and they are still looking for meeters and greeters, volunteer repairers (furniture, clothes, digital etc), PAT testers and knife sharpeners. If that could be you, please click here for more details and how to register your interest.

• There is still time to have your say about the future of Willows Edge Care Home in Newbury. Please fill out this council survey by 11 January 2024. See background information here and below for more council surveys that might affect you.

West Berkshire Libraries are offering new online support for students: secondary students can sign up to a fun, interactive way of learning via Brillder, an exciting online resource, and a free 12 week Library Code Club starts from Monday 8 January for 9 – 11 years to learn to code at home with Scratch.

• Our local hospitals are under extra pressure during the Junior Doctor strike until Tuesday 9 January. For latest updates and advice please follow Great Western Hospital’s facebook page and Reading’s Royal Berkshire Hospital’s facebook page here.

• Have you got any Second World War related diaries, letters, photos, memorabilia, stories and objects which you would like to preserve for future generations? On Wednesday 17 January from 10am to 2pm, West Berkshire Museum will be holding a Digital Collection Day, in which items will be recorded and added to the free-to-use digital online achieve theirfinesthour.org. To learn more get in contact with Gemma Taylor at gemma.taylor@westberks.gov.uk.

• For the third year running, Thatcham Refillable is collecting empty sweet and cracker tubs until 3o January for the Tub2Pub scheme that raises money for Macmillan cancer. Contact Jenny and Tom at Thatcham Refillable to find out where to drop off your tubs or if they can collect they from you. The tubs will be taken to The Bear Hotel in Hungerford, part of the Greene King chain that organises the scheme.

• Congratulations to Luke Humphries from Newbury who became the World Darts Champion this week beating Luke Littler 7-4 in the PDC World Darts Championship in London on Wednesday night. According to the BBC, Humphries began playing at the Crucible Sports Club in Newbury and will celebrate by putting money behind the bar there to thank his early supporters.

• For the low-down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page

• Newbury’s Wharf

West Berkshire Council has announced that “exciting proposals are progressing as we continue working on plans to revitalise some of our town centres.” The statement goes on to say that one of the “main visions is the Newbury Town Centre Masterplan which looks to broaden the leisure, community and cultural experience to help the town centre transform into a space for social interaction, economic growth, public engagement and community activities.” The word “transform” rather suggests that Newbury is accomplishing none of these things at present, which some might disagree with.

However bold its promises, no one can claim that the masterplan work on Newbury (or the similar projects being undertaken in Hungerford and Thatcham) are politically motivated as the work was started under the last (Conservative) administration and is continuing under the current (Lib Dem) one. All the projects (many of which are still to be confirmed) will be long-term and all will be dependant on funding. The more public engagement there is and the more evidence that can be provided to support the plans, the more likely it is that the necessary sums can be secured.

Phase one of Newbury’s work is the redevelopment of the Wharf and an application was lodged just before Christmas. You can view the details here. The works are summarised as being “Improvement works to Wharfside and Peace Garden, including the extension of public realm in both areas, introduction of rain gardens. new porous (SUDS) ground surfaces and water edge treatment. Extension of Peace Garden to increase green space. Removal of some parking spaces and signage. Introduction of new Peace Garden sign. New lighting and seating across all the areas. Areas of natural play.” WBC’s own summary, which employs less brutal syntax, is the project is will “improve and transform the current space into a more inviting and welcoming place.”

• Draughtbusters

The following is taken from the minutes of Shaw-cum-Donnington’s Parish Council meeting on 20 December regarding David Marson’s presentation on West Berkshire Draughtbusters.

“David is treasurer of the local Relief in Need charity, and also a trustee of West Berkshire Draughtbusters, which is currently being publicised. It is run by volunteers, including Steve Ardagh- Walter and Ken Neale. Volunteers go out and help those in need, which is not strictly defined, to improve insulation, especially draughts. This means fixing draughts through doors, windows, floorboards and holes in walls. Usually quick fixes that bring a dramatic difference.

“The charity provides the materials and labour free of charge. Contributions are requested if the householder is able to pay. They are happy to take on self-referrals, for those who rent and own, including Sovereign Housing and almshouse residents. Funded by Greenham Trust and WB Council’s Green Energy Scheme. The charity will also look for donations from building companies. To date demand has not been as high as anticipated. David has visited the Warm Spaces in Speen and at St Mary’s Church. It was recommended that David pass on information to the fire service and the Community Furniture Project.”

For more information on West Berkshire Draughtbusters, please click here.

• Watching the water

The River River gauge at Shaw measured 1.81m this week, the highest it has read since it was positioned under the A339 Bridge in Autumn of 2019.  If anyone knows of anywhere that the main River Lambourn has gone “out of bank”, Paula Saunderson requests you please report Location, date and time on the Newbury Flood and Drainage Action Facebook Group and photo if possible without endangering yourself.

If it is near residential property please report to the Environment Agency on the Floodline  0345 988 1188. Yourwill be reporting “a main river out of bank”. Please also report any flooding to West Berkshire Council here.

• Save the date

The Newbury Show – which didn’t happen on 2020, 2021 or 2022 due to, respectively, Covid, Covid and a change of management – was back with a bang last year, attracting over 32,000 visitors. The Newbury and District Agricultural Society (NADAS) which organises the event has recently confirmed that this year’s show will take place on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 September. The latter is the date of the autumnal equinox, though I doubt that played a huge part in the decision.

The 2024 show will be introducing an area dedicated to the environment and sustainability and NADAS welcomes enquiries from interested sponsors and trade stands supporting this important initiative. All trade stands are now on sale with a Super Early Bird rate and Local Producers’ rate.

For more information, see this post.

• Setting the precept

The following has been adapted from Simon Kirby’s facebook post.

Newbury Town Council’s Planning & Highways Committee meets Monday 8 January. It’s at this time of year that parish councils along with other bodies who raise their revenue through a precept (such as the police and fire and rescue) review their budgets. Precepts are collected with council tax by the district council on behalf of these organisations. A precept is not itself council tax and increases are not capped by central government in the way council tax is: so while they have limited responsibilities, parish councils such as Newbury Town Council can levy whatever tax they please and this generally passes without comment.

If you’re interested in where the £1,200,000 of parish precept is spent you might like to go along to Monday’s committee meeting.

(It’s also worth bearing in mind that West Berkshire Council is proposing a number of service cuts. Some of these, including rubbish and dog bins and verge cutting, may be taken over by the town and parish councils. Unfortunately, they will need to set their budgets before the full results of WBC’s consultations are knows. Some towns and parishes may, therefore, be increasing their precepts to cover the cost of services that might otherwise disappear.)

• Have your say

Have your say on current consultations being run by West Berkshire Council:

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

The Corn Exchange café bar on Thursday mornings between 10.30am and 12.30pm hosts Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

• Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join its friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

• Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group and its Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

Printer ink cartridges can be recycled at the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk. – 01635 018500

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need. – 01635 43933

• Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.

Newbury Town Council Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall.

Newbury’s two friendly community cafés on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Café in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

• Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2pm to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment.

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Until Sun 21 JanNo Sudden Moves exhibition inspired by Newbury wharf, West Berkshire Museum.

Wed 10 Jan Adventure at the Extreme – Talk with Jordan Wylie MBE, The Presidents Room at the Bowlers Arms, Wash Common, Newbury.

Sat 13 Jan Volunteer Recruitment Event, The Corn Exchange, Newbury.

Wed 17 Jan Digital WWII Collection Day, West Berkshire Library, Newbury.

Sun 25 Feb Newbury Repair Café, Newbury Methodist Church Hall.

 Regular events

A wide range of activities for over 55 year olds is offered by The Corn Exchange in its Ageing Creatively programme.

 Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

Ukulele group workshops for all levels with the UTeam in Wash Common. Call 07963 647087 to enquire.

• Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

 Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

• Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

• Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

• Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many art-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.


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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 23 October and you can read the minutes here. Note that many matters are delegated to committees.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 20 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; correspondence; a presentation from West Berkshire Draughtbusters (see separate section above); litter bins; trees and hedges; financial matters; ward members’ reports; planning matters; speeding; the recreation Ground; and Bill Graham’s bench.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 22 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 7 November 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 Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 October 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 Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 25 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 Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click hereTo see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 ValleyThatcham area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 21 December 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes winners, markets, diaries, consultations and adventures – plus a look back at some of the main things we’ve covered in this column in 2023.  See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Newbury events include: Christmas Market, Newbury’s Living Advent Calendar & Christmas Quiz. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• Still got some last bits of Christmas shopping to do? The Highclere SustainHuble Market is on Saturday 23 December. Located at Westridge Studio, stalls will include Thatcham Refillable, Highclere Kitchen Garden, Artisan Columbian Coffee, Aston’s Bakehouse, The Rat’s Whiskers, Pre-Loved Jewellery and more. Click here for details.

• Our local hospitals are under extra pressure during the Junior Doctor strike 20 to 22 December and 3 to 8 January.  Statement from Great Western Hospital in Swindon: While we will continue to provide urgent and emergency care, hospital may not be the best place to be seen for your treatment needs. If you have an appointment with us, you should continue to come to the hospital. Anyone whose appointment is cancelled or postponed will be contacted directly. For latest updates follow GWH’s facebook page. – likewise Reading’s Royal Berkshire Hospital’s facebook page here.

• While Christmas can be a time of enormous joy for many, heightened emotions can also magnify loneliness and grief. If you find Christmas stressful or depressing, you are not alone. See here for advice and help that is available.

• At this time of year when all normal routines take a buffeting and emotions can be stretched, a little levity and lightheartedness doesn’t go amiss. With this in mind, we folk at Penny Post are challenging each other to come up with the best Christmas cracker joke – or should we saw the worst because there is a good psychological reason why cracker jokes are so bad. Perhaps you and yours could do the same? Here is one to get you started: What do frogs wear on their feet ? Open-toad sandals…

• Students and staff at Newbury College have contributed to the festivities with their new Christmas music video I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day.

Newbury Twin Town Association recently hosted a visit from Bagnoles-sur-Cèze to coincide with the lantern festivities for the visitors to enjoy. Thanks to Gill Durrant for her report and invitation to anyone who would like to join NTTA which is twinned with five different towns across Europe.

• Have you got any Second World War related diaries, letters, photos, memorabilia, stories and objects which you would like to preserve for future generations? On Wednesday 17 January from 10am to 2pm, West Berkshire Museum will be holding a Digital Collection Day, in which items will be recorded and added to the free-to-use digital online achieve theirfinesthour.org. To learn more get in contact with Gemma Taylor at gemma.taylor@westberks.gov.uk.

• Congratulations to everyone involved in organising the recent Boxford Christmas market which raised over £800 which will be split between the Village Hall and the Boxford Masques.

• If you would like to start the new year with a bit of inspiration, Jordan Wylie MBE will be giving a talk on ‘Adventures – at the Extreme‘ with the Newbury Yacht Club on Wednesday 10 January. Wylie is known for his appearances on Channel 4’s Hunted and Celebrity Hunted, as well as his books about his real life stories. He has also been commended for his charity work. Members are free to attend and guests/visitor’s pay £5 at the door – of which all proceeds will go to one of Wylie’s nominated charites.

• Are you over 65 and spending Christmas alone? Christians Together is holding a Community Christmas Day Event at St Georges Church Hall (Andover Road, Newbury), from 10am to 3.30pm with transport if required. There will be entertainment, Christmas dinner and a goodie bag to take home. If you would like to join in, contact marinaoabraham@gmail.com or call 07828 244119.

• Quick reminder about free bus travel this Saturday 23 December. If you start your journey in West Berkshire, the free travel even extends to our neighbouring areas such as Reading, Basingstoke and Swindon. Your return journey is also free. To learn more click here.

• If you are concerned about the future of Willows Edge Care Home in Newbury, please fill out this council survey by 11 January 2024. See background information here and below for more council surveys that might affect you.

• This year’s West Berkshire Toy/Gift Appeal in memory of Louise Purton includes an Amazon wishlist and local drop-off points across Newbury, Thatcham and Hungerford. Please see their website here for all the details or follow Swift’s facebook page.

Santa’s Grotto at the Community Furniture Project/Resource Centre is giving out the gifts donated above to children in need from Monday to Saturday 9am to 4pm until 23 December.

•  See calendar here of Newbury’s Living Advent Calendar’s final venues and dates during December.

• Local charity Home-Start needs help collecting Christmas donations and presents for families going through a tough time. Many local businesses have signed up as collection points to accept donations, including Dunelm, Tesco and Vodafone in Newbury. Please contact office@home-startwb.org.uk or call 01635 760 310.

• For the low-down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page

• The man on the bus

Newbury Town Councillor Steve Masters set himself the task of trying to ride every bus out of Newbury on on Saturday 16 December. We joined for part of the journey (not to check up on him, you understand, but in a spirit of support and encouragement) and, to our delight, ran into someone we know on the Number 4. You can read Steve Masters’ account of his bus-a-thon in this post.

The free travel is also available on the buses on Saturday 23 December: more information can be found here.

I’ve asked WBC if they can let me know how the number of passengers on Saturday 16 December compared to an average Saturday and will hope to have an answer in the new year. I don’t know how much this cost WBC (I’ve asked that too) and I imagine given the current state of its finances it can’t afford to make this a more regular event. None the less, buses are for life, not just for Christmas. I’ll also be enquiring if they’ve looked into whether any large private companies in the area might be willing to sponsor a similar initiative at other times of the year.

• A look back at 2023

Each week in 2023, with a couple of exceptions, we’ve provided an overview of what’s been going on in the area. The more important ones have merited their own sections. Some of these have been referred to time and time again as there are very few issues of any significance that can get resolved within seven days. 

All the previous versions of this column are archived: follow the links at the foot of this post and then thereafter to locate them. You can use search (command + F on a Mac, control + F on a PC) to find a particular subject. Many of these appear very frequently. Here I’ve picked out a few stories in this area we’ve covered this year.

• Probably the most important single event was the local election in May which ended 16 years of Conservative rule in West Berkshire. Of course, new councils rarely produce immediate results (and no council can change as much as it would like to) so the full effects of the election on this area will take some time to be felt. One matter which has already become clear is that WBC needs to make some serious savings. This has led to a number of consultations which close on 11 January preparatory to the final budget being set in February.

• That said, the return of football to Faraday Road in Newbury was one of the first demonstrable acts performed by the new administration. This isn’t the end of this sorry saga which stretches back to 2018: indeed, this latest change merely returns the situation to the closure of the ground in June of that year but misses the parts of the infrastructure which were torched, sold, given away or stolen during this time.

• Which inevitably leads to the scarcely-less-important matter of the proposed replacement (if that’s what it was – no one seems quite sure) for Faraday Road at the Rugby Club at Monks Lane. It’s currently uncertain what will become of this project (which still has planning permission and a line in WBC’s budget) so this is one worth keeping an eye on.

• So too is the redevelopment of the Kennet Centre, now known as Eagle Quarter. We’ve followed this very closely in its stop-start journey through the planning system and have been in touch with both the developers and the Newbury Society which has led the charge to have the plans scaled down.  The main problem for some is its scale and it remains to be seen if the latest changes have provided a plan that WBC can live with. A decision is expected in the early part of 2024.

• The London Road Industrial Estate (now officially Bond Riverside) has been rumbling on for the best part of two decades. Many feel that it needs redevelopment but no one agrees into what it should change. Various visions have been produced by WBC but all have – through a combination of legal obstacles, planning issues and robust opposition from down-stream residents who fear that any development would worsen their flooding problems – led to nothing much having happened. The new administration has yet to grasp this particular nettle or take this bull by the horns. Other cliches are available and may yet need to be resorted to as the coverage continues into 2024.

• Another live issue in Newbury is that of the proposed pedestrianisation in the town centre. It’s probably true that there has never been a pedestrianisation scheme which pleases everyone but, after a broadly successful experiment for three months during the first pandemic summer and armed with some positive reactions through the town-centre strategy survey, WBC is going to try to get something for at least six months and see how it works. We’ve been covering the various political, administrative and governmental issues this needs to overcome and will continue to follow this until the test goes live some time in 2024.

• After a pause resulting from the elections and the change of administration, the district’s three town-centre strategies got back under way in the autumn. These cover Hungerford, Thatcham and Newbury and are designed to identify and provide evidence for the need for projects which will benefit the town and then seek to raise money to provide them. The steering groups are all chaired by local, rather than WBC, representatives.

• Another local project that we’ve been following is Newbury’s neighbourhood development plan. These are complicated, time-consuming and important projects that periodically disappear from public view for some months while background work goes on and then emerge back into the public gaze when engagement with residents is required. As with all NDPs in the district, this is being conducted against a backdrop of intense uncertainty as a result of the fitful progress on WBC’s plan and the continuing rumbles of possible change from Whitehall.

• The community transport company Readibus, which is particularly active in the Thatcham and Newbury areas, was for some years engaged in a spat with the previous administration at WBC which really came down to the Council’s insistence on a non-reciprocal condition which has been with some justification described as a “gagging clause”. The irony is that insisting on this created for WBC exactly the kind of bad publicity that gagging clauses are designed to prevent. We’ve followed this story closely and have been contacted by a number of Readibus’ clients during this period, all of whom were upset by the service cuts that resulted from WBC’s partial withdrawal of funding. The relationship now seems to be on the mend and we’ll hope to share good news on this in 2024.

Other matters that we’ve covered include planning applications and the disputes that sometimes attend these; Newbury Town Council’s attempts to get a new café built in Victoria Park; the conclusion of the saga of the planning problems at the Bell at Boxford resulting from the nutrient neutrality regulations; Enborne’s quest to build a solar farm and the problems this has faced; and the long-awaited return of the Newbury Show. We also provide a link to the most recent town and parish council minutes and, for the first few weeks after they’re published, provide a summary of these.

• Have your say

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

The Corn Exchange café bar on Thursday mornings between 10.30am and 12.30pm hosts Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

• Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join its friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

• Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group and its Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

Printer ink cartridges can be recycled at the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk. – 01635 018500

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need. – 01635 43933

• Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.

Newbury Town Council Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall.

Newbury’s two friendly community cafés on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Café in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

• Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2pm to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment.

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Until Sun 21 JanNo Sudden Moves exhibition inspired by Newbury wharf, West Berkshire Museum.

• Until 24 Dec Newbury’s Living Advent Calendar (different venues each day).

Fri 22 Dec Christmas Party Night with Sion Whiley, The Craven Arms.

Sun 31 Dec New Years Eve Fireworks, The Spotted Dog Pub.

Wed 10 Jan Adventure at the Extreme – Talk with Jordan Wylie MBE, The Presidents Room at the Bowlers Arms, Wash Common, Newbury.

Sat 13 Jan Volunteer Recruitment Event, The Corn Exchange, Newbury.

Wed 17 Jan Digital WWII Collection Day, West Berkshire Library, Newbury.

Sun 25 Feb Newbury Repair Café, Newbury Methodist Church Hall.

 Regular events

A wide range of activities for over 55 year olds is offered by The Corn Exchange in its Ageing Creatively programme.

 Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

Ukulele group workshops for all levels with the UTeam in Wash Common. Call 07963 647087 to enquire.

• Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

 Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

• Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

• Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

• Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many art-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.


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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 23 October and you can read the minutes here. Note that many matters are delegated to committees. Items covered included: Rod Thomason, RIP; Berkshire Youth; Loose ends and Newbury CC; reports from the Mayor, the Leader and the CEO; committee reports;  working group reports; and financial coal matters.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 22 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the co-option of a new councillor; the Recreation Ground; financial matters; committee reports; the defibrillator; and repairs and maintenance.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; the co-option of a new councillor; correspondence; financial matters; speeding; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; the Christmas newsletter; and a possible new bus route.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 7 November 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 Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 October 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 Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 25 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 Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click hereTo see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 ValleyThatcham area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 14 December 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes a Christmas event, an interesting change, a concert, Willows Edge and donations – plus a look at what “football’s coming home” really means, the latest Hamstead Hornet and a local councillor trying to catch all the free buses on Saturday.  See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Newbury events include: Christmas Market, Newbury’s Living Advent Calendar & Christmas Quiz. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• Are you over 65 and spending Christmas alone? Christians Together is holding a Community Christmas Day Event at St Georges Church Hall (Andover Road, Newbury), from 10am to 3.30pm with transport if required. There will be entertainment, Christmas dinner and a goodie bag to take home. If you would like to join in, contact marinaoabraham@gmail.com or call 07828 244119.

• Quick reminder about free bus travel this Saturday 16 and 23 December. If you start your journey in West Berkshire, the free travel even extends to our neighbouring areas such as Reading, Basingstoke and Swindon. Your return journey is also free. To learn more click here.

• This Saturday 16 December the Newbury Choral Society will be holding its Christmas Concert,at 7.30pm at St Nicholas Church, Newbury. Get yourself in the seasonal spirit with popular and much loved Christmas music. Click here to get tickets.

• If you are concerned about the future of Willows Edge Care Home in Newbury, please fill out this council survey by 11 January 2024. See background information here and below for more council surveys that might affect you.

• This year’s West Berkshire Toy/Gift Appeal in memory of Louise Purton includes an Amazon wishlist and local drop-off points across Newbury, Thatcham and Hungerford. Please see their website here for all the details or follow Swift’s facebook page.

Santa’s Grotto at the Community Furniture Project/Resource Centre is giving out the gifts donated above to children in need from Monday to Saturday 9am to 4pm until 23 December.

Newbury’s Living Advent Calendar upcoming windows will be revealed at St John’s Church, Clifton Road, Globe Garden at Newbury Lock, Sunflower Days near K&A Canal. See calendar here of all the venues and dates during December.

• The Newbury Happening Now FB page reports that there’s an “interesting” timetable change on the trains between Paddington and Newbury. “There are now trains that operate between Paddington and Didcot and Newbury. The train splits at Reading. One part continues to Didcot with the remainder continuing on to Newbury. Make sure you are in the right bit of the train…”

• Local charity Home-Start needs help collecting Christmas donations and presents for families going through a tough time. Many local businesses have signed up as collection points to accept donations, including Dunelm, Tesco and Vodafone in Newbury. Please contact office@home-startwb.org.uk or call 01635 760 310.

• For the low-down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page

• Football’s coming home

There’s a letter in our local paper which refers to this phrase and asks what it means. It’s true it’s a cliché and has been over-used, including by me in the heading to this section. It relates, of course, to the song Three Lions by Frank Skinner, David Baddiel and Ian Brodie of The Lightning Seeds to celebrate what was was hoped to be England’s victory in Euro ’96. The phrase is the chorus so it’s often known by this name rather than its real title. In West Berkshire, it’s been heavily used in respect of the football ground at Faraday Road, to which football has now returned following five years of pointless closure.

The letter writer proposes that the phrase is ambiguous and could refer to “multiple footballs” coming home. It can’t, however, as the word “football’s” is not a plural but, with the apostrophe, a contraction of “football is”. The apostrophe can also denote possession: but, as the apostrophe is before the s, only one football is involved. In any case, one would need a noun after it to show who the possessor is – “Football’s owner” for example. “Coming” could be a gerund (“the coming home of football”) but that means pretty much the same as “football is coming home”. Were there no apostrophe (which might be how it’s sometimes written, though not in this letter), the writer would be correct: but in that case there’d be no confusion either as it could only refer to multiple footballs, as he points out.

Moving on, he suggests that the work done currently results in a fairly low-grade facility. He’s right and I doubt the council would disagree. However, the party’s manifesto pledge said that, if elected, it would “Return football to Faraday Road”, this to be accomplished by “(1) Immediately returning the grass to bookable football space and (2) Agreeing outline plans with the Newbury Community Football Group for a new pitch with an enhanced stadium and facilities.” The first of this has undeniably happened and the second is happening. The writer does concede that “change has been delivered” but feels there should have been more.

If the facilities are currently a little basic, that’s because the clubhouse was burned down and the stand was sold or gifted to Hungerford Town FC while the perimeter fence appeared to have been stolen. It makes no sense to replace any of these until the longer-term future of the site is agreed, including whether an artificial pitch should be installed, what else will be built there and the massive question of how the drainage and flooding issues will be resolved.

The letter concludes with the advice that “the Lib Dems had better get their act together pretty quickly”. I agree that the time may come when the lack of such plans will smack of inaction but I don’t think that time’s been reached yet. I would certainly hope for something definite to be announced by the time the administration celebrates its first 365 days in charge in May 2024.

• Hamstead’s Hornet

Last week saw the publication of the 108th edition of the Hamstead Hornet, which chronicles local life in and around Hamstead Marshall. This issue includes Watery Lane, crime reports, Good Hope Farm, carols at Chapel Corner, the Gardening Society, Bob Williams, planning  applications and what’s on.

The HH’s editor, Penny Stokes, also wrote Georgian Newbury, which provides some fascinating insights into our county town’s tumultuous eighteenth-century history. More information on the book can be found here.

• The man on the bus

If on Saturday 16 December you’re on a bus in West Berkshire and you see a man anxiously scanning a timetable or crossing something off on a list, that could well be Newbury Town Councillor Steve Masters. He has set himself the task of trying to ride every bus out of Newbury on that day. His busathon starts with a departure on the 3X to Hungerford at 6.50 and ends just after midnight with him rolling into the bus station on the Jet Black service from Thatcham. We’ll be hoping to join him for a short part of the Number 4 route between East Garston and Lambourn in the late morning.

“I am doing this is to highlight the free bus days here in West Berkshire,” he told us, “and also to draw attention to  the gaps in the current timetable. These could, if addressed, reduce social isolation, improve economic mobility and reduce the dependency on cars across the district.” You can follow his progress here.

• Have your say

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

The Corn Exchange café bar on Thursday mornings between 10.30am and 12.30pm hosts Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

• Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join its friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

• Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group and its Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

Printer ink cartridges can be recycled at the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk. – 01635 018500

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need. – 01635 43933

• Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.

Newbury Town Council Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall.

Newbury’s two friendly community cafés on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Café in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

• Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2pm to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment.

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Until Sun 21 JanNo Sudden Moves exhibition inspired by Newbury wharf, West Berkshire Museum.

• Until 24 Dec Newbury’s Living Advent Calendar (different venues each day).

Sat 16 Dec Newbury Christmas Market, Newbury

Sat 16 Dec Newbury Choral Society Christmas Concert, St Nicholas Church, Newbury.

Mon 18 Dec Christmas Quiz, The Spotted Dog Pub.

Fri 22 Dec Christmas Party Night with Sion Whiley, The Craven Arms.

Sun 31 Dec New Years Eve Fireworks, The Spotted Dog Pub.

Sat 13 Jan Volunteer Recruitment Event, The Corn Exchange, Newbury.

 Regular events

A wide range of activities for over 55 year olds is offered by The Corn Exchange in its Ageing Creatively programme.

 Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

Ukulele group workshops for all levels with the UTeam in Wash Common. Call 07963 647087 to enquire.

• Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

 Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

Living Well Singing Café runs on Wednesdays from 2.15pm to 3pm at the Waterside Centre. All ages welcome. Contact singingcafe@berkshiremaestros.org.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

• Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

• Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

• Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many art-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.


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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 23 October and you can read the minutes here. Note that many matters are delegated to committees. Items covered included: Rod Thomason, RIP; Berkshire Youth; Loose ends and Newbury CC; reports from the Mayor, the Leader and the CEO; committee reports;  working group reports; and financial coal matters.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 22 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the co-option of a new councillor; the Recreation Ground; financial matters; committee reports; the defibrillator; and repairs and maintenance.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; the co-option of a new councillor; correspondence; financial matters; speeding; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; the Christmas newsletter; and a possible new bus route.

• The most recent meeting of Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: land south of School Road; planning matters; financial matters; rights of way; speeding; the parish assembly (2 May 2024); and reports from the Clerk and from councillors.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 October 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 Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 25 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 Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 18 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 Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click hereTo see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 ValleyThatcham area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 7 December 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: lights, wildflowers, trees, football in the park and discounted lunches –  plus a look at a letter about football returning to Faraday Road and a reminder that proposed WBC budget cuts may impact on community transport services. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Newbury events include: Festival of Light, Newbury’s Living Advent Calendar. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• Newbury’s Festival of Light is this Sunday 10 December, with a procession of lanterns parading down Northbrook street to the Market Square at 4pm. There will also be live music and an overall festival atmosphere throughout the town. Click here for more information.

Newbury Town Council latest newsletter for December celebrates the completion of the Victoria Park Bandstand, bulb planting and the upcoming wildflower meadow seeding.

• Can you help seed a new wildflower meadow at Greenham House Gardens (opposite the ‘Burger King roundabout’) this Sunday 10 December between 10am and 1pm? Newbury Town Council’s Green Spaces Working Group, in partnership with Newbury in Bloom, is seeking volunteers for this project, following other successful community planting and pruning days in the town earlier in the year. Click here to learn more.

• St John & St Nicholas Primary School Choir performed a lovely rendition of Rudolph the Reindeer for the Wednesday 6 December’s living advent calendar window at Newbury Library with a lovely window decorated by visitors to EducafeUK’s Community Cafe, with many Christmas messages in different languages.  See more details here.

Newbury’s Living Advent Calendar upcoming windows will be revealed at West Berkshire Museum, The Kennet Centre, City Arts and Parkway. See calendar here of all the venues and dates during December.

• Newbury Town Council’s Green Spaces Working Group, together with HSS Sewa (Hindu Swayamesvak Sangh), successfully planted 20 fruit trees and 10 deciduous trees last weekend at Hutton Close with the Mayor of Newbury, Councillor Nigel Foot lending a helping hand. Sewa Day undertakes projects in collaboration with local authorities like Councils and other charities and earlier this year, the group raised funds for this event by holding a charity coffee morning at the Town Hall. More tree planting is planned for the New Year. See more details here.

• There is still time to nominate local residents or volunteers who have gone above and beyond to help the community for West Berkshire’s Community Champion Awards. Fill in the online nomination form by Monday 11 December.

• A reminder that the SustainHUBle Market at Wash Common will be happening a week earlier than usual this month, on Thursday 14 December. Stock up on your pre-Christmas refills from jams and chutneys, pies and baked goods, as well as skincare, cards and gift. Click here to find out more.

• As reported previously, football has returned to Victoria Park which was commemorated last week with a game visited by the Deputy Mayor and some Town Councillors. The football pitch has had significant investment and improvements made over time and is now taking bookings for both casual and block bookings up to the end of April 2024, as well as youth training sessions. To learn more click here.

• Quick reminder about free bus travel on Saturdays 16 and 23 December. The free travel even extends to our neighbouring areas such as Reading, Basingstoke, and Swindon. If you start your journey in West Berkshire, your return journey is also free. To learn more click here.

• Christians Together in the Newbury Area (CTNA) invites anyone aged 65 or over to a free Community Christmas event at St George’s Church Hall in Andover Road, Newbury RG14 6NU from 10am to 3.30pm on Christmas Day. For more information, please email marinaoabraham@gmail.com or call 07828 244 119.

• The Base is currently holding a Photography Competition, on the theme of ‘My Wild Life’ inspired by nature. Budding photographers of all ages and expertise can enter, and finalists will be chosen by a panel of expert judges and the winning entries will be chosen by the general public in an online vote. The deadline to enter is Sunday 7 January 2024. Click here to find out how to enter.

• Quick reminder that local seniors can now get a £2 discount on delicious two-course lunches at The Fair Close Centre or via Meals on Wheels thanks to a new initiative between The Fair Close Centre and West Berkshire Council. See here for more details and how to apply.

Newbury & Thatcham Repair Café  aims to run monthly alternating between Newbury and Thatcham from February 2024 and needs a pool of clever volunteers who can help. If this sounds like something you could help with, register your interest via this form.

• Local charity Home-Start need help collecting Christmas donations and presents for families going through a tough time. Many local local businesses have signed up as collection points to accept donations, including Dunelm, Tesco and Vodafone in Newbury. If you would like to get involved and organise a collection within your organisation, please get in touch at office@home-startwb.org.uk or call 01635 760 310.

• Quick reminder about the silent peace vigils calling for a ceasefire in the Middle East in Newbury on Thursday evenings starting at 7.30pm. All welcome. See details in NWN here.

• For the low down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page.

• Football again

There’s a letter in this week’s NWN (“Football has not come home to Faraday Road”) which contains a number of observations that I find, at best, confusing.

The writer regards the congratulations given to WBC for having returned football to Faraday Road as “nauseating”, though it’s not clear why. The party’s election manifesto said that it would “immediately return the grass to bookable football space.” One could quibble with the “immediately”: but it has happened. The second part of the pledge spoke of “agreeing outline plans with the Newbury Community Football Group for a new pitch with an enhanced stadium and facilities.” Rather more slowly than was hoped, this is happening. the NGFG has re-defined itself as a CIC representing the wider interests of the football community and is now committed to working with WBC rather than, as previously, protesting against it.

The writer adds that “at least” the Tories proposed Monks Lane which “would be up to National League pyramid standards.” Indeed: but level of the pyramid? There is doubt on this point and the writer offers no step number for what he believes Monks Lane could achieve. I concede, and always have done, that the then portfolio holder Howard Woollaston did at least try to address this problem although, as matters showed, not in a way that made it clear whether the facility was a replacement or not.

He goes on to say that both schemes could be needed. He may be right. Nothing has been decided on this. As I mentioned last week, the planning permission for Monks Lane hasn’t been withdrawn and there’s still a budget line for it.

He then suggests that the Lib Dems are just “playing politics” with the issue. What does this ghastly phrase even mean?

His next observation is how foolish the Council is for not installing a 4G pitch. This may happen but is a much bigger decision. Aside from the cost, there’s the possibility that a flood attenuation measure may need to be put under the pitch. There are also wider questions of there stand, the clubhouse and a possible commercial development such as a conference centre. Any artificial pitch would need to form a part of that. Would the writer prefer that it be installed now and then, perhaps, need to be torn up?

He then swerves on to the completely unrelated issue of the café in Victoria Park. This is on a different site, is (possibly) being paused or amended for a different reason and is being managed by a different council (Newbury rather than WBC). I’m not sure what this is doing in this letter at all.

The Lib Dem administration may not be perfect (which one could be?) but it has so far done, or is doing, what it said it would on this tangled and divisive matter. As I’ve mentioned before, this has only reverted to the situation back to where it was in June 2018, less the aspects of the Faraday Road ground which have been burned, sold or stolen during the disastrous interregnum. In the context of this strange and unedifying saga, that has to be regarded as progress of a kind. It’s also keeping an election pledge, so far.

• Community transport consultation

Today I got a call from some one who, having read something I’d written, wanted to tell me how excellent they found the Readibus service. I agreed that this was something I’d heard several times before and was able to point out that the community transport charity has recently won another award.

I also explained to her that although its long-running dispute with WBC, resulting from the Council’s peculiar insistence on what amounts to a gagging clause, is in the process of being healed, it now faces a new problem. As many will be aware, WBC is like many councils short of money has has recently launched several consultations concerning possible cuts or extra charges (or “restructuring” as it euphemistically describes the latter).

One of these specifically looks at the possibility of reducing its contributions to community transport services. I explained to the caller that this might reduce the possibility of Readibus’ funding returning to its pre-dispute and levels and could even diminish the amount of funding it currently receives. This would lead inevitably to a reduction in the service that she and many others value so highly.

I suggested to my caller that the best thing she could do was to respond to the consultation by the closing date on 11 January 2024 and encourage others to do so too. When she said she wasn’t online, I looked up WBC’s switchboard number to give her so she could request a paper copy. I dialled it – 01635 55 11 11 –while she waited on the other line just to check that was the one to use.

For anyone who’s worried about the time they might to spend doing this, I can offer the reassuring news that the call was answered promptly by a very helpful woman who suggested I pass on the address to which the form should be sent. It should even now be winging its way towards its destination with such speed as Royal Mail can currently master.

Councils are obliged to provide hard copies of documents for those who aren’t online. Royal Mail is also obliged to deliver them, although (as reported here in the past) this doesn’t always happen as swiftly as it might, so do allow plenty of time. Libraries (which were saved for a similar funding axe about eight years ago) provide internet access and there may well be friends or neighbours who can help off-liners complete response or can print if off for them to fill in by hand and post back to WBC. O

bviously, anyone not on-line won’t be reading this article: so, if you know of anyone who might want to have their say on this or any other consultation but is not part of the digital universe, please pass this information on to them.

• Have your say

Have your say on current consultations being run by West Berkshire Council:

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

The Corn Exchange café bar on Thursday mornings between 10.30am and 12.30pm hosts Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

• Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join its friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

• Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group and its Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

Printer ink cartridges can be recycled at the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk. – 01635 018500

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need. – 01635 43933

• Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.

Newbury Town Council Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall.

Newbury’s two friendly community cafés on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Café in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

• Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2pm to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment.

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Until Sun 21 JanNo Sudden Moves exhibition inspired by Newbury wharf, West Berkshire Museum.

• Until 24 Dec Newbury’s Living Advent Calendar (different venues each day).

• Sun 10 Dec Festival of Light, Newbury Town Centre.

• Sun 10 Dec Community Meadow Seeding, Greenham House Gardens (near ‘Burger King’ roundabout).

• Tue 12 Dec Memorial Service for US Servicemen, Greenham Control Town Memorial.

• Thu 14 Dec Mayor’s Festive Afternoon Tea, Newbury Baptist Church.

• Thu 14 Dec SustainHUBle Market, Wash Common.

Sat 16 Dec Newbury Choral Society Christmas Concert, St Nicholas Church, Newbury.

Mon 18 Dec Christmas Quiz, The Spotted Dog Pub.

Sun 31 Dec New Years Eve Fireworks, The Spotted Dog Pub.

Sat 13 Jan Volunteer Recruitment Event, The Corn Exchange, Newbury.

 Regular events

A wide range of activities for over 55 year olds is offered by The Corn Exchange in its Ageing Creatively programme.

 Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

Ukulele group workshops for all levels with the UTeam in Wash Common. Call 07963 647087 to enquire.

• Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

 Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

Living Well Singing Café runs on Wednesdays from 2.15pm to 3pm at the Waterside Centre. All ages welcome. Contact singingcafe@berkshiremaestros.org.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

• Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

• Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

• Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many art-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.


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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 23 October and you can read the minutes here. Note that many matters are delegated to committees. Items covered included: Rod Thomason, RIP; Berkshire Youth; Loose ends and Newbury CC; reports from the Mayor, the Leader and the CEO; committee reports;  working group reports; and financial coal matters.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 22 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the co-option of a new councillor; the Recreation Ground; financial matters; committee reports; the defibrillator; and repairs and maintenance.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; the co-option of a new councillor; correspondence; financial matters; speeding; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; the Christmas newsletter; and a possible new bus route.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 October 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 Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 10 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 25 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 Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 18 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 Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click hereTo see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 ValleyThatcham area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 30 November 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: Monopoly, markets, champions, photography and donations – plus an appeal from the Foodbank, an award for Readibus and a look at the what, how and when at the Eagle Quarter (aka the Kennet Centre). See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Newbury events include: festive markets, jazz afternoon and tea with the Mayor. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

Festive markets this weekend include Boxford Christmas Market in Boxford Village Hall on Saturday 2 December with lovely stalls, mulled wine and a visit from you-know-who and Shaw House Christmas Fair on Sunday 3 December.

Newbury’s Living Advent Calendar launches this Friday 1 December at 6pm at the lovely Willow & Blooms florist on Bartholomew Street. See calendar here of all the venues to admire during December.

• Have you got a Newbury Monopoly board yet? If not a quick reminder that we are offering PP readers a chance to win a free Newbury Monopoly game here. Deadline to enter is Monday 4 December.

• Do you know any local residents or volunteers who have gone above and beyond to help the community? Quick reminder that there is still time to nominate them for West Berkshire’s Community Champion Awards. Fill in the online nomination form by 11 December.

• Quick reminder about free bus travel on Saturdays 16 and 23 December. The free travel even extends to our neighbouring areas such as Reading, Basingstoke, and Swindon. If you start your journey in West Berkshire, your return journey is also free. To learn more click here.

• Christians Together in the Newbury Area (CTNA) invites anyone aged 65 or over to a free Community Christmas event at St George’s Church Hall in Andover Road, Newbury RG14 6NU from 10am to 3.30pm on Christmas Day. For more information, please email marinaoabraham@gmail.com or call 07828 244 119.

• Can you help seed a new wildflower meadow at Greenham House Gardens (opposite the ‘Burger King roundabout’) on Sunday 10 December between 10am and 1pm? Newbury Town Council’s Green Spaces Working Group, in partnership with Newbury in Bloom, is seeking volunteers for this project, following other successful community planting and pruning days in the town earlier in the year. Click here to learn more.

• The Base is currently holding a Photography Competition, on the theme of ‘My Wild Life’ inspired by nature. Budding photographers of all ages and expertise can enter, and finalists will be chosen by a panel of expert judges and the winning entries will be chosen by the general public in an online vote. The deadline to enter is Sunday 7 January 2024. Click here to find out how to enter.

• Quick reminder that local seniors can now get a £2 discount on delicious two-course lunches at The Fair Close Centre or via Meals on Wheels thanks to a new initiative between The Fair Close Centre and West Berkshire Council. See here for more details and how to apply.

Newbury & Thatcham Repair Café  aims to run monthly alternating between Newbury and Thatcham from February 2024 and needs a pool of clever volunteers who can help. If this sounds like something you could help with, register your interest via this form.

• Local charity Home-Start need help collecting Christmas donations and presents for families going through a tough time. Many local local businesses have signed up as collection points to accept donations, including Dunelm, Tesco and Vodafone in Newbury. If you would like to get involved and organise a collection within your organisation, please get in touch at office@home-startwb.org.uk or call 01635 760 310.

• Quick reminder about the silent peace vigils calling for a ceasefire in the Middle East in Newbury on Thursday evenings starting at 7.30pm. All welcome. See details in NWN here.

• For the low down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page.

• Another award for Readibus

The community transport company ReadiBus has been named as runner-up (that is, equal-second across the whole UK) in the Making a Difference category at the National CT Awards which took place at the NEC in Birmingham on Thursday 23 November 2023.

According to the award organisers, the Making a Difference CT Award ‘recognises an organisation that has gone above and beyond to create new ways to make sure its passengers feel included and supported’ in the aftermath of the pandemic and that ‘has put in place new, innovative, and effective ways to keep passengers’ spirits up and keep them connected to their communities’, following the loneliness and isolation of the lockdowns during the pandemic.

ReadiBus was also recognised at the 2021 CT Awards as being one of three best community transport companies in the UK during the pandemic.

You can read more and see several comments from users of the service by clicking here.

• D-day approaches at Eagle Quarter

Eagle Quarter is, as many will know, the new name for the Kennet Centre: or, rather, this is what it will be called when the old shopping centre is pulled down and something other larger and different is put up in its place.

What the new thing will be, by whom it will be decided and when this might happen are three questions that people have been asking for some time. The two main actors in the drama (aside from West Berkshire Council and Newbury Town Council) are the developers, Lochailort, and the Newbury Society. Both are, very effectively, doing what they should be doing and pushing to get their preferred version built. Some compromises have been made but there are still some important differences between them. The war of words may soon be over as it’s expected that the matter will be decided by West Berkshire Council early in the new year. Whether there will be a Christmas truce between the two sides remains to be seen.

In this separate post, we take a look at the what, the how and the when of this issue. Many points remain to be resolved but what’s certain is that it will be the biggest change to Newbury’s town centre since Parkway.

• Christmas generosity requested for local families

At this time of year, there are plenty of stories of seasonal festivities. Unfortunately, there are also plenty about the problems that the winter season can bring. One of the organisations that finds itself particularly busy at this time of year is West Berkshire Foodbank. On 30 November we caught up the Foodbank’s Fran Chamings about its needs in the run up to Christmas.

“We had a successful Harvest Festival appeal so our supply of tinned food is good,” explains Fran. “But it’s cash donations that we need now to support families who can’t afford their electricity bills for heat and cooking, and food pouches for families placed in hotel accomodation with no access to kitchen facilities.

“We also have families with children with allergies who need foodbank support now because the price of ‘free from’ food (non-dairy, non-gluten etc) has sky-rocketed. We are even called by schools and charities to provide headlice lotion because it’s no longer on prescription and many parents can’t afford it. And these are working parents. One couple’s mortgage hike meant they couldn’t afford to order a birth certificate for their baby to qualify for child allowance.

“So now, more than ever before we need cash to support our clients. The cost of living crisis isn’t going away any time soon. If Penny Post readers can help at all, we would be so grateful for donations via our website westberks.foodbank.org.uk.”

Foodbank is also grateful for donations of electrical items such as slow cookers, air fryers, heated blankets or room heaters which can be dropped off at the Community Furniture Project on Bone Lane, in Newbury (which itself has needed a grant from the Berkshire Community Foundation to cover a whopping 169% increase in electricity bills).

• Have your say

Have your say on current consultations being run by West Berkshire Council:

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

The Corn Exchange café bar on Thursday mornings between 10.30am and 12.30pm hosts Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

• Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join its friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

• Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group and its Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

Printer ink cartridges can be recycled at the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk. – 01635 018500

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need. – 01635 43933

• Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.

Newbury Town Council Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall.

Newbury’s two friendly community cafés on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Café in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

• Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2pm to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment.

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.

 


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Until Sun 21 JanNo Sudden Moves exhibition inspired by Newbury wharf, West Berkshire Museum.

Sat 2 Dec Boxford Christmas Market, Boxford Village Hall.

Sun 3 Dec Christingle Service, St Nicholas Church, Newbury

Sun 3 Dec Pete Allen Jazz Band, The Bacon Arms, Newbury.

• Sun 10 Dec Festival of Light, Newbury Town Centre.

• Sun 10 Dec Community Meadow Seeding, Greenham House Gardens (near ‘Burger King’ roundabout).

• Thur 14 Dec Mayor’s Festive Afternoon Tea, Newbury Baptist Church.

Sat 16 Dec Newbury Choral Society Christmas Concert, St Nicholas Church, Newbury.

Sat 13 Jan Volunteer Recruitment Event, The Corn Exchange, Newbury.

 Regular events

A wide range of activities for over 55 year olds is offered by The Corn Exchange in its Ageing Creatively programme.

 Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

Ukulele group workshops for all levels with the UTeam in Wash Common. Call 07963 647087 to enquire.

• Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

 Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

Living Well Singing Café runs on Wednesdays from 2.15pm to 3pm at the Waterside Centre. All ages welcome. Contact singingcafe@berkshiremaestros.org.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

• Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

• Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

• Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many art-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.


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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 23 October and you can read the minutes here. Note that many matters are delegated to committees. Items covered included: Rod Thomason, RIP; Berkshire Youth; Loose ends and Newbury CC; reports from the Mayor, the Leader and the CEO; committee reports;  working group reports; and financial coal matters.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 22 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the co-option of a new councillor; the Recreation Ground; financial matters; committee reports; the defibrillator; and repairs and maintenance.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; the co-option of a new councillor; correspondence; financial matters; speeding; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; the Christmas newsletter; and a possible new bus route.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 October 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 Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 10 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 25 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 Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 18 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 Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click hereTo see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 ValleyThatcham area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 23 November 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: football in the park, lunches, donations, wildflowers and peace vigils – plus a look at the pros and cons on the proposed closure of Willows Edge care home and some reflections on a simpler vision for the LRIE. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Newbury events include: Remembrance Parade, Monopoly launch and fireworks success. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• Newbury Town Council has announced that football is returning to Victoria Park, with a Youth Team game taking place on Sunday 3 December at 10:30am between AFC Newbury Under 10s and CSA 07 Under 10s. The football pitch has had significant investment and improvements and is now ready for public use. The Council is now taking bookings for both casual and block bookings up to the end of April 2024, as well as youth training sessions. Click here to learn more or email towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk to make an enquiry.

• Local seniors can now get a £2 discount on delicious two-course lunches at The Fair Close Centre or via Meals on Wheels thanks to a new initiative between The Fair Close Centre and West Berkshire Council. See here for more details and how to apply.

• Do you like mending broken items? Maybe you’re good at repairing textiles and clothes? Or you’re handy with electrics? Well if so, the Newbury & Thatcham Repair Café would love to hear from you. The Café aims to be monthly alternating between Newbury and Thatcham from February 2024 and needs a pool of clever volunteers who can help. If this sounds like something you could help with, register your interest via this form.

• West Berkshire Council is pleased to announce that there will once again be free bus travel this festive season on Saturday 16 and Saturday 23 December. On these days, you can travel all day, any time, completely free (do check the timetables) within West Berkshire. The free travel even extends beyond West Berkshire to our neighbouring areas such as Reading, Basingstoke, and Swindon. If you start your journey in West Berkshire, your return journey is also free. To learn more click here.

• Local charity Home-Start need help collecting Christmas donations and presents for families going through a tough time. Many local local businesses have signed up as collection points to accept donations, including Dunelm, Tesco and Vodafone in Newbury. If you would like to get involved and organise a collection within your organisation, please get in touch at office@home-startwb.org.uk or call 01635 760 310.

• Quick reminder about the silent peace vigils calling for a ceasefire in the Middle East in Newbury on Thursday evenings starting at 7.30pm. All welcome. See details in NWN here.

• Newbury Town Council’s Green Spaces Working Group, in partnership with Newbury in Bloom, is seeking volunteers to help seed a new wildflower meadow at Greenham House Gardens (opposite the ‘Burger King roundabout’) on Sunday 10 December between 10am and 1pm. This project is following other successful community planting and pruning days in the town earlier in the year. Click here to learn more.

• Have you got a Newbury Monopoly board yet? If not a quick reminder that we are offering PP readers a chance to win a free Newbury Monopoly game here. Deadline to enter is Monday 4 December.

• For the low down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page.

• Willows Edge

As has been mentioned elsewhere, West Berkshire Council is, along with every other council, going through a bit of financial belt-tightening. In WBC’s case, this is to plug a gap of about £14m between income and expenditure. Inflation, the increased demand for services (particularly social care) and a continued reluctance by Whitehall to fund councils adequately are all responsible. Many other authorities have a far bigger deficit to manage.

One of the proposals – and it must be stressed that until a consultation (which will run from 27 November to early January) is completed and the results evaluated, nothing is decided – is to close Willows Edge Care Home in Newbury. This might save up to £240,000pa. The suggestion has, as was to be expected, produced a backlash. A FB page, “Save Willows Edge Care Home“, has been set up, as has an online petition. Both these pages provide some compelling arguments as to why this would be a bad decision.

“Willows Edge is not just a facility,” the summary on the petition explains, but “a thriving, compassionate community that houses someone’s mother, father, wife, husband, son, daughter, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Many of the residents are living with dementia, facing the challenges of a diagnosis that can be inherently frightening. The decision to transition from their family homes to Willows Edge was a significant and emotional step towards providing them with a safe haven and a nurturing environment.

“However, they now find themselves in the face of a decision that threatens to uproot the cherished residents once again. Moving them from the familiar embrace of Willows Edge would undeniably have a profoundly negative impact on their well-being, exacerbating the challenges they already confront.”

Good points well made. However, if the same level of care can be provided whilst saving the sharp end of a quarter of million then that’s something WBC would be mad not to look at. The issue came up with another home, Notrees in Kintbuty, during the last administration so there’s nothing political about it.

So, why is it that the home is currently more expensive than the private sector and what are the proposals currently being considered? To answer this, I spoke to WBC’s Social-care portfolio holder, Alan Macro.

“The proposal is for consultation with options,” he said. “Option A will be to close the home and move residents to beds in other care homes, including Birchwood; option B will be that we retain the home while we seek a provider to take over Willows Edge and run it as their own business, retaining existing residents. As a result of the consultation, it may be that neither option is taken forward.

“The [estimated] saving [of £240,000] is per year and is based on the variation from the budget for the home. However, savings would be similar if the beds were bought elsewhere.”

WBC currently has three care homes. Alan Macro suggested that  the main reasons why they are expensive to run are (a) that it is difficult to find staff, meaning that a high level of expensive agency staff are used. Progress has been made on recruitment, however agency costs are still a problem; and (b) that staff costs are higher than the private sector because of better employment conditions (such annual holidays and pension contributions.) It would also seem likely that, with only three homes, there are few economies of scale in the management of this at WBC.

“Willows Edge needs investment of around half a million pounds of refurbishment,” he added. “It is an old home with small bedrooms and none have ensuite bathrooms, leading to a lack of dignity for residents and making infection control difficult. Birchwood has just been refurbished and all rooms are ensuite. All but two rooms at Notrees are ensuite.

“One of the options is for the home to be taken over by a third party provider. In that case, the property would still be used as a care home with its current residents and staff. If that is not possible, and it were to close, then the building would be transferred to the property department for consideration for a different use by the council or to be sold. Any capital or revenue effect would depend on what use it was put to.”

I also spoke to Joanne Stewart who was Alan Macro’s predecessor in this role under the previous administration and who ran a similar consultation about the proposed closure of another WBC care home, Notrees in Kintbuty. (It’s worth noting that, following the consultation and representations from the home’s manager, she reversed her previous intention to shut it.) None the less, there were regular discussions about whether WBC should run its own care homes or if it should follow the lead of most other councils and rely entirely on the private sector.

“The previous administration was always reviewing and considering WBC’s place in the care home market,” she told me. “Caring for our residents is always top priority and to be able to do that in a cost-effective way with quality service provision is a very difficult challenge. Of course when the consideration was regarding the future of Notrees, our then opposition party was vehemently against the closure. A slightly different scenario I’ll agree, but still it will be interesting to see how those same voices, now in administration, will determine what’s best for this council and, most importantly, for our residents.”

From Monday 27 November, you’ll be able to take part in the consultation on this matter and, indeed, all the others which will be launched that day touching on the council’s finances. More information can be found here.

• A simple vision

Last Sunday morning found me walking through the London Road Industrial Estate. I’d left my car at my Majestic Wine and was walking down to Faraday Road where the football ground was finally being re-opened. I’ve chronicled the numerous contortions in which West Berkshire Council found itself as a result of its disastrous decision to close the ground in June 2018 and don’t want to add to those. The new administration said it would return football to Faraday Road, and it has. There were flags, young footballers, councillors, campaigners, wooly hats and a burger stand – all the kind of things you’d expect from a re-opening. You can read WBC’s report on the event here.

There were a number of things that were not present, however. These included the clubhouse (demolished after an arson attack), stands (sold or gifted to Hungerford Town FC) and the perimeter fence (vanished without trace sometime in 2021, whereabouts currently unknown). These features will all be needed if the ground is to return to semi-professional use.

There’s also the question of what the playing surface should be, whether something else needs to be built there as well (a conference centre is being considered) and whether an attenuation pond might be built under the pitch. The latter may have to be considered as I can be fairly certain that any planning proposals in the area, however minor, will be met with a legal challenge unless they include proper measures to mitigate the flooding effects on down-stream properties.

And then there’s the decision to be taken about what’s to be done with the proposed replacement, or non-replacement, or partial replacement, or enhanced replacement at Monks Lane. Plenty of decisions still to be taken.

While walking through the LRIE I was struck not only by how many of the buildings were tenanted but also how many of them, even on a Sunday morning, had people at work. Car showrooms, small electrical companies, car-valeting firms and boxing gyms are hardly the white-heat-of-technology, cutting-edge, life-sciences type of places that the latest iteration of the LRIE vision envisaged but they’re clearly needed. Where would all these businesses go? Yes, the area looks a bit chewed and some of the buildings are a bit run down but it all seems to function. Enough money and effort has been spent on trying to tame the area. With such a hitch-potch of leases, land ownership and flooding problems, is there not a case for leaving things pretty much as they are?

There probably needs to be an overarching masterplan for the area to guide development. One ambition, for example, should perhaps be that preference will be given to companies which employ more than a certain number of people per square metre (by which test places like car showrooms and self-storage units come off pretty badly). I don’t know if this can, for this area, be made a planning policy which therefore has to be followed. The last fifteen or so years have seen repeated attempts by WBC to model the area into variously one image and then another. All have failed. Perhaps there needs to be an acceptance that it is what it is and we are where we are and that something more light-touch can be introduced to provide some general aspirations and let the market do the rest.

As for the drainage problems, by some estimates there is need for a multi-million pound infrastructure investment. If, as now seems likely, WBC is disinvesting from its £60m-worth of property investments, this will in time produce cash at least some of which must be spent on infrastructure. Solving the drainage problems here and so ensuring that development can happen without constant legal interruption would be good legacy for any administration to have.

• Have your say

Have your say on current consultations being run by West Berkshire Council:

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

The Corn Exchange café bar on Thursday mornings between 10.30am and 12.30pm hosts Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

• Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join its friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

• Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group and its Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

Printer ink cartridges can be recycled at the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk.

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.

• Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.

Newbury Town Council Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall.

Newbury’s two friendly community cafés on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Café in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

• Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2pm to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment.

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Until Sun 21 JanNo Sudden Moves exhibition inspired by Newbury wharf, West Berkshire Museum.

• Sat 25 Nov Local Author Showcase, Newbury Library.

• Sun 26 Nov Santa Fun Run, Newbury Market Place.

• Thur 1 Dec Mayor’s Festive Afternoon Tea, Newbury Baptist Church.

Sat 2 Dec Boxford Christmas Market, Boxford Village Hall.

Sun 3 Dec Pete Allen Jazz Band, The Bacon Arms, Newbury.

• Sun 10 Dec Community Meadow Seeding, Greenham House Gardens (near ‘Burger King’ roundabout).

Sat 16 Dec Newbury Choral Society Christmas Concert, St Nicholas Church, Newbury.

Sat 13 Jan Volunteer Recruitment Event, The Corn Exchange, Newbury.

 Regular events

• Friendly gardening club in the centre of Newbury. See here for how to get involved.

A wide range of activities for over 55 year olds is offered by The Corn Exchange in its Ageing Creatively programme.

• Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

Ukulele group workshops for all levels with the UTeam in Wash Common. Call 07963 647087 to enquire.

• Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

• Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

Living Well Singing Café runs on Wednesdays from 2.15pm to 3pm at the Waterside Centre. All ages welcome. Contact singingcafe@berkshiremaestros.org.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

• Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

• Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

• Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many art-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.


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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 23 October and you can read the minutes here. Note that many matters are delegated to committees. Items covered included: Rod Thomason, RIP; Berkshire Youth; Loose ends and Newbury CC; reports from the Mayor, the Leader and the CEO; committee reports;  working group reports; and financial coal matters.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; the co-option of a new councillor; correspondence; financial matters; speeding; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; the Christmas newsletter; and a possible new bus route.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 October 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 Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 10 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 25 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 Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 18 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 Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 25 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click hereTo see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 ValleyThatcham area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 16 November 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: local authors, a streamed event, wildflowers, lights and vigils – plus a look at the plans for Pound Street and a quick check on Newbury’s emissions. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Newbury events include: Remembrance Parade, Monopoly launch and fireworks success. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• If you missed Newbury’s Remembrance Parade last Sunday, you can still watch Kennet Radio’s live-streamed video of the event here.

• This weekend is the Christmas Light Switch-On Festival, all around Newbury Town Centre. The Festival will be running throughout Saturday 18 November from 10am, with free workshops and activities, meet and greet sessions with Disney Princesses, as well as Santa Claus in his Grotto, a Living Nativity, live music and of course with the big light switch on itself at 6pm. If you still haven’t had enough Christmas excitement, then on Sunday 19 November is the St Bart’s Christmas Fair.

• Residents concerned about what is happening in the Middle East are holding silent peace vigils calling for a ceasefire in Newbury on Thursday evenings starting at 7.30pm. All welcome. See details in NWN here. Attendees are encouraged to write messages of peace on a board, which the organisers hope to present to West Berkshire Council later this month. They have also written to Newbury MP Laura Farris to ask her to call for a ceasefire in the region.

• Newbury Library will be holding a Local Authors Showcase on Saturday 25 November, with writers from across the district showcasing their recently published books, including titles for both children and adults, fiction and non-fiction. (You may even spot one of your friendly neighbourhood Penny Post contributors there!). You can drop in any time between 11am and 3pm to find a Christmas gift for book-lovers.

• Newbury Rotary is pleased to be hosting another Newbury Santa Fun Run on Sunday 26 November in aid of local charities. Starting from the marketplace, there are 1km and 5km circuits and runners can get sponsorship for local charities while running, jogging or walking with friends and family (while dressing up as Santa, of course!). Full details about the run and how to register can be found here.

• Newbury Town Council’s Green Spaces Working Group, in partnership with Newbury in Bloom, is seeking volunteers to help seed a new wildflower meadow at Greenham House Gardens (opposite the ‘Burger King roundabout’) on Sunday 10 December between 10am and 1pm. This project is following other successful community planting and pruning days in the town earlier in the year. Click here to learn more.

• Have you got a Newbury Monopoly board yet? If not a quick reminder that we are offering PP readers a chance to win a free Newbury Monopoly game here.

• For the low down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page.

Pound Street’s plans

Newbury currently awaits a decision on the revised plans for Eagle Quarter, the proposed re-development of the Kennet Centre. This is, without doubt, The Big One as far as the town is concerned, not only because of its scale but also it’s smack-bang-centre location. Much has been written about this and much more will be: but, until the matter is decided (probably at either the Western Area or the District Planning Committee), matters have reached a definite pause.

Meanwhile, only about half a mile to the south, another plan to renovate a flyblown brown-field site has emerged. This relates to a site in even poorer condition than the Kennet Centre, the former Jewsons in Pound Street. Called at this time simply “Pound Street, Newbury”, the developers Archel Homes, are proposing approximately a hundred new homes. The current plan is that six will be houses with gardens and the rest flats with “landscaped courtyard areas” at the rear and parking for 83 cars. It also makes a number of promises about biodiversity net gain, renewable energy usage and EV charge points.

On 15 November, I spoke to David McFarlane, Director of SP Broadway, which is handling the PR for the project to ask him if it was possible to be more specific about the number of affordable and social-rent homes, the energy-efficiency rating of the dwellings and the number of EV charge points. He said that these details would be confirmed in due course but that these details would be compliant with the policies in WBC’s local plan.

Archel has produced a website for the project which includes a plan for the proposal “which has been worked up following discussions with planning officers at West Berkshire Council.” You can visit the site here. There is also a consultation which closes on 20 November for any local residents who wish to provide feedback.

“We’ll be wanting to make this development as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible,” David McFarlane told me. “We feel that this is a good location and that our proposals blend in well with the existing street scene. We look forward to receiving and reviewing comments from the consultation then to moving towards lodging a planning application, hopefully before the end of the year.” 

Newbury’s emissions

As mentioned in this column two weeks ago, Newbury Town Council has claimed that it has reduced its carbon footprint by 44% since 2019 and issued a press release about this.

All such documents have a point of view that reflects well on the persona or organisation issuing them and this one is no exception. One could say the same about – to pick an example at random – a statement from a local MP claiming that they have been responsible, by implication solely so, for advancing a sewage-work project.

Before they’re published by someone else, however, they need to be subjected to some critical analysis. To reproduce them more or less verbatim without apparently checking the facts, questioning the assumptions or suggesting alternative points of view, is to turn this statement, flaws and all, into a version of the truth. The article can then get cited and referred to by others. It doesn’t need this to happen more than a couple of times before it’s forgotten that this was based on one point of view that certainly wasn’t objective and may not even have been true.

I have no reason to doubt NTC’s claims with regard to its carbon target but didn’t have the time or the knowledge to look into this technical matter in detail. However, I did speak to some others and came up with a few points that might be worth thinking about when looking at such claims. You can see this in last week’s column below. To this I add the thought that there’s a risk that, possibly through inadvertence, some reductions are being claimed twice, once by NTC and also by WBC. I’m not saying this is happening but that it might. It’s certainly happened before.

The job of journalism is not always to provide answers but certainly to ask questions. If something has been republished with no questions asked at all then an active dis-service has been done. This is certainly what has happened in the way that these two stories have recently been reported elsewhere.

• Have your say

Have your say on current consultations being run by West Berkshire Council:

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

The Corn Exchange café bar on Thursday mornings between 10.30am and 12.30pm hosts Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

• Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join its friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

• Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group and its Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

Printer ink cartridges can be recycled at the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk.

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.

• Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.

Newbury Town Council Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall.

Newbury’s two friendly community cafés on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Café in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

• Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2pm to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment.

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Until Sun 21 JanNo Sudden Moves exhibition inspired by Newbury wharf, West Berkshire Museum.

• Sat 18 Nov Christmas Light Switch-On Festival, Newbury Town Centre.

• Sat 18 Nov Christmas Gift Market, Newbury Corn Exchange.

• Sun 19 Nov St Barts Christmas Fair, St Bartholomew’s School.

• Tue 21 Nov Last 2023 HUGS Collection for Ukraine, Hungerford

• Sat 25 Nov Local Author Showcase, Newbury Library.

• Sat 25 Nov Scouts Fundraiser Bingo, 1 Thatcham Scout Hut.

• Sun 26 Nov Santa Fun Run, Newbury Market Place.

• Thur 1 Dec Mayor’s Festive Afternoon Tea, Newbury Baptist Church.

Sat 2 Dec Boxford Christmas Market, 2-6pm Boxford Village Hall.

• Sun 10 Dec Community Meadow Seeding, Greenham House Gardens (near ‘Burger King’ roundabout).

Sat 16 Dec Newbury Choral Society Christmas Concert, St Nicholas Church, Newbury.

 Regular events

• Friendly gardening club in the centre of Newbury. See here for how to get involved.

A wide range of activities for over 55 year olds is offered by The Corn Exchange in its Ageing Creatively programme.

• Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

Ukulele group workshops for all levels with the UTeam in Wash Common. Call 07963 647087 to enquire.

• Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

• Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

Living Well Singing Café runs on Wednesdays from 2.15pm to 3pm at the Waterside Centre. All ages welcome. Contact singingcafe@berkshiremaestros.org.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

• Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

• Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

• Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many art-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.


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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 12 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that many matters are delegated to committees.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; financial matters; Sandleford; Diamond Field; social-media communication; community engagement; a reptile project; reports from the Clerk, the Chair, the councillors and the ward member; dog bins; and repairs and maintenance.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 10 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; matters arising; financial matters; the burial ground; the Clerk’s report; and Councillors’ reports.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 25 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 Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 20 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 Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 18 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 Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 25 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click hereTo see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 ValleyThatcham area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 9 November 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: on the board, lions, lights, a fair and parking – plus a look at the the recent Greenham Trust Charity Awards, football coming home and Thomas Hardy’s Newbury.  See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Newbury events include: Remembrance Parade, Monopoly launch and fireworks success. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

This Sunday the Newbury Remembrance Parade will be stepping off at 10.30am from Pelican Lane and marching the length of Northbrook Street before turning into Mansion House Street, to the Market Place. Following a brief service in the Market Place, the parade will then march past the War Memorial where wreaths will be laid on the way to St Nicolas Church. All are welcome to attend, but if you’re unable to make it, Kennet Radio 106.7 will be live streaming the event. Click here for more details.

The exciting new Newbury Monopoly board packed with local landmarks and familiar organisations was officially launched at Newbury Racecourse last Friday 3 November – and we are very excited to be included on the Chance square. To celebrate, we are offering PP readers a chance to win a free game here.  You can also buy boards for £34.99 at Camp Hopson, No. 96 Home & Gifts, The Entertainer, Rymans, Waterstones, WHSmith and The Works (and online at booghe.co.uk and amazon).

Congratulations to Newbury Lions and their team of 80 volunteers for their smashing 50th Newbury Lions Fabulous Fireworks Fantasia last Saturday 4 November, which featured half an hour of fireworks set to music and celebrity guest Clare Balding. We spoke to Lions President Margo Payne on 9 November and she thanked Newbury Racecourse and West Berkshire Council for their support in ensuring there was no traffic problems or congestion for ticket holders arriving or leaving the venue. “Ours is a totally non-commercial event with all proceeds going to local people and organisations in need. That’s what Lions do, our mission is to help the community.” If you would like to join Newbury Lions (anyone over 18 is very welcome) or request assistance please contact them here.

There is still time for you (and your dog) to enjoy a quieter festive event at Welford Park this weekend for the last of their Spectacle of Light evenings.

Spirit of the Vale invites you to their famous Christmas Fair in aid of West Berks Mencap on Thursday 16 November in a gorgeous 16th century barn in Sparsholt.  Have a lovely time browsing 30 carefully selected stalls between 10am and 7.30pm while Childrey Stores serves delicious refreshments all day and cocktails and canapes are served in the barn from 6pm. And take advantage of the new Wish List Service where you do your shopping, fill out your Spirit Wish List as you go, invite your partner/mother/sister/friend to come and they will get your list so you get what you want on Christmas Day too. Free parking and free entry.

Newbury Town Council has published its latest Newsletter for November. This month’s issue discusses plans for the upcoming Remembrance Parade and Mayor’s Festive Afternoon Tea. It also reports an update on the Council’s progress on its climate target to become carbon neutral by 2030, with the good news being it is ahead of schedule. Further details about this particular article can also be found here.

Last chance to have your say about West Berkshire’s Parking Strategy 2024-2034 (which is updated every 10 years). Complete the survey here by this Sunday 12 November.

Residents concerned about what is happening in the Middle East are holding silent peace vigils in Newbury on Thursday evenings starting at 7.30pm. All welcome.

For the low down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page.

Greenham Trust Charity Awards

The inaugural Greenham Trust Charity Awards Night last Thursday 2 November celebrated local charities and organisations  in front of a packed auditorium at the Corn Exchange Newbury. Chris Boulton, Chief Executive of Greenham Trust said: “The atmosphere on the evening was incredible. But the evening was not just about the winners, it was about bringing the voluntary sector together and celebrating the success of all the charities, fundraisers, volunteers and trustees.”

Sponsored by Newbury Building Society, the event was hosted by the witty Reverend Richard Coles who entertained the audience with the story of his life from pop star to parson.  Local dignitaries were invited on stage to announce the winners and present the awards and the evening concluded with an After Party at The Waterside Centre.

The award category winners include: Citizens Advice West Berkshire for Community Charity of the Year, Time to Talk for Young People’s Charity of the Year and West Berks Foodbank, winning both Charity of the Year for the Disadvantaged and Overall Charity of the Year. Click here to see the full list of winners. Many congratulations to all the winners and nominees.

Football’s coming home

West Berkshire Council didn’t use that awful pun in its press release on the subject but I’m afraid I couldn’t resist.

So, what did the press release say? It said that “Faraday Road will open on November 19, 2023, with an exciting day filled with activities and celebrations for all. After months of hard work from West Berkshire Council Officers, the pitch is ready for communities and groups to use the ground for their leisure, with the new temporary changing facilities and the football goals for both adults and children.

“The grand opening festivities will kick off at 11:30am with welcoming speeches from Lee Dillon, Leader of West Berkshire Council and Lee McDougall (Newbury Community Football Group) on behalf of the partnership, offering a glimpse into the vision and dedication behind the creation of Faraday Road.”

I do wish that WBC didn’t use the word “vision” to describe anything in the vicinity of the London Road Industrial Estate. There have been too many visions and false dawns but not enough progress: a bit, perhaps, like the England men’s football team.

A number of problems still remain, including what will be built in the way of a clubhouse, where people are going to park, whether planning permission can be obtained given the long-standing drainage problems and what will happen to the replacement/non-replacement facility at Monks Lane. Still, the new administration did say it would return football to Faraday Road and it has. It’s a bit like qualifying for a major tournament, though. Getting out of a group containing teams like Andorra and Belarus is the easy bit. Then the real business starts. That’s where we are with this project (which is really little more than turning back the clock to before the ground was so pointlessly closed in June 2018). Let’s hope that the new-look squad in their new-look all-orange strip can win the next round of fixtures as well.

Thomas Hardy’s Berkshire

Berkshire, you say? Shouldn’t that be Wessex?

Yes, of course – that was his main stomping ground, the semi-fictionalised, semi-idealised and largely pastoral area that he made his own, changing many of the place names to help lend a mild air of the parallel universe to his books. I’m most familiar with his short stories and The Mayor of Casterbridge – as good a description of the remorseless turning of fortune’s wheel as you can find – but I didn’t know that his characters ever strayed that far beyond the borders. Oxford (aka Christminister) features in Jude the Obscure, of course: and Oxford is surely not in Wessex, however defined. It seems, though, that I was wrong. Jude himself came to Kennetbridge, better known to you and me as Newbury.

I know this to be true because I’ve recently been sent a copy of Thomas Hardy’s Berkshire (and a Little Bit of Wiltshire) by Carolyn Jones, a long-time resident of the town though originally from Sandbourne in Upper Wessex – sorry, Bournemouth in Dorset. You can find out more about the title by visiting the publisher’s website. I’ll be having a closer look at it over the weekend and may well bring you a few choice extracts to whet your appetite. Watch this space…

Latest local newsletters

  • Newbury Town Council.
  • Hamstead Hornet.

Community notices

  • Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.
  • The Corn Exchange café bar on Thursday mornings between 10.30am and 12.30pm hosts Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.
  • Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join its friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.
  • Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury .Happening now facebook group and its Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).
  • Printer ink cartridges can be recycled at the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk.
  • Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.
  • Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.
  • Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.
  • Newbury Town Council Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall.
  • Newbury’s two friendly community cafés on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Café in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.
  • Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.
  • The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2pm to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment.
  • Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

Dates for the diary

  • Until Sun 21 Jan: No Sudden Moves exhibition inspired by Newbury wharf, West Berkshire Museum.
  • Fri 10 Nov Newbury Stitch Fair & Workshops, Kennet Centre, Newbury.
  • Sat 11 Nov Newbury Stitch Fair & Workshops, Kennet Centre, Newbury.
  • Sat 11 Nov Board Games Meet-up, Newbury Library
  • Sun 12 Nov Remembrance Parade, Newbury Town Centre.
  • Wed 15 Nov The Archaeology of the Eastern Parishes Talk, West Berkshire Museum.
  • Thurs 16 Nov Spirit of the Vale Christmas Fair in aid of West Berks Mencap, Sparsholt
  • Sat 18 Nov Christmas Light Switch-On Festival, Newbury Town Centre.
  • Sun 19 Nov St Barts Christmas Fair, St Bartholomew’s School.
  • Sat 25 Nov Local Author Showcase, Newbury Library.
  • Thurs 1 Dec Mayor’s Festive Afternoon Tea, Newbury Baptist Church.
  • Sat 16 Dec Newbury Choral Society Christmas Concert, St Nicholas Church, Newbury.

Regular events

  • Friendly gardening club in the centre of Newbury. See here for how to get involved.
  • A wide range of activities for over 55 year olds is offered by The Corn Exchange in its Ageing Creatively programme.
  • Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.
  • Ukulele group workshops for all levels with the UTeam in Wash Common. Call 07963 647087 to enquire.
  • Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.
  • Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.
  • Living Well Singing Café runs on Wednesdays from 2.15pm to 3pm at the Waterside Centre. All ages welcome. Contact singingcafe@berkshiremaestros.org.uk.
  • Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.
  • Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.
  • ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.
  • Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.
  • Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.
  • Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.
  • Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.
  • The Base, Greenham organise many art-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.

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.

  • The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 12 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that many matters are delegated to committees.

To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and mnutes please click here.

  • The most recent meeting of Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; financial matters; Sandleford; Diamond Field; social-media communication; community engagement; a reptile project; reports from the Clerk, the Chair, the councillors and the ward member; dog bins; and repairs and maintenance.

To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

  • The most recent meeting of Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 10 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; matters arising; financial matters; the burial ground; the Clerk’s report; and Councillors’ reports.

To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

  • The most recent meeting of Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 3 August 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 Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 20 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 Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 18 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 Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 25 September and you can read the minutes here.

To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

  • The most recent meeting of Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.

To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see minutes, please click here.

Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town Council, Greenham Parish Council, Chieveley Parish Council, Enborne Parish Council, Boxford Parish Council, Speen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 Valley; Thatcham area; Compton and Downlands; 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.

Thursday 2 November 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: fireworks, bulbs, fundraising, parking and treasure – plus a look at rising café costs in Victoria Park, Newbury Town Council’s climate progress and a flood and sewage alert. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Newbury events include: history day, Halloween fun and fabulous fireworks. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• Can you help plant 3,000 spring bulbs at the Nightingales opposite the Willows School this Saturday 4 November between 10am and 1pm? Please meet outside the Greenham Community Centre. More details can be found here.

• Why not take your hidden treasure to be valued at a special Dawson’s Hidden Treasures fundraising event this Saturday 4 November, 11am to 4pm at Renegade Brewery in Yattendon.  All proceeds go to Educafe, bringing together diverse communities in West Berkshire. Book your ticket on Educafe’s crowdfunding page here. Find out more here.

Sat 4 Nov 50th Newbury Lions Fabulous Fireworks Fantasia, Newbury Racecourse. If you (and your dog) prefer a quieter festive event, Welford Park welcomes you to its Spectacle of Light.

Are you worried about the transportation needs of older family members in Newbury or Thatcham? Pop along to the Volunteer Centre West Berkshire Open Day at Broadway House on Thursday 9 November between 10am and 4pm to find out what services are available.
• Local MP Laura Farris is holding a Cost of Living Fair on Friday 17 November from 10am to noon at Old Bluecoat School in Thatcham. There will be a wide variety of public bodies, businesses and charities to give help and give advice on direct support and grants available to help you this winter. Book your place here.

• Following on the success of last year’s Festive Afternoon Tea Party Event, the Mayor of Newbury, is once again inviting the town’s oldest residents to a similar event on Thursday 1 December at Newbury Baptist Church Hall. Places are limited so booking is essential, on a first come first served basis. Please note that guests should be 75 or over. If you or someone you know would like to book a place call 07498 546611 or email mayor@newbury.gov.uk. For more details click here.

West Berks MENCAP thank all its supporters who helped raise £15,955 last week which has been topped up to £63,200 by Greenham Trust’s Escalator Fund to provide a great new respite facility for learning disabled children.

• West Berks MENCAP also invites you to its fundraising Newbury Stitch Fair on Friday 10 and Saturday 11 November at the Kennet Centre and St Nicholas Church.  Take a look at their website for details of the workshops on offer and how to book a place.

• Quick reminder to have your say about West Berkshire’s Parking Strategy 2024-2034 (which is updated every 10 years). Complete the survey here before Sunday 12 November.

• For the low down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page.

• For those wondering what to do with their pumpkins after Halloween, here are some creative suggestions. Just please don’t leave them on the ground in your garden or in woodland, as they are dangerous to hedgehogs and attract rats – see more in this request by the Woodland Trust.

• The café’s costs

A number of public infrastructure problems have recently run into financial problems and cost overspends. The main culprits are the Covid aftermath, Putin’s war, the Truss-Kwarteng experiment and climate change which have, respectively, knackered supply chains, increased fuel costs, increased interest rates and demanded more sustainable features (which though beneficial have higher up-front costs). Derlays in the planning process have also been cited. All in all, it’s not a great time to get anything built.

Two of these in the district have been cafés. One, in Burghfield, was cancelled earlier this year and despite repeated questions to the Parish Council I’ve been unable to establish what costs have none the less been incurred. The other is in Newbury’s Victoria Park.

Newbury Town Council (NTC) has been rather more forthcoming. A statement issued on 30 October said that “due to spiralling construction costs, NTC is reconsidering its options for the new Community Café in Victoria Park. As a first preference, the Council is exploring additional external funding sources to see if the gap can be bridged without placing an additional burden on reserves or on the precept. Failing this, the Council is also considering the alternative option of upgrading and improving the existing buildings. This would include, as a minimum:  public toilets, sheltered seating and a better catering outlet.”

I understand that it’s the second option that’s now being actively considered. The project was to have cost £500,000 but cost increases could push this north of £800,000. This is probably more than a prudent council could borrow, particularly at the higher PWLB rates now prevailing.

“Whilst we have prepared for some time to build a new café in the park,” Councillor Gary Norman, Leader of the Council added, “rising costs caused by excessive planning delays have led us to consider other options which might bring the same benefits. Victoria Park is ‘The Jewel in the Crown’ for NTC, and the improvements that we have made in recent years have increased its popularity, and usage by our communities. We desire to provide even better facilities. If the planned new-build café is not affordable, then we will work with the resources at our disposal to provide these facilities in another way. At all times we will consider what is best value and benefit to the communities we serve.”

Councillor Roger Hunneman, Chairman of the Council’s Victoria Park Subcommittee agreed. “We’ve all put a lot of time and effort into working towards a new Community café in Victoria Park,” he said. “It has gone on long enough at this stage. We want to do what is best for the users of the Park. The kiosk needs urgent repairs and attention and if we cannot afford a new café, we will upgrade the existing building to provide the best service we can. The building is intended to have solar PV and other green features consistent with affordability. Sooner, rather than later!”

If, as seems likely, the café lacks some of the features or aspects that were previously planned, it’s hoped that these can be retro-fitted later if and when more money is available.

There’s another possible source of help, though this is currently only a speck on the horizon. WBC is planning to divest itself of its property portfolio which would see money available for a ranger of infrastructure and transformative projects in the district. Might this not be one possible project that could tick these boxes? It is, after all, in the centre of the main park in West Berkshire’s largest town: and, to make matters even simpler, WBC owns the land. One for the “pending” tray, perhaps.

• Carbon progress

Newbury Town Council (NTC) announced on 2 November that it has reduced its carbon footprint by 44% since it declared a climate emergency in 2019 and adds that “it is well ahead of its target to be carbon-neutral by 2030.”

“I am delighted with our progress,” Councillor David Harman, Chair of the Climate Emergency Working Group, told a meeting of the Council on 23 October. “These results have been independently verified by Carbon Footprint Ltd. The complete report can be found on our website. We will continue to drive down our carbon footprint by installing further solar panels on the Town Hall roof. We will also achieve carbon credits through our agreement with Newbury Cricket Club, following our grant aid for their solar panels. Those panels are proving to be of tremendous benefit to the Club and to Loose Ends who run a drop-in centre, from the Cricket Club, serving food to the homeless and vulnerable.

“We have further plans in our fight against the Climate Emergency, including a meeting with Greenfest to explore collaboration and carrying out a plastics audit for the Council.”

NTC is also happy to support other local groups in their Climate Emergency campaigns.

These sentiments were echoed by David Marsh, Chair of the Council’s Grants Subcommittee. “NTC is committed to its Climate Emergency Campaign.” he said.  As well as the great work of our Working Group, we actively support local organisations through our Climate Emergency Grant Fund, which this year totals £10,000. We urge anyone with an eligible project or campaign to contact us.”

I had a look at the above-mentioned report by Carbon Footprint and decided that my best action would be to pass it on to some people I know who are more expert than I am to see if they come to the same conclusions. More on this, I hope, next week. Two immediate points emerged, which probably apply equally to pretty much every such report. The first is that any such project involves some easy wins at the start, so being about 40% of the way through the job about 40% of the way through the time doesn’t necessarily mean you’re on course. The other is that it would be helpful if a distinction were drawn (as it doesn’t seem to be here) between those improvements that were the results of the council’s own efforts and those, like the gradual greening of the National Grid, which are the work of others elsewhere. These points aside (with other ones perhaps to follow), this seems like solid steps taken in the right direction.

• Water, water

There have been a number of reports of flooding and floating sewage in Newbury. Paula Sanderson, a local Flood Warden who has long campaigned for improvements both in the water infrastructure and West Berkshire’s water strategies, has contacted us to remind people to take pictures, establish exact locations and report the problems to West Berkshire Council and Thames Water.

A particularly bad spot seems to be the south side of the train station. On local resident commented online that “it’s the lowest point in Newbury, about the same level as the canal, and has been flooding there since the turn of the last century.  All the thousands of house build in South Newbury do not help.”

Indeed. The accusation is often made that extra housing increases the problem, not only by generating extra sewage but also because of the loss of permeable surfaces. This is only part of the puzzle, however. The creaking infrastructure, the effects of climate change and in many cases the lack of a holistic drainage plan for the area all play their part. It’s a multi-pronged problem that needs a multi-pronged approach. Without this, it’s only going to get worse.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

The Corn Exchange café bar on Thursday mornings between 10.30am and 12.30pm hosts Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

• Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join its friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

• Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group and its Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

Printer ink cartridges can be recycled at the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk.

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.

• Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.

Newbury Town Council Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall.

Newbury’s two friendly community cafés on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Café in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

• Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2pm to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment.

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Until Sun 21 JanNo Sudden Moves exhibition inspired by Newbury wharf, West Berkshire Museum.

Fri 3 Nov Strictly‘s Anton de Beke in conversation about new book, Corn Exchange Newbury.

Sat 4 Nov Dawson’s Hidden Treasures Day in aid of Educafe, Renegade Brewery, Yattendon.

Sat 4 Nov 50th Newbury Lions Fabulous Fireworks Fantasia, Newbury Racecourse.

Sat 4 Nov Newbury Choral Society Autumn Concert, St John’s Church, Newbury.

Sat 4 Nov Community Spring Bulb Planting, Greenham Community Centre.

• Fri 10 Nov Newbury Stitch Fair & Workshops, Kennet Centre, Newbury.

Sat 11 Nov Newbury Stitch Fair & Workshops, Kennet Centre, Newbury.

Sat 11 Nov Board Games Meet-up, Newbury Library

• Sun 12 Nov Remembrance Parade, Newbury Town Centre.

• Wed 15 Nov The Archaeology of the Eastern Parishes Talk, West Berkshire Museum.

• Sat 18 Nov Christmas Light Switch-On Festival, Newbury Town Centre.

• Sun 19 Nov St Barts Christmas Fair, St Bartholomew’s School.

• Sat 25 Nov Local Author Showcase, Newbury Library.

• Thurs 1 Dec Mayor’s Festive Afternoon Tea, Newbury Baptist Church.

Sat 16 Dec Newbury Choral Society Christmas Concert, St Nicholas Church, Newbury.

 Regular events

• Friendly gardening club in the centre of Newbury. See here for how to get involved.

A wide range of activities for over 55 year olds is offered by The Corn Exchange in its Ageing Creatively programme.

• Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

Ukulele group workshops for all levels with the UTeam in Wash Common. Call 07963 647087 to enquire.

• Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

• Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

Living Well Singing Café runs on Wednesdays from 2.15pm to 3pm at the Waterside Centre. All ages welcome. Contact singingcafe@berkshiremaestros.org.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

• Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

• Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

• Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many art-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.


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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 12 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that many matters are delegated to committees.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; financial matters; Sandleford; Diamond Field; social-media communication; community engagement; a reptile project; reports from the Clerk, the Chair, the councillors and the ward member; dog bins; and repairs and maintenance.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 10 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; matters arising; financial matters; the burial ground; the Clerk’s report; and Councillors’ reports.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 20 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 Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 18 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 Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 3 August 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 Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click hereTo see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 ValleyThatcham area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 26 October 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: local charities, hidden treasures, spring bulbs, parking, Educafé and transport – plus a look at one of the major items in in-tray of the new Environment portfolio holder which might, just might, help the drainage issues in the LRIE area. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Newbury events include: history day, Halloween fun and fabulous fireworks. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• Quick reminder to put your clocks back this Saturday and enjoy an extra hour in bed…

• Newbury Town Council reports that it has awarded over £7,5oo to 11 local charities including Newbury Weekly News Over 80s Parcel Fund 2023, Parkinson’s UK, Newbury, Swings & Smiles and West Berks Action for Refugees. All the projects are registered on The Good Exchange, where the Council’s contribution will be match funded by Greenham Trust. Click here to learn more.

• West Berkshire Council is in the process of drafting its Parking Strategy 2024-2034. The Parking Strategy is reviewed every 10 years and explains the Council’s goals, priorities, methods of keeping our roads clear for traffic to move freely and controlling inconsiderate or unauthorised parking. They would like the community’s views on related issues to vehicle parking, electric car charging points and enforcements. To have your say, complete their survey before Sunday 12 November.

• Newbury Town Council requests help to plant 3,000 spring bulbs at the Nightingales opposite the Willows School on Saturday 4 November between 10am and 1pm, meeting outside the Greenham Community Centre. More details can be found here.

• Is there a hidden gem waiting to be discovered in your home? Experts will value your treasure and share the story behind the find at a special Dawson’s Hidden Treasures fundraising event on Saturday 4 November, 11am to 4pm at Renegade Brewery in Yattendon. Book your ticket on Educafe’s crowdfunding page here. All proceeds go to Educafe, a Community Interest Company bringing together diverse communities in West Berkshire. Find out more here.

• Newbury Library has started a new Board Games Meet-up on the second and fourth Saturday with the next one being this Saturday 28 October from 10am to 1pm. All welcome. See details here.

• Congratulations to Newbury Building Society for donating unneeded branch uniform to the wonderful West Berkshire Action for Refugees. The smart clothes for both men and women will be helpful at times when formal wear is needed, such as job interviews. West Berks Action for Refugees provide support for refugees and asylum seekers in the local area. They help individuals to find jobs or volunteering, learn English, access healthcare, find housing and generally settle in to life in the UK. 

Home-Start West Berkshire is extremely grateful for the support of local businesses, community groups, volunteers and donors who helped them reach their fundraising target every day during their Greenham Trust escalator programme. This means that with the Trust’s contributions and gift aid, they raised over £35,000 to continue supporting local families in need. You can still support them here.
Are you worried about the transportation needs of older family members in Newbury or Thatcham? Pop along to the Volunteer Centre West Berkshire Open Day at Broadway House on Thursday 9 November between 10am and 4pm to find out what services are available.

• There are lots of fun spooky events happening around Newbury in the run-up to Halloween this year. See our October halfterm guide for details. Older witches and wizards might prefer to take part in the Psycho Path Pub Trail this Friday 27 October, with free shots available…

• For the low down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page.

• A holistic plan at last?

For reasons that I describe elsewhere, there has been a change at WBC’s top table, Stuart Gourley taking over the Climate Action, Recycling and Biodiversity portfolio from Adrian Abbs. You can read more on this here.

One of the first items in his in-tray was picking up on the point made by Thames Water at the recent Scrutiny Commission (SC) meeting about the multiple problems with the Northbrook Ditch and, indeed, the whole surface-water issues in the London Road Industrial Area as a whole. At the SC meeting, Thames Water suggested that three-party discussion between it, WBC and the Environment Agency should be set up to see if a holistic plan could be developed to deal with this problem once and for all. He told me that calls had been made that very morning with the aim of getting these started.

This will certainly please the SC’s Chair Carolyne Culver who has for some time argued for such an approach (and not just at the LRIE) and who’as been working since the meeting on ensuring that the sound suggestions such as this that emerged from it are not allowed to drift into the long grass: perhaps “sink into the mud” would be a more apposite phrase.

Finding a long-term solution to these problems – which are clearly not going to get better on their own – will be an essential pre-requisite for any regeneration of the LRIE. This has been on the vision-list of successive administrations without anything much to show for it apart from an access road from the A339 (which created drainage problems of its own) and the widely-reported Faraday Road debacle. This will also be good news for the down-stream residents who have long opposed any planning application in the area on the grounds of a lack of such a plan.

Some might say that we are reaping the bitter harvest of decades of under-investment. That may be true: but we are where we are. Certainly some cheques will need to be written out. The matter of how much everyone will need to contribute to this remains to be seen. One of the problems is establishing exactly who is responsible for doing or maintaining what. The list of people who might find they have skin in the game could include Thames Water, WBC, the government, commercial landowners and riparian owners. The first objective is surely to work out what the problems are, which were suggested at the SC meeting as being many and various. It’s good that work seems to be getting under way on this long-delayed matter.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

The Corn Exchange café bar on Thursday mornings between 10.30am and 12.30pm hosts Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

• Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join its friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

• Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group and its Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

Printer ink cartridges can be recycled at the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk.

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.

• Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.

Newbury Town Council Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall.

Newbury’s two friendly community cafés on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Café in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

• Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2pm to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment.

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Until Sun 21 JanNo Sudden Moves exhibition inspired by Newbury wharf, West Berkshire Museum.

• Wed 25 to Sat 28 Oct Halloween Ghost Town Family Trail, Newbury Town Centre.

• Fri 27 Oct Youth Roller Disco, Newbury Waterside Centre.

Sat 28 Oct Breakfast at The Five Bells, Wickham.

Sun 29 Oct Halloween Dog Walk, from Kintbury to Newbury.

• Tue 31 Oct Family Friendly Halloween Party, Shaw House Newbury.

Fri 3 Nov Strictly‘s Anton de Beke in conversation about new book, Corn Exchange Newbury.

Sat 4 Nov Dawson’s Hidden Treasures Day in aid of Educafe, Renegade Brewery, Yattendon.

Sat 4 Nov 50th Newbury Lions Fabulous Fireworks Fantasia, Newbury Racecourse.

Sat 4 Nov Community Spring Bulb Planting, Greenham Community Centre.

• Sun 12 Nov Remembrance Parade, Newbury Town Centre.

• Sun 19 Nov St Barts Christmas Fair, St Bartholomew’s School.

• Sat 25 Nov Local Author Showcase, Newbury Library.

 Regular events

• Friendly gardening club in the centre of Newbury. See here for how to get involved.

A wide range of activities for over 55 year olds is offered by The Corn Exchange in its Ageing Creatively programme.

• Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

Ukulele group workshops for all levels with the UTeam in Wash Common. Call 07963 647087 to enquire.

• Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

• Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

Living Well Singing Café runs on Wednesdays from 2.15pm to 3pm at the Waterside Centre. All ages welcome. Contact singingcafe@berkshiremaestros.org.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

• Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

• Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

• Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many art-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.


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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 12 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that many matters are delegated to committees.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 10 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; matters arising; financial matters; the burial ground; the Clerk’s report; and Councillors’ reports.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 20 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; rights of way; a litter pick on 28 October; financial matters; reports from the ward members; planning matters; speeding; repairs and maintenance; and the cricket pavilion.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 18 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: footpaths and roads; the parish plan; rights of way; planning matters; 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 Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 13 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 Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 3 August 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 Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click hereTo see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 ValleyThatcham area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 19 October 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: a bandstand, fireworks, parades, music and fundraising  – plus a look at the latest news on the Kennet Centre (aka Eagle Quarter). See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Newbury events include: history day, Halloween fun and fabulous fireworks. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• Refurbishment work is underway on the historic Bandstand in Victoria Park. The much-loved Bandstand has needed a bit of TLC in recent years and now with a new roof coating, decorative and brickwork repairs and new flooring, the Bandstand can be used for years to come – with no leaks…Read more about this story here.

• Excitement is building for Newbury Lions 50th Fabulous Fireworks Fantasia night on Saturday 4 November at Newbury Racecourse. Get your tickets online here, from Tesco Pinchington Lane store or Newbury Building Society branches in Newbury, Thatcham and Hungerford. Proceeds from the event go to the Lions Welfare Fund that supports local families in need. There will be a fabulous food choice this year as well as a great Gin Bar plus our own bar also awaits. A very special celebrity guest will also be coming to help with the countdown in this special 50th year of the event. Newbury Lions are a small committee of 10 people and hugely appreciate any support you can give.

Strictly fans, don’t miss Anton du Beke talk about his new book at 3pm on Friday 3 November at Newbury Corn Exchange in association with Hungerford Bookshop. Anton will be in conversation with Rebecca Fletcher about his stunning new Buckingham novel, The Paris Affair. Book your ticket and a copy of the book here.

• The Remembrance Sunday Parade and Church Service will be held in Newbury on Sunday 12 November.  The main parade will commence at 10.30am from Pelican Lane and marching the length of Northbrook Street, turning into Mansion House Street where the Mayor of Newbury will take the salute prior to continuing to the Market Place where the Remembrance Service will take place. To learn more, click here.

• There are lots of fun spooky events happening around Newbury in the run-up to Halloween this year. See our October halfterm guide for details. Older witches and wizards might prefer to take part in the Psycho Path Pub Trail, with free shots available…

Hedgehog Bottom is a small charity based in West Berkshire, run entirely by volunteers, who rescue and rehabilitate wild European Hedgehogs. On their Facebook page, they have asked for donations of old newspapers to use in the enclosures of the many baby hedgehogs they’ve had recently. You can also make a monetary donation to support their work via their fundraising page here.

• Quick reminder that Home-Start West Berkshire needs to raise £6,600 before Friday 20 October in order to earn £25,000 in matched ‘Escalator’ funding from Greenham Trust to recruit a Family Coordinator to support 60 local families a year who are struggling. The charity have been holding fundraisers all week and to finish it off, Claire Carless, chair of their Trustees, will do a tandem sky-dive this Friday. See their facebook page for details or call 01635 760310. If you would like to support Home-Start West Berkshire please donate here during the Escalator period 16 to 20 October otherwise it won’t be Escalator match-funded.

• For the low down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page.

Kennet Centre aka Eagle Quarter

This continues to divide opinions in the town. Everyone (including all the opponents) accepts that site needs to be re-developed. The essential difference between them can be boiled down to one startlingly simple point: the opponents (including Newbury Town Council and the Newbury Society) believe that the new buildings are too tall; the developers and owners (Lochailort) believe that they are no bigger than they need to be in order to make the redevelopment financially viable.

Some concessions have been made on the height – as this petition published on 14 October 2023 concedes, “the ten-storey blocks of flats have become eight storeys [and] the six-storey section of street frontage on Bartholomew Street has become five storeys,” but it goes on to point out that “the central office block has become an additional eight-storey block of flats.” The petition goes on to say that “Lochailort has made very few concessions to the concerns previously highlighted by the Newbury Society, and these do little to address the overall concerns about excess height and mass within an area of mainly two- and three-storey buildings.”

A spokesperson for the Newbury Society told Penny Post on 19 October that “we feel that the present plans (“Eagle Quarter II”) are out of scale and character for Newbury town centre, and will be damaging in the long term.  There were three sets of plans under the previous application numbers (refused in November 2022); this is now the fourth set of plans the developers have put forward for the Kennet Centre, and still they are not listening.”

Lochailort might claim that it is. There was an exhibition in the Kennet Centre earlier this month which Lochailort’s MD told Penny Post on 19 October was fairly well attended and “very useful – we answered several questions and were glad to have had the opportunity to explain some of the aspects of the plans.” The buildings are, as mentioned above, now planned to be less tall. Discussions also continue, with representatives of Lochailort due to attend a meeting of Newbury Town Council on 6 November.

Assuming that the planners are minded to approve the application (doubtless with a very long list of conditions) the matter will be decided by WBC’s Western Area Planning Committee, hopefully this year. I would imagine that the Chairman would want this to be the only item on the agenda.

You can see the most recent application here. Comments, for or against, can still be made even after the official determination date on 2 November (it’s unlikely anything will have been agreed by then).

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

The Corn Exchange café bar on Thursday mornings between 10.30am and 12.30pm hosts Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

• Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join its friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

• Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group and its Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

Printer ink cartridges can be recycled at the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk.

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.

• Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.

Newbury Town Council Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall.

Newbury’s two friendly community cafés on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Café in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

• Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2pm to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment.

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Until Sun 21 Jan: No Sudden Moves exhibition inspired by Newbury wharf, West Berkshire Museum.

• Sat 21 Oct Feline Fundraiser Firewalk, Newbury Cats Protection.

• Sat 21 Oct History Day, St Nicholas’ Church Hall, Newbury.

Sat 28 Oct Breakfast at The Five Bells, Wickham.

• Wed 25 to Sat 28 Oct Halloween Ghost Town Family Trail, Newbury Town Centre.

• Fri 27 Oct Youth Roller Disco, Newbury Waterside Centre.

• Tue 31 Oct Family Friendly Halloween Party, Shaw House Newbury.

Sat 4 Nov Dawson’s Hidden Treasures Day in aid of Educafe, Renegade Brewery, Yattendon.

Sat 4 Nov 50th Newbury Lions Fireworks, Newbury Racecourse.

• Sun 12 Nov Remembrance Parade, Newbury Town Centre.

• Sun 19 Nov St Barts Christmas Fair, St Bartholomew’s School.

• Sat 25 Nov Local Author Showcase, Newbury Library.

 Regular events

• Friendly gardening club in the centre of Newbury. See here for how to get involved.

A wide range of activities for over 55 year olds is offered by The Corn Exchange in its Ageing Creatively programme.

• Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

Ukulele group workshops for all levels with the UTeam in Wash Common. Call 07963 647087 to enquire.

• Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

• Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

Living Well Singing Café runs on Wednesdays from 2.15pm to 3pm at the Waterside Centre. All ages welcome. Contact singingcafe@berkshiremaestros.org.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

• Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

• Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

• Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many art-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.


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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 12 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that many matters are delegated to committees.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 20 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; rights of way; a litter pick on 28 October; financial matters; reports from the ward members; planning matters; speeding; repairs and maintenance; and the cricket pavilion.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 18 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: footpaths and roads; the parish plan; rights of way; planning matters; 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 Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 13 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a police report; planning matters; financial matters; Sandleford; Diamond Field; Draught Busters; the Common; reports from the Chair, the Clerk and the ward members; and dog bins.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 12 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; matters arising; financial matters; the 2024 parish assembly; speeding; the S106 agreement regarding the Showground; the Clerk’s report; and Councillors’ reports.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 3 August 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 Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click hereTo see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 ValleyThatcham area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 12 October 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: Monopoly, local authors, escalator funding, live music and craft fairs  – plus refugees, an arresting story and a reminder about the Eagle. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Newbury events include: Newbury Apple Day, Newbury College Open Event, Modern Makers Fair and more. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• The soon-to-be-available Newbury Monopoly game has just revealed that Old Kent Road, the most talked-about square on the board and also just about the most visited during play in the game will be replaced by Greenham Common. The game will be for sale from 3 November at Camp Hopson, The Entertainer, Ryman, Waterstones, WHSmith and The Works. It will also be extensively available online, including at Booghe.co.uk and Amazon.co.uk.

• If you fancy the opportunity to do some community gardening, you would be extremely welcome to help Newbury Friends of the Earth plant spring bulbs in the small Lockdown Wood that they look after on Stroud Green next Wednesday 18 October from 10am to 12.30pm.

West Berkshire Authors Showcase will be an opportunity for local authors to showcase their work at Newbury Library on Saturday 25 November. If you have had a book published that you would like to promote, please get in touch at library@westberks.gov.uk. Early expressions of interest are advised as space may be limited.

• Quick reminder that Home-Start West Berkshire needs to raise £6,600 between 16 and 20 October in order to earn £25,000 in matched ‘Escalator’ funding from Greenham Trust to recruit a Family Coordinator to support 60 local families a year who are struggling. The charity is holding a coffee morning on Monday 16 October, a Quiz Night on Tuesday 17 October, a Thrift Day on Wednesday 18 October, a schools fundraising programme and for the grand finale Claire Carless, chair of their Trustees, will overcome her fears and do a tandem sky-dive on Friday 20 October. See their facebook page for details or call 01635 760310. If you would like to support Home-Start West Berkshire please donate here during the Escalator period 16 to 20 October otherwise it won’t be Escalator match-funded.

Newbury Town Council have released their latest newsletter for October 2023. This issue covers the winners of Newbury in Bloom, the aforementioned Thomas Hardy blue plaque, as well as upcoming events.

• Quick reminder that Newbury College and University Centre Newbury (UCN)’s Open Event next Wednesday 18 October offers all the information you need to make an informed decision about your future career and discover how they are working with local businesses to develop the skills needed for the workplace.

• Volunteers are invited to bake apple-themed goodies for Newbury Apple Day on Saturday 14 October – help is also welcome to pick apples from local orchards. If that interests you please email newburyappleday@gmail.com  Otherwise just pop along to the stall in Newbury Marketplace, try your hand at the apple press, sample some fresh juice, buy some juice to take home, as well as some baked goodies. See more details here.

• Is there a hidden gem waiting to be discovered in your attic? Get your ticket to the Dawson’s Hidden Treasures Day on Saturday 4 November at Renegade Brewery in aid of the appeal to keep the weekly Educafe Community Cafe going.

• St Bartholomew’s School Parent Association are looking for stall holders  for their Christmas Gift and Craft Fair on Sunday 19 November. If you would like to book a stall you can do so here.

The Restaurant at Newbury College has just published its new autumn menu for 1 – 10 November which is very good value for money. You can book online here or via 01635 845454 or restaurantbookings@newbury-college.ac.uk if you want to book a group or private hire.

Intuition Hair Salon at Newbury College is now open to the public and the Beauty salon will open 1 November both offering top quality treatments by students under supervision at very affordable prices. See their website for treatment price list. For beauty and nails book with 01635 845205 or beauty@newbury-college.ac.uk and for Hairdressing book on 01635 845432 or hairdressing@newbury-college.ac.uk

• For the low down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page.

• Hamstead Marshall Parish Council intends to start a community speedwatch programme: if you’re interested in helping, please contact Anne Budd on 01488 657022 or anne.budd_pc@btinternet.com.

• An arresting story

You may have seen in this week’s NWN a story about Adrian Foster-Fletcher being arrested for “harassing MP” Laura Farris. A letter from Dorothy Nesbit in the letters page has some further thoughts on the incident and how it has been reported.

We spoke to Adrian himself on 12 October. “When I was let out of my cell,” he told us, “the duty solicitor said ‘I have no idea why you’re here – this is the most trivial arrest I have seen in my career.’ The police had no evidence of aggressive emails. The second charge was that I sent a letter from a false address in Newbury but I actually own the house and the police hadn’t checked.

“I have met Laura Farris several times and been emailing her since she was elected. She knows I have been a passionate environmental campaigner for 25 years. In 2008 the then Newbury MP, Richard (now Lord) Benyon invited me to join him in the House of Commons for the final reading of the Climate Change Act even though I am not technically a constituent as I live just over the Hampshire border.

“Yes, I’m angry that our unelected PM has just ripped up the Net Zero agreement. We are a small country with small emissions on a global scale but other countries watch what the UK does. We are role models whether we like it or not. If we continue to dig up fossil fuels so will everyone else.

“If Laura was fed up with my emails why didn’t she contact me and discuss the situation instead of calling the police? She knows I’m not a threat. And it was egregious for the NWN to conflate me with Ian Howgate who terrorised her in 2021 – very shoddy journalism.”

Dr Susan Millington, present co-ordinator of Newbury Friends of the Earth said “I was deeply upset to hear that Adrian had been arrested and taken into custody. Whose decision was it to arrest him and put him in a cell for hours? Was the intention to intimidate him? At this most crucial of times, we all need to work together to reduce the terrible effects of climate change.”

• The eagle

A reminder that the new plans for Eagle Quarter (as the Kennet Centre will be renamed) are currently on display in the Kennet Centre opposite Savers and can be viewed any time the centre is open. In addition, representatives from Lochailort will be on hand between 2pm and 6pm on Thursday 12 and Friday 13 October. As the plans have been submitted, I imagine that these sessions will be more in the nature of explaining what’s been proposed rather than seeking fresh ideas. However, further tweaks may yet take place so your comments could be influential.

• Refugees

This issue, already complex and divisive enough, has recently acquires a faintly party-political aspect in the district. In this separate post, I take a look at some of claims that have been made and also compare the official guidance and what is actually happening on the ground. It would appear that flip-flipping in and poor communication from SW1 is the real issue. I also suggest that the local parties here in West Berkshire have far more in common than they have differences on this issue. This seems like one of those situations where a united front can produce a lot of benefits.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

The Corn Exchange café bar on Thursday mornings between 10.30am and 12.30pm hosts Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

• Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join its friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

• Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group and its Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

Printer ink cartridges can be recycled at the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk.

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.

• Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.

Newbury Town Council Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall.

Newbury’s two friendly community cafés on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Café in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

• Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2pm to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment.

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Until Sun 21 Jan: No Sudden Moves exhibition inspired by Newbury wharf, West Berkshire Museum.

 Sat 14 Oct Newbury Apple Day, Newbury Marketplace.

 Sat 14 Oct School Roman Day, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

 Sat 14 Oct Modern Makers Fair, The Waterside Centre Newbury.

Tue 17 Oct Home-start West Berkshire Fundraising Quiz Night, Thatcham Bowling Club.

Wed 18 Oct Newbury College Open Event, Newbury College.

Wed 18 Oct Robert Fitzmaurice talk about creativity, art and mindfulness

Thu 19 Oct Fine Dining at The Five Bells, Wickham.

• Sat 21 Oct Feline Fundraiser Firewalk, Newbury Cats Protection.

• Sat 21 Oct History Day, St Nicholas’ Church Hall, Newbury.

Sat 28 Oct Breakfast at The Five Bells, Wickham.

• Wed 25 to Sat 28 Oct Halloween Ghost Town Family Trail, Newbury Town Centre.

• Fri 27 Oct Youth Roller Disco, Newbury Waterside Centre.

• Tue 31 Oct Family Friendly Halloween Party, Shaw House Newbury.

• Sun 19 Nov St Barts Christmas Fair, St Bartholomew’s School.

• Sat 25 Nov Local Author Showcase, Newbury Library.

 Regular events

• Friendly gardening club in the centre of Newbury. See here for how to get involved.

A wide range of activities for over 55 year olds is offered by The Corn Exchange in its Ageing Creatively programme.

• Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

Ukulele group workshops for all levels with the UTeam in Wash Common. Call 07963 647087 to enquire.

• Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

• Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

Living Well Singing Café runs on Wednesdays from 2.15pm to 3pm at the Waterside Centre. All ages welcome. Contact singingcafe@berkshiremaestros.org.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

• Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

• Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

• Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many art-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.


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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 12 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that many matters are delegated to committees.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 20 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; rights of way; a litter pick on 28 October; financial matters; reports from the ward members; planning matters; speeding; repairs and maintenance; and the cricket pavilion.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 12 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; matters arising; financial matters; the 2024 parish assembly; speeding; the S106 agreement regarding the Showground; the Clerk’s report; and Councillors’ reports.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 August 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 Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 3 August 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 Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 May 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 Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click hereTo see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 ValleyThatcham area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 5 October 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: a plaque, a pump track, a singing café apples, history and the ukulele  – plus a look at a halt at the hub, an exhibition about the Eagle, a meeting about the strategy and an appeal for Home-Start help. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Newbury events include: Newbury Apple Day, Modern Makers Fair and more. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• Over 200 visitors were treated to an exhilarating morning of action and adventure at Goldwell Park in Newbury on Saturday 30 September as a new BMX pump track was unveiled to the public. This video on West Berkshire Council’s facebook reveals all the fun (and exercise) that the track has to offer. Read more here.

• This weekend, Newbury’s 18th blue plaque will unveiled by the Mayor of Newbury at 11.30am on Saturday 7 October. The plaque is in honour of novelist Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), whose final book Jude the Obscure (1895) takes place mostly in and around Newbury and Oxford, lightly disguised under the fictional names of “Kennetbridge” and “Christminster”. The plaque will be place on the side of the Cheques Hotel (which is described in the novel) and is a collaboration between Newbury Town Council, the Thomas Hardy Society and the Chequers Hotel.

Newbury Town Council has released its latest newsletter for October 2023. This issues covers the winners of Newbury in Bloom, the aforementioned Thomas Hardy blue plaque, as well as upcoming events.

• Did you know that there are a lot of health benefits to singing with a group? The Living Well Singing Café runs on Wednesdays from 2.15pm to 3pm at the Waterside Youth Centre. The aim is to improve lung health, posture, vocal strength, mental health, have fun and make friends. Their current age range is 44 to 94, but anyone is welcome to come along a give it a try. Any questions, get in touch at singingcafe@berkshiremaestros.org.uk.

• Volunteers are invited to bake apple-themed goodies for Newbury Apple Day on Saturday 14 October: help is also welcome to pick apples from local orchards. If that interests you please email newburyappleday@gmail.com  Otherwise just pop along to the stall in Newbury Marketplace, try your hand at the apple press, sample some fresh juice, buy some juice to take home, as well as some baked goodies. See more details here.

• If you are interested in local history, pop along to The Newbury District Field Club’s History Day focused on Newbury Notables, featuring talks about noteworthy figures from around the town. This takes place at St Nicholas Church Hall, from 10am to 4pm on Saturday 21 October. Tickets are £12 and can be purchased here.

• St Bartholomew’s School Parent Association is looking for stall holders for its Christmas Gift and Craft Fair on Sunday 19 November. If you would like to book a stall you can do so here.

• Always wanted to play a musical instrument, then why not try the ukulele in group workshops?  Whether you are a complete beginner or looking to take your skills to the next level, the UTeam have the perfect class for you. Classes start in Wash Common on Monday 23 October. Call 07963 647087 to enquire or book your place and click here for details.

The Restaurant at Newbury College has just published its new autumn menu for 1 to 10 November which is very good value for money. You can book online here or via 01635 845454 or restaurantbookings@newbury-college.ac.uk if you want to book a group or private hire.

Intuition Hair Salon at Newbury College is now open to the public and the Beauty salon will open 1 November offering top quality treatments by students under supervision at very affordable prices. See their website for treatment price list. For beauty and nails book with 01635 845205 or beauty@newbury-college.ac.uk and for Hairdressing book on 01635 845432 or hairdressing@newbury-college.ac.uk

• Looking to take the next step after school and not sure where to start? Maybe you want to further your education and improve your career prospects? Go along to Newbury College and University Centre Newbury (UCN)’s Open Event on Wednesday 18 October to get all the information you need to make an informed decision about your future career and discover how they are working with local businesses to develop the skills needed for the workplace.

• For the low-down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page.

• The latest edition of the Hamstead Hornet, which covers life in the village of Hamstead Marshall, can be seen here.

• Hamstead Marshall Parish Council intends to start a community speedwatch programme: if you’re interested in helping, please contact Anne Budd on 01488 657022 or anne.budd_pc@btinternet.com.

• Halting the hub

One of the things that’s expected to be announced at the meeting of WBC’s Executive in November will be that the sports hub planned at Monks Lane in conjunction with the Rugby Club will not be going ahead. Whether or not the 3G pitch will survive this winnowing remains to be seen. What appears certain in that the stand, clubhouse and all the other planned features will not be built, or certainly not to anything like the scale envisaged in the planning application

The reason that these aspects were intruded at all was because of the need to redress the self-inflicted error committed by the last administration but one when it closed the Faraday Road pitch (in the misplaced hope that could be redeveloped) which, once it accepted its obligations, left WBC needing to find a replacement facility. Monks Lane was variously presented as this and as something stand-alone, depending on who was asking the question. It may well have been an excellent facility but was only needed on this scale if you accepted that Faraday Road couldn’t be used for sport. Now that position has been reversed, the case for the Monks Lane sports hub evaporates.

Newbury RFC is understandably a bit miffed about this. In a letter to HRFC members, referred to in an article in this week’s NWN and which I have seen, the President mentions the club’s “frustration” that several years of discussion have come to nought. I understand, though this is to be confirmed, that NRFC will have its legal costs refunded by WBC.

Whether this irritation if fully justified is another matter. The letter also refers to WBC’s “complete lack of awareness of the huge role that the club plays in the community” but many other groups and clubs, sporting or otherwise, could with fairness also claim they were important to the community. That doesn’t, however, mean that the Council has to support them. Indeed, by providing financial assistance to one would leave WBC open to charges of doing so at the expense of the others. This would certainly have been a very good deal for NRFC though perhaps a less good one for the district as a whole. Such issues have cropped up elsewhere in West Berkshire before.

The letter also says that “clearly we cannot rely on any future support from the council.” Not, perhaps, on the scale previously proposed: but WBC’s new playing pitch strategy (which is expected to confirm a shortage of sports grounds, certainly in Newbury) may well suggest a 3G pitch at Monks Lane. Whether this is what NRFC wants is another matter.

Assuming the Monks Lane “replacement” is killed off, this leaves WBC with the business of refurbishing Faraday Road. The Council has said in its draft strategy document (p16) that it plans to have “a new community sports stadium in Faraday Road” open by 2027. To accomplish this in any form will require planning permission: and I can be fairly certain that any application which does not include a complete and holistic drainage management plan for the whole LRIE area will, as has happened before, be met with the full force of objections including perhaps a judicial review. The administration may have changed but this underlying issue has not.

Unfortunately, each application needs to be determined on its own merits which means that none seems likely to require a holistic drainage plan. Given the intractable opposition of the down-stream residents, this seems to put a big block on any piecemeal development. One solution would be for for the Council to acquire the whole site. Anyone at WBC HQ got any compulsory purchase order forms handy?

This therefore remains a problem that the new regime will need to solve. As the drainage problem has been around for decades and will, if unaddressed, hinder all attempts to re-develop the area, it might be better to regard it less as a problem and more as an opportunity. Can the new administration seize it?

• Newbury’s masterplan

The Newbury Masterplan steering group will meet again on 31 October and will be chaired by Andy Moore from Newbury TC. Two  projects in the Wharf have already been identified and signed off and have grants secured. Martin Colston, the portfolio holder responsible for the initiative, told Penny Post on 4 October that the next objective is “to  prioritise the next two or three projects from the Newbury Masterplan (pp68 to 80).

• The Eagle lands again

We’ve written several times about the game of poker, cat-and-mouse contest or what you will that is the discussion about the proposed re-development of the Kennet Centre. Following a planning refusal, a PR campaign on both sides and a threatened appeal, a new application has been lodged. The developers, Lochailort, have made some concessions as regards height, which was the main aesthetic objection. Concerns still remain about the nature, tenure and number of the proposed dwellings and the argument could be made that the last thing Newbury needs is more flats. However, the fact must be faced that the site cannot support small houses with gardens; which the town certainly does need.

The plans are currently on display in the Kennet Centre opposite Savers and can be viewed any time the centre is open. In addition, representatives from Lochailort will be on hand between 2pm and 6pm on Thursday 12 and Friday 13 October. As the plans have been submitted, I imagine that these sessions will be more in the nature of explaining what’s been proposed rather than seeking fresh ideas. However, further tweaks may yet take place so your comments could be influential.

Unlike many planning applications, inaction is not an option for either side. The developers must be losing a lot of money every month from this unsaleable and largely un-rentable shopping centre whereas, for both the town of Newbury and for West Berkshire Council, the current building is a blot on the landscape. Something therefore has to change. It remains to be seen whether this latest application represents the last round of the poker game.

• Home-Start help

The cost of living crisis has had a real impact on local families and Home-Start West Berkshire needs to raise £6,600 between 16 and 20 October in order to earn £25,000 in matched ‘Escalator’ funding from Greenham Trust to recruit a Family Coordinator to train and supervise 20 volunteers to assist 60 low-income families a year who are struggling.

The charity is planning a range of activities including a coffee morning on Monday 16 October with delicious home made cakes, bric a brac and a tombola, a quiz night at Thatcham Bowling Club on Tuesday 17 October, schools fundraising programme and for the grand finale Claire Carless, chair of Trustees, will overcome her fears and do a tandem sky-dive on Friday 20 October. See their facebook page for details. Please call 01635 760310. If you would like to support Home-Start West Berkshire and get your donation match-funded –please donate here during the Escalator period 16 to 20 October.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

The Corn Exchange café bar on Thursday mornings between 10.30am and 12.30pm hosts Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

• Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join its friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

• Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group and its Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

Printer ink cartridges can be recycled at the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk.

• Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.

Newbury Town Council members host ata Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall.

Newbury’s two friendly community cafés on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Café in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

• Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2pm to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment.

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Until Sun 21 Jan No Sudden Moves exhibition inspired by Newbury Wharf, West Berkshire Museum.

Wed 11 Oct Kintbury Primary School open day.

 Sat 14 Oct Newbury Apple Day, Newbury Marketplace.

 Sat 14 Oct School Roman Day, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

 Sat 14 Oct Modern Makers Fair, The Waterside Centre Newbury.

Wed 18 Oct Newbury College Open Event, Newbury College.

Wed 18 Oct Robert Fitzmaurice talk about creativity, art and mindfulness.

• Sat 21 Oct Feline Fundraiser Firewalk, Newbury Cats Protection.

• Sat 21 Oct History Day, St Nicholas’ Church Hall, Newbury.

• Wed 25 to Sat 28 Oct Halloween Ghost Town Family Trail, Newbury Town Centre.

• Tue 31 Oct Family Friendly Halloween Party, Shaw House Newbury.

• Sun 19 Nov St Barts Christmas Fair, St Bartholomew’s School.

 Regular events

• Friendly gardening club in the centre of Newbury. See here for how to get involved.

A wide range of activities for over 55 year olds is offered by The Corn Exchange in its Ageing Creatively programme.  Coffee Companions on Thursday mornings for anyone who fancies a chat and World Crafts on Friday mornings (except 4th Friday of the month) is a chance to explore arts and crafts of cultures from around the world (anyone new to the UK is invited to share their own country’s crafts as well).

• Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

• Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

• Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

• Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

• Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

• Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many art-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.

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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 12 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that many matters are delegated to committees.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 20 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; rights of way; a litter pick on 28 October; financial matters; reports from the ward members; planning matters; speeding; repairs and maintenance; and the cricket pavilion.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 12 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; matters arising; financial matters; the 2024 parish assembly; speeding; the S106 agreement regarding the Showground; the Clerk’s report; and Councillors’ reports.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 August 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 Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 3 August 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 Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 May 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 Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click hereTo see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

• Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council, Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council and Hamstead Marshall Parish Council.
• West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

• Penny Post area: see the following separate sections: Lambourn ValleyHungerford area; Thatcham area; Compton and Downlands; Burghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.
• News and views from across the area and beyond: see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 21 September 2023

This week we cover free buses, blooms, a photo comp, restaurants, litter and apples  – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down to below “This week’s news” for a look at some thoughts from WBC Scrutiny Commission’s Chair about the continuing uncertainty regarding the possible Monks Lane Sport Hub, a reminder about an appeal from a local pre-school and a more recent appeal from Educafé.

We’re taking a bit of time off so this post will next be updated on Thursday 5 October.

This week’s news

• Upcoming events in Newbury include:  Newbury College Open Event, Newbury Apple Day, Feline Fundraiser Firewalk. See events section below for details, plus on-going regular community events and clubs.

In celebration of World Car Free Day this Friday 22 September, West Berkshire Council is pleased to announce that most bus operators will be offering free bus travel throughout the day across West Berkshire. If your journey ends up outside of West Berkshire (for example into Reading) then ask for a return ticket when your board the bus in West Berkshire in order for your return fare to be covered by the free travel offer. Click here for more information and the routes included.

The Newbury in Bloom Presentation evening took place at the Corn Exchange, Newbury on 14 September. All entrants were invited to attend the event and the winners of each category were announced on stage. Mayor of Newbury, Cllr Nigel Foot, together with the sponsors, presented the awards to the winners. There were a total of 38 entries received for the eight categories this year. Click here to see the full list of winners.

• Next Thursday 28 September there will be a Job Fair at the Northcroft Leisure Centre – organised by local MP Laura Farris with the Newbury Jobcentre. There will be a range of employers from a variety of sectors including Vodafone, Metro Bank, West Berkshire Council, Lidl, the Vineyard Group, A-Plan Insurance and Helix. For more information click here.

• There is still time to enter the Luna photo comp by 30 September for the chance to win a £50 voucher for their fab Newbury store (opposite Metrobank). Their clothes are not only fashionable but fun, comfortable and fit all sizes.

Intuition Hair & Beauty Salons at Newbury College are now open to the public and offer top quality treatments by students under supervision at very affordable prices. See their website for treatment price list. For beauty and nails book with 01635 845205 or beauty@newbury-college.ac.uk and for Hairdressing book on 01635 845432 or hairdressing@newbury-college.ac.uk

The Restaurant at Newbury College will open to the public from 1 November and offers equally good value for money. They are taking bookings now as they get booked up quite quickly. You can book online here or via 01635 845454 or restaurantbookings@newbury-college.ac.uk if you want to book a group or private hire.

• Fancy a go at indoor bowling now we are heading towards a colder season? West Berks Indoor Bowls Club at Pyle Hill, Newbury welcomes everyone of all ages to have a go during their free taster weekend Saturday 30 September and Sunday 1 October.

• Taking inspiration from local history, especially that of inland waterways and Newbury wharf in its 300th year, the No Sudden Moves exhibition by Robert Fitzmaurice is a meditation on slowness as an antidote to turmoil in our world today. The exhibition runs from Wednewday 27 September to Sunday 21 January at West Berkshire Museum. On Wednesday 18 October Robert will be giving a free talk about the ideas behind his exhibition namley creativity, wellbeing, the benefits of slow looking and mindfulness.

• In line with World Clean up Day this September, Waterside Centre is hosting a Community Litter Pick and Information Event for all ages on Saturday 30 September, 9am – 12noon bringing the community together to clean up our local environment. All equipment will be provided. Local environmental organisations will be sharing their knowledge and raise awareness in looking after our local environment, reducing waste & recycling. There will be recycled crafts for children and the café will be open for refreshments. See their facebook page here for more details.
Newbury Apple Day will soon be here again on Saturday 14 October and this community event, run entirely by volunteers, welcomes anyone who would like to help pick apples from local orchards, or bake apple-themed goodies for the stall in Newbury Market Place or help with various tasks on the day from 9am to 3.30pm. If that interests you please email newburyappleday@gmail.com  Otherwise just pop along to the stall, try your hand at the apple press, sample some fresh juice, buy some juice to take home, as well as some baked goodies. See more details here.

• For families living west of Newbury you may be interested to hear that Kintbury St.Mary’s CE Primary School invites prospective families to their Whole School Open Morning on Wednesday 11 October. Please contact the office on 01488 658336 or email office@kintbury.w-berks.sch to book your place.

• Thames Valley Police are still appealing for witnesses and dash-cam following a road traffic collision on the A339 Pinchington Lane, Newbury, on Monday 11 September around 7.35pm. Tragically a man in his 30s has died and our condolences go to his family and friends. If you can help please call 101 and quote 43230408025. See more details here.

• Looking to take the next step after school and not sure where to start? Maybe you want to further your education and improve your career prospects? Go along to Newbury College and University Centre Newbury (UCN)’s Open Event on Wednesday 18 October to get all the information you need to make an informed decision about your future career and discover how they are working with local businesses to develop the skills needed for the workplace.

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.

• For the low down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page.

• The latest edition of the Hamstead Hornet, which covers life in the village of Hamstead Marshall, can be seen here.

• Hamstead Marshall Parish Council intends to start a community speedwatch programme: if you’re interested in helping, please contact Anne Budd on 01488 657022 or anne.budd_pc@btinternet.com.

Sporting scrutiny

The Scrutiny Commission (OSC) meeting of 20 June 2023 considered, amongst other matters, “the call-in of the Executive Decision (EX4332) of 23 March regarding revised costs and permission to sign the development management agreement for Newbury Sports Hub”, commonly known as “Monks Lane.” You can see the minutes here (item 8).

The resolution passed at the end of this item was “to refer the matter back to the Executive for further consideration, particularly in respect of the following aspects: legal costs incurred by the Council; costs incurred by the Rugby Club; any penalty fees associated with not proceeding as planned; implications for the new Leisure Contract; and the need to revisit the Playing Pitch Strategy.”

At the OSC meeting on 14 September 2023 (more information on which, including a video of the event, you can see here), the Chair, Carolyne Culver, made some opening remarks regarding this matter as well as some other points about how the documents relating to OSC meetings are prepared and circulated.

You can read more on this, including the full transcript of her comments, by clicking here.

Kintbury Pre-School needs your help

Many organisations are feeling the financial pinch at the moment and are having to reduce services, lay off staff or even close. Wilko and Birmingham Council are two of the high-profile casualties but by no means the only ones. The problems become even more severe when, as well as shortage of money and rising costs, one adds in demographic changes. Organisations have as little control over these as they do over inflation or supply-chain problems.

One group that is currently feeling the pinch to the extent that it needs to raise a five-figure sum very soon or face closure is Kintbury Pre-school, which has been in existence for nearly fifty years. In this article, we take a look at the general background and the specific problems Kintbury faces and also look at what the school is trying to do – and how you can help. Other pre-schools in the area may well be facing similar problems and looking to run similar appeals. If so, please get in touch and we’ll do our best to publicise these.

…and so does Educafé

Educafé, recently nominated for a BBC Berkshire Award, asks for help amid local authority cuts

A popular community café in the heart of Newbury which has “saved people’s lives” is at risk of closing unless it receives vital funds.

Educafe started as a weekly community café in 2021 following lockdown, offering a free weekly café and safe space where people could meet, enjoy free refreshments, make friends and support each other. Since then it has exploded into a progressive social movement offering free health and wellbeing activities, English language courses, community navigation, a hub for other local organisations and a growing network of over 300 new and expectant mums who receive free ante and post-natal health and wellbeing support.

You can read more on the appeal and the background to the challenges in this separate post.

Community notices

• Everyone very welcome to pop in to the Corn Exchange café bar any Thursday morning between 10.30am and 12.30pm for Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

• Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join their friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

• Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group and their Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

• Not sure what to do with your old printer ink cartridges? Well, you can donate them to the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk.

• Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.

• Did you know you can raise concerns with Newbury Town Council at a Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall?

• Newbury’s two friendly community cafes on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Cafe in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Cafe at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

• Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

• The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2 to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment.

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.

• Please click here for Hamstead Marshall.net, which provides an excellent round-up of what’s going on in and around the village. This also publishes the quarterly Hamstead Hornet.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Sat 23 Sept Traditional Breakfast at the Five Bells, Wickham.

Thur 28 Sept American Smokehouse & Josh Smith Live at The Five Bells, Wickham.

• Thur 28 Sept Newbury Job Fair, Northcroft Lane, Newbury.

Sat 30 Sept Community Litter Pick & Info Event Waterside Centre, Newbury.

 Sat 14 Oct Newbury Apple Day, Newbury Marketplace.

 Sat 14 Oct School Roman Day, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Wed 18 Oct Newbury College Open Event, Newbury College.

• Thur 21 Oct Feline Fundraiser Firewalk, Newbury Cats Protection.

 Regular events

• Friendly gardening club in the centre of Newbury. See here for how to get involved.

• The Corn Exchange in Newbury offers a wide range of activities for over 55 year olds in their Ageing Creatively programme.  Coffee Companions on Thursday mornings for anyone who fancies a chat and World Crafts on Friday mornings (except 4th Friday of the month) is a chance to explore arts and crafts of cultures from around the world (anyone new to the UK is invited to share their own country’s crafts as well).

• Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

• Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

• Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

• Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

• Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

• Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many artistic-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.

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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 12 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that many matters are delegated to committees.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; financial matters; the Diamond Field; community engagement; dog bins; street-furniture inspections; the Control Tower; reports from the Chair, the Clerk and the ward members; a memorial bench; footpaths; and Greenham in bloom.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 3 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; financial matters; the NDP; the Clerk’s report; and road closures.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: committee reports; the Marsh Benham swing; updates from there working parties; the Recreation Ground; renewable energy; the B4000; maintenance and repairs; and The Rising Sun.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; trees from Greenham Trust; net zero; financial matters; reports from the ward members; speeding; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; and a possible battle re-enactment.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 May 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 Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click hereTo see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 ValleyThatcham area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

 

Thursday 14 September 2023

This week we cover steam trains, blister packs, an access road, a witness appeal and a school open day  – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down to below “This week’s news” for an appeal from a local pre-school, a chance to ask questions of the water bosses and the long-awaited return of Newbury Show this weekend.

This week’s news

• Upcoming events in Newbury include:  Newbury Show, One Community Cricket and Family Fun Day, and drama based on the lives of three Newbury men who died in dramatic circumstances in the late 1930s. See events section below for details, plus on-going regular community events and clubs.

• According Newbury Happening Now facebook group a steam train will be stopping at Platform 1a at Newbury Station this Saturday 16 September at 8:18 for about half an hour to fill up with water. Hauled by Jubilee class steam locomotive No.45596 Bahamas, the train is scheduled to return to Platform 2 at 7.10pm just for 5 minutes.

The same facebook group discusses the long-awaited re-opening of the access road to the train station on the northern side. The road feeds into Cheap Street but the walk-way through the new residential area leads directly to Market Street creating concerns about less footfall for businesses on Cheap Street. See more here.

• This Saturday 16 September West Berkshire Museum will be holding free drop-in braiding workshops where you can have a go with experts from the Kennet Valley Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. This is part of aexhibition of work by the Guild that runs at the museum until 17 September.

Superdrug is closing this week in the Kennet Centre but if you go there to drop off blister packs for recycling, you can now do this at GKG Vets on St John’s Road according to the useful Thatcham & Newbury plastic free, recycling & zero waste facebook group. The vets will take both animal and human medication packaging apparently.

• There is still time to enter the Luna photo comp by 30 September for the chance to win a £50 voucher for their fab Newbury store (opposite Metrobank). Their clothes are not only fashionable but fun, comfortable and fit all sizes.

• Did you know that you can collect one free roll of compostable food caddy liners from any West Berkshire Library or from the West Berkshire Council Office reception in Newbury? They’ll be available until Saturday 30 September.

West Berks Indoor Bowls Club at Pyle Hill, Newbury welcomes everyone of all ages to have a go during their free taster weekend Saturday 30 September and Sunday 1 October.

• Last chance for English language students to enrol for Educafe’s free Community English language courses for eligible learners from September including no exam ESOL, English for work/business communication and driving theory. Learners need to live in West Berkshire and to be UK Citizens, hold Settled Status and be entitled to UK Public Funds. They will need to see Biometric Visa and proof of address.  Asylum seekers need to have been resident in the UK for six months before applying for a course.

• For families living west of Newbury you may be interested to hear that Kintbury St.Mary’s CE Primary School invites prospective families to their Whole School Open Morning on Wednesday 11 October. Please contact the office on 01488 658336 or email office@kintbury.w-berks.sch to book your place.

• Thames Valley Police are appealing for witnesses and dash-cam following a road traffic collision on the A339 Pinchington Lane, Newbury, on Monday 11 September around 7.35pm. Tragically a man in his 30s has died and our condolences go to his family and friends. If you can help please call 101 and quote 43230408025. See more details here.

• Looking to take the next step after school and not sure where to start? Maybe you want to further your education and improve your career prospects? Go along to Newbury College and University Centre Newbury (UCN)’s Open Event on Wednesday 18 October to get all the information you need to make an informed decision about your future career and discover how they are working with local businesses to develop the skills needed for the workplace

• Our family, like many, has very sadly lost friends to suicide, including young adults in Newbury. Here in West Berkshire we have a Suicide Prevention Action Group that provides training and awareness materials. Do have a read Chairman Garry Poulson’s article here for Suicide Prevention Week 10 to 16 September and you can also sign up for their next Suicide Prevention First-Aid Course on Thursday 19 October.

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.

• Are you a young person interested in building a small business? Ever fancy giving market trading a go? If you are aged 16 to 30 years West Berkshire Council can offer you a free pitch at Newbury Market for one week, to give it a try. If that sounds of interest, get in contact with Caroline at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk to find out more.

• For the low down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page.

• Hot off the digital press, the September edition of the Hamstead Hornet, which covers life in the village of Hamstead Marshall, can be seen here.

• Hamstead Marshall Parish Council intends to start a community speedwatch programme: if you’re interested in helping, please contact Anne Budd on 01488 657022 or anne.budd_pc@btinternet.com.

Scrutinising the water

Do you have concerns about the activities of Thames Water and the Environment Agency? If so, you can submit questions to a special public West Berkshire Council Oversight and Scrutiny Committee meeting being held at 6.30pm on Wednesday 11 October. At this event, the members of the committee will be reviewing the recent performance of TW and the EA in the district and will be questioning representatives of both organisations who will be attending the meeting.

If you have any questions you’d like ask or concerns you’d like to raise, please email these to Executivecycle@westberks.gov.uk by 18 September. The meeting will be streamed live on the Council’s YouTube channel for residents wanting to follow the meeting as it happens or at their convenience later. Click here for more details.

Kintbury Pre-School’s pinch is more of a punch

Many organisations are feeling the financial pinch at the moment and are having to reduce services, lay off staff or even close. Wilko and Birmingham Council are two of the high-profile casualties but by no means the only ones. The problems become even more severe when, as well as shortage of money and rising costs, one adds in demographic changes. Organisations have as little control over these as they do over inflation or supply-chain problems.

One group that is currently feeling the pinch to the extent that it needs to raise a five-figure sum very soon or face closure is Kintbury Pre-school, which has been in existence for nearly fifty years. In this article, we take a look at the general background and the specific problems Kintbury faces and also look at what the school is trying to do – and how you can help. Other pre-schools in the area may well be facing similar problems and looking to run similar appeals. If so, please get in touch and we’ll do our best to publicise these.

The return of the Show

A after a three-year hiatus – two because of Covid and their because a change of management did not leave enough time to organise it – the Newbury Show is back on 16 and 17 September. For more information, see this separate post. The latest news includes a link to the show map, news of Farmer Will and Pippin in Pig and kids’ activities.

Community notices

• Everyone very welcome to pop in to the Corn Exchange café bar any Thursday morning between 10.30am and 12.30pm for Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

• Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join their friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

• Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group and their Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

• Not sure what to do with your old printer ink cartridges? Well, you can donate them to the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk.

• Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.

• Did you know you can raise concerns with Newbury Town Council at a Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall?

• Newbury’s two friendly community cafes on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Cafe in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Cafe at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

• Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

• The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2 to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment.

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.

• Please click here for Hamstead Marshall.net, which provides an excellent round-up of what’s going on in and around the village. This also publishes the quarterly Hamstead Hornet.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Thurs 14 to Sat 16 Sept ’20th Century Casualties’ Performance, the Royal British Legion Club.

• Sat 16 Sept Give Braiding a Go, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

• Sat 16 & Sun 17 Sept Newbury Show, Newbury Showground.

• Sun 17 Sept One Community Cricket & Family Fun Day, Falkland Cricket Club, Newbury.

• Thurs 28 Sept Newbury Job Fair, Northcroft Lane, Newbury.

 Sat 14 Oct School Roman Day, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

• Thurs 21 Oct Feline Fundraiser Firewalk, Newbury Cats Protection.

 Regular events

• Friendly gardening club in the centre of Newbury. See here for how to get involved.

• The Corn Exchange in Newbury offers a wide range of activities for over 55 year olds in their Ageing Creatively programme.  Coffee Companions on Thursday mornings for anyone who fancies a chat and World Crafts on Friday mornings (except 4th Friday of the month) is a chance to explore arts and crafts of cultures from around the world (anyone new to the UK is invited to share their own country’s crafts as well).

• Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

• Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

• Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

• Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

• Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

• Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many artistic-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.

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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 12 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that many matters are delegated to committees.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; financial matters; the Diamond Field; community engagement; dog bins; street-furniture inspections; the Control Tower; reports from the Chair, the Clerk and the ward members; a memorial bench; footpaths; and Greenham in bloom.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 3 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; financial matters; the NDP; the Clerk’s report; and road closures.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: committee reports; the Marsh Benham swing; updates from there working parties; the Recreation Ground; renewable energy; the B4000; maintenance and repairs; and The Rising Sun.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; trees from Greenham Trust; net zero; financial matters; reports from the ward members; speeding; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; and a possible battle re-enactment.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 May 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 Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click hereTo see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 ValleyThatcham area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Friday 8 September 2023

This week we cover Newbury’s newsletter, a social, bikes, open days, a Monopoly square and English improvement  – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down to below “This week’s news” for a look at the latest news concerning the Kennet Centre (or Eagle Quarter as it will be), a look forward to the imminent Newbury Show, an appeal for a new home for the Soup Kitchen, a look at two of Newbury’s cafés, a preview of a community cricket day at Falkland  and an assessment of the achievements of the new WBC administration just over a hundred days from its formal assumption of power.

Apologies that this is a day late. As many of you will know, we were recently beset by IT problems severe enough to make us wonder if we’d ever get this out at all. Apologies on behalf of the gremlin or gremlins responsible.

This week’s news

• Upcoming events in Newbury include: Wash Common Community Festival, Newbury Real Ale Festival, Heritage Open Days, talk on the history of Camp Hobsons and drama based on the lives of three Newbury men who died in dramatic circumstances in the late 1930s. See events section below for details, plus on-going regular community events and clubs.

• Newbury Town Council’s latest newsletter for September focuses on the Heritage Open Day Festival and the council’s stance on the proposed high-rise development at the Kennet Centre.

• The local Time to Talk charity that provides vital counselling for 11 to 25 year olds is delighted to have been voted to feature as one of the three charity squares on the forthcoming Monopoly: Newbury Edition being released in November this year. This edition will feature over thirty Newbury landmarks and favourites replacing the likes of Mayfair and Park Lane from the classic London Monopoly original game.

• The Trussell Trust’s Step Up September Challenge is in aid of preventing the need for foodbanksPlease click here if you would like to sponsor Penny doing the challenge.

• Our family, like many, has very sadly lost friends to suicide, including young adults in Newbury. Here in West Berkshire we have a Suicide Prevention Action Group that provides training and awareness materials. Do have a read Chairman Garry Poulson’s article here for Suicide Prevention Week 10 to 16 September and you can also sign up for their next Suicide Prevention First-Aid Course on Thursday 19 October.

• As previously noted, September’s Newbury Pride Social is a week later than usual due to the committee supporting Reading Pride. The Newbury meet-up is now this Friday 8 September at The Old Waggon and Horses. All welcome.

• Quick reminder about the Ukraine Donation Day at Chieveley Village Hall (RG20 8TE) on Tuesday 12 September between 9am and 2pm. Please see Help Ukraine Group Support (HUGS)’s website here for up-to-date list of items needed. Strong, lidded cardboard boxes are also required and there’s plenty of parking. If you want to arrange another day to donate, please contact hungerfordukraineaid@gmail.com or 07999 693399.

• Do you have plans for crime prevention projects in your community? Applications for the latest round of Thames Valley Police’s Community Fund are now open, with £200,000 of grant funding available for community group projects to help prevent crime across Thames Valley. Application deadline is 12pm on Monday 11 September.

• Do you know anyone who wants to improve their English? Educafe is offering free Community English language courses for eligible learners from September including no exam ESOL, English for work/business communication and driving theory. Learners need to live in West Berkshire and to be UK Citizens, hold Settled Status and be entitled to UK Public Funds. They will need to see Biometric Visa and proof of address.  Asylum seekers need to have been resident in the UK for six months before applying for a course.

• Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.

• Are you a young person interested in building a small business? Ever fancy giving market trading a go? If you are aged 16 to 30 years West Berkshire Council can offer you a free pitch at Newbury Market for one week, to give it a try. If that sounds of interest, get in contact with Caroline at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk to find out more.

• For the low down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page.

• Hot off the digital press, the September edition of the Hamstead Hornet, which covers life in the village of Hamstead Marshall, can be seen here.

• Hamstead Marshall Parish Council intends to start a community speedwatch programme: if you’re interested in helping, please contact Anne Budd on 01488 657022 or anne.budd_pc@btinternet.com.

Eagle Quarter

As we’ve mentioned several times, probably the most controversial planning issue in the district at present concerns the Kennet Centre; or Eagle Quarter as it will be known. The owners, Lochailort Newbury Ltd, had previously submitted two planning applications and both had been refused by West Berkshire Council. The developer had lodged an appeal to the Planning Inspector which was due to be heard next month.

The announcement of the appeal had a whiff of the bargaining chip about it and I suspected that, after discussions, this would be withdrawn a new application lodged. It was announced on 5 September that the first of these had happened and that the second would follow.

“We have been working very closely with the planners and members to reach agreement on an amended scheme,” Lochailort’s CEO Hugo Haig told me. “We are pleased to be able to confirm that we have agreed a way forward with WBC in principle and will be submitting a revised application very soon.”

Items that have been discussed and agreed include the dual use of the existing car park, which Lochailort owns and leases to WBC, which has enabled the removal the additional deck of car parking (so “saving the scheme considerable money”). Two levels have also been lopped off the two tallest buildings, reducing them from seven storeys. One storey has also been removed from the last block on Bartholomew Street.

“To compensate for the loss of units resulting from the reduction in height,” Mr Haig continued, “we have changed the office space to more flats. The rest of the elements that made up the scheme remain the same, together with the Robert Adam detailed facades, new retail units, cafes and restaurants, and new pedestrian streets and spaces. The saving from removing the additional floor from the car park has also enabled us to be able to include 19 affordable homes, in the form of discounted market rented units, ideally for key workers, as well as car park improvements.”

Affordable homes were always meant to be part of the provision so I’m unclear why this is being presented as a concession. None the less, discussions have taken place, and continue.

This had to happen. In most cases, if an application fails then the site (which is generally empty) remains as it is while everyone has a rethink. This is rather different. The current Kennet Centre is effective unlettable at present so leaving this as they are is not an option.

West Berkshire Council has said that “it welcomes Lochailort’s decision to withdraw the appeals for redevelopment and to re-enter discussions about the site.” It adds that these discussions have enabled Lochailort to “understand concerns which led to previous planning applications being refused and what is more likely to be acceptable in a future application.” This is expected any day.

Planning portfolio holder Tony Vickers said that “it’s important we have a plan for the area which helps the town develop while protecting the heritage and character.” He added that the two parties are working “on what we feel would be a more appropriate” plan.

One of the most vociferous critics of the original plans has been the Newbury Society. On 7 September, I spoke to the Chairman, David Peacock. “Our main emotion is one of relief that the previously proposed high-rise development will not be going ahead,” he said. “This is tempered by the news that there’s to be a new application. We need to see the details before we can comment further.”

“This is an opportunity for the developers to put forward a scheme to benefit the whole town,” he added. “Let’s hope this is what emerges.”

One Community cricket at Falkland

The third One Community Cricket and Family Fun Day is on Sunday 17 September at Falkland Cricket Club. The aim is to bring together local people from all ethnic backgrounds for a great day of fun and friendship, competitive sport, and community connection. Up to eight teams are expected to take part, including ones representing the Indian and communities, one from a local Muslim group, one from the Alliance for Cohesion and Racial Equality and one from Thames Valley Police.

There will be food and Berkshire Youth will be providing lots of children’s activities.  A mini health-check team from the Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust will be there, too.

“This really is a day for all the family,” said Carol Jackson-Doerge of Community United “For sponsors it’s a chance to get their name out there, and to say that they believe in the community coming together as one.”

Community United is very grateful to Berkshire Cricket Foundation, Berkshire Cricket Officials Association, Falkland Cricket Club and Newbury Racecourse for their support and sponsorship of this event.

A new home needed

Newbury Soup Kitchen has announced that it’s saddened that the prospect of moving into a new location in the centre of Newbury has fallen through.

“We have been looking for suitable premises for over six years and are back appealing to the public to help us find another space,” CEO and Founder Meryl Praill told Penny Post on 7 September. “A new location would let us provide more support and essential outreach as the need for homeless reduction, food provision, support and day-to-day care increases.”

The Soup Kitchen is looking for 2,500 sq ft minimum with parking and some suitable space outside, within walking distance of the town centre. If the current classification doesn’t cover this, the charity would need to apply for a change of use to permit a commercial kitchen on the ground floor. Space would also be needed for offices, storage and outreach.

“We want to say a huge thank you a number or organisations,” Meryl added. “First of all, our current landlords, Swift Logistics, who have been so kind and helpful,  Also Pro Vision, IBC Architects, 24 Acoustics, Moore Barlow Solicitors and Carlton Services which have helped us throughout the planning process on a pro bono basis We are also grateful for the support of Greenham Trust in helping us move the charity forward. We know that no charity in the West Berkshire would be where they are without their constant support and professionalism.”

If you can help find a new home for this important local charity, please email meryl@newburysoupkitchen.org.uk.

Café Society

American blues/rock singer-songwriter Sari Schorr is in the UK recording an album and while in Newbury this week bumped into Newbury Town Councillor Steve Master at his houseboat on the Kennet & Avon Canal. They got chatting and Steve suggested she make a surprise visit to the pop-up Speen Community Cafe  at The Starting Gate pub in Speen. Sari duly did so and was very impressed. She “was reminded that the power of community can be the answer to many of the challenges we face. We never need to feel alone.” Watch this brief video of Sari chatting with organiser Kerry Bird

The cafe runs every Wednesday from 2-5pm and can’t promise celebrities every week (although Chris Tarrant has popped in before) but they do guarantee a warm welcome, friendly chat, free drinks and snacks and a craft activity. They are a great team and always welcome new volunteers. For more information please contact Kerry on 07460 486162.

Newbury is lucky to also have the Educafe Community Cafe which re-started this week at Newbury Library after a summer break. Educafe brings a wide-cross section of the community together including a busy parent and baby/toddler group where older ‘grand-parent’ volunteers can give parents a break, an English conversation chatty corner, knit and natter table, and a free cafe (donations very welcome) with dominoes game often on the go. Absolutely everyone is welcome every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm.

The first hundred days

The new Lib Dem administration was sworn in or whatever the ceremony involved at WBC on 25 May, so they’ve had just over a hundred days with their hands on the levers. This seemed like a good moment to reflect on what has and has not been accomplished.

Ross Mackinnon, leader of WBC’s Conservatives had the same idea and sent round a press statement on 13 August which provided his party’s take on how things were going. Green leader David Marsh added some thoughts of his own. So did I. Read more in this separate post.  

Almost here…

The Newbury Show is back on 16 and 17 September, so not long to wait now. The organisers encourage you to check out the Newbury Showground Facebook page for the chance to win some big prizes on the lead up to the Show with the Treat Tuesday and Win-it Wednesday competitions.

For more information, see this separate post.

Community notices

• Everyone very welcome to pop in to the Corn Exchange café bar any Thursday morning between 10.30am and 12.30pm for Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

• Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join their friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

• Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group and their Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

• Not sure what to do with your old printer ink cartridges? Well, you can donate them to the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk.

• Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.

• Did you know you can raise concerns with Newbury Town Council at a Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall?

• Newbury’s two friendly community cafes on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Cafe in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Cafe at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

• Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

• The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2 to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment.

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.

• Please click here for Hamstead Marshall.net, which provides an excellent round-up of what’s going on in and around the village. This also publishes the quarterly Hamstead Hornet.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Sat 9 Sept Newbury Town Hall Open Day, Newbury Market Place.

• Sat 9 Sept Wash Common Community Festival, Wash Common.

• Sat 9 Sept Newbury Real Ale Festival, Northcroft Fields.

• Sat 9 & Sun 10 Sept Decontamination Suit Open Day, Greenham Control Tower.

• Tue 12 Sept Aid Collection for Ukraine, Chieveley Village Hall.

• Wed 13 Sept The Origins of Camp Hobson Talk, West Berkshire Museum.

• Thurs 14 to Sat 16 Sept ’20st Century Casualties’ Performance, the Royal British Legion Club.

• Sat 16 Sept Give Braiding a Go, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

• Sat 16 & Sun 17 Sept Newbury Show, Newbury Showground.

• Sun 17 Sept Community Cricket Day, Falkland Cricket Club, Newbury.

• Thurs 28 Sept Newbury Job Fair, Northcroft Lane, Newbury.

 Sat 14 Oct School Roman Day, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

• Thurs 21 Oct Feline Fundraiser Firewalk, Newbury Cats Protection.

 Regular events

• Friendly gardening club in the centre of Newbury. See here for how to get involved.

• The Corn Exchange in Newbury offers a wide range of activities for over 55 year olds in their Ageing Creatively programme.  Coffee Companions on Thursday mornings for anyone who fancies a chat and World Crafts on Friday mornings (except 4th Friday of the month) is a chance to explore arts and crafts of cultures from around the world (anyone new to the UK is invited to share their own country’s crafts as well).

• Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

• Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

• Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

• Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

• Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

• Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many artistic-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.

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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 12 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that many matters are delegated to committees.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; financial matters; the Diamond Field; community engagement; dog bins; street-furniture inspections; the Control Tower; reports from the Chair, the Clerk and the ward members; a memorial bench; footpaths; and Greenham in bloom.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 3 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; financial matters; the NDP; the Clerk’s report; and road closures.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: committee reports; the Marsh Benham swing; updates from there working parties; the Recreation Ground; renewable energy; the B4000; maintenance and repairs; and The Rising Sun.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; trees from Greenham Trust; net zero; financial matters; reports from the ward members; speeding; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; and a possible battle re-enactment.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 May 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 Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click hereTo see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 ValleyThatcham area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

 

Thursday 31 August 2023

This week we cover spinning, flowers, fetes, carers, donations, pride and last calls for two NDPs – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down to below “This week’s news” for the countdown to the Newbury Show, the Town Hall opens for the day and the possible end of the nutrient neutrality regulations.

This week’s news

• Ever wanted to give spinning a go? This Saturday 2 September, West Berkshire Museum will be holding free drop-in spinning workshops where you can have a go with experts from the Kennet Valley Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. This is part of an exhibition of work by the Guild that runs at the museum until 17 September.

• This weekend is the Enborne & Hamstead Marshall Flower Show & Fete on Saturday 2 September in Enborne Village. Come along to enjoy a BBQ, tombola and raffle, lots of stalls, live music, amusements and much more. The show will start at 2pm at Hazel Paddock, Church Lane, Enborne. Click here for details.

• The Trussell Trust’s Step Up September Challenge is an inspiration to walk 30 minutes each day of the month to raise funds to help build a future where nobody needs to use a food bank. If you would like to join our Penny Post Team, please search for ‘Penny’ when it asks you to find a team (thanks to Leo Sumner for setting this up). Or if you prefer to sponsor Penny, please do so here.

• Also this weekend the Willow Edge Care Home in Newbury are holding their Summer Fete. On Saturday 2 Sept from 1:30pm to 4pm, there will be a variety of stalls with handmade gifts from local artisans, a BBQ and lots of classic games.

• Next Wednesday 6 September, Educafe Community Cafe re-starts after the summer break in Newbury Library. All welcome between 11am and 2pm for free refreshments, good company, crafting and conversation. For more details see their facebook page here.

• Also next Wednesday 6 September, West Berkshire Council is holding a Return to Work Careers Fair, at Shaw House. They will aim to match your skillset to local employment vacancies. If you have any questions about the Return to Work Careers Fair, please email amanda.povey1@westberks.gov.uk.

• September’s Newbury Pride Social will be a week later than usual due to the committee supporting Reading Pride on Saturday 2 September. The Newbury meet-up is Friday 8 September at The Old Waggon and Horses. All welcome.

• Building on the success of last year’s inaugural event, the second Wash Common Community Festival on Saturday 9 Sepetember at Falkland Cricket Club promises to be even bigger and better with lots of stalls, food, music, fun and games and community groups to join. See their facebook page for more details.

• There is still time to have your say on the Cold Ash Neighbourhood Development Plan. Please see all details here. The consultation closes on 1 September.

• Likewise, consultation on the Hermitage Neighbourhood Development Plan also closes on 1 September.

• Newbury Town Hall is throwing open its doors to the public on Saturday 9 September as part of this year’s Heritage Open Days FestivalThe public are invited to view the Council Chamber, The Civic Staircase, The Town Hall portraits, the Council’s maces and other civic regalia. Click here for more details.

• There is still time to complete West Berkshire Council’s Bus Survey by 10 September. Buses sustain town centres, allow young people and the elderly to access education and work, and help reduce carbon emissions from car travel. Paper copies of the survey can be requested at 01635 519394 or transport@westberks.gov.uk.

• Help Ukraine Group Support (HUGS) are hosting their sixth Donation Day at Chieveley Village Hall (RG20 8TE) on Tuesday 12 September between 9am and 2pm. Please see their website here for up-to-date list of items needed. Strong, lidded cardboard boxes are also required and there’s plenty of parking. HUGS work with several partners to send aid to the areas of Ukraine affected by the continuing war. If you’d like to volunteer to help on Donation days or you want to arrange another day to donate, please contact us on hungerfordukraineaid@gmail.com or 07999 693399. Thanks to all the local organisations and individuals who have generously donated so far. There will be one more collection day in November but HUGS will be happy to collect from you in the meantime.

• Do you have plans for crime prevention projects in your community? Applications for the latest round of Thames Valley Police’s Community Fund are now open, with £200,000 of grant funding available for community group projects to help prevent crime across Thames Valley. Application deadline is 12pm on Monday 11 September.

• Do you know anyone who wants to improve their English? Educafe is offering free Community English language courses for eligible learners from September including no exam ESOL, English for work/business communication and driving theory. Learners need to live in West Berkshire and to be UK Citizens, hold Settled Status and be entitled to UK Public Funds. They will need to see Biometric Visa and proof of address.  Asylum seekers need to have been resident in the UK for six months before applying for a course.

Greener Kingsclere event this Sunday 3 September at the Fieldgate Centre, Kingsclere, from 10am to 12pm will include a sustainable market, a repair café, clothing swap, book collection, and refreshments. Learn how you can reuse, reduce and recycle your everyday items.

Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.

• Are you a young person interested in building a small business? Ever fancy giving market trading a go? If you are aged 16 to 30 years West Berkshire Council can offer you a free pitch at Newbury Market for one week, to give it a try. If that sounds of interest, get in contact with Caroline at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk to find out more.

• The free school uniform TUXchange shop in the Kennet Centre posts its opening times each week on Facebook. You don’t have to swap – you can take items for free or make a small donation.

Newbury Soup Kitchen has reported an increasing number of rough sleepers in the local area. As a result, the charity is short of essential items such as sleeping bags and tents and urgently need to restock their supply. They have an Amazon Wishlist where you can by items directly on their belief, or alternatively you can make a donation here.

West Berkshire Foodbank is struggling to cope with current demand and their food stocks are low. During the summer holidays, the demand for food parcels for children at home is high. You can use the Foodbank App to find out what they most urgently need and there are three ways to donate:
– drop food at collection points (eg supermarkets) or at the Foodbank warehouse at 80 Greenham Business Park RG19 6HW, which is open weekday mornings until 1pm.
– do an online shop to be delivered directly to Foodbank at the address above.  The contact number is 07836 500610.
– or make a cash donation here.

• For the low down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page.

• Hot off the digital press, the September edition of the Hamstead Hornet, which covers life in the village of Hamstead Marshall, can be seen here.

Hamstead Marshall Parish Council intends to start a community speedwatch programme: if you’re interested in helping, please contact Anne Budd on 01488 657022 or anne.budd_pc@btinternet.com.

Throwing open the doors

Newbury Town Hall is throwing open its doors to the public on Saturday 9 September as part of this year’s Heritage Open Days Festival.

“The public are invited to view the Council Chamber, the Civic Staircase, the Town Hall portraits, the Council’s maces and other civic regalia,” a statement from Newbury Town Council says. “This includes the Town Hall Honours Boards, which list the Mayors of Newbury, going back to 1596 and features many well-known local families. Although meetings in the Town Hall are open to the public, and there are often coffee mornings and other community events in the Chamber, it appears there are still a lot of Newbury people who have not visited the Chamber.”

The event is free and runs from 10am to 2pm on Saturday 9 September. Officers and members of the Council will be in attendance to welcome the public. Light refreshments will be available. For more information, click here.

Countdown to the Show

There are now only a few weeks to do until the Newbury Show returns after a three-year hiatus (Saturday 16 September 2023, 9am to 6pm and Sunday 17 September 2023 9am to 5pm). More information can be found in this separate post.

The organisers have issued two recent messages, The first is that you can get your tickets at a discounted rate by booking in advance via this link.

The second asks if you are a butcher, baker or a candle-stick maker (other crafts also available)? If so, it’s not too late to book a spot in our craft and food tents to showcase and trade all you have to offer by calling 01635 247111 or clicking on this link.

The organisers point out that “the 2019 Show attracted nearly 55,000 visitors and received excellent reviews. Newbury Show is widely regarded as one of the best county shows in the country. Held over two days at Newbury Showground, and with easy access from Junction 13 of the M4 and A34 interchange, it attracts visitors from all across the region and beyond.

“The Show remains true to its roots showcasing all aspects of farming and rural life in the area. Crops, agricultural technology, animals, artisan products, rural education, country pastimes, local produce and many other aspects of country life will all be on display. With hours of entertainment for both young and old alike, Newbury Show is a great day out combining main ring displays, a craft marquee, excellent shopping, a unsurpassed food-hall experience, rural crafts, have-a-go activities plus all the traditions of a county show including agricultural machinery, vintage displays and the hugely popular grand parade of livestock.”

Nutrient neutrality

In the last eighteen months we’ve heard a lot about these Natural England regulations which were introduced in several parts of the country including Lambourn catchment area (which includes a good chunk of West Berkshire) last year. The intention was to reduce the amount of phosphates and nitrates which entered our waterways; and the number-one target was held to be new housing developments of any size. Trying to implement these new regulations caused local planning departments considerable headaches and certainly caused delay to decision-making. Now, just when officers seem to have got their heads round the issue, the government has said that it wants to do away with the whole thing. This will, Whitehall’s rationale runs, remove another EU-imposed shackle on national growth and help ensure that we get our house-building targets back on track.

In this separate post, we take a look at what the nutrient neutrality policies are (and are not), why they are in several ways misguided and what positive effects they have so far had. We also consider the political time and the legal implications of the announcement and wonder if the environment has, as campaigner and musician Feargal Sharkey suggested, “been left to fend for itself.”

Community notices

• Everyone very welcome to pop in to the Corn Exchange café bar any Thursday morning between 10.30am and 12.30pm for Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join their friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group and their Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

• Not sure what to do with your old printer ink cartridges? Well, you can donate them to the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk.

Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.

• Did you know you can raise concerns with Newbury Town Council at a Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall?

• Newbury’s two friendly community cafes on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Cafe in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Cafe at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

• The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2 to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment. 

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.

• Please click here for Hamstead Marshall.net, which provides an excellent round-up of what’s going on in and around the village. This also publishes the quarterly Hamstead Hornet.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Sat 2 Sept Give Spinning a Go, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Sat 2 Sept Summer Fete Extravaganza, Willows Edge Care Home, Newbury.

Sat 2 Sept Flower Show & Fete, Enbourne.

Sun 3 Sept Greener Kingsclere Event, Kingsclere.

Wed 6 Sept Return to Work Careers Fair, Shaw House.

Sat 9 Sept Newbury Town Hall Open Day, Newbury Market Place.

Sat 9 Sept Wash Common Community Festival, Wash Common.

Sat 9 & Sun 10 Sept Decontamination Suit Open Day, Greenham Control Tower.

Tue 12 Sept Aid Collection for Ukraine, Chieveley Village Hall.

Sat 16 Sept Give Braiding a Go, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Sat 16 & Sun 17 Sept Newbury Show, Newbury Showground.

Sun 17 Sept Community Cricket Day, Falkland Cricket Club, Newbury.

Thurs 28 Sept Newbury Job Fair, Northcroft Lane, Newbury.

Sat 14 Oct School Roman Day, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Thurs 21 Oct Feline Fundraiser Firewalk, Newbury Cats Protection.

Regular events

Friendly gardening club in the centre of Newbury. See here for how to get involved.

• The Corn Exchange in Newbury offers a wide range of activities for over 55 year olds in their Ageing Creatively programme.  Coffee Companions on Thursday mornings for anyone who fancies a chat and World Crafts on Friday mornings (except 4th Friday of the month) is a chance to explore arts and crafts of cultures from around the world (anyone new to the UK is invited to share their own country’s crafts as well).

Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many artistic-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.

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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 12 June and you can read the minutes here.Note that many matters are delegated to committees.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; financial matters; the Diamond Field; community engagement; dog bins; street-furniture inspections; the Control Tower; reports from the Chair, the Clerk and the ward members; a memorial bench; footpaths; and Greenham in bloom.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 3 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; financial matters; the NDP; the Clerk’s report; and road closures.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: committee reports; the Marsh Benham swing; updates from there working parties; the Recreation Ground; renewable energy; the B4000; maintenance and repairs; and The Rising Sun.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; trees from Greenham Trust; net zero; financial matters; reports from the ward members; speeding; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; and a possible battle re-enactment.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 May 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 Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 ValleyThatcham area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 24 August 2023

This week we cover the Lido, weaving, cricket, a rail gong, allotments and NDP deadlines – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down to below “This week’s news” for the community forum on the subject of the Faraday Road football ground and help needed for refugees.

This week’s news

• Good news: the much anticipated Northcroft Lido is finally open: and just in time for the hot weather. The pool site opened on Monday and will be open until the end of September. Those wishing to visit will need to create a free booking profile or by calling Northcroft Leisure Centre (01635) 31199. to book a session. It’s expected to be popular (there were nearly 1,200 visitors on the first two days) so book in advance to avoid disappointment. West Berks Council has been sharing some great photos of the Lido in use on is Facebook page.

• Ever wanted to give weaving a go? This Saturday 26 August, West Berkshire Museum will be holding free drop-in weaving workshops where you can have a go at simple weaving techniques on tables and heddle looms with experts from the Kennet Valley Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. This is part of an exhibition of work by the Guild that runs at the museum until 17 September.

• Last chance to enter a cricket team for the One Community Cricket and Family Fun Day on Sunday 17 September at Falkland Cricket Club in Newbury. You can also apply to provide food or have an information stall. Children’s activities are supported by the team from Berkshire Youth, not to be missed. Contact hello@communityunited.uk.

• Also this weekend, Art on the Park is back at Victoria Park, Newbury, this Sunday 27 August. Come along to exhibit or view and buy work from local artists and crafters between 10am amd 4pm. Click here for more details.

• Congratulations to the Bedwyn Train Passenger Group (which has been campaigning for improved rail services from Bedwyn, Hungerford, Kintbury and Newbury since 2006) which recently picked up two gongs at Railfuture’s annual awards. More information on this and the BTPG’s latest news on services, please click here.

• Well done to Newbury Allotmenteers for donating surplus produce to Newbury Soup Kitchen, the Fair Close Centre and West Berks Foodbank.

• There is still time to have your say on the Cold Ash Neighbourhood Development Plan. Please see all details here. The consultation closes on 1 September.

• Likewise, consultation on the Hermitage Neighbourhood Development Plan also closes on 1 September.

• Newbury Town Hall is throwing open its doors to the public on Saturday 9 September as part of this year’s Heritage Open Days FestivalThe public are invited to view the Council Chamber, The Civic Staircase, The Town Hall portraits, the Council’s maces and other civic regalia. Click here for more details.

• Do you have plans for crime prevention projects in your community? Applications for the latest round of Thames Valley Police’s Community Fund are now open, with £200,000 of grant funding available for community group projects to help prevent crime across Thames Valley. Application deadline is 12pm on Monday 11 September.

• Do you know anyone who wants to improve their English? Educafe is offering free Community English language courses for eligible learners from September including no exam ESOL, English for work/business communication and driving theory. Learners need to live in West Berkshire and to be UK Citizens, hold Settled Status and be entitled to UK Public Funds. They will need to see Biometric Visa and proof of address.  Asylum seekers need to have been resident in the UK for six months before applying for a course.

Donations of second-hand bikes are always welcome at the Community Furniture Project in Newbury where they refurbish the bikes and sell them at affordable prices to people in need.

• Are you a young person interested in building a small business? Ever fancy giving market trading a go? If you are aged 16 to 30 years West Berkshire Council can offer you a free pitch at Newbury Market for one week, to give it a try. If that sounds of interest, get in contact with Caroline at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk to find out more.

• There’s still time to apply to achieve a degree locally at University Centre Newbury which runs its own clearing process in-house, by the people who actually deliver and support your programmes. This gives you direct access to the information, advice and guidance you need to make an informed choice about your studies – whether you’ve just finished sixth form and have changed your mind about the university, your recent A Level results have surprised you or if you’re a professional looking to advance in your career.

• The free school uniform TUXchange shop in the Kennet Centre posts its opening times each week on Facebook. You don’t have to swap – you can take items for free or make a small donation.

• Quick reminder that Highwood Copse Primary (next to Newbury College) runs a Super Seconds Uniform Shop for new arrivals or those moving up, saving a bit of money whilst being ecofriendly. All proceeds go back in to the PTFA to fund lots of fun events for the school. Please contact Jo on jof73@hotmail.com for more details.

Newbury Show on 16 and 17 September is offering a special price of £300 (normally £500) on a 3m x 3m stall for local artists, artisans and craftspeople based within 15 miles of the showground. For how to apply please click here.

Enborne & Hamstead Marshall Flower Show & Fete on Saturday 2 September in Enborne Village (approx 2.8 miles from Newbury) is looking for a wide variety of stalls. If you are interested in having a stall or require any further information, please kindly e-mail enborneflowershowfete@yahoo.com or telephone the Chairperson on 01635 32006.

• The Waterside Centre is offering lots of fun activities for young people this summer (including climbing and paddling) and new Courtyard Acoustic Sessions on Saturday lunchtimes this August where young people from 11 to 25 are invited to bring some backing tracks, and you’ll be provided with all the kit, smiles and support you’ll need. Please click here to book your slot

Newbury Soup Kitchen has reported an increasing number of rough sleepers in the local area. As a result, the charity is short of essential items such as sleeping bags and tents and urgently need to restock their supply. They have an Amazon Wishlist where you can by items directly on their belief, or alternatively you can make a donation here.

West Berkshire Foodbank is struggling to cope with current demand and their food stocks are low. During the summer holidays, the demand for food parcels for children at home is high. You can use the Foodbank App to find out what they most urgently need and there are three ways to donate:
– drop food at collection points (eg supermarkets) or at the Foodbank warehouse at 80 Greenham Business Park RG19 6HW, which is open weekday mornings until 1pm.
– do an online shop to be delivered directly to Foodbank at the address above.  The contact number is 07836 500610.
– or make a cash donation here.

• Our Summer Holiday Guide includes lots to do with your kids this summer including West Berks Summer HAF (Holiday Activities & Food) Programme at various locations with free spaces for children and young people eligible for free school meals.

• For the low down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page.

• The latest edition of the Hamstead Hornet, which covers life in the village of Hamstead Marshall, can be seen here.

Hamstead Marshall Parish Council intends to start a community speedwatch programme: if you’re interested in helping, please contact Anne Budd on 01488 657022 or anne.budd_pc@btinternet.com.

The community speaks

The first community forum since the mid 2000s was held in West Berkshire last week. Re-starting these groups was a promise made by the Lib Dems during the election and, to their credit, one they have kept. You can see a statement from WBC here, which also includes a link to the video of the event.

The plan is to hold community forums as and when necessary, not for the sake of it. Each one will address a particular topic. Quite ambitiously, this first one was on one of the more contentious subjects of the last five years: the Faraday Road football ground. This was slightly like deciding to start off a GCSE maths course with a discussion about the square root of minus one, or some such slippery concept. The example is relevant: many might ask how, after over five years and the expenditure of god-knows how much money, the football provision in Newbury is in a worse situation than it was in June 2018 when the ground was closed. This is the unpromising starting point that the new administration finds itself in and a community forum was seen as a way of re-booting the issue.

The statement from WBC said that the event was “a remarkable showcase of the residents’ collective passion for sports and the desire to create a space that caters to various interests and activities.”  It could also be said that it showed that not all these interests were aligned or seemingly compatible. There is a severe shortage of sporting provision in Newbury, particularly for football. The Council is having a fresh look at its playing pitch strategy in the light of new guidelines (which I believe should be done by October). This is unlikely to paint a significantly different picture from what prevailed before. One thing that certainly won’t have changed is the shortage of suitable land owned by WBC. This is why the Monks Lane expedient was resorted to.

WBC also observed that “the dialogue was rich with personal stories and anecdotes, each painting a vivid picture of how the site can be developed.” Another way of putting this was that a number of all-too familiar positions on this divisive issue were re-stated. It’s certainly good that all these were made in one session, and recorded as matters of record. I think that everyone would have felt that they had a chance to contribute. The Chair, Janine Lewis, said that it was “a wonderful opportunity to listen to the residents and understand their needs.” I think that ambition has been achieved: so, all in all, a cautious thumbs-up for the initiative.

Just as the newly opened-up Environmental Advisory Group referred to last week didn’t determine policy, so this meeting made no decisions. A number of questions therefore remain. Will the re-opened Faraday Road be able to cater for all the groups that want to use it, including for women’s sports? If not (as is almost certainly the case) how can this be improved? Will other facilities need to be built? If so, where? Will Monks Lane – which is in many ways an oven-ready solution, albeit an expensive one – be re-activated (as it can be, given that the new administration has said it will not withdraw the planning consent)? What environmental and drainage constraints or problems exist now or will need to be addressed by any further changes? What about car parking? Above all, how will all this be paid for?

Ah, money: we always come back to money, particularly now when for local authorities it is neither cheap nor plentiful. Whatever is built there will have to pay for itself. Can football or other sports co-exist with shops, homes, commercial units, a hotel or a conference centre? What is the latest vision to be?

There’s also the wider question of the whole LRIE area, which Faraday Road abuts. This is probably undevelopable unless a considerable amount of infrastructure work is done on the drainage.

The new administration will find that it will be subject to the same temptations and restrictions as its predecessor. The difference is that we are now in even more unforgiving fiscal times. This forum was a useful first step but that’s all. It was an opinion-gathering exercise and the start of what will, hopefully, be a public discussion about the facility. This then needs to be followed by some action – a bit of positive, attacking play in other words rather than defensive tactics and needless own goals.

Homeless again

West Berkshire, along with other districts in the country, has for many years hosted refugees from trouble-hit areas all over the world. However, the matter really came to public attention in with the arrival of people fleeing from violence in Syria in 2017, from Afghanistan in 2021 and then a number of other countries including Iran, Sudan and El Salvador. Many have been housed in hotels while they await a decision from the Home Office as to whether they can stay in the country (known as Leave to Remain). This process is not a quick one, typically taking up to 18 months.

Several of the refugees have been volunteering for local organisations. Some have even set up their own group, Vian, to do litter picking and other environmental improvement jobs in and around Thatcham and last year were honoured for their work by Thatcham Town Council.

Recently, the Home Office has started to approve the applications for Leave to Remain. While this is welcome, this has replaced one state of uncertainty with another. On 23 August we received a statement from West Berkshire Action for Refugees (WBAR) which explains these new challenges, which includes the need for temporary accommodation and some severe problems with the official documents. We also contacted the Home Office for its comment on this second issue. You can read more in this separate post.

Community notices

• Everyone very welcome to pop in to the Corn Exchange café bar any Thursday morning between 10.30am and 12.30pm for Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join their friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group and their Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

• Not sure what to do with your old printer ink cartridges? Well, you can donate them to the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk.

Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.

• Did you know you can raise concerns with Newbury Town Council at a Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall?

• Newbury’s two friendly community cafes on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Cafe in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Cafe at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

• The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2 to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment. 

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.

• Please click here for Hamstead Marshall.net, which provides an excellent round-up of what’s going on in and around the village. This also publishes the quarterly Hamstead Hornet.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

‘Explore Newbury’ Walking Tours on Tuesdays until 29 Aug & Sun 17 Sept

Sat 26 Aug Give Weaving a Go, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Sun 27 Aug Art on the Park, Victoria Park, Newbury.

Sat 2 Sept Give Spinning a Go, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Sat 2 Sept Summer Fete Extravaganza, Willows Edge Care Home, Newbury.

Sun 3 Sept Greener Kingsclere Event, the Fieldgate Centre, Kingsclere.

Wed 6 Sept Return to Work Careers Fair, Shaw House.

Sat 9 Sept Newbury Town Hall Open Day, Newbury Market Place.

Tue 12 Sept Aid Collection for Ukraine, Chieveley Village Hall.

Sat 16 Sept Give Braiding a Go, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Sat 16 & Sun 17 Sept Newbury Show, Newbury Showground.

Sun 17 Sept Community Cricket Day, Falkland Cricket Club, Newbury.

Sat 14 Oct School Roman Day, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Regular events

Friendly gardening club in the centre of Newbury. See here for how to get involved.

• The Corn Exchange in Newbury offers a wide range of activities for over 55 year olds in their Ageing Creatively programme.  Coffee Companions on Thursday mornings for anyone who fancies a chat and World Crafts on Friday mornings (except 4th Friday of the month) is a chance to explore arts and crafts of cultures from around the world (anyone new to the UK is invited to share their own country’s crafts as well).

Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many artistic-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.

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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 12 June and you can read the minutes here.Note that many matters are delegated to committees.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; financial matters; the Diamond Field; community engagement; dog bins; street-furniture inspections; the Control Tower; reports from the Chair, the Clerk and the ward members; a memorial bench; footpaths; and Greenham in bloom.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 3 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; financial matters; the NDP; the Clerk’s report; and road closures.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: committee reports; the Marsh Benham swing; updates from there working parties; the Recreation Ground; renewable energy; the B4000; maintenance and repairs; and The Rising Sun.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; trees from Greenham Trust; net zero; financial matters; reports from the ward members; speeding; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; and a possible battle re-enactment.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 May 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 Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 ValleyThatcham area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 17 August 2023

This week we cover young lionesses, heritage open days, family activities, a show discount and flowers – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down to below “This week’s news” for the confirmed Lido opening and two different views of the tactics at the proposed Watermill Bridge development in Wash Water.

This week’s news

• Next week is Family Activity Day, over at Shaw House. Summer activities include an Indonesian-inspired craft, making a card and plastic straw dragon puppet, as well as an Elizabethan spice trail. That’s on Wednesday 23 August from 10am-3pm, no booking needed, just drop in and entry costs £2.50 per child. Click here for more information.

• Newbury Town Hall is throwing open its doors to the public on Saturday 9 September as part of this year’s Heritage Open Days FestivalThe public are invited to view the Council Chamber, The Civic Staircase, The Town Hall portraits, the Council’s maces and other civic regalia. Click here for more details.

• Inspired by the Lionesses? Well a brand new Girls Football Development Centre, EC7, are opening up very soon. Suitable for girls aged 7+, the training will be at the Trinity School Playing Fields. Details are currently being finalised so to register your interest here and get updates and click here for more information.

• Even more ladies football news, Newbury Women’s Football Club are looking for new players to start in September for the new season. Training is on Wednesday from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at Donning Recreation Grounds. To learn more get in touch at newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

Highwood Copse Primary (next to Newbury College) runs a Super Seconds Uniform Shop for new arrivals or those moving up, saving  a bit of money whilst being ecofriendly. All proceeds go back in to the PTFA to fund lots of fun events for the school. Please contact Jo on jof73@hotmail.com for more details.

• Do you know anyone who wants to improve their English? Educafe is offering free Community English language courses for eligible learners from September including no exam ESOL, English for work/business communication and driving theory. Learners need to live in West Berkshire and to be UK Citizens, hold Settled Status and be entitled to UK Public Funds. They will need to see Biometric Visa and proof of address.  Asylum seekers need to have been resident in the UK for six months before applying for a course.

• Are you a young person interested in building a small business? Ever fancy giving market trading a go? If you are aged 16 to 30 years West Berkshire Council can offer you a free pitch at Newbury Market for one week, to give it a try. If that sounds of interest, get in contact with Caroline at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk to find out more.

• There’s still time to apply to achieve a degree locally at University Centre Newbury which runs its own clearing process in-house, by the people who actually deliver and support your programmes. This gives you direct access to the information, advice and guidance you need to make an informed choice about your studies – whether you’ve just finished sixth form and have changed your mind about the university, your recent A Level results have surprised you or if you’re a professional looking to advance in your career.

• Every now and then The Five Bells in Wickham offers a lovely breakfast/brunch menu (including full English, pancakes, avocado on toast, and scrambled eggs with smoked salmon) and this Saturday 19 August is one of those dates. So if you fancy a slap-up start to the day, they recommend booking a table on 01488 657300 or hello@fivebellswickham.co.uk. It’s also a lovely pub to walk to if you want to work up an appetite.

Newbury Show on 16 and 17 September is offering a special price of £300 (normally £500) on a 3m x 3m stall for local artists, artisans and craftspeople based within 15 miles of the showground. For how to apply please click here.

• The free school uniform TUXchange shop in the Kennet Centre posts its opening times each week on Facebook. You don’t have to swap – you can take items for free or make a small donation.

Enborne & Hamstead Marshall Flower Show & Fete on Saturday 2 September in Enborne Village (approx 2.8 miles from Newbury) is looking for a wide variety of stalls. If you are interested in having a stall or require any further information, please kindly e-mail enborneflowershowfete@yahoo.com or telephone the Chairperson on 01635 32006.

• The Waterside Centre is offering lots of fun activities for young people this summer (including climbing and paddling) and new Courtyard Acoustic Sessions on Saturday lunchtimes this August where young people from 11 to 25 are invited to bring some backing tracks, and you’ll be provided with all the kit, smiles and support you’ll need. Please click here to book your slot

Newbury Soup Kitchen has reported an increasing number of rough sleepers in the local area. As a result, the charity is short of essential items such as sleeping bags and tents and urgently need to restock their supply. They have an Amazon Wishlist where you can by items directly on their belief, or alternatively you can make a donation here.

West Berkshire Foodbank is struggling to cope with current demand and their food stocks are low. During the summer holidays, the demand for food parcels for children at home is high. You can use the Foodbank App to find out what they most urgently need and there are three ways to donate:
– drop food at collection points (eg supermarkets) or at the Foodbank warehouse at 80 Greenham Business Park RG19 6HW. which is open weekday mornings until 1pm.
– do an online shop to be delivered directly to Foodbank at the address above.  The contact number is 07836 500610.
– or make a cash donation here.

• Our Summer Holiday Guide includes lots to do with your kids this summer including West Berks Summer HAF (Holiday Activities & Food) Programme at various locations with free spaces for children and young people eligible for free school meals.

• For the low down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page.

• The latest edition of the Hamstead Hornet, which covers life in the village of Hamstead Marshall, can be seen here.

Hamstead Marshall Parish Council intends to start a community speedwatch programme: if you’re interested in helping, please contact Anne Budd on 01488 657022 or anne.budd_pc@btinternet.com.

A bigger splash

After several delays, West Berkshire Council has announced that the newly refurbished Lido will open at 2pm on Monday 21 August. To mark the occasion, WBC and the operator Everyone Active will be offering this first session free. (Those wishing to visit will need to create a free booking profile. This can be done by registering your details online, on the Everyone Active app or by calling Northcroft Leisure Centre 01635 31199. For ease of entry, this would be best done in advance but can be done when you arrive on the day.)

A statement from WBC says that “the iconic facility has undergone a complete transformation to provide an enhanced experience for visitors of all ages and to extend the outdoor swimming season from ten to twelve weeks per year to a period of six months, from April through to the end of September.” The pool has been reduced from 72m to am Olympic-length 50m and there’s new interactive splash pad and slides, plus a beautiful decking area where people can relax and colourful beach huts to give a seaside feel.” There’s also a six-metre high spiral flume and new accessible changing facilities.

The statement adds that the Lido was first built as an unheated pool in 1870, extended in 1914, and completely rebuilt in 1937, “at which point it was believed to be the largest pool in the south of England.” Given its reduced length, it will no longer hold that record but 50m is a much more manageable length. 72m was, one might feel, verging on showing off.

The statement concludes with positive comments from the portfolio holder, the leader of the Council and a spokesperson for Everyone Active. Nothing, though, from anyone in the previous administration such as Howard Woollaston, on whose watch the project was started and who ensured that the work was not scaled back in the face of cost rises, so ensuring that the current impressive result was achieved.

He provided his own: “I’m pleased to see Newbury Lido reopening, and the excellent work that has gone into refurbishing the facility so it can be enjoyed by all for many years to come. I started this project as portfolio holder two years ago and have seen first hand just how much effort has gone into it from the start. My thanks go to all those involved in the design and construction.”

Would the Conservatives have recognised a positive Lib Dem role in the scheme were the recent election results to have happened this way round? I don’t know. Perhaps not. Sadly, everything – even pools – seem to be political these days…

Watermill Bridge

Bewley Homes has adopted a two-pronged approach to the challenge of getting approval for its plans for Watermill Bridge in Wash Water, just across the county line in Basingstoke & Deane but of direct interest to residents of Newbury.

The first is to appeal the refusal of the original 2021 application by B&D. The second is to put in an outline application on the same site (this previously suffered from a shortage of key documents but this has been resolved).

Outline applications have very little detail and so should, in theory, be easier to get permission for than a full reserved matters application, providing that the plan accords with the planning authority’s policy. The local pressure group the Enborne River Valley Preservation Society have called this “a cynical tactic” and a statement goes on to suggest that “in lodging an appeal, bowled has triggered a Public Inquiry and the outcome of which is based on a yes/no decision on the original application. We suspect, by submitting a new application, this gives Bewley Homes hope to negotiate with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council on the previous refusal points.”

Bewley has said that “the resubmission of an outline application gives an opportunity for the principle of development”: in other words, that B&D will be forced to accept that development there is desirable although the details will be decided later. This needs to be regarded as a separate application by B&D, even though the more detailed earlier version is being appealed and it will need to be determined even if the appeal fails (if this happens first). Bewley adds that “any previous reasons for refusal on the original planning application can be addressed,” which certainly suggests some horse trading between it and the planning authority, including agreeing to drop the appeal. If so, it won’t be the first time a developer has done this.

Bewley also stressed that in terms oc carbon efficiency it is “proposing improvements over Building Regulations Part L 2013 of more than 50% on private homes and over 75% on the affordable housing which provides significant improvement over the new Part L 2021 Regulations.” The company has also listed a number of “community benefits” which the outline scheme would provide. These include a health centre, a shop, allotments, a cycleway into Newbury, habitat creation, drainage attenuation and a riverside park. The proposals also promise a 22% biodiversity net gain, an increase in tree canopy cover and creation of new habitats

B&D Council will be viewing the prospect of an appeal with misgiving. It currently has only a 4.7 year housing land supply figure and a local plan that’s more than five years old. Both these factors tend to make appeals more likely. It also has the longest housing waiting list in the south east, another factor that the Inspector might bear in mind. If it does go ahead, West Berkshire Council will surely make a case that it receive a good chunk of the developer contributions given that the site is for all practical purposes in south Newbury. There’s also a small irritation awaiting any residents, if and when that point is reached: under the current arrangements, they will not be able to use WBC’s recycling centre just up the road as they are in a different district.

The determination date for the new application is 16 October and you can make your comments, for or against, by following the above link on the B&D planning portal.

Community notices

• Everyone very welcome to pop in to the Corn Exchange café bar any Thursday morning between 10.30am and 12.30pm for Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join their friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group and their Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

• Not sure what to do with your old printer ink cartridges? Well, you can donate them to the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk.

Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.

• Did you know you can raise concerns with Newbury Town Council at a Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall?

• Newbury’s two friendly community cafes on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Cafe in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Cafe at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

• The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2 to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment. 

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.

• Please click here for Hamstead Marshall.net, which provides an excellent round-up of what’s going on in and around the village. This also publishes the quarterly Hamstead Hornet.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

‘Explore Newbury’ Walking Tours on Tuesdays from 25 July to 29 Aug & Sun 17 Sept

Sun 20 Aug Outdoor Cinema: Despicable Me, the Warf Newbury.

Sun 20 Aug Outdoor Cinema: First Man, the Warf Newbury.

Wed 23 Aug Family Activity Day, Shaw House, Newbury.

Sat 26 Aug Give Weaving a Go, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Sun 27 Aug Art on the Park, Victoria Park, Newbury.

Sat 2 Sept Give Spinning a Go, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Sat 2 Sept Summer Fete Extravaganza, Willows Edge Care Home, Newbury.

Sun 3 Sept Greener Kingsclere Event, the Fieldgate Centre, Kingsclere.

Sat 9 Sept Newbury Town Hall Open Day, Newbury Market Place.

Tue 12 Sept Aid Collection for Ukraine, Chieveley Village Hall.

Sat 16 Sept Give Braiding a Go, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Sat 16 & Sun 17 Sept Newbury Show, Newbury Showground.

Sun 17 Sept Community Cricket Day, Falkland Cricket Club, Newbury.

Sat 14 Oct School Roman Day, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Regular events

Friendly gardening club in the centre of Newbury. See here for how to get involved.

• The Corn Exchange in Newbury offers a wide range of activities for over 55 year olds in their Ageing Creatively programme.  Coffee Companions on Thursday mornings for anyone who fancies a chat and World Crafts on Friday mornings (except 4th Friday of the month) is a chance to explore arts and crafts of cultures from around the world (anyone new to the UK is invited to share their own country’s crafts as well).

Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many artistic-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.

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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 12 June and you can read the minutes here.Note that many matters are delegated to committees.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 3 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; financial matters; the NDP; the Clerk’s report; and road closures.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: committee reports; the Marsh Benham swing; updates from there working parties; the Recreation Ground; renewable energy; the B4000; maintenance and repairs; and The Rising Sun.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; trees from Greenham Trust; net zero; financial matters; reports from the ward members; speeding; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; and a possible battle re-enactment.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: public participation; planning matters; financial matters; speeding; warm hubs; repairs and maintenance; and reports from the Clerk and the councillors.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 May 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 Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 10 May 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 Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 ValleyThatcham area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 10 August 2023

This week we cover a community garden, a road closure, donations, youth, school uniforms and  complaints – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down to below “This week’s news” for the Lido latest and fears of an imminent town-centre carmageddon.

This week’s news

• The Community Garden at Shaw House has a number of raised beds and a polytunnel for groups and individuals to get involved with. Come and explore the benefits of being outdoors. Learning and share knowledge whilst getting to know your local community.They run drop-in sessions on Wednesday mornings between 9:30am and 12:30pm. For more details see here.

• Quick reminder that Market Street in Newbury is closed until this Sunday 13 August between Mayors Lane and the Council Offices access road, due to road resurfacing. Access to the Station Car Park, the Kennet Centre Car Park and the Council Offices will be via Bartholomew Street. The pedestrian route across Market Street via the island in front of the Kennet Centre Car Park will also be affected. See details here.

• The Town Council has renewed its agreement with Berkshire Youth for the provision of detached youth work in Newbury. In 2020 the Council signed a three year agreement which provided £25,000 from their annual budget for youth outreach work provided through Berkshire Youth. The Council stated they are happy with the commitment Berkshire Youth has for the youth of Newbury, as well as the facilities they now provide at The Waterside Centre and are therefore happy to renew the contract for a further three years. Click here for more on this story.

• The West Berkshire Community Hospital League of Friends are asking for book donations, as they are short of books for their table. Donations can be dropped off at the hospital reception.

•  West Berkshire Council has increased the number of appointments at its Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) across the district in order to provide more flexibility and capacity during the most popular time slots for residents. Additionally, the Newtown Road HWRC has extended its operating hours on Thursdays to close at 8pm until September. Click here for more information.

Newbury Show on 16 and 17 September is offering a special price of £300 (normally £500) on a 3m x 3m stall for local artists, artisans and craftspeople based within 15 miles of the showground. For how to apply please click here.

• The free school uniform TUXchange shop in the Kennet Centre posts its opening times each week on Facebook. You don’t have to swap – you can take items for free or make a small donation.

• The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley is urging residents to complete its ongoing local crime survey. The survey is an opportunity for Berkshire residents to share their experiences and have a say in how local policing services are shaped. Have your say here.

• This week, Housing Secretary Michael Gove is urging social housing tenants to complain about substandard housing. Residents are being encouraged to make their voices heard by complaining to their landlord in the first instance and then escalating to the Housing Ombudsman if they are unhappy with the landlord’s final response. For more information click here.

Enborne & Hamstead Marshall Flower Show & Fete on Saturday 2 September in Enborne Village (approx 2.8 miles from Newbury) is looking for a wide variety of stalls. If you are interested in having a stall or require any further information, please kindly e-mail enborneflowershowfete@yahoo.com or telephone the Chairperson on 01635 32006.

• Don’t forget this weekend the Corn Exchange is holding a free outdoor event ‘CODE’ on Saturday 12 August and Sunday 13 August. This is Justice in Motion‘s latest production and explores the dangers young people face when exploited by drug gangs, using blends of parkour, bike stunts and rap music to create an impactful and exciting show. The show will take place in two residential areas of Newbury and at various times. No booking is required. Click here for details regarding times and locations.

• Newbury Town Council’s latest newsletter for August features the news about Victoria Park’s Green Flag status, the Angel’s of Ukraine exhibit and a few comments on the Newbury in Bloom competition.

• The Waterside Centre is offering lots of fun activities for young people this summer (including climbing and paddling) and new Courtyard Acoustic Sessions on Saturday lunchtimes this August where young people from 11 to 25 are invited to bring some backing tracks, and you’ll be provided with all the kit, smiles and support you’ll need. Please click here to book your slot

Newbury Soup Kitchen has reported an increasing number of rough sleepers in the local area. As a result, the charity is short of essential items such as sleeping bags and tents and urgently need to restock their supply. They have an Amazon Wishlist where you can by items directly on their belief, or alternatively you can make a donation here.

West Berkshire Foodbank is struggling to cope with current demand and their food stocks are low. During the summer holidays, the demand for food parcels for children at home is high. You can use the Foodbank App to find out what they most urgently need and there are three ways to donate:
– drop food at collection points (eg supermarkets) or at the Foodbank warehouse at 80 Greenham Business Park RG19 6HW. which is open weekday mornings until 1pm.
– do an online shop to be delivered directly to Foodbank at the address above.  The contact number is 07836 500610.
– or make a cash donation here.

• Our Summer Holiday Guide includes lots to do with your kids this summer including West Berks Summer HAF (Holiday Activities & Food) Programme at various locations with free spaces for children and young people eligible for free school meals.

• For the low down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page.

• The latest edition of the Hamstead Hornet, which covers life in the village of Hamstead Marshall, can be seen here.

Hamstead Marshall Parish Council intends to start a community speedwatch programme: if you’re interested in helping, please contact Anne Budd on 01488 657022 or anne.budd_pc@btinternet.com.

Lido latest

West Berkshire Council has announced that work is nearing completion on “the eagerly anticipated newly renovated Northcroft Lido”. The multi-million pound project, which was started under the previous administration, has “secured the future of one of West Berkshire’s most loved leisure facilities and transformed it into a facility fit for generations to come.” It features a new 50-metre Olympic-length pool, alongside additional interactive water play features for children and young people as well as improved and accessible changing facilities.

Once opened, the outdoor swimming season there will be extended from the previous two and a half months to six, from April to September, increasing the anticipated number of annual visits from 20,000 to 50,000. The new pool will enable a greater range of water-based exercise. It will also allow competitive swimmers to train in an Olympic-length pool.

“Projects of this size are technically challenging to deliver,” the statement from WBC points out, “particularly so in this case given the age of this facility, which went through its last major refurbishment in 1937.” The original plan had been to open it at the start of the summer holidays but this has not proved possible.

“We share the disappointment of residents that the pool hasn’t been available for the whole of the summer holidays,” portfolio holder Janine Lewis said. She referred to some “challenging teething problems” and pointed out that the contractors “must deliver a project that has been fully tested and is safe. Unfortunately this requires some further works over the comings days. We’re working through this as quickly as we can and we appreciate your patience as we complete this necessary work.”

I have been promised an invitation to the official opening. I expect to see Janine Lewis’ predecessor as portfolio holder, Councillor Howard Woollaston, there: it was under his watch that the project was started and the decision taken to press ahead with doing the full upgrade rather than, as was suggested when the costs started to rise, cutting back and providing a less good facility.

The end of the world

As reported previously here and elsewhere, the trial pedestrianisation plans in Newbury have been put on hold due to a combination of long-running town-centre roadworks and, it’s alleged by WBC, some leaden-footed work in Whitehall. It remains to be seen when this will happen and whether there will be a consultation first.

One correspondent in this week’s NWN, Tony Quinn (no relation) is certainly not distressed by this delay. I’ve heard some dire predictions of the evils that the scheme might pose but his nine-point list trumps all of them. They include the closure of all businesses, including markets, pubs and restaurants, the cession of all bus services, the complete drying up of car-parking revenue, the end of the need for the Town Council and the permanent retreat of everyone into their homes. Controversial though many are, I’m not aware of any other pedestrianisation plans that have created such economic armageddon. It didn’t have this effect in Newbury when it was run for three months as a Covid-recovery scheme a few years back.

Despite this dire prediction, this still seems worth experimenting with. I’ve suggested before that a prior consultation would be pointless as no one will know what the effect will be until it’s been tried. If there is to be one, we can be fairly certain that these sentiments will appear in it, and not just from him. When it’s done at the end of the exercise (as I believe it has to be) the opinions might be more measured and also informed by actual experience.

Community notices

• Everyone very welcome to pop in to the Corn Exchange café bar any Thursday morning between 10.30am and 12.30pm for Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join their friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group and their Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

• Not sure what to do with your old printer ink cartridges? Well, you can donate them to the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk.

Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

Newbury Market welcomes small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more.

• Did you know you can raise concerns with Newbury Town Council at a Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall?

• Newbury’s two friendly community cafes on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Cafe in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Cafe at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

• The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2 to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment. 

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.

• Please click here for Hamstead Marshall.net, which provides an excellent round-up of what’s going on in and around the village. This also publishes the quarterly Hamstead Hornet.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

‘Explore Newbury’ Walking Tours on Tuesdays from 25 July to 29 Aug & Sun 17 Sept

Sat 12 & Sun 13 Aug CODE Outdoor Show, Newbury Corn Exchange.

Sat 15 Aug Festival of the Moon, various events across Newbury until Sun 3 Sept.

Wed 23 Aug Family Activity Day, Shaw House, Newbury.

Sat 26 Aug Give Weaving a Go, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Sun 27 Aug Art on the Park, Victoria Park, Newbury.

Sat 2 Sept Give Spinning a Go, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Sat 16 Sept Give Braiding a Go, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Sat 16 & Sun 17 Sept Newbury Show, Newbury Showground.

Sun 17 Sept Community Cricket Day, Falkland Cricket Club, Newbury.

Sat 14 Oct School Roman Day, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Regular events

Friendly gardening club in the centre of Newbury. See here for how to get involved.

• The Corn Exchange in Newbury offers a wide range of activities for over 55 year olds in their Ageing Creatively programme.  Coffee Companions on Thursday mornings for anyone who fancies a chat and World Crafts on Friday mornings (except 4th Friday of the month) is a chance to explore arts and crafts of cultures from around the world (anyone new to the UK is invited to share their own country’s crafts as well).

Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many artistic-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.

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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 12 June and you can read the minutes here.Note that many matters are delegated to committees.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: committee reports; the Marsh Benham swing; updates from there working parties; the Recreation Ground; renewable energy; the B4000; maintenance and repairs; and The Rising Sun.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; trees from Greenham Trust; net zero; financial matters; reports from the ward members; speeding; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; and a possible battle re-enactment.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: public participation; planning matters; financial matters; speeding; warm hubs; repairs and maintenance; and reports from the Clerk and the councillors.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 22 May 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 Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 May 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 Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 10 May 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 Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 ValleyThatcham area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 3 August 2023

This week we cover a municipal newsletter, a donation, rough sleepers, the market, food banks and coding – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down to below “This week’s news” for the Town Council’s position on Eagle Quarter, the Newbury Show, more water problems at the LRIE, a new application for Watermill Bridge and the latest on the Lido.

This week’s news

• Newbury Town Council’s latest newsletter for August features the news about Victoria Park’s Green Flag status, the Angel’s of Ukraine exhibit and a few comments on the Newbury in Bloom competition.

Market Street in Newbury will be closed from Monday 7 to Sunday 13 August between Mayors Lane and the Council Offices access road, due to road resurfacing. Access to the Station Car Park, the Kennet Centre Car Park and the Council Offices will be via Bartholomew Street. There may be occasions when access to the Council Offices is affected for short periods while machinery associated with the resurfacing is manoeuvred at the mini roundabout. The pedestrian route across Market Street via the island in front of the Kennet Centre Car Park will also be affected. See details here.

Jazz entertainer Pete Allen returns to his hometown of Newbury this Sunday 6 August for his monthly gig, which is now at The Bacon Arms. The session runs from 2.30pm to 5pm with an admission at the door of £15.  Doors open at 1.30pm and pre-show lunches are available from 12noon. Pete was born in Newbury and attended Winchcombe Primary and Junior Schools and the Downs, Compton. Further details please email Jane on nana.macgregor@btinternet.com or visit www.peteallenjazz.com

Free school uniform TUXchange shop is opening this Saturday 5 August in Newbury’s Kennet Centre. Opening days and times will be updated each week on their Facebook page. Please bring in your donations as soon as possible and make your requests and if they have the items, they will put them to one side but you will be required to collect from the store.

Berkshire Youth is delighted to have received £10,000 from Newbury Athletic Club. The youth charity, which runs Waterside Centre on the canal in the heart of Newbury, was selected as the charity partner for this year’s Newbury 10k event. See full story here.

• The Waterside Centre is offering lots of fun activities for young people this summer (including climbing and paddling) and new Courtyard Acoustic Sessions on Saturday lunchtimes this August where young people from 11 to 25 are invited to bring some backing tracks, and you’ll be provided with all the kit, smiles and support you’ll need. The first session is this Saturday 5 August, 12 – 2pm. Please click here to book your slot

Newbury Soup Kitchen has reported an increasing number of rough sleepers in the local area. As a result, the charity is short of essential items such as sleeping bags and tents and urgently need to restock their supply. They have an Amazon Wishlist where you can by items directly on their belief, or alternatively you can make a donation here.

West Berkshire Foodbank is struggling to cope with current demand and their food stocks are low. With the summer holidays now here, the demand for food parcels for children at home is on the rise. There are three ways to donate:
– drop food at collection points (eg supermarkets) or at the Foodbank warehouse at 80 Greenham Business Park RG19 6HW. which is open weekday mornings until 1pm.
– do an online shop to be delivered directly to Foodbank at the address above.  The contact number is 07836 500610.
– or make a cash donation here.

• The Corn Exchange is holding a free outdoor event ‘CODE’ next weekend, on Saturday 12 August and Sunday 13 August. This is Justice in Motion‘s latest production and explores the dangers young people face when exploited by drug gangs, using blends of parkour, bike stunts and rap music to create an impactful and exciting show. The show will take place in two residential areas of Newbury and at various times. No booking is required. Click here for details regarding times and locations.

• The Chalkfest community event returns to Newbury Market place on Monday 7 August. Each household will be allowed one square meter to create a picture, thus filling the Market Square with artwork. There will be free chalk provided, although they will ask for a donation of £1 if you wish to enter the competition. For more details about the event and competition, click here. The event is run by City Arts Newbury which offers lots more creative fun this summer.

• West Berkshire Council has created a new welcome webpage for anyone new to West Berkshire so can know where and how to access the council’s services.

• Are you a local community or voluntary sports or physical activity club that would like to meet with other groups across West Berkshire. Then register here for the Sports Forum, run by the West Berkshire Volunteer Centre.

• Did you know Newbury Market is always on the lookout for new traders? If you’re a small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more. They are currently offering 4 weeks of free trading for new stall holder, see here for details.

Click here for the 2022-23 annual report from the excellent Citizens Advice West Berkshire which has recently been published.

• There are a lot of roadworks in Newbury at the moment. To share and vent about navigating them, we recommend joining the Newbury. Happening Now. facebook group and their Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

• Our Summer Holiday Guide includes lots to do with your kids this summer including West Berks Summer HAF (Holiday Activities & Food) Programme at various locations with free spaces for children and young people eligible for free school meals.

• For the low down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page.

• The latest edition of the Hamstead Hornet, which covers life in the village of Hamstead Marshall, can be seen here.

Hamstead Marshall Parish Council intends to start a community speedwatch programme: if you’re interested in helping, please contact Anne Budd on 01488 657022 or anne.budd_pc@btinternet.com.

More water problems

A letter in this week’s Newbury Weekly News from John Gotelee highlights a recurring problem with the London Road Industrial Estate: flooding.

One of the points he makes relates to Cinch, the self-storage company which has recently taken over the former Newspaper House once used by the NWN. His concern is that several previously permeable areas have now been covered with tarmac. Without suitable attenuation measures, this is only going to make a bad problem worse. As I understand matters, this change of use was conducted under permitted development rights which avoids the need for planning permission. As a result, there were no conditions, on flooding or anything else, that needed to be satisfied.

There are, however, conditions that apply to permitted developments – specially J2 (b) (ii) which states that “provision is made to direct run-off water from the hard surface to a permeable or porous area or surface within the curtilage of the industrial building or warehouse.” There seems to be a difference of opinion between WBC and certain local residents as to whether this condition has been fulfilled by Cinch.

It seems fairly certain that any new application which is likely to make the flooding situation worse in the LRIE (which could be translated as “all applications”) will be met with the strongest possible opposition by local residents. This might include further judicial reviews. This is a complex issue with ever-changing rules and regulations, all of which are more than I or any can easily understand. It would appear that some serious infrastructure investment is needed. The increase in exceptional weather events makes this all the more important.

The matter is the elephant in the room, or the whale in the bath, with regard to the LRIE. Call the area what you want and create as many strategic visions as you choose: but this needs to be holistically addressed before any further development progress can be made.

Watermill Bridge

A new application has been submitted by developers, Bewley Homes, for 270 dwellings on land south of Newbury (23/01767/OUT). This is for “A mixed use community to be delivered in separate phases, including a severable Outline application for up to 270 dwellings (Use Class C3) including dwellings for older people; a 1,600 square metre community building (Use Class F2(b)), a 1200 square metre Health Centre (Use Class E(e)) and a 250 square metre convenience store (Use Class F2(a)), demolition of Common Farm and associated agricultural buildings, provision of open space, allotments, community gardens, a riverside park/nature trail, drainage attenuation, landscaping and associated infrastructure. All matters reserved, other than detailed access arrangements including new vehicular access onto the A343 Andover Road | Land At Watermill Bridge Andover Road Wash Water.”

The latest newsletter from the Enborne River Valley Preservation Society (ERVPS) observed that “only 37 documents had been uploaded initially and given the sensitivity of the site, and size of proposed development, we feel the documents available for review are totally inadequate. We posed this question to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and we have been told that further documentation was submitted but a technical fault means many documents do not seem to appear on-line. The Planning Development Support Team have been notified and a review and re-publish will be activated so that all documents are visible.

“This will inevitably extend the deadline which was previously set to 11th August 2023. As soon as we are told that all documents have been uploaded, we will inform our subscribers.” You can become a subscriber if you aren’t already by clicking here.

No quarter given

As mentioned last week, Newbury Town Council and the Newbury Society have been granted Rule 6 status at the planning enquiry into Eagle Quarter. (The plans were refused by WBC last year and the developer, Lochailort, has appealed this.) Rule 6 status essentially means that the organisation/s have been accepted as interested parties and can take an active part in the discussions. They can also make a statement of case, to be submitted within four weeks of the Rule 6 status being granted.

Newbury Town Council recently issued a statement confirming its position on the matter. The main concerns is the scale and the fact that the housing it will provide (mainly flats) is not, in NTC’s view, what the town needs.

“I am very pleased that the Planning Inspectorate has made the Town Council a party to this appeal.,” said Nigel Foot, the Mayor of Newbury and Chairman of the Council’s Planning and Highways Committee. “We are the voice of Newbury, and we will make sure that they know the level of opposition to this development. As well as the evidence which West Berkshire District Council will present, we will be telling the inspectorate how the proposed development contravenes the Newbury Town Centre Masterplan, The Newbury Town Design Statement and the findings of our surveys for our Neighbourhood Development Plan.”

As mentioned before, I have some sympathy with the developers in this. The Kennet Centre needs to be  re-developed and this might be the least bad outcome, given the constraints of the site (which makes conventional housing is possible). The only way is, therefore, up: but how far up? That’s what the two sides can’t agree and what the Planning Inspector will have to decide when the appeal is heard in October.

Thinking about the Lido

I was doing my usual plough up and down the pool at the Hungerford Leisure Centre earlier this week and found myself wondering when the Newbury Lido was going to re-open after its re-furb. The thing about swimming is that it’s very boring (part of the point of it) so, if an idea gets lodged in your brain it tends to re-appear, normally when you reach the same point in your back-and-forth journey you were at when you first thought of it. In a 2km swim, I thus had the chance to reflect on this question many times though without getting any closer to the answer.

This was provided by a recent call to WBC. It appears that confirmation of an opening date is now only days away: so, by in next week’s column I should have some firm news. All we then need will be some sunshine in which to enjoy this open-air facility.

One of the changes that’s been made is to reduce the Lido’s length from 70-odd metres to a more manageable 50. An advantage of this length is that it can then be used for Olympic-standard training. It has to be exactly 50 metres, mind. I hope WBC doesn’t have the same problem as was faced by a council in, I think, Luxembourg some years ago. A new 50-metre pool was built and measured using all the best technology to be exactly that distance. Then they put the tiles on…

An offer from the Show

After a three-year pause – two due to Covid and the third to a change of management – the Newbury Show is back on 16 and 17 September. The organisers have recently announced a special offer for any local artists, artisans and craftspeople who want to take a stall. A 3m x 3m stand will cost only £300 for anyone within 15 miles of the Showground, rather than the usual £500. The Show is expected to attract 50,000 people over the weekend, so one way of looking at this is having about one third of the population of West Berkshire coming to see your wares.

For more information on this offer, and the Show generally, click here.

Community notices

• Everyone very welcome to pop in to the Corn Exchange café bar any Thursday morning between 10.30am and 12.30pm for Coffee Companions to meet new people and have a chat.

Loose Ends drop-in centre at Newbury Cricket Ground welcome volunteers to join their friendly team. They offer hot meals and a safe and friendly environment for vulnerable people. More details and how to apply can be found here.

Roadworks seem to be ongoing across the town…For up to date news and discussion it’s worth joining the Newbury.Happening now facebook group.

• Not sure what to do with your old printer ink cartridges? Well, you can donate them to the Waterside Youth Centre, which will help them raise money to fund local youth activities. You can find the donation box next to the blue reception desk.

Walkers, horse-riders, off road cyclists please be mindful of your impact on ground-nesting birds this spring and summer. Of course dogs love to romp but skylarks and nightjars are endangered species and if an adult is disturbed they will not return to their nest, leaving their chicks to die. Please see more details here about national requirements for dog walkers between 1 March and 31 July.

• Did you know you can raise concerns with Newbury Town Council at a Saturday Surgery between 10 am and noon any week at the steps of the Town Hall?

• Newbury’s two friendly community cafes on Wednesdays: Educafe Community Cafe in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm and Speen Community Cafe at The Starting Gate Pub 2pm to 5pm.

Fair Close Centre on Newtown Road in Newbury provides a vital social hub and meals on wheels for over 65s, many of whom live on their own. Please support them here. Goodness knows we might all need their services in years to come.

• The Community Larder at the Waterside Centre is open every Tuesday afternoon, 2 to 4pm to provide members with surplus food, discounts for local businesses, access to other services and support, as well as a friendly community environment. 

•  Newbury Library offers free IT support sessions including filling out online forms, how to Zoom, downloading e-magazines or sorting out pictures. Bookable 30- or 60-minute sessions. To find out more or book a slot, email rav.gopal@westberks.gov.uk.

• Please click here for Hamstead Marshall.net, which provides an excellent round-up of what’s going on in and around the village. This also publishes the quarterly Hamstead Hornet.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

‘Explore Newbury’ Walking Tours on Tuesdays from 25 July to 29 Aug & Sun 17 Sept

Mon 7 Aug Chalkfest 2023, Newbury Market Place.

Sat 12 & Sun 13 Aug CODE Outdoor Show, Newbury Corn Exchange.

Sat 15 Aug Festival of the Moon, various events across Newbury until Sun 3 Sept.

Wed 23 Aug Family Activity Day, Shaw House, Newbury.

Sat 26 Aug Give Weaving a Go, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Sun 27 Aug Art on the Park, Victoria Park, Newbury.

Sat 2 Sept Give Spinning a Go, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Sat 16 Sept Give Braiding a Go, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Sat 16 & Sun 17 Sept Newbury Show, Newbury Showground.

Sun 17 Sept Community Cricket Day, Falkland Cricket Club, Newbury.

Sat 14 Oct School Roman Day, West Berkshire Museum, Newbury.

Regular events

Friendly gardening club in the centre of Newbury. See here for how to get involved.

• The Corn Exchange in Newbury offers a wide range of activities for over 55 year olds in their Ageing Creatively programme.  Coffee Companions on Thursday mornings for anyone who fancies a chat and World Crafts on Friday mornings (except 4th Friday of the month) is a chance to explore arts and crafts of cultures from around the world (anyone new to the UK is invited to share their own country’s crafts as well).

Shaw House Community Garden drop-in gardening sessions Wednesday morning 9.30am to 12.30pm.. If you would like to join a session, please call Amy Bosley, 07553 810133 or email her.

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies and Girls FC Wildcats programme for girls aged 5 to 11 to get involved in football, promoting skill development, health, confidence and friendship. 6 to 7pm every Wednesday at Lower Way playing fields in Thatcham. Email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc.fdo@gmail.com to get involved.

Waterside Centre’s Youth Café every Tuesday evening, during term time, between 4:30pm and 6pm for Years 7 to 13. For more details click here or contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk.

• Newbury Park Run at Greenham Common at 9am every Saturday morning. Folks of all ages welcome to run/walk/jog the 5km. They also have volunteering opportunities. See details here.

Newbury Women Football Club always welcomes new players. For more details click here or contact newburywomenfc@gmail.com.

• ACE Space on St Nicholas Road hosts live acoustic performances. Join their Facebook group or follow them on Twitter.

• Newbury Community Larder every Tuesday 2pm to 4pm at the Waterside Centre (down the canal from Costa Coffee on Northbrook Street). For more details please contact waterside@berkshireyouth.co.uk or call 01635 018500.

Speen Community Café at The Starting Gate in Speen on Wednesdays between 2pm to 5pm. Drop in for a chat or a cuppa, knitting and craft activities. You don’t have to live in Speen to join in. Follow them on facebook here.

Educafe’s Community Cafe at Newbury Library every Wednesday between 11am and 2pm. If you would like to pop along for a friendly chat or to volunteer in the cafe please see their website for more details.

• Berkshire Youth‘s Waterside Centre in Newbury hosts various clubs and activities for local children and can provide volunteering opportunities for adults too.

 The Base, Greenham organise many artistic-focused events for people of all ages to let their creative sides go wild.

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.

• The most recent meeting of Newbury Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 12 June and you can read the minutes here.Note that many matters are delegated to committees.
To see the dates of future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 19 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; trees from Greenham Trust; net zero; financial matters; reports from the ward members; speeding; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; and a possible battle re-enactment.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Chieveley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: public participation; planning matters; financial matters; speeding; warm hubs; repairs and maintenance; and reports from the Clerk and the councillors.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here to download the meeting schedule. To see the agendas and minutes please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Speen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 24 May and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Enborne Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 22 May 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 Boxford Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 May 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 Greenham Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 10 May 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 Hamstead Marshall Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 21 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see minutes, please click here.

• Newbury area council contacts

Parishes: Newbury Town CouncilGreenham Parish CouncilChieveley Parish CouncilEnborne Parish CouncilBoxford Parish CouncilSpeen Parish Council,  Shaw-cum-Donnington Parish Council, and Hamstead Marshall 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 ValleyThatcham area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 27 July 2023

This week we cover green flags, tennis, roadworks, a market, refugees and chalk – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down to below “This week’s news” for the latest on the forthcoming appeal into the Eagle Quarter application, the countdown to the Newbury Show, a chat with one of the stalwarts of the Boxford Masques and a look at a recent hedgehog petition.

This week’s news

• Newbury Town Council is proud to have been awarded Green Flag status for 2023/24 for Victoria Park, as well as the City Recreation Ground. The prestigious Green Flag Award demonstrates that the Park boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is well maintained and has excellent visitor facilities. A massive well done to the various staff and volunteers who maintain these grounds. Click here for the full story.

Have a go at tennis this Sunday 30 July at Newbury & Thatcham Community Tennis in Victoria Park. Whether you are an avid tennis player or just curious to try your hand at the sport, these complimentary sessions with coaches on hand are perfect for all ages and abilities. Book yourself a slot here from 2pm to 5pm.

• The Chalkfest community event returns to Newbury Market place on Monday 7 August. Each household will be allowed one square meter to create a picture, thus filling the Market Square with artwork. There will be free chalk provided, although they will ask for a donation of £1 if you wish to enter the competition. For more details about the event and competition, click here. The event is run by City Arts Newbury which offers lots more creative fun this summer.

• Did you know Newbury Market is always on the lookout for new traders? If you’re a small business interested in having a pitch in the Market Place get in contact with them at towncouncil@newbury.gov.uk or call 07399 122964 to find out more. They are currently offering 4 weeks of free trading for new stall holder, see here for details.

• Talking of markets, Woolton Hill & Thorngrove Village Market is this Saturday 29 July at Thorngrove School in Highclere. With lots of great stalls, an ice cream van, the not-for-profit Newbury Sugarcraft Guild Cygnets and henna tattoos.

Click here for the 2022-23 annual report from the excellent Citizens Advice West Berkshire which has recently been published.

Interakt invite you to their Summer Festival this Saturday 29 July at Newbury Rugby Club with music, dance, hot dogs and lots of fun. Interakt offers drama, dance, filmmaking and a whole host of creative activities for young people and adults with learning disabilities in West Berkshire. They are looking for volunteers to help give their members a voice, an opportunity to connect, to learn, to feel empowered. Taster sessions are provided for anyone interested in volunteering. See more details here.

• There are a lot of roadworks in Newbury at the moment. To share and vent about navigating them, we recommend joining the Newbury. Happening Now. facebook group and their Newbury Traffic Live Updates chat group (on facebook messenger).

• Quick reminder that West Berkshire Action for Refugees is currently recruiting for Donations Coordinator and Moving On Coordinator volunteer roles. You would be part of a wonderful team making a real difference.

• For ladies concerned about the cost of HRT, a new Prescription Pre-payment Certificate (PPC) is now available, where you can make a much lower one-off payment. Visit gov.uk for details. One lady paid just £19.40 for the year (yes a year), and that covers her for every HRT prescription she now gets – a saving to her of around £76. This scheme only came out in April this year, so please spread the word.

Read Easy West Berkshire harnesses the initiative, energy, skills and experience of volunteers, and equips them to provide confidential one-to-one reading coaching for adults who want to improve their reading. Please see more details here if you could volunteer or need help.

• Our Summer Holiday Guide includes lots to do with your kids this summer including West Berks Summer HAF (Holiday Activities & Food) Programme at various locations with free spaces for children and young people eligible for free school meals.

• For the low down on the local live music scene follow Sound Newbury’s facebook page.

• The latest edition of the Hamstead Hornet, which covers life in the village of Hamstead Marshall, can be seen here.

Hamstead Marshall Parish Council intends to start a community speedwatch programme: if you’re interested in helping, please contact Anne Budd on 01488 657022 or anne.budd_pc@btinternet.com.

Hedgehogs and swifts

Last week’s Full Council meeting at West Berkshire Council considered a petition to create “hedgehog highways”. These are gaps in fences on housing developments through which these important and much-loved mammals, which are unable to climb or fly, can use to travel in order to feed and to mate. In that respect, they’re not that different from us, then.

The petition did not succeed. However, I don’t think that this reflects as badly on WBC as this bald statement might imply. Indeed, the fact that this particular protection for this animals cannot now be provided by the Council, at least not through the planning system, may be good newest it dispels any illusions that regulations and laws can on their own create what we need, the more so if there’s any doubt as to whether they can be enforced. Britain’s swifts had a similar date with destiny in the Commons last week which met with a similar response. For the same reason, this may not be bad news for them, either.

You can read more on this in this separate post.

Rule 6 for the Eagle

Both Newbury Town Council and the Newbury Society have been granted Rule 6 status at the planning enquiry into Eagle Quarter. The plans were refused by WBC last year and the developer, Lochailort, has appealed this. Rule 6 status essentially means that the organisation/s have been accepted as interested parties and can take an active part in the discussions. They can also make a statement of case, to be submitted within four weeks of the Rule 6 status being granted. I imagine that both organisations have been hard at work on this. In Newbury TC’s case, this is likely to draw on evidence which was collected as part of the town-centre masterplan and the work so far done on the neighbourhood development plan.

Another obligation of Rule 6 participation is that all parties need to agree a statement of common ground, which should include “all agreed matters and should include basic facts such as the site description, area, planning history, relevant planning policies, and as many other matters as possible relating to the application.” The appeal process can then set these to one side and concentrate on what remains. One thing that I think Locailort, NRC, the Newbury Society and WBC all agree on is that the Kennet Centre needs to be re-developed.

The differences between them are primarily to do with size. Lochailort claims that something of this scale is necessary to make the scheme viable; NTC and the NS feel that it’s too overpowering, the latter also stressing the risk posed to Newbury’s heritage. At some point there will need to be a compromise or a change of mind.

Were the appeal to be refused, matters would in many ways remain precisely as they are. The three Newbury-based organisations aren’t going anywhere: nor is Lochailort as the Centre is, without planning permission, unsaleable except at a thumping loss. The delay, and the continued deterioration of both the fabric and the finances of the centre, that result from this impasse don’t work in anyone’s favour.

The appeal is set to be start on 14 October and should run for up to five days with a decision expected in mid-November. If the developer decides that a new application stands a better chance of success, the appeal might be withdrawn. Whatever it takes to break the deadlock…

Countdown to the show

After a three-year break, the Newbury & District Agricultural Society is thrilled to announce that Newbury Show is making a return in 2023, with local business Ramsbury Brewing & Distilling Co Ltd supporting as the headline sponsor. The dates are Saturday 16 September 2023, 9am to 6pm and Sunday 17 September 2023 9am to 5pm.

Such events take a considerable amount or organising. After two pandemic paused in 2020 and 2021, it was felt that the change of trustees in late 2021 didn’t allow enough time to put on a show in 2022. This year, however, there have been no such obstacles and preparations are proceeding apace. You can click here to see the latest news and details of how you can get in touch if you want to take a stall or participate in other ways.

Part of the remit of the Newbury & District Agricultural Society, which organises the show, is to educate the public about the countryside and wildlife in order to promote and support British agricultural, horticultural, forestry and rural crafts industries. “One way of doing this,” a spokesperson explained to Penny Post, “is through educating school children as a part of their work outside the well renowned county show. Therefore, parents, there is no need to worry as there will be plenty of activities to look forward to for all of the family with Young Farmers and animals to meet, interactive have-a-gos and the return of the Kids Zone, including the funfair.”

We also caught up with Nick Wallis, one of NADAS’s trustees, on 27 July. “We’re tremendously pleased about how things are going,” he told us. “We’re really looking forward to putting the Show back at the top table of local events in the area. Come along on 16 or 17 September and judge for yourself!”

Behind the masque

As we’ve mentioned before, the Boxford Masques are back. We’ve recently run an article on local actor Ben Prout (whom our sons remember well from performing with him for the Newbury Youth Theatre) and also with Director Ade Morris who explained to us what makes the Boxford Masque plays so special. This year’s production is The River and the Bell at the Boxford Recreation Ground. There are three remaining performances, on 28, 29 and 30 July: for more information, click here.

The Boxford Masques, which had previously been a tradition in the area before WW1, were revived in 2000 and have generally taken place every other year since. Many people have been involved in these as they are truly community performances. Not many people can, however, claim to have been involved in pretty much every single one. One who can is Ananbel Bailey from Great Shefford. She has now hung up her greasepain, but shared with us some recollections of her past moments treading the Boxford boards.

“I first appeared in the Boxford Masques in 2002,” she told us. “Our daughter Alice was in the very first one, dressed in motor bike leathers as a magician’s assistant, which were instigated by John Vigor, who had found the original scripts.  We acted in the natural amphitheatre owned by Pip Pocock and his uncle where the Masques had been staged before. In the second one I was the so-called Mother of the Camp, but ended up getting shot by my son (played by Jon Harding, a stalwart of the Masques).

“Next I was Lady Elmstock in The Crowning of the Year. Alice took over my part of the Sun in Knight & Day when I was waiting for a hip operation.  Then we went to Welford Park where my favourite part was in 2018 as Britannia, in Joe Soap’s Circus, complete with a dustbin lid as a shield, a pitchfork as a trident and a child, dressed as a little lion, at my feet.

“It is very much like a family: we know each other so well and rehearsals are such fun.  Ade Morris, our director, reads us the Riot Act about three weeks before the Opening Night, but is delighted when it all comes together. Geraldine McCaughrean’s scripts are always tremendous. Last year’s Bellerophon, based on the mosaic found between Boxford and Winterbourne, was splendid.  I was part of the Chorus and also Hera, Queen of the Gods, who told off Athene for getting Bellerophon to attack the Chimera “Are you responsible for this Horse of the Year Show?”  As I say, great fun. I am going on Friday as a sp