Thatcham Area Weekly News – 2023 Archive

To see the current Thatcham 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 21 December 2023

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: carols, hospitals, crackers, memories and a run – plus naming, and identifying the infrastructure for, Thatcham’s possible new town, the man on the bus and 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 Thatcham area events include: Mayor’s Coffee Morning, Crafts & Carols and Santa Dash. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• If you fancy some festive carols to get you into the spirit on Christmas Eve, Thatcham United Reformed Church will be hosting Carols by Candlelight on Sunday 6pm. Thatcham’s St Mary’s will also be doing Carols around the Christmas Tree from 10:45pm, ahead of Midnight Mass starting at 11.15pm.

• Looking ahead to the new year, a date has been announced for the very first Thatcham 10k Run 2024. The date is Sunday 7 April and registration has now opened. The run is a multi-terrain race around the Thatcham Lakes, Kennet and Avon Canal and South Thatcham. This year’s charities are Sport in Mind and PALS (West Berkshire). To learn more click here.

• 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.

• 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…

• This year’s West Berkshire Toy/Gift Appeal in memory of Louise Purton includes an Amazon wishlist and local drop-off points across Thatcham, Newbury 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 23rd December.

• St Mary & St Barnabas Church in Thatcham looks forward to welcoming you to their Christmas Eve Services including the popular Crib Service.

• 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.

• London Road Cemetery has a memory tree in place for the whole of this month, ready for anyone to leave a message or dedication to their loved ones. There are tags and pens are provided (but please do not remove these from the Cemetery). The Chapel will be open on selected dates this December if you would like to visit for quiet reflection.

• 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.

• One of the hoped-for results from the local election was a change to the aspect of the local plan which concerned NE Thatcham. As a result of three interventions over which WBC had no control, this has not been possible to accomplish. Matters are now back to where they were when the draft plan was submitted in March 2023. The results of the proposed development (up to 2,500 homes) would be game-changing for Thatcham and the neighbouring villages of Cold Ash, Bucklebury and Midgham. We’ve covered this story in detail and will continue to do so: the battleground has now shifted from the various councils in West Berkshire to the examination by the Inspector at which all interested parties will be keen to make their case.

• One of the challenges faced by Thatcham is a shortage of infrastructure with schools, surgeries, the library, and the leisure centre all being too small for the current population and/or badly in need of a bit of TLC. One piece of infrastructure which is wholly lacking is a railway bridge by the station resulting in long queues at the level crossing. Local MP Laura Farris has launched a survey to gauge support for the construction of a bridge. However, this largely depends on planning approval being granted for the site at Colthrop south of the railway. If this happens, the developers have said they’ll be able to fund this. Unfortunately, the scheme is not in the draft local plan that WBC is now being forced to adopt and which doesn’t appear to feel that up to 2,500 homes in the town would have an impact on the level-crossing usage. It remains to be seen if, in the absence of any developer contributions, Laura Farris can help procure some funding for this before the election.

• 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; Thatcham’s often abominable postal service; the plans to make changes to the Library; the Thatcham Festival; and the relationship between Bucklebury Parish Council and one of its local estates. 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.

• A new town

During the recent debate at WBC about the withdrawal of the local plan, the point was made by Thatcham Councillor Owen Jeffery that the proposed development of NE Thatcham would amount to a town the size of Hungerford being wedged between Thatcham and Bucklebury. This would, of course, only be the case if the original 2,500 allocation were built. That’s now been reduced to “at least 1,500” but it must always be assume that when a site or, in the case, an adjacent group of sites are not fully developed that one is merely waiting for part two. 2,500 homes times an average occupancy rate of 2.4 people gives us 6,000, almost exactly Hungerford’s population.

A place of that size deserves its own name: what might that be? Contracting NE Thatcham would give us Nethcham, which might work. In the same way, so too might Swucklebury. Others may prefer Bucklebury Blight. In due course, there may be a naming completion run in conjunction with a local school.

However, there is no local school there and under the current proposals this won’t be fixed until the project is very far advanced and many people have moved in. This question of infrastructure is at the nub of the problem. The comparison with Hungerford having been made, it’s worth having a look at what this town of 6,000 people has to offer its residents.

Hungerford has a secondary school, a primary school, a SEN school, a nursery school, a surgery, a pharmacy, a fire, police and ambulance base, a physio clinic, several dentists, a vets surgery, football, cricket and rugby clubs all with clubhouses, a tennis club, a bowls club, a social club, an environmental group, food, arts, history and theatre groups, several churches, several meeting venues for hire, a hotel, a dozen or more restaurants, cafés and pubs, several bus services, several playgrounds, a common, a library, two supermarkets, two petrol stations, two A roads, two leisure centres, two swimming pools and a railway station (complete with a bridge over the railway line, much to Thatcham’s envy). And I haven’t even mentioned all the shops. What will Nethcham/Swucklebury be able to offer by comparison?

Indeed, looking back at that list it’s probably true that Hungerford’s infrastructure in many ways exceeds that of the whole of Thatcham, a town which has over four times as many people. All agree that Thatcham has been ill-served by successive waves of development. What is promised by the current proposals is not likely to improve matters.

• 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.

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.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

Thu 21 Dec Cold Ash Brass Christmas Concert, St Mark’s Church, Cold Ash.

Sun 24 Dec Christmas Eve Services at St Mary’s & St Barnabas, Thatcham.

Sun 21 Jan Kennet Leisure Centre Open Day, Thatcham.

Wed 24 Jan Family Hub Coffee Afternoon, Central Family Hub, Park Lane, Thatcham.

Sun 24 Mar Newbury & Thatcham Repair Café, Frank Hutchings Community Hall, Thatcham.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 September and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 22 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: ward members’ reports; planning matters; financial matters; highways; the playground; open spaces; the Village Hall; medications collection; and the Christmas tree.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 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 hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 November 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 the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 November 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: flooding issues; matters arising; possible traffic implications resulting from the temporary closure of the listing bridge at Aldermaston Wharf; D-day; the Village Hall; the sale of land in Brimpton Common between Brimpton Lane and Blacknest Lane; the Washing Estate; planning matters; financial matters; and reports from the ward member and the Chair.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

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

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon 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: coffee, toys, a road closure, a crib service and a memory tree – plus a look at how the (possibly) withdrawn local plan might affect the NE Thatcham area, a councillor rides the buses and a drop-in budget consultation. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include: Mayor’s Coffee Morning, Crafts & Carols and Santa Dash. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• This Friday 15 December it’s the Mayor’s Christmas Coffee morning at Thatcham Town Council‘s Chamber on Brownsfield Road between 10am and 12noon. There will be home-made cakes, mince pies and a selection of warm beverages on offer. Come on down and meet The Mayor! Open to all.

• 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 year’s West Berkshire Toy/Gift Appeal in memory of Louise Purton includes an Amazon wishlist and local drop-off points across Thatcham, Newbury 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 23rd December.

• There will be a road closure on Ashmore Green Road (from the junction with Bowling Green Road to the junction with Stoney Lane) on Wednesday 20 December from 8am to 5pm.  The closure is to enable Volker Highways to carry out permanent carriageway repairs on behalf of West Berkshire Council. Click here to learn more.

• Next Thursday 21 December Cold Ash Brass will be performing their Christmas concert, at St Mark’s Church, in Cold Ash at 7:30pm. There will be mulled wine and mince pies available, as well as a raffle.

• St Mary & St Barnabas Church in Thatcham looks forward to welcoming you to their Christmas Eve Services including the popular Crib Service.

• 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.

• London Road Cemetery has a memory tree in place for the whole of this month, ready for anyone to leave a message or dedication to their loved ones. There are tags and pens are provided (but please do not remove these from the Cemetery). The Chapel will be open on selected dates this December if you would like to visit for quiet reflection.

• Thatcham’s homes

Uncertainty currently surrounds the immediate future of West Berkshire Council’s local plan which the administration has said that it intends to withdraw. The matter will be discussed at a special meeting on 19 December. In the 14 December This week with Brian column, I take a look at the background to this and what the results might be.

The main beef between the two parties concerned the 2,500 (later reduced to at least 1,500) homes to the NE of Thatcham. Planning portfolio holder Tony Vickers says that the plan is flawed because of the weak evidence behind North East Thatcham as a strategic housing site. The WBC Conservative leader Ross Mackinnon disagrees, claiming that the plan isn’t flawed at all and that the Lib Dems worked on it for four years in opposition. The Conservatives submitted the plan to the Inspectorate just before the election. This started a process which considerably narrowed the options for the new administration, whose manifesto included a promise to do what it could to reverse this decision.

Whether the plan is withdrawn and revised or passed as it is will have a considerable impact on the future on the NE Thatcham area. Some, including the author of the agenda paper for the 19 December meeting, feel that a withdrawal will immediately trigger an application from the NE Thatcham consortium which may, in the absence of a plan, be likely to succeed on appeal. Quite what happens if this occurs and the local plan is later submitted but without this as a strategic site, I can’t imagine. There are also two alternative sites, in Henwick and Colthrop, which would presumably be more in line with what the new administration wants to accomplish. These are currently not allocated sites. An application on the Henwick site was withdrawn in August. It had received objections (as such plans always do), but the developers also felt that there was too much uncertainty.

This uncertainty seems set to continue. Even if the plan is submitted as it stands (one possible outcome), Thatcham, Cold Ash, Midgham and Bucklebury will not immediately discover if the proposed scheme (with four developers) is deliverable, as Sandleford (with only two) has so far proved not to be. There are rarely any simple large-scale planning issues. This one seems considerably more complex than most.

• Consultations at the Kennet

West Berkshire Council is holding a series of in-person consultations prior to setting its 2024-25 budget. The next next of these drop in-session will be on Wednesday 20 December from 5.30pm to 7pm at the Kennet Leisure Centre. The drop-in session is an opportunity to find out more about the consultations and ask any questions you may have.

Councillor Lee Dillon, Leader of West Berkshire Council and Councillor Iain Cottingham, Executive Member for Finance, will be at the Leisure Centre to answer questions and talk through the consultations with you. You can find the consultations online.

• 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 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.

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.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

Fri 15 Dec The Mayors Christmas Coffee Morning,  Thatcham Town Council’s Office Chamber.

Sat 16 Dec Christmas Crafts and Carols, Thatcham Library.

Sun 17 Dec Yattendon Santa Dash, Yattendon Lane.

Thu 21 Dec Cold Ash Brass Christmas Concert, St Mark’s Church, Cold Ash.

Sun 24 Dec Christmas Eve Services at St Mary’s & St Barnabas, Thatcham

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 September and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 22 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: ward members’ reports; planning matters; financial matters; highways; the playground; open spaces; the Village Hall; medications collection; and the Christmas tree.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Chair’s report; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; the Cemetery and the Chapel; highways; speeding; a proposed path; parish communications; financial matters; and repairs and maintenance.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; Yattendon Estate; planning matters; ward member’s report; repairs and maintenance; the playground; the Club Room; parking issues; deer fencing; the Clerk’s report; footpaths; and financial matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: flooding issues; matters arising; possible traffic implications resulting from the temporary closure of the listing bridge at Aldermaston Wharf; D-day; the Village Hall; the sale of land in Brimpton Common between Brimpton Lane and Blacknest Lane; the Washing Estate; planning matters; financial matters; and reports from the ward member and the Chair.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 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 hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

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

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon 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: music, crafts, a fair, refills, memories and refugees – plus a reminder that proposed WBC cuts could lead to a reduction in community transport services run by Readibus and others. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include: Mayor’s Carol Concert, Christmas Craft Fair and lots of festive fun,. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• This weekend there are two local festive musical events to enjoy. On Saturday, Cold Ash Brass Band will be performing their Christmas Concert at St Marys Church, Thatcham, with mulled wine and mince pies. While on Sunday, also at St Mary’s Church, will be the Mayors Civic Carol Service. The service will feature a selection of carols, hymns and readings. Musical performances will be provided by St Mary’s Church Choir and the Barfield Handbell Ringers.

Also this weekend there will be a Handmade Christmas Craft Fair, supporting the Royal British Legion Women’s Section Benevolent fund, over at Thatcham Rugby Club. Entry is free and there will be a tombola, refreshments and stalls selling handmade items such as clothing, toys, ornaments and more. That’s on Saturday 9 December, from 11am to 3pm.

• Congratulations to S. Lerpiniere, G. Deegwal and G. Saravanan, the talented winners of this year’s Mayor’s Christmas Card Competition. You can see the winning pictures on the Town Council’s Facebook Page.

• It was good to meet everyone at the Christmas Fair at Thatcham Memorial Hall last Saturday. Good luck to the Kennet students raising money for their volunteering trip to Borneo next summer.

December news from Jenny and Tom at Thatcham Refillable mobile household and personal product refill shop. They provide a great way to reduce your use of plastic.

• London Road Cemetery has a Memory Tree in place for the whole of this month, ready for anyone to leave a message or dedication to their loved ones. There are tags and pens are provided (but please do not remove these from the Cemetery). The Chapel will be open on selected dates this December if you would like to visit for quiet reflection.

West Berkshire Action for Refugees had a visit from the BBC recently to cover the story of the Regency Hotel in Thatcham being closed to refugees a week before Christmas and the impact this is having on the whole community that has supported them for the past two years – an unexpected length of time caused by the Home Office’s slow processing times of permissions to stay in the UK (called ‘leave to remain’).

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

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.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


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 Dec Thatcham Youth Roller Disco, Kennet Leisure Centre.

Sat 9 Dec Cold Ash Brass Christmas Concert, St Mary’s Church, Thatcham.

Sat 9 Dec Christmas Craft, Fair Thatcham Rugby Club Henwick Worthy Sports Fields.

Sun 10 Dec The Mayors Christmas Carol Service, St Mary’s Church, Thatcham.

Sun 10 Dec Kintbury Christmas Market, Kintbury Jubilee Hall.

Fri 15 Dec The Mayors Christmas Coffee Morning,  Thatcham Town Council’s Office Chamber.

Sat 16 Dec Christmas Crafts and Carols, Thatcham Library.

Sun 17 Dec Yattendon Santa Dash, Yattendon Lane.

Thu 21 Dec Cold Ash Brass Christmas Concert, St Mark’s Church, Cold Ash.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 September and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; Yattendon Estate; planning matters; ward member’s report; repairs and maintenance; the playground; the Club Room; parking issues; deer fencing; the Clerk’s report; footpaths; and financial matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: flooding issues; matters arising; possible traffic implications resulting from the temporary closure of the listing bridge at Aldermaston Wharf; D-day; the Village Hall; the sale of land in Brimpton Common between Brimpton Lane and Blacknest Lane; the Washing Estate; planning matters; financial matters; and reports from the ward member and the Chair.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 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 hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 October 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 the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 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 hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

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

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon 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: Christmas lights, activities, a fiddler, community champions and refugees – plus an appeal from the Foodbank and another award for Readibus. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include: Mayor’s Carol Concert and lots of festive fun,. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• This Friday is the big Warming Up for Christmas Light Switch-on event at the Broadway, with charity stalls, local food and drink stands, face painting and sweet treats, late night shopping, live music on stage and more. The lights will be switched on at 7pm by the Mayor and the charity partners. See here for details.

• Following that there will be even more festive activities on Saturday 2 December with the Christmas Market on the Broadway from 10am to 4pm and the Fundraising Christmas Market at Thatcham Memorial Hall between 10:30am and 3:30pm for even more stalls and games. Then on Sunday 3 December, you might spot an army of Santas running down the street for the Santa Fun Run – there’s still time to sign up or make a donation.

• The Kennet and Avon Theatrical Society (KATS) are looking for teens to join in their upcoming show Fiddler on the Roof. If you know any young actors who might be interested, they are holding auditions this Monday 4 December at Bucklebury Memorial Hall (Oak Room) between 6:15pm and 7.15pm.

• Did you know the Living Rainforest has a range of Christmas activities starting from this Saturday 2 December. This includes a children’s Christmas Trail and activity pack, Christmas afternoon tea, games and much more. Click here to find out more.

• To illustrate the backgrounds of the refugees they support, West Berkshire Action for Refugees are making short videos for the refugees to tell their stories.  This video is about Fatemah, a teacher from Syria, whose whole family had to flee the violent government there. She is delighted to now be living in the community after 18 months at the Regency Hotel. She is very keen to give back to the local community after all the warmth and support she has received.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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).

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

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Follow them on facebook for latest opening times more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. Please see here for more details and how to help.

Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Public Protection Partnership‘s advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities for anyone with a little time to spare.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.


Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

Fri 1 Dec Warming Up for Christmas Light Switch On, Thatcham Broadway.

Sat 2 Dec Christmas Market, Thatcham Broadway.

Sat 2 Dec Fundraiser Christmas & Bric-a-brac Market, Thatcham Memorial Hall.

Sun 3 Dec Santa Fun Run, Thatcham Broadway.

Sat 9 Dec Thatcham Youth Roller Disco, Kennet Leisure Centre.

Sat 9 Dec Cold Ash Brass Christmas Concert, St Mary’s Church, Thatcham.

Sun 10 Dec The Mayors Christmas Carol Service, St Mary’s Church, Thatcham.

Fri 15 Dec The Mayors Christmas Coffee Morning,  Thatcham Town Council’s Office Chamber.

Fri 16 Dec Christmas Crafts and Carols, Thatcham Library.

Thur 21 Dec Cold Ash Brass Christmas Concert, St Mark’s Church, Cold Ash.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Just Play football for anyone 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability. Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

• ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free carer support session, as well as a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. To fin out when these events are happening, visit their Facebook page.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 September and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: flooding issues; matters arising; possible traffic implications resulting from the temporary closure of the listing bridge at Aldermaston Wharf; D-day; the Village Hall; the sale of land in Brimpton Common between Brimpton Lane and Blacknest Lane; the Washing Estate; planning matters; financial matters; and reports from the ward member and the Chair.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 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 hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 October 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 the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 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 hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 September 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 and minutes, please click here.

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

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon 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: bus travel, a fun run, a garden, card designs and switching on the lights – plus a remainder about a survey that might help pave the way for a bridge at Thatcham station. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include: Focus on Thatcham, carer’s rights and cost-of-living events, and Children in Need fundraiser. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• 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.

• Next Friday 1 December is the big Warming Up for Christmas Light Switch-on event. The Broadway will be filled with charity stalls, local food and drink stands, face painting and sweet treats, late night shopping, live music on stage. The lights will be switched on at 7pm by the Mayor and the charity partners. See here for details.

• 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.

• Thatcham Town Council is pleased to report that the Jubilee Garden Community monthly drop-in respite group for local carers has been relaunched and is now open to all. The first event will take place on Thursday 30 November but in the council chambers rather than the garden itself as the weather is expected to be chilly.

• The Thatcham Santa Fun Run is back for 2023, on Sunday 3 December. Starting from the Thatcham Broadway, the 5km circuit provides runners with the opportunity raise money 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.

• Calling local artists…please enter The Mayor of Thatcham’s Christmas Card competition so please send your entries in by 30 November. Any age can enter and there are two categories: hand drawn and digital/photograph design.

• It appears that the churn in Thatcham’s pharmacies is continuing. A notice in Boots has announced that this will close early next year.

• Crossing the bridge

A reminder on the survey being run by local MP Laura Farris: click here to have your say as to whether there should be a railway bridge to replace the level crossing by Thatcham station.

“I know that this situation has become intolerable for many residents of Thatcham,” she said when this survey was launched in late October. “Network Rail agrees that it is one of the busiest barrier crossings out of the 500 they have in the South East and that it has some of the longest waiting times overall.

“The next step will be developing a business plan with the relevant stakeholders and submitting this to the Department for Transport together with – what I hope they will agree- is a viable funding proposal. To support our business case, I would be very grateful if you could complete this short survey if you are a Thatcham resident and/or use the level crossing. Residents views are crucial to getting this right.”

• 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

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Follow them on facebook for latest opening times more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• The VIAN environmental group is helping ‘Keep Thatcham Beautiful‘ by continuing to litter pick across the area. The group has been set up by the locally based asylum seekers and is led by Bahman, a primary school teacher from Iran who was forced to flee his country because of the Iranian regime, leaving behind his wife and children.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. Please see here for more details and how to help.

Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Public Protection Partnership‘s advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities for anyone with a little time to spare.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.


Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

On until end Nov Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, Thatcham Library.

• Sat 25 Nov Local Author Showcase, Newbury Library.

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

Fri 1 Dec Warming Up for Christmas Light Switch On, Thatcham Broadway.

Sat 2 Dec Christmas Market, Thatcham Broadway.

Sat 2 Dec Fundraiser Christmas Market, Thatcham Memorial Hall.

Sun 3 Dec Santa Fun Run, Thatcham Broadway.

Sat 9 Dec Thatcham Youth Roller Disco, Kennet Leisure Centre.

Sat 9 Dec Cold Ash Brass Christmas Concert, St Mary’s Church, Thatcham.

Sun 10 Dec The Mayors Christmas Carol Service, St Mary’s Church, Thatcham.

Fri 15 Dec The Mayors Christmas Coffee Morning,  Thatcham Town Council’s Office Chamber.

Thur 21 Dec Cold Ash Brass Christmas Concert, St Mark’s Church, Cold Ash.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Just Play football for anyone 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability. Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

• ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free carer support session, as well as a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. To fin out when these events are happening, visit their Facebook page.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 September and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 7 November and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: flooding issues; matters arising; possible traffic implications resulting from the temporary closure of the listing bridge at Aldermaston Wharf; D-day; the Village Hall; the sale of land in Brimpton Common between Brimpton Lane and Blacknest Lane; the Washing Estate; planning matters; financial matters; and reports from the ward member and the Chair.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 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 hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 October 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 the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 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 hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 September 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 and minutes, please click here.

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

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon 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: the cost of living, carer’s rights, Santa, a garden, a possible bridge and volunteers – plus news about some hedge-planting help required and a farewell to Vian’s volunteers. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include: Focus on Thatcham, carer’s rights and cost-of-living events, and Children in Need fundraiser. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• This Friday 17 November the Cost of Living Fair will be at the Old Blue Coat School from 10am to noon. The fair has been organised by the local DWP, Citizens Advice West Berkshire and local MP Lara Farris, and brings together organisations and charities that support those struggling with rising prices. If you would like to attend, click here to book a slot.

• Thatcham Town Council is pleased to report that the Jubilee Garden Community monthly drop-in respite group for local carers has been relaunched and is now open to all. The first event will take place on Thursday 30 November but in the council chambers rather than the garden itself as the weather is expected to be chilly.

• The Thatcham Santa Fun Run is back for 2023, on Sunday 3 December. Starting from the Thatcham Broadway, the 5km circuit provides runners with the opportunity raise money 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.

• Next week is the Carers Rights Day Event at Thatcham Rugby Club with a range of organisations giving advice and information, as well as guest presentations. There will be representatives from Age UK, West Berkshire Council Social Care, Eight Bells and more. The event is on Thursday 23 November from 1pm to 3pm – no booking required. Click here to learn more and see the presentation schedule.

• Calling local artists…please enter The Mayor of Thatcham’s Christmas Card competition so please send your entries in by 30 November. Any age can enter and there are two categories: hand drawn and digital/photograph design.

Click here to take part in a survey being run by Laura Farris MP as to whether there should be a railway bridge to replace the level crossing by Thatcham station.

• Hedge planting help requested

Thatcham Town Council has very kindly been donated some hedging from the Greenham Trust Planting Project which they would like to add to areas around Thatcham. This new hedging will provide security, biodiversity and offers shelter and food to small animals.

They will be taking delivery of the saplings some time in November and are requesting help from volunteers to plant them. No experience necessary other than able to dig a small hole. Equipment and refreshments provided.

If you would like to get involved, please register your interest with enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk and someone will be in contact once a date is confirmed.

• A sad farewell

This week saw the final session of VIAN Environment Society’s activities in Thatcham.  This voluntary group of asylum seekers posted on their facebook page that it was very sad and painful for all of the members but due to the closure of the hotel where they have been staying, VIAN has been forced to stop its voluntary activities. They are very grateful to the local people who came to thank VIAN for its work in the community.

During the last 13 months, VIAN has worked hard to repay the kindness and goodness of the local people by helping Thatcham Council in the implementation of events and also with litter picking around the town and working on canal maintenance with the Canal & Rivers Trust.

They say that they hope to resume their activities in other parts of the UK in the near future and new branches of VIAN are now about to open in Reading and Maidenhead.

The leader of the group is Bahman from Iran who was forced to leave his country, his wife and children, and flee because of the Iranian regime. Bahman is a primary school teacher with 24 years experience who loves the environment, school children and teaching. VIAN is the name of Bahman’s daughter and is a Kurdish word that means “love”.

• 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

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Follow them on facebook for latest opening times more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• The VIAN environmental group is helping ‘Keep Thatcham Beautiful‘ by continuing to litter pick across the area. The group has been set up by the locally based asylum seekers and is led by Bahman, a primary school teacher from Iran who was forced to flee his country because of the Iranian regime, leaving behind his wife and children.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. Please see here for more details and how to help.

Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Public Protection Partnership‘s advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities for anyone with a little time to spare.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.


Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

On until end Nov Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, Thatcham Library.

Fri 17 Nov Cost of Living Fair, Old Blue Coat School, Thatcham.

Fri 17 Nov Children in Need Fundraiser, Castle Inn, Cold Ash.

Thur 23 Nov Careers Rights Day Event, Thatcham Rugby Club.

• Sat 25 Nov Local Author Showcase, Newbury Library.

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

Fri 1 Dec Warming Up for Christmas Light Switch On, Thatcham Broadway.

Sat 2 Dec Christmas Market, Thatcham Broadway.

Sat 2 Dec Fundraiser Christmas Market, Thatcham Memorial Hall.

Sun 3 Dec Santa Fun Run, Thatcham Broadway.

Sat 9 Dec Thatcham Youth Roller Disco, Kennet Leisure Centre.

Sat 9 Dec Cold Ash Brass Christmas Concert, St Mary’s Church, Thatcham.

Fri 15 Dec The Mayors Christmas Coffee Morning,  Thatcham Town Council’s Office Chamber.

Thur 21 Dec Cold Ash Brass Christmas Concert, St Mark’s Church, Cold Ash.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Just Play football for anyone 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability. Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

• ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 31 July and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 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 hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 October 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 the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can download 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 Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 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 hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 September 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 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.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon 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: remembrance, cards, suitcases, paper and warriors – plus a cost-of-living event and a look at the imminent closure of the Regency Park Hotel for refugees. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include: fireworks and fundraising coffee morning. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

Thatcham’s Remembrance Parade this Sunday 12 November will start at 10.30am from the Kingsland Centre car park, looping around Thatcham Broadway and up the High Street to the War Memorial, where the service will be held at 11am. After the main wreath laying, members of the public will be invited to lay their own tributes. Between 10.30am and 12noon the A4 will be closed between the Catholic Church and Park Lane and Brownsfield Road. All local residents will have received a hand-delivered letter at their home address with details of how the road closures affect them. Thatcham Town Council asks that no vehicles are parked in the War Memorial car park (Brownsfield Rd) after 8am on Sunday 12 November. Any vehicles remaining after this time, the police will contact the registered owner and if necessary, have the vehicle removed. Visit the Town Council’s facebook page for further details.

West Berkshire Action for Refugees are urgently appealing for donations of wheeled suitcases, following the recent news that the asylum seekers, currently staying at the Thatcham Regency Park Hotel, are to be moved out by Tuesday 12 December. At present, many of the asylum seekers do not know exactly when or where they will be moved to and the suitcases are for those potentially leaving the hotel at short notice. Suitcases can be dropped off at Thatcham Town Council’s offices on Brownfield Road or at Thatcham Refillable (click here for the list of when and where they will be).

• Calling local artists…please enter The Mayor of Thatcham’s Christmas Card competition so please send your entries in by 30 November. Any age can enter and there are two categories – hand drawn and digital/photograph design.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.
Eco Friends West Berkshire are looking for donations of old Christmas paper, brown delivery paper, twine, string, reusable gift bags, paper, maps, paper tape, amazon (or other) parcel boxes, or material that could be used to wrap parcels or make into ribbons. They plan to use the materials as part of a plastic free gift wrapping service at the Hampstead Norreys Candlelit Market on Saturday 18 November, to help promote a ‘plastic free Thatcham and Newbury’ initiative. Click here to find out where to drop of donation and learn more.

• Friends of Whiteland’s Park are looking for prize donations for their Christmas Fayre raffle, on Thursday 7 December. The money raised from the fair will be going towards improving the school library. If you have an items such as a bottle of wine, or you run a business which could provide a service as a prize, etc, then get in touch at fow@whitelandsparkprimary.co.uk.

West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.

• 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.

• Cost of living

There are a number of ways of measuring inflation, the differences between them being known only to economists. Most agree, however, that the rate of inflation, having been between 0% and about 2.5% from 2013 to late 2021, then shot up, reaching a peak of over 11% a year later. Although it’s since declined, prices are still rising more than twice as fast as they were a decade ago.

Winter, of course, provides its own particular problems in the shape of heating bills. These get particularly high if one lives in a poorly insulated home, a description which probably applies to the majority of Britain’s housing stock. The cost-of-living crisis may no longer claim front-page status but it has not gone away.

Laura Farris MP is hosting a Cost of Living Fair in partnership with the local Department for Work and Pensions and Citizens Advice West Berkshire. This will be held at Thatcham’s Old Bluecoat School on Friday 17 November between 10am and noon.

There will be a wide variety of public bodies, businesses and charities to give information on the support available, including advice on grants and direct support, debt management and help with housing and utility costs. If you would like to attend, please sign up here.

• Move along, please

The government has recently announced that a number of temporary refugee centres are to close. One of these is the Regency Park Hotel in Thatcham which will cease to accept asylum seekers on 12 December. A government statement said that “suitable alternative accommodation” would be found for them. Where and when are, as Karen Reeve of West Berkshire Action for Refugees pointed out, rather more difficult questions to answer and ones that she’s being asked every day by the anxious residents.

On 9 November, MP Laura Farris published an article on her website. One of the reasons this can now happen, she points out, is that there has been “a rapid increase in the Home Office’s processing times.” If so, then this must have dramatically have improved since I covered this very matter on 12 October. The delays were just one part of the problem: there was also the mixed messaging, the late or non-arrival of letters and the staggering amount of errors in the documentation. Has all that been resolved? I understand that in Thatcham there are 40 people who have been waiting for a decision since before June 2022 and 60 more who have been waiting for not quite as long. That doesn’t seem to be a “rapid increase” in processing.

Farris also adds that “the Home Office has been able to access better-value accommodation so that commercial hotels can be phased out.” Certainly the £8m a day price tag is pretty steep. The Regency Park Hotel was first used in January 2022, nearly two years ago. That’s a long time to wait for better-value accommodation to turn up. If the Home Office decided to open up a property-letting arm I don’t think I’ll be using it.

She also, rightly, says, or at least implies, that West Berkshire has a housing policy into which these people, when eventually released from this holding pen, must take their place. I’ve not heard any suggestion that there’s been any queue-jumping.

Her concluding paragraph I find rather confusing. “Local authorities must have the capacity to provide housing, education and other support services for refugees,” she writes. “Surely no one would suggest we reduce the numbers we accommodate lawfully under humanitarian schemes to accommodate those arriving via people smugglers by boat.” I’m not at all clear what point is being made here.

I asked the above-mentioned Karen Reeve, who has been at the sharp end of all these problems since the refugees started arriving, if she had any comment.

“I’m angry with Laura Farris’ continued politicising and attempts to reframe this matter,” she told me. “She calls hotels ‘temporary measures’. If she thinks being stuck in a hotel for 19-plus months is “temporary” she’s on another planet.” Se added, in reference the last paragraph of Laura Farris’ statement, that “most of the asylum seekers arrived by plane, not boat.”

“The issue is entirely of her government’s making,” she continued. “Had it processed cases as it should they wouldn’t have had this issue at all and wouldn’t be costing us, the tax payer £8m a day. These are real people we are talking about, left in limbo, perpetual anxiety and powerless at the hands of an inept goverment and incompetent immigration service and now we add insult to injury by uprooting them again.”

Karen Reeve also takes issue with Laura Farris’s statement that “of the 175 beds available, only around 100 are currently occupied.” This is, she retorts, “overclaiming the numbers. There have only ever been around 100 placed at the Regency Park. It was supposed to have gone up to 175 but never did: another waste of money by the Home Office in purchasing single beds, mattresses and bedding.” She adds that she wonders who got the contract for that. Others might be asking the same thing. It’s a drop in the ocean compared to the PPOE procurement fiasco, of course, but it all adds up. Meanwhile, these beds and bedding might be needed as it’s quite possible that the “better-value” accommodation, wherever that proves to be, doesn’t come with things like that.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Follow them on facebook for latest opening times more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• The VIAN environmental group is helping ‘Keep Thatcham Beautiful‘ by continuing to litter pick across the area. The group has been set up by the locally based asylum seekers and is led by Bahman, a primary school teacher from Iran who was forced to flee his country because of the Iranian regime, leaving behind his wife and children.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. Please see here for more details and how to help.

Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Public Protection Partnership‘s advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities for anyone with a little time to spare.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.


Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

On until end Nov Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, Thatcham Library.

Sat 11 Nov Thatcham Youth Roller Disco, Kennet Leisure Centre.

Sun 12 Nov Remembrance Sunday Parade, Thatcham.

Fri 17 Nov Cost of Living Fair, Old Blue Coat School, Thatcham.

Thurs 23 Nov Careers Rights Day Event, Thatcham Rugby Club.

Fri 1 Dec Warming Up for Christmas Light Switch On, Thatcham Broadway.

Sat 2 Dec Christmas Market, Thatcham Broadway.

Sat 9 Dec Thatcham Youth Roller Disco, Kennet Leisure Centre.

Fri 15 Dec The Mayors Christmas Coffee Morning,  Thatcham Town Council’s Office Chamber.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Just Play football for anyone 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability. Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

• ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 31 July and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a councillor co-option; the Clerk’s report; dog bins; repairs and maintenance; planning matters; financial matters; NDP update; St Mark’s School crossing point; the Tennis Club; and the Christmas tree.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: potholes; Washing solar farm; D-Day events; the sale of land in Brimpton Common between Brimpton Lane and Blacknest Lane; the Almshouses Trust Charity Committee; the Berkshire Local Nature Recovery Strategy Webinar; planning matters; financial matters; and reports from the Clerk and the Chair.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: policing; affordable homes; financial matters; planning matters; the Village Hall; Neighbourhood Watch; rights of way; and a 5G mast.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 September 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 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 hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 August 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 the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 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.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon 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: donations, GP access, transport, artisans and pumpkins – plus a reminder about a survey regarding a possible bridge over the railway line to replace the level crossing and a flood and sewage alert. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include: fireworks and fundraising coffee morning. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• Does your wardrobe need de-cluttering? The Friends of Whitelands Park Primary School in Thatcham is requesting donations of clothing, shoes and accessories. Please bag them up and drop into the Whitelands Park Primary School reception by Wedneday 8 November. Click here for more information.

West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.

• If you are registered to Thatcham Medical practice, Burdwood or Falkland Surgeries there is an opportunity to have your say on how you access services at your GP Practice and the new ways of working that has been happening in the practices. Healthwatch West Berks invites you to a GP Access Focus Group 10 – 11:30am on Tuesday  7 Novembe rat Thatcham Rugby Club, Henwick Worthy Sportsground.
• 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.

• 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.

Are you worried about the transportation needs of older family members in Thatcham or Newbury ? 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.

• As mentioned previously, work is set to start on a refurbishment project at Thatcham Library next week and the plan is to re-open to the public on Monday 6 November. The return dates on any books due back that week will be automatically extended. For more information click here.

• Do you work with a local charity or non-profit? Thatcham Town Council are now accepting applications for charity and fundraising stallholders at the Warming Up For Christmas Lights Switch On on Friday 1 December. Click here and fill out the online form to express your interest and they will be in touch.

• Local artisan or vendor are also invited to book a stall at the Christmas Market at Thatcham Broadway on Saturday 2 December. Contact enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk for a booking form.

• 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

• Have your say on the crossing

We mentioned last week about Laura Farris MP’s survey about a possible bridge over the railway line at Thatcham to replace the wretched level crossing. A recent e-newsletter from here refers to this:

“I know that this situation has become intolerable for many residents of Thatcham and is something I have raised repeatedly in the House and with the Transport Secretary Mark Harper. When I spoke to Network Rail earlier in October, they agreed that of the approximately 500 barrier crossings they operate in the South East it has some of the longest waiting times overall.

The next step will be developing a business plan with the relevant stakeholders including Network Rail and West Berkshire Council and submitting this to the Department for Transport together with – what I hope they will agree – is a viable funding proposal. To support our business case, I would be very grateful if you could complete this short survey if you are a Thatcham resident and/or use the level crossing. Residents’ views will form a crucial part of establishing local need for a bridge.  You can complete the survey here.”

• Water, water

There have been a number of reports of flooding and floating sewage in and around Thatcham. Local residents will need no reminding of what damage this can cause. 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 around the Community Hospital. On local resident (writing about Newbury) commented online that the problem isn’t helped by all the house building.

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

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Follow them on facebook for latest opening times more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• The VIAN environmental group is helping ‘Keep Thatcham Beautiful‘ by continuing to litter pick across the area. The group has been set up by the locally based asylum seekers and is led by Bahman, a primary school teacher from Iran who was forced to flee his country because of the Iranian regime, leaving behind his wife and children.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. Please see here for more details and how to help.

Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Public Protection Partnership‘s advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities for anyone with a little time to spare.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.


Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

On until end Nov Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, Thatcham Library.

Fri 3 Nov Thatcham Fireworks Display, Kennet School.

Sat 4 Nov Thatcham WI Coffee Morning, Thatcham Memorial Hall.

Sat 11 Nov Thatcham Youth Roller Disco, Kennet Leisure Centre.

Sun 12 Nov Remembrance Sunday Parade, Thatcham

Fri 17 Nov Cost of Living Fair, Old Blue Coat School, Thatcham.

Fri 1 Dec Warming Up for Christmas Light Switch On, Thatcham Broadway.

Sat 2 Dec Christmas Market, Thatcham Broadway.

Sat 9 Dec Thatcham Youth Roller Disco, Kennet Leisure Centre.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Just Play football for anyone 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability. Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

• ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 31 July and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 October and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a councillor co-option; the Clerk’s report; dog bins; repairs and maintenance; planning matters; financial matters; NDP update; St Mark’s School crossing point; the Tennis Club; and the Christmas tree.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: potholes; Washing solar farm; D-Day events; the sale of land in Brimpton Common between Brimpton Lane and Blacknest Lane; the Almshouses Trust Charity Committee; the Berkshire Local Nature Recovery Strategy Webinar; planning matters; financial matters; and reports from the Clerk and the Chair.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here. items covered included: policing; affordable homes; financial matters; planning matters; the Village Hall; Neighbourhood Watch; rights of way; and a 5G mast.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 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 hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 August 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 the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 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 Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 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 and minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon 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: a closure, a hidden gem, retro gaming, a winning apprentice and the postal service – plus a look at the latest work on Thatcham’s flood defences and a survey from our MP about a possible bridge over the railway line to replace the level crossing. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include: fireworks and fundraising coffee morning. 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…

Thatcham High Street will be closed on Monday 30 October from 9.30am to 3.30pm, between the junction of Church Lane and The Broadway. The closure extent will reduce as work progresses. This closure is to carry out drainage investigation on behalf of West Berkshire Council. Click here for more information.

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.

• Congratulations to Warren Page, Apprentice Manager at Thatcham-based Xtrac Ltd, who was ‘Highly Commended’ at the recent South East Regional Apprenticeship Awards 2023. Warren was nominated by long-term apprenticeship partners Newbury College and University Centre Newbury. Xtrac is the global leading supplier of high performance transmissions for top level professional motorsport and high performance vehicles and together with Newbury College, Warren works hard to address the nation’s skills shortages in the sector, regularly promoting apprenticeships at both local and national levels. Read more here.

•  Thatcham WI always welcomes new members to their monthly meetings and book, film, walking, craft and coffee group and their gardening group that maintains the courtyard gardens at West Berkshire Hospital. They also enjoy day trips and theatre outings. All welcome at their fundraising Coffee Morning on Saturday 4 November at Thatcham Memorial Hall. As well as coffee and cakes, there will be stalls for children’s toys, jewellery, Christmas decorations, hand made crafts, scarfs, bags, sweets and more. For more details click 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.

Are you worried about the transportation needs of older family members in Thatcham or Newbury ? 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.

• As mentioned previously, work is set to start on a refurbishment project at Thatcham Library next week and the plan is to re-open to the public on Monday 6 November. The return dates on any books due back that week will be automatically extended. For more information click here.

• Do you work with a local charity or non-profit? Thatcham Town Council are now accepting applications for charity and fundraising stallholders at the Warming Up For Christmas Lights Switch On on Friday 1 December. Click here and fill out the online form to express your interest and they will be in touch.

• Local artisan or vendor are also invited to book a stall at the Christmas Market at Thatcham Broadway on Saturday 2 December. Contact enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk for a booking form.

See here for an article on Newbury Today about a recent retro gaming exhibition in Thatcham.

• Whisper it quietly, but it seems that there might have been some improvements of the postal delivery service in the town: that’s to say, letters seem to be turning up more often than about once a week. Is this your experience?

• Thatcham’s defences

West Berkshire Council has reported that construction work is “progressing well” at three flood alleviation schemes in Thatcham (at Bowling Green Road, Heath Lane and East Thatcham). Once completed, this £3.5million project will help protect another 107 properties from the impact of surface water flooding in Thatcham.

WBC held a public consultation and exhibition earlier this year on protecting properties around the Memorial Fields in Thatcham from flooding. A statement from the Council says that “We are now in the process of submitting a planning application for a 0.85-hectare flood detention basin and a 120m long swale. Subject to the necessary approvals being granted, construction work is programmed for 2024.”

at West Berkshire Council, “This is very positive news for the town of Thatcham,” Denise Gaines, Executive Member for Highways, Housing and Sustainable Travel said. “This clearly demonstrates the Liberal Democrats continuing support and investment in measures to help prevent the devastating impact of flooding and combat the challenges caused by climate change and an increase in extreme weather events.” The key word here is “continuing”: the project was started under the previous administration is is being maintained under this one. So, hats off all round, I’d say.

• Thatcham’s crossing

Local MP Laura Farris has recently made several pronouncements in favour or a bridge rather than a level crossing in Thatcham. No that the subject is not as off-limits as it seemed to have been before May – the then administration did not seem minded to investigate a plan to build one as part of a new development at Colthrop as they wanted to concentrate exclusively on the NE Thatcham scheme – there’s no less danger that she could be accused of cutting across the planning policy of a local council. I agree with her that this is worth looking into and I think she’s right to judge support for the scheme, just as David Johnson has more than once done with regard to re-opening the station at Wantage Road in Grove. A cynic might say that this is part of a pre-election campaign. However, this is just what an MP should be doing, I think.

We’re thus very happy to publicise her recent survey: click here to take part. My one criticism of it from what I’ve seen from a quick glance is that I can’t see by when you need to have done it (so, do it asap, I guess). It doesn’t look as if it’ll take more than five minutes to complete: considerably less time, in other words, than many people spend queuing at the level crossing…

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Follow them on facebook for latest opening times more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• The VIAN environmental group is helping ‘Keep Thatcham Beautiful‘ by continuing to litter pick across the area. The group has been set up by the locally based asylum seekers and is led by Bahman, a primary school teacher from Iran who was forced to flee his country because of the Iranian regime, leaving behind his wife and children.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. Please see here for more details and how to help.

Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Public Protection Partnership‘s advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities for anyone with a little time to spare.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.


Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

On until end Nov Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, Thatcham Library.

Fri 3 Nov Thatcham Fireworks Display, Kennet School.

Sat 4 Nov Thatcham WI Coffee Morning, Thatcham Memorial Hall.

Fri 1 Dec Warming Up for Christmas Light Switch On, Thatcham Broadway.

Sat 2 Dec Christmas Market, Thatcham Broadway.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Just Play football for anyone 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability. Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

• ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 31 July and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: potholes; Washing solar farm; D-Day events; the sale of land in Brimpton Common between Brimpton Lane and Blacknest Lane; the Almshouses Trust Charity Committee; the Berkshire Local Nature Recovery Strategy Webinar; planning matters; financial matters; and reports from the Clerk and the Chair.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here. items covered included: policing; affordable homes; financial matters; planning matters; the Village Hall; Neighbourhood Watch; rights of way; and a 5G mast.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: an NDP update (see also separate section above, A delay at the final hurdle); financial matters; matters arising; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; dog bins; the Tennis Club; and questions from Councillors.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 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 hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 August 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 the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 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 Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 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 and minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon 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: library work, donations, lights, post and market stands – plus some welcome news from two of Thatcham’s pharmacies. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include: fireworks and fundraising coffee morning. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

• As we mentionned last week, work is set to start on a refurbishment project at Thatcham Library at the end of this month. The £45,000 project, fully funded by West Berkshire Council, will see the installation of an accessible toilet, and the canopy above the current doorway removed to create a more modern and visible entrance.  These building improvements will make the library, and the many events they run there, easier for all to access and enjoy.  The library will be closed for one week from 30 October to 4 November while the majority of the work is completed and will reopen to the public on Monday 6 November. The return dates on any books due back that week will be automatically extended. For more information click here.

Thatcham Tornados invite football kit donations to help protect the environment and also try and help parents save money as well. If you have any ‘preloved’ items such as black base-layers, shin pads, goal keeper cloves and football boots/astros you don’t need any more, the club would be able to make great use of them. Donations can be dropped at their Teamwear stall at the Infants Schools Football Festival, or contact Josie via preloved@thatchamtornadoes.com.

• 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.

• Do you work with a local charity or non-profit? Thatcham Town Council are now accepting applications for charity and fundraising stallholders at the Warming Up For Christmas Lights Switch On on Friday 1 December. Click here and fill out the online form to express your interest and they will be in touch.

• Local artisan or vendor are also invited to book a stall at the Christmas Market at Thatcham Broadway on Saturday 2 December. Contact enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk for a booking form.

See here for an article on Newbury Today about a recent retro gaming exhibition in Thatcham.

• Whisper it quietly, but it seems that there might have been some improvements of the postal delivery service in the town: that’s to say, letters seem to be turning up more often than about once a week. Is this your experience?

• A prescription for change

There have been well-publicised problems with the two Lloyds pharmacies in Thatcham this year, including staff shortages and the inevitable knock-on effect this had on opening hours, service standards and stock levels. Lloyds eventually decided that it had had enough and have pulled out. Fortunately, one of its two outlets has been sold and the other is in the process of being so, both to independent owners.

The Crown Mead Pharmacy (now known as Halo) has since 18 September been owned by Philip Obomighe, who used to work at the pharmacy some years ago and has recently been plying his trade elsewhere. I rang the store on 19 October and the call was answered promptly by a friendly and helpful person – always a good sign. Philip told me that he was pleased by the way things had gone in the first month. This favourable impression was re-inforced by another chat with a local resident who has long been pressing for improvements to the local pharmacy service and who has transferred his custom to that pharmacy.

It appears that progress with the transfer of the Burdwood centre pharmacy to its new owners has been progressing less rapidly. I understand that the shelves are now completely bare and the operation has been scaled back to a pharmacy-only service. It seems odd that a company that wants to sell in these circumstances doesn’t wish to do so quickly. For the new owners, the longer this interregnum continues for, the more work there’ll be in re-building the shop’s reputation. Hopefully, this will all be completed before too long. Once this happens, two of the town’s three pharmacies will be independently and locally run.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Follow them on facebook for latest opening times more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• The VIAN environmental group is helping ‘Keep Thatcham Beautiful‘ by continuing to litter pick across the area. The group has been set up by the locally based asylum seekers and is led by Bahman, a primary school teacher from Iran who was forced to flee his country because of the Iranian regime, leaving behind his wife and children.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. Please see here for more details and how to help.

Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Public Protection Partnership‘s advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities for anyone with a little time to spare.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.


Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

On until end Nov Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, Thatcham Library.

Fri 3 Nov Thatcham Fireworks Display, Kennet School.

Sat 4 Nov Thatcham WI Coffee Morning, Thatcham Memorial Hall.

Fri 1 Dec Warming Up for Christmas Light Switch On, Thatcham Broadway.

Sat 2 Dec Christmas Market, Thatcham Broadway.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Just Play football for anyone 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability. Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

• ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 31 July and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: potholes; Washing solar farm; D-Day events; the sale of land in Brimpton Common between Brimpton Lane and Blacknest Lane; the Almshouses Trust Charity Committee; the Berkshire Local Nature Recovery Strategy Webinar; planning matters; financial matters; and reports from the Clerk and the Chair.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here. items covered included: policing; affordable homes; financial matters; planning matters; the Village Hall; Neighbourhood Watch; rights of way; and a 5G mast.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: an NDP update (see also separate section above, A delay at the final hurdle); financial matters; matters arising; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; dog bins; the Tennis Club; and questions from Councillors.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 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 hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 August 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 the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 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 Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 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 and minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon 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: the last days of the Festival, a pride brunch, a switch-on and an open evening – plus rebuilding work starts at Newbury Library (with, hopefully, more to follow), a look at the recent local debate about refugees and estate stewardship in Bucklebury. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include: Thatcham Festival, Pride Brunch and the Thatcham Comedy Club and more. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

This week’s news

Thatcham Festival still has plenty to offer before it closes this Sunday 15 October including an Apple Day and Star Gazing at the Nature Discovery Centre, Leisure & Craft Fair, Tales for Halloween and the Cold Ash Brass Band Festival Finale Concert . Click here to see the full roster of events. Pick up a festival brochure in town or click here to browse it online.

• As part of the festival, Thatcham Council have teamed up with Newbury Pride for their first ever Pride Brunch, which will take place at the ‘Gardeners Retreat’ at Thatcham Garden Centre on Sunday 15 October at 11am. Newcomers are very welcome and will be introduced to the friendly group. The event is free and no booking required, you only need to pay for what you order from the menu.

• 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.

• Do you work with a local charity or non-profit? Thatcham Town Council are now accepting applications for charity and fundraising stallholders at the Warming Up For Christmas Lights Switch On on Friday 1 December. Click here and fill out the online form to express your interest and they will be in touch.

• Quick reminder about 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.

• Thatcham’s Library

WBC has announced that work is set to start on a refurbishment project at Thatcham Library at the end of October as part of a £45,000 project. This will see the installation of an accessible toilet, and the canopy above the current doorway removed to create a more modern and visible entrance.   The library will be closed from 30 October- to 4 November while the majority of the work is completed and will reopen to the public on Monday 6 November. The return dates on any books due back that week will be automatically extended.

Many would have hoped that the project would be more far-reaching and result in some extra space: like so much of Thatcham’s infrastructure, the size of the library is not adequate given the town’s population. This may yet happen but first a decision needs to be taken about the future of the adjacent Walnut Close Care Home, which has now closed. It’s still possible that the whole site will be redeveloped to include an enlarged library building so it makes sense not to more on the currently building than is necessary. The works that are about to start do little more than (hopefully) solve an anti-social behaviour problem and also make the library’s toilets compliant with current accessibility legislation.

Local residents hoping for a quick decision on the future of the whole site would be advised not to hold their breath. The district does not have a good track record at re-developing former care homes named after trees. Chestnut Walk Care Home in Hungerford was closed in 2016 and, although it was always fairly clear what was going to happen there (social-rent homes), in late 2023 nothing has so far been built.

• 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.

• Bucklebury’s stewardship

The relationship between large estate and local communities can be tricky. Landowners can sometimes be seen as anachronistic, remote and disengaged while residents can all too easily be cast as littering trespassers with out-of-control dogs. There is now a higher level of environmental awareness than previously and differing ideas might exist about how land should be managed and when trees should be felled. Rights of way can, if closed or obstructed, become local flashpoints, as can matters of unauthorised access. This can be further complicated if there are time-honoured commoners’ rights involved whereby some residents are able to carry out certain activities such grazing sheep (if they have any) or collecting firewood which can sometimes lead to confusions and disputes.Perhaps all this is because the relationship has a long, complex and ambivalent history, partly antagonistic and partly mutually supportive. It could also be because of poor communication.

I have no idea if any such problems exist in Bucklebury: I just offer these as some very general observations. However, I know there is an estate and that there are residents who have commoners’ rights. I also know that the local estate decided that it needed to explain some of its recent work because a representative attended the meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council on 9 October.

More information on what was discussed can be found on this page on Bucklebury Parish Council’s website. It appears that The Bucklebury Estate is working with Natural England (the government advisory body for nature conservation) to set up a ‘Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship’ scheme on Bucklebury Common. “This is,” the statement explains, “a complex process but, if successful, it will provide much-needed funding to help look after the common and restore some of the lost habitats and species.

“Following consultation with local people, some of the proposals have changed from the original vision. We are being more ambitious with our plans for heathland restoration – this is the rarest habitat at Bucklebury which is home to the rarest wildlife, so we want to restore even more of it. Our plans to restore wood pasture include looking after the veteran trees and creating more species-rich clearings in the densest areas of woodland, as well as introducing a small number of cattle to parts of the common.”

A number of local landowners are seeking, for want of a better phrase, to re-invent themselves as environmental custodians. Many would claim with justification that that’s what they’ve always been doing but it was just that no one noticed or was much interested. grants are available and government policy is actively supporting this. This section on the Wildlife and Countryside Link website  refers to the government’s pledge “to protect at least 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030 – the ‘30 x 30’ target. This important commitment has the potential to turn the tide on nature’s decline.” The House of Lords published a report on this matter in July 2023: here it described it as ‘an extraordinary challenge”, although it’s not clear if “extraordinary” was being used as in “remarkable”, “unprecedented” or “unlikely”. The last meaning is supported by the recent annual meeting of the North Wessex Downs AONB which was told that this target needs a good deal of work if it’s to be met. The Bucklebury Estate would appear to be doing its bit, however. The publicity and engagement this generates will also surely to be the benefit of the whole community in Bucklebury: another good thing.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week) that also reduces food waste. There are refreshments and friendly conversation, recipe sharing, craft activities, seated exercise and signposting for any further help needed. Follow them on facebook for latest opening times more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• The VIAN environmental group is helping ‘Keep Thatcham Beautiful‘ by continuing to litter pick across the area. The group has been set up by the locally based asylum seekers and is led by Bahman, a primary school teacher from Iran who was forced to flee his country because of the Iranian regime, leaving behind his wife and children.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. Please see here for more details and how to help.

• Quick reminder from Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Public Protection Partnership’s advice about scams and how to protect yourself and what to do if you get caught. There is no shame if you do get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities for anyone with a little time to spare.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.


Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

On until Sat 15 Oct Thatcham Festival, various events around Thatcham.
On until end Nov Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, Thatcham Library.

Fri 13 Oct Thatcham Comedy Club, Thatcham Bowling Club, Bath Road.

Sat 15 Oct Newbury Pride Brunch, Thatcham Garden Centre.

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

Fri 3 Nov Thatcham Fireworks Display, Kennet School.

Sat 4 Nov Woman’s Institute Coffee Morning Fundraiser, Thatcham Memorial Hall.

Fri 1 Dec Warming Up for Christmas Light Switch On, Thatcham Broadway.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Just Play football for anyone 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability. Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

• ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 31 July and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 3 October and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: potholes; Washing solar farm; D-Day events; the sale of land in Brimpton Common between Brimpton Lane and Blacknest Lane; the Almshouses Trust Charity Committee; the Berkshire Local Nature Recovery Strategy Webinar; planning matters; financial matters; and reports from the Clerk and the Chair.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: an NDP update (see also separate section above, A delay at the final hurdle); financial matters; matters arising; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; dog bins; the Tennis Club; and questions from Councillors.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 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 hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 August 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 the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 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 Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 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 and minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon area.

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

Thursday 5 October 2023

This week we cover rebels, a fest-off, lights, skills and newsletters – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for the return of the town-centre strategy meetings, a hold-up in Cold Ash and a local charity appeal.

This week’s news

• Upcoming events in the Thatcham area include: Thatcham Festival, Charity Barn Dance, Comedy Club and Charity Ball. See events section below.

• Kicking off Thatcham Festival this Saturday 7 October will be the Big Thatcham Fest-Off High Street party from 4.30pm to 9pm with live music (including up and coming teen band Beyond the Sons), street food, gifts and stalls and much more. Thatcham High Street will be closed from 2pm until 11pm and buses and through traffic looking to join the A4 towards Newbury or to cross the A4 into Park Lane will be able to do so via the junction with The Broadway instead. Access will be maintained for residents, businesses and emergency services. See road closure map here.

Thatcham Festival continues until next Sunday 15 October. Other activities on during the week include a James Bond evening, Birds of Berkshire Walk & Talk, Saturn and Jupiter Observation evening, an art exhibition, a concert, a blue plaque unveiling and so much more. Click here to see the full roster of festive events. Pick up a festival brochure in town or click here to browse it online.

• A new monthly support group for those facing or who have started retirement Retirement Rebels this Monday 9 October. Meet like-minded people, ask questions and find your own answers, gaining clarity and focus along with your peers who may be feeling just like you. See all details here.

• Thatcham Library will be holding a pop up exhibition ‘Focus on Thatcham’, which will feature evidence of the town’s prehistoric roots, as well as fragments from Roman Thatcham. The exhibit opens this Friday 6 October and will run until Sunday 26 November. Click here for details.

• Do you work with a local charity or non-profit? Thatcham Town Council are now accepting applications for charity and fundraising stallholders at the Warming Up For Christmas Lights Switch On on Friday 1 December. Click here and fill out the online form to express your interest and they will be in touch.

The Thatcham Thrives Dance Gala returns this year with a spectacular showcase of regional dance talent. With performances in a diverse range of styles, from ballet to bharatanatyam, modern to musical theatre, audiences are guaranteed a wonderful evening of entertainment from more than 16 local dance groups. That’s on Sunday 8 October at the Kennet School Auditorium. Click here to book a ticket.

The next CAP Life Skills course in Thatcham starts on Tuesday 10 October 11am-1pm at The Well, Green Lane, Thatcham, RG19 3RG.  CAP Life Skills is a friendly group that will give you the confidence and decision-making skills needed to live on a low income. You’ll learn practical money saving techniques, such as cooking on a budget and making money go further.Register with samanthachapman@caplifeskills.org

• 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 latest news from Thatcham Community Larder at the Frank Hutchins Hall, visit their facebook page for what they have to offer.

• 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.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. The Bureau currently has vacancies for volunteer drivers and a volunteer office assistant to help out on Thursday mornings. Please see here for more details and how to apply.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which starts with a muntjac and ends with lots of books. Anyone who lives in or has any interest in Cold Ash is recommended to subscribe: contact bulletin@cacp.org.uk to do this or if you have anything you’d like to contribute.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

Thatcham’s town-centre strategy

As described in this separate post, in 2022 West Berkshire Council commissioned the first part of a town-centre strategy (AKA place-making strategy) for Thatcham. These provide the opportunity for town and district councils and other local organisations such as the Town and Manor and local businesses to come together and, under a formalised structure, develop plans for how the towns can be improved. Conducting the exercise in this way also provides clear evidence of community involvement which not only ensures that the proposals are not just whimsical aspirations but also makes grant funding more likely to be secured.

The first phase was completed in March 2023 but there was then a pause while the election took place and, resulting from this, the new administration got its feet under the table. That now having happened, a preliminary online meeting took place on 27 September, chaired by Owen Jeffery in his capacity as Thatcham Town Councillor.

Martin Colston, the portfolio holder responsible for the initiative, has told Penny Post that “we are now planning a follow-up in-person evening event in Thatcham to allow business owners to attend. The purpose will be to prioritise the top two or three of the nine projects in the Thatcham Town Centre Strategy (p42 if you’re looking at the thumbnails or pp82-3 if you’re following the numbers at the top of each page) WBC will then progress one or more of the selected projects such that we are in a position to bid for grants to deliver them.”

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.

A delay at the final hurdle

Producing a neighbourhood development plan takes years of work and when the time comes to hand over the final document for external examination one might feel that the hard work was done. Not in Cold Ash’s case. The section below is taken from the minutes of the Parish Council meeting on 12 September:

“IM gave a detailed update regarding the submission of Regulation 16 to WBC. There were still concerns over selecting an examiner which was holding up progress. Once an examiner is chosen the Parish Council has the right to approve the appointment. HC later confirmed this was being chased within WBC. BC suggested emailing Councillor Tony Vickers directly to explain why progress was taking so long. The Parish Council agreed to send IM’s drafted response to WBC. PM agreed to set up a forum to share information with other Parish Councils undertaking an NDP.”

The last point is probably a good idea to help manage expectations. The other might be to remind people, once the NDP finally gets “made” as the phrase goes, is that you can take a bit of time off but, before you know it, it’s time to start working on the refresh…

Community notices

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week) that also reduces food waste. There are refreshments and friendly conversation, recipe sharing, craft activities, seated exercise and signposting for any further help needed. Follow them on facebook for latest opening times more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• The VIAN environmental group is helping ‘Keep Thatcham Beautiful‘ by continuing to litter pick across the area. The group has been set up by the locally based asylum seekers and is led by Bahman, a primary school teacher from Iran who was forced to flee his country because of the Iranian regime, leaving behind his wife and children.

• Quick reminder from Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Public Protection Partnership’s advice about scams and how to protect yourself and what to do if you get caught. There is no shame if you do get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

Fri 6 Oct – end NovFocus on Thatcham Exhibition, Thatcham Library

Fri 6 Oct Thatcham Thrives Dance Gala, the Kennet School Auditorium, Thatcham.

 Sat 7 Oct Swings & Smiles Charity Ball, the Hennessy Suite, Newbury Racecourse.

Sat 7 Oct The Big Thatcham Fest-off, Thatcham High Street.

Sat 13 Oct Thatcham Comedy Club, Thatcham Bowling Club, Bath Road.

Fri 1 Dec Warming Up for Christmas Light Switch On, Thatcham Broadway.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Just Play football for anyone 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability. Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

• ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 31 July and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: an NDP update (see also separate section above, A delay at the final hurdle); financial matters; matters arising; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; dog bins; the Tennis Club; and questions from Councillors.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; a review of traffic and noise issues at the Medicine Festival; the D-Day anniversary in 2024; speeding; planning matters; financial matters; and a report from the ward member.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 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 hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 August 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 the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 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 Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 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 and minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon area.

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

Thursday 21 September 2023

This week we cover coffee, dance, stallholders, food caddies and retirement – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for the latest on the Thatcham Festival and an appeal from the award-winning 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 the Thatcham area include: Charity Barn Dance, Sustainability Fair, Comedy Club, Charity Ball and the Thatcham Festival. See events section below.

• The Thatcham United Reform Church have two upcoming Macmillan Coffee Morning fundraisers. The first this weekend on Sunday 24 September from 11:30am and then one next week on Tuesday 26 September from 10am. Click here for details.

• Do you work with a local charity or non-profit? Thatcham Town Council are now accepting applications for charity and fundraising stallholders at the Warming Up For Christmas Lights Switch On on Friday 1 December. Click here and fill out the online form to express your interest and they will be in touch.

The Thatcham Thrives Dance Gala returns this year with a spectacular showcase of regional dance talent. With performances in a diverse range of styles, from ballet to bharatanatyam, modern to musical theatre, audiences are guaranteed a wonderful evening of entertainment from more than 16 local dance groups. That’s on Sunday 8 October at the Kennet School Auditorium. Click here to book a ticket.

• This weekend there will be a soil conditioner give-away event at the Padworth Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF), on Padworth Lane. To collect your free soil conditioner, come along on Saturday 23 or Sunday 24 September between 10am and 4pm, with ID that proves you are a resident of West Berkshire, as well as your own bags/boxes to put the conditioner into. For more information click here.

• 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.

The next CAP Life Skills course in Thatcham starts on Tuesday 10 October 11am-1pm at The Well, Green Lane, Thatcham, RG19 3RG.  CAP Life Skills is a friendly group that will give you the confidence and decision-making skills needed to live on a low income. You’ll learn practical money saving techniques, such as cooking on a budget and making money go further.Register with samanthachapman@caplifeskills.org

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.

• If you are facing or have started retirement and would appreciate a little support, there is a new Retirement Rebels group were you can meet like-minded people, ask questions and find your own answers, gaining clarity and focus along with your peers who may be feeling just like you. The group will meet on the second Monday of the month in the Thatcham area. See all 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

• For the latest news from Thatcham Community Larder at the Frank Hutchins Hall, visit their facebook page for what they have to offer.

• 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.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. The Bureau currently has vacancies for volunteer drivers and a volunteer office assistant to help out on Thursday mornings. Please see here for more details and how to apply.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which starts with a harvest and ends with Jane Austen. Anyone who lives in or has any interest in Cold Ash is recommended to subscribe: contact bulletin@cacp.org.uk to do this or if you have anything you’d like to contribute.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

Thatcham Festival

Thatcham Town Council’s annual Thatcham Festival is just around the corner, starting Friday 6 October and continuing until Sunday 15 October.

Comedy, theatre, dance, history, author talks, walks, nature, exhibitions and music: whatever your interest, Thatcham Festival has it covered. Thatcham has a unique heritage, amazing countryside, and a strong community arts scene, which will all be showcased by an extensive and diverse range of activities at locations throughout the town. There will be an events every single day, kicking off with the grand opening event at Thatcham Broadway with live music and stalls and more.

Pick up a festival brochure in town or click here to browse it online.

Educafé needs your help

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

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week) that also reduces food waste. There are refreshments and friendly conversation, recipe sharing, craft activities, seated exercise and signposting for any further help needed. Follow them on facebook for latest opening times more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• The VIAN environmental group is helping ‘Keep Thatcham Beautiful‘ by continuing to litter pick across the area. The group has been set up by the locally based asylum seekers and is led by Bahman, a primary school teacher from Iran who was forced to flee his country because of the Iranian regime, leaving behind his wife and children.

• Quick reminder from Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Public Protection Partnership’s advice about scams and how to protect yourself and what to do if you get caught. There is no shame if you do get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

Fri 6 Oct – end Nov Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, Thatcham Library

 Fri 22 Sept Charity Barn Dance, Thatcham Rugby Club

 Sun 24 Sept Sustainability Fayre, The Living Rainforest, Hampton Norreys.

Sun 24 Sept Macmillan Coffee Morning, Thatcham United Reform Church.

Tues 26 Sept Macmillan Coffee Morning, Thatcham United Reform Church.

Fri 6 Oct Thatcham Thrives Dance Gala, the Kennet School Auditorium, Thatcham.

 Sat 7 Oct Swings & Smiles Charity Ball, the Hennessy Suite, Newbury Racecourse.

Sat 7 Oct The Big Thatcham Fest-off, Thatcham High Street.

Sat 13 Oct Thatcham Comedy Club, Thatcham Bowling Club, Bath Road.

Fri 1 Dec Warming Up for Christmas Light Switch On, Thatcham Broadway.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Just Play football for anyone 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability. Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

• ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 22 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the NDP (see separate section above); reports from the Clerk and the ward members; planning matters; financial matters; dog bins; and the tree report.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 August 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 the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 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 Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 20 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was 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.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon 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 an exhibition, dancing, refills, bowls, an open day and a gala – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for a chance to ask questions of Thames Water and the EA and news on the progress of Cold Ash’s NDP.

This week’s news

• Upcoming events in the Thatcham area include: Charity Barn Dance and Sustainability Fair. See events section below.

• Did you know Thatcham can trace its origins to prehistoric times? Evidence of this, as well as living and working in Roman Thatcham, will form part of a small pop-up exhibition at Thatcham Library with artefacts from the ‘Focus on Thatcham‘ display that recently closed at West Berkshire Museum. The exhibition will be at the library from Friday 6 October until the end of November. Click here for details.

• If you enjoy barn dancing and raising money for charity while having a good time, The Mayor of Thatcham’s Charity Barn Dance is coming up soon on Friday 22 September in aid of his chosen charities, Sport in Mind and PALS (West Berkshire). The Aldbrickham Band caller will guide everyone through the dance steps. There will also be a raffle on the evening with some fantastic prizes. Tickets are £17 each, click here to book.

• Do you work with a local charity or non-profit? Thatcham Town Council are now accepting applications for charity and fundraising stallholders at the Warming Up For Christmas Lights Switch On on Friday 1 December. Click here and fill out the online form to express your interest and they will be in touch.

The Thatcham Thrives Dance Gala returns this year with a spectacular showcase of regional dance talent. With performances in a diverse range of styles, from ballet to bharatanatyam, modern to musical theatre, audiences are guaranteed a wonderful evening of entertainment from more than 16 local dance groups. That’s on Sunday 8 October at the Kennet School Auditorium. Click here to book a ticket.

• 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.

• Jenny and Tom at Thatcham Refillable are celebrating the 5th birthday of their business by offering a Discount on home & body care products for their customers.

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.

• Local therapist Rob Donnelly is launching a new monthly support group called Retirement Rebels for anyone facing retirement or who has started retirement and is perhaps feeling a little lost. Here you can network with like-minded people, ask questions and find your own answers, gaining clarity and focus along with your peers who may be feeling just like you. The group will meet on the second Monday of the month in the Thatcham area. See all 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

• The Castle Inn at Cold Ash are looking for stall holders to feature at their Winter Wonderland event in aid of the Dogs’ Trust on Sunday 10 December. They are looking for small local businesses making Christmas gifts, a photographer and a face painter. If you are interested then please get in touch at landlord@thecastlecoldash.co.uk.

• 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 Groupthat 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.

• For the latest news from Thatcham Community Larder at the Frank Hutchins Hall, visit their facebook page for what they have to offer.

• 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.

• Thatcham Town Council is pleased to announce that tickets for this October’s Thatcham Festival can now be booked online here.

• Do you know anyone who wants to improve their English? Educafe is offering free Community English language courses for eligible learners starting w/c 11 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.

• Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. The Bureau currently has vacancies for volunteer drivers and a volunteer office assistant to help out on Thursday mornings. Please see here for more details and how to apply.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which starts with an itch and ends with nothing being easy. Anyone who lives in or has any interest in Cold Ash is recommended to subscribe: contact bulletin@cacp.org.uk to do this or if you have anything you’d like to contribute.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

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.

Cold Ash’s plan

Cold Ash has recently produced a neighbourhood development plan which is now at the Reg 16 (examination) stage. The following discussion is taken from the meeting of Cold Ash PC on 22 August.

“Councillor McArdle gave an update on the NDP explaining that Regulation 16 was progressing but no feedback had been received from West Berkshire Council, as yet. Councillor McArdle has chased Laila Bassett regarding selection of an examiner, but has received no reply. Councillor Codling advised that she understood the engagement of a company to supply examiners wasn’t going well and only a single examiner has tendered for the work.

“Councillor McArdle expressed the view that he was not surprised at this as West Berkshire Council is taking a novel approach that has no benefit for the examiners nor, as far as he can see, the council. He agreed to contact West Berkshire Council to clarify the position.

“Councillor McArdle and Councillor Codling clarified the position regarding Class C2 planning applications, confirming that they do not provide any special rights over planning rules.

“Councillor Codling advised that whilst District Councillor Tony Vickers is unable to attend a Parish Council meeting, he would happily attend a Cross- West Berkshire NDP meeting. Councillor Murray agreed to contact attendees to identify a suitable date for the meeting.

“Councillor McArdle suggested that the invite should be open to all Parish Councils, as it may help others who may not have started but may be considering developing a plan. This was agreed.”

Community notices

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week) that also reduces food waste. There are refreshments and friendly conversation, recipe sharing, craft activities, seated exercise and signposting for any further help needed. Follow them on facebook for latest opening times more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• The VIAN environmental group is helping ‘Keep Thatcham Beautiful‘ by continuing to litter pick across the area. The group has been set up by the locally based asylum seekers and is led by Bahman, a primary school teacher from Iran who was forced to flee his country because of the Iranian regime, leaving behind his wife and children.

• Quick reminder from Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Public Protection Partnership’s advice about scams and how to protect yourself and what to do if you get caught. There is no shame if you do get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

 Thurs 21 Sept Vintage Adventure Celebration, Thatcham Methodist Church.

 Fri 22 Sept Charity Barn Dance, Thatcham Town Council, location TBD.

 Sun 24 Sept Sustainability Fayre, The Living Rainforest, Hampton Norreys.

Fri 6 Oct Thatcham Thrives Dance Gala, the Kennet School Auditorium, Thatcham.

 Sat 7 Oct Swings & Smiles Charity Ball, the Hennessy Suite, Newbury Racecourse.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Ageing Creatively‘s weekly Chair Exercise classes for over 55s at Thatcham Methodist Church every Wednesday from 22 February to 29 March, and cost £2 per session. Hot drinks will be available afterward. Click here for further details.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Just Play football for anyone 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability. Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

• ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 22 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the NDP (see separate section above); reports from the Clerk and the ward members; planning matters; financial matters; dog bins; and the tree report.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Chair’s report; speeding; a tree for Graham Park; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; EV charge points; recycling; a possible neighbourhood development plan; dog bins; repairs and maintenance; cemetery records; the Playpark; and financial matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; D-Day’s eightieth anniversary; speeding; planning matters; renewable energy projects; reports from the Chair, the Clerk and the ward member; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was 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.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon 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 stalls, ducks, squares, nature discovery, donations and cats – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for our assessment on how well the new WBC administration has done in its first hundred days and the latest on local asylum seekers’ battles with Home Office bureaucracy.

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 the Thatcham area include: Cats Protection Sunday Funday,  ‘The Modern Time Musical Hall’ See events section below.

• Congratulations to Thatcham Rotary for the success of their Duck Race last Sunday. A total of 5,000 ducks were competing in the race and over £3,000 was raised for the local Time to Talk charity that provides counselling for young people between 11 and 25 years.
• Time to Talk is delighted to announce it has 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.

• Last chance to complete West Berkshire Council’s Bus Survey by Sunday 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.

• The Castle Inn at Cold Ash are looking for stall holders to feature at their Winter Wonderland event in aid of the Dogs’ Trust on Sunday 10 December. They are looking for small local businesses making Christmas gifts, a photographer and a face painter. If you are interested then please get in touch at landlord@thecastlecoldash.co.uk.

• Just over a week left to see West Berkshire Museum‘s Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, on display until 17 September 2023. Museum opening times are 10am to 3pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

• 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.

• Nature Discovery Centre is a good sunset spot in this warm weather. Anyone with mobility issues can also borrow, for free, an outdoor mobility scooter (known as a Tramper) from the BBOWT wildlife trust that runs the Centre.

• For the latest news from Thatcham Community Larder at the Frank Hutchins Hall, visit their facebook page for what they have to offer.

• 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.

• 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.

• Thatcham Town Council is pleased to announce that tickets for this October’s Thatcham Festival can now be booked online here.

• 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 starting w/c 11 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.

• The Mayor of Thatcham will be holding a Charity Barn Dance on Friday 22 September to raise money for his chosen charities, Sport in Mind and PALS (West Berkshire). There will be live music from The Aldbrickham Band and their caller will guide everyone through the dance steps. There will also be a raffle on the evening with some fantastic prizes. Tickets are £17 each, click here to book.

• Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. The Bureau currently has vacancies for volunteer drivers and a volunteer office assistant to help out on Thursday mornings. Please see here for more details and how to apply.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which starts with a view and ends with light. Anyone who lives in or has any interest in Cold Ash is recommended to subscribe: contact bulletin@cacp.org.uk to do this or if you have anything you’d like to contribute.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

Asylum news

We mentioned last week about the confused, almost Kafka-esque, situation in which some of the asylum seekers (many of whom are or have been based in Thtacham) now find themselves in as a result of the Home Office bureaucracy not working quite as it should. The problem is triggered whe the “leave to remain” status is granted: what follows is for many a nightmare of contradictory or missing letters, sometimes sent in the wrong order, and documents filled with errors. One of the charities working with these people has said that the confused situation with regard to leave to remain and the document errors that I mentioned last week shows no sign of abating. Local charities, WBC’s housing team and the refugees themselves continue to wrestle with all the uncertainties that this has produced.

I also saw a clip of a video this week made by a man who spends his time going round various hotels and other places where asylum seekers are living (including in Thatcham) and challenging, winding up and generally being pushy and unpleasant to the inmates and the security staff. Whatever floats your boat: but it seems like a sad way to spend your time to me. And, no, of course I’m not going to provide the link.

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.  

Community notices

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week) that also reduces food waste. There are refreshments and friendly conversation, recipe sharing, craft activities, seated exercise and signposting for any further help needed. Follow them on facebook for latest opening times more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• The VIAN environmental group is helping ‘Keep Thatcham Beautiful‘ by continuing to litter pick across the area. The group has been set up by the locally based asylum seekers and is led by Bahman, a primary school teacher from Iran who was forced to flee his country because of the Iranian regime, leaving behind his wife and children.

• Quick reminder from Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Public Protection Partnership’s advice about scams and how to protect yourself and what to do if you get caught. There is no shame if you do get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

• Sun 10 Sept Cats Protection Open Day, Cats Protection Adoption Centre, Curridge.

• Thurs 14 Sept KATS Modern Time Musical Hall Performance, Bucklebury Memorial Hall.

 Thurs 21 Sept Vintage Adventure Celebration, Thatcham Medthodist Church.

 Fri 22 Sept Charity Barn Dance, Thatcham Town Council, location TBD.

 Sun 24 Sept Sustainability Fayre, The Living Rainforest, Hampton Norreys.

 Sat 7 Oct Swings & Smiles Charity Ball, the Hennessy Suite, Newbury Racecourse.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Ageing Creatively‘s weekly Chair Exercise classes for over 55s at Thatcham Methodist Church every Wednesday from 22 February to 29 March, and cost £2 per session. Hot drinks will be available afterward. Click here for further details.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Just Play football for anyone 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability. Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

• ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Chair’s report; speeding; a tree for Graham Park; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; EV charge points; recycling; a possible neighbourhood development plan; dog bins; repairs and maintenance; cemetery records; the Playpark; and financial matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; D-Day’s eightieth anniversary; speeding; planning matters; renewable energy projects; reports from the Chair, the Clerk and the ward member; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: HGVs; a bull in the field; a report from the ward member; the Clerk’s report; financial matters; the village magazine; planning matters; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was 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 Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 May 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 and minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon 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 rangers, ducks, an exhibition, music hall and school uniforms – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for a school streets initiative, a look at some confusing advice for asylum seekers, how Bucklebury manages its SIDs and the possible demise of the nutrient neutrality regulations which affect planning decisions in some parts of this area.

This week’s news

• Quick reminder about West Berkshire Museum‘s Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, on display until 17 September 2023. Museum opening times are 10am to 3pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

• Do you have old blunt tools that need a new lease of life? This Friday 1 September, there will be a visit from Neil the Blade Sharpening Man, outside Hampstead Norreys Community Shop and Café. Your knives and tools will almost look like new.

• The Nature Discovery Centre offers Young and Teen Rangers sessions on Saturday 2 September full of fun games and activities to teach young people all about the fantastic natural world. Click here to book a session, here for ages 8 to 11 years and here for ages 11 to 17.

• 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.

• This weekend sees the return of the The Great Thatcham Duck Race, at The Rowbarge, on Sunday 3 September. Tickets are available on the day or from the Rotary Club’s online shop. The race is supporting the charity Time 2 Talk West Berkshire who provide counselling services for 11 to 24 year olds.

• 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.

KATS Theatrical Society based in Thatcham welcomes all to their production of Modern Time Music Hall Variety Show at Bucklebury Memorial Hall from 14 to 16 September. Book your tickets here.

• 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.

• The free school uniform TUXchange shop in Newbury 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.

• Anyone with experience of local Mental Health Services is invited to a workshop hosted by Volunteer Centre West Berkshire at Thatcham Catholic Hall on Tuesday 12 September. Places are free but need to be pre-booked here.

The Mayor of Thatcham will be holding a Charity Barn Dance on Friday 22 September to raise money for his chosen charities, Sport in Mind and PALS (West Berkshire). There will be live music from The Aldbrickham Band and their caller will guide everyone through the dance steps. There will also be a raffle on the evening with some fantastic prizes. Tickets are £17 each, click here to book.
West Berkshire Action for Refugees continue to see new arrivals with only the clothes they’re stood up in. So they are very grateful for donations of:
  • womens jeans, shirts/tops, trainers & shoes sizes 4,5,6,7.
  • mens small/med T-shirts, joggers, jeans, lightly worn trainers. white/sports socks, hoodies.
  • toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and deodorant).
  • large suitcases, mobile handsets (unlocked only please).
Please drop off to Thatcham Town Council, Brownsfield Rd, RG18 3HF during normal office hours or message them on facebook to arrange a pick up.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. The Bureau currently has vacancies for volunteer drivers and a volunteer office assistant to help out on Thursday mornings. Please see here for more details and how to apply.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which starts with a view and ends with light. Anyone who lives in or has any interest in Cold Ash is recommended to subscribe: contact bulletin@cacp.org.uk to do this or if you have anything you’d like to contribute.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

School streets in Thatcham

West Berkshire Council has announced that the School Street Scheme at Francis Baily School in Thatcham “is on track to commence at the start of the upcoming school term in September. This project is part of a collection of four central government funded projects secured by West Berkshire Council for delivery in 2023-24.”

These schemes involve the temporary closure of roads adjacent to the primary school during drop-off and pick-up times. The aim  is to enhance safety and promote sustainable modes of transportation, such as walking, cycling, and push scooters, as important measures of the school commute experience.

WBC’s statement on the matter also has a conciliatory message, seemingly designed to dispel the accusation that councils make new traffic regulations as confusing as possible in order to raise fines from motorists. “We understand that errors are bound to occur,” the statement concedes. ” Drivers who are unfamiliar with the area or may have overlooked the signage might inadvertently receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). Under our responsibilities related to Part 6 powers, we want to help educate drivers so we have also commissioned an online educational tool focusing on School Streets. Drivers who receive a PCN can choose to participate in this course, resulting in a reduction of the fine for a first-time offence. However, the sensible approach is to proactively familiarise oneself with the School Street Schemes to avoid penalties altogether.”

More information can be found here.

28 days or seven?

Last week, we wrote an article about the problems being faced by asylum seekers, mainly in The Regency Park Hotel in Thatcham. An article in Newbury Today also confirms that the Leave to Remain process does not appear to be operating flawlessly. One of the immediately confusing things about this scheme is its name. The “leave” here means “permission” rather than the more commonly understood “depart”. “Depart to remain” clearly makes no sense. Some asylum seekers and local charities including West Berkshire Action for Refugees feel that other aspects of the system appear equally contradictory.

At least half the applicants have had errors with their documents supplied by the Home Office, something which can cast people into a bureaucratic limbo at the best of times. Another problem is that the Home Office appears to have changed the eviction period from the hotel from 28 days to seven.

A guidance document issued by the Home Office “for external use” might be expected to provide some clarity. Sadly, it doesn’t. It confirms that the government will stop asylum support at the end of a “prescribed period” following the announcement of a decision on their claim.  The document goes on to say that “where someone is given notice that their asylum claim granted, their appeal has been allowed or their asylum claim has been refused but they have been given leave to enter or remain, the prescribed period is 28 days.”

It then adds that “individuals will receive a ‘notice to quit’ support letter…at least seven days before the individual’s accommodation and support payments are due to end.” It’s not clear if the “before the individual’s accommodation…” is the same as the end of the “prescribed period”. If it were, it would surely have been less confusing to have said “at the end of the prescribed period.” Might the seven days may perhaps be in addition to the 28?

There’s another confusion, which becomes serious if we’re only dealing in days rather than weeks: it’s unclear if the ‘notice to quit’ will be issued or received (both words are used) within seven days. If the former, and if it’s sent by second-class post and if the postal delivery problems that have afflicted Thatcham in the past apply to those made to the Regency Park, this will reduce the time still further.  It’s also possible – and this squares with the paperwork confusion we referred to last week – that the asylum seekers may have received the second letter, perhaps late, but that they never got the first one at all.

In a later paragraph, there’s also reference to a 28-day ‘move-on’ period. I assume that this is the same as the “prescribed period” but, once again, it’s impossible to be certain.

I’ve asked the Home Office (whose press-office staff are, as I reported last week, unfailingly prompt in and answering the phone and polite in dealing with enquiries) if they can explain exactly what the situation is. (I refrained from suggesting that “Leave to Remain” might better be called “Permission to Remain.” There are enough confusions already without introducing a name changer.)

The reply left me even more confused: “The statement you quoted refers to policy that applies when asylum seekers are moved between contingency accommodation (that’s when they await the outcome of their claims). Meanwhile, the seven-day window you referred to is the minimum notice period for asylum seekers who were granted refugee status and have to leave asylum accommodation as a result of their positive decision.” I’ve written back pointing out that this is not what the phrase says and there’s no mention of contingency accommodation in the document. I await their further comments.

I spoke to Karen Reeve from West Berkshire Action for Refugees on 31 August and she confirmed that something appeared to be going wrong in SW1. She did, however, want to offer praise to WBC’s Housing Team whose staff had risen superbly to this unexpected challenge and have been providing signposting and guidance; and also to many local residents in Thatcham who’ve made temporary accommodation available. More such homes are still needed. If you can help, please contact WBAfR.

The Home Office has had at least eighteen months to reflect on how the arrangements would work and get its messaging straight so this makes the current confusion all the more depressing. As for the errors, I’ve only heard of a couple of examples of details being got wrong on things like passports and driving licences amongst my family, friends or acquaintances, still less this happening about every other time.

The only consolation for the asylum seekers is that, even with all this muddle, they are still better off than they would have been in the places from which they’ve fled. It’s also a salutary “welcome to the real Britain.” Anyone who’s had to grapple with our national bureaucracy will know that it can be painfully frustrating to navigate. The asylum seekers are getting an early and fairly brutal experience of this.

Bucklebury’s SIDs

Many parishes are now investing in the equipment and training needed to operate speed indicator devices (SIDs) which gather data about traffic and also have a beneficial effect on reducing speeds. The following is taken from the minutes of Bucklebury Parish Council’s meeting on 14 August 2023 and gives a good and succinct summary of what’s involved and what they can accomplish.

“Councillor Southgate reported that 50,000 datapoints had now been gathered using SID from a number of locations across the parish. These have been shared with WBC and Thames Valley Police. On average the use of SID results in a 5mph reduction in speed. Purchase of a reporting module, so that the data is in line with what WBC use, costing £90 was approved. Councillor. Southgate has asked a parishioner to organise and manage use of SID
across the parish.

“Bucklebury PC has signed up to the Thames Valley Police Community Speedwatch scheme. This requires a commercial speed gun, which is then operated by two or three trained parishioners at any one time. The speed gun records a number of data points about each speeding vehicle which are then sent to the Police who will issue a letter to the registered keeper of each speeding vehicle (or a visit if letters have previously been sent). In principle, BPC agreed to the purchase of a speed gun, expected to cost in the region of £200.”

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

Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week) that also reduces food waste. There are refreshments and friendly conversation, recipe sharing, craft activities, seated exercise and signposting for any further help needed. Follow them on facebook for latest opening times more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• The VIAN environmental group is helping ‘Keep Thatcham Beautiful‘ by continuing to litter pick across the area. The group has been set up by the locally based asylum seekers and is led by Bahman, a primary school teacher from Iran who was forced to flee his country because of the Iranian regime, leaving behind his wife and children. 

• Quick reminder from Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Public Protection Partnership’s advice about scams and how to protect yourself and what to do if you get caught. There is no shame if you do get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

Sun 3 Sept Great Thatcham Duck Race, the Rowbarge, Woolhampton.

Thurs 14 Sept KATS Modern Time Musical Hall Performance, Bucklebury Memorial Hall.

Thurs 21 Sept Vintage Adventure Celebration, Thatcham Medthodist Church.

Fri 22 Sept Charity Barn Dance, Thatcham Town Council, location TBD.

Sun 24 Sept Sustainability Fayre, The Living Rainforest, Hampton Norreys.

Sat 7 Oct Swings & Smiles Charity Ball, the Hennessy Suite, Newbury Racecourse.

• Regular events

Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

Ageing Creatively‘s weekly Chair Exercise classes for over 55s at Thatcham Methodist Church every Wednesday from 22 February to 29 March, and cost £2 per session. Hot drinks will be available afterward. Click here for further details.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

Just Play football for anyone 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability. Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Chair’s report; speeding; a tree for Graham Park; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; EV charge points; recycling; a possible neighbourhood development plan; dog bins; repairs and maintenance; cemetery records; the Playpark; and financial matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; D-Day’s eightieth anniversary; speeding; planning matters; renewable energy projects; reports from the Chair, the Clerk and the ward member; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: HGVs; a bull in the field; a report from the ward member; the Clerk’s report; financial matters; the village magazine; planning matters; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was 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 Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 May 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 and minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon 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 closures, inflatable fun, NDP consultations, crime prevention and a rail award – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for news of Bucklebury’s Beerfest and the problems facing local refugees for whom one uncertainty has recently been replaced by two others.

This week’s news

Next Wednesday 30 August there will be a road closure on Waller Drive, Thatcham, between 8:00am and 5:00pm, from the junction of Turnpike Road to Harrington Close. Three-way lights will also be situated at the junction of Turnpike Road. The closure is to carry out drainage investigation work, due to flooding. Updates can be found here.

Thatcham Town Council and RMD Adventure Learning are holding their annual Street Football Tournament at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground next Wednesday 30 August, from 12pm to 4pm. This fun and free competition is for 11 to 16 year olds and includes a 5-a-side tournament, penalty shootout competition and kick up competition. To register, contact vince@rmdadventurelearning.co.uk.

This weekend don’t miss Family Inflatable Fun Day all this bank holiday weekend at the Moors Playing Field, Thatcham. Four days of bouncy castles, inflatable assault courses, slides and more. Click here for 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

KATS Theatrical Society based in Thatcham welcomes all to their production of Modern Time Music Hall Variety Show at Bucklebury Memorial Hall from 14 to 16 September. Book your tickets here.

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 Newbury 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.

• Anyone with experience of local Mental Health Services is invited to a workshop hosted by Volunteer Centre West Berkshire at Thatcham Catholic Hall on Tuesday 12 September. Places are free but need to be pre-booked here.

The Mayor of Thatcham will be holding a Charity Barn Dance on Friday 22 September to raise money for his chosen charities, Sport in Mind and PALS (West Berkshire). There will be live music from The Aldbrickham Band and their caller will guide everyone through the dance steps. There will also be a raffle on the evening with some fantastic prizes. Tickets are £17 each, click here to book.

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.
West Berkshire Action for Refugees continue to see new arrivals with only the clothes they’re stood up in. So they are very grateful for donations of:
  • womens jeans, shirts/tops, trainers & shoes sizes 4,5,6,7.
  • light jackets for summer wear.
  • mens small/med T-shirts, joggers, jeans, lightly worn trainers. white/sports socks, hoodies.
  • toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste and deodorant).
  • large suitcases, mobile handsets (unlocked only please).
Please drop off to Thatcham Town Council, Brownsfield Rd, RG18 3HF during normal office hours or message them on facebook to arrange a pick up.

The Great Thatcham Duck Race has been confirmed to return for 2023 at The Rowbarge, on Sunday 3 September. Tickets are available on the day or from the Rotary Club’s online shop. The race is supporting the charity Time 2 Talk West Berkshire who provide counselling services for 11 to 24 year olds.

• Quick reminder about West Berkshire Museum‘s Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, on display until 17 September 2023. Museum opening times are 10am to 3pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

• West Berkshire Council is asking local residents to complete its West Berkshire Bus Survey 2023. If you’d like to share your views and suggestions for improvements, complete the survey by 10 September 2023. For more information about the survey and how it will be used, please click here.

• Quick reminder about the free mortgage clinics on select days throughout the summer at Thatcham Town Council. Click here for more information including dates.

• 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.

• Thatcham Youth also has lots of fun activities planned this summer for their Vision and The Zone Youth Clubs, from games to crafts to sports, even Zorb football and a beach party. All taking place at the Moorside Community Centre in Thatcham. Click the links for details. Contact info@thatchamyouth.org.uk to find out more.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. The Bureau currently has vacancies for volunteer drivers and a volunteer office assistant to help out on Thursday mornings. Please see here for more details and how to apply.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which starts with a view and ends with light. Anyone who lives in or has any interest in Cold Ash is recommended to subscribe: contact bulletin@cacp.org.uk to do this or if you have anything you’d like to contribute.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

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, including in Thatcham, 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.

Bucklebury’s beerfest

A reminder that the Bucklebury Beerfest will be held on Saturday 26 August 2023 from 1pm to 7pm at the Bucklebury Village Recreation Ground. The organisers describe it as “a fun day out for all the family, with a great selection of regional beers and ciders, as well as fabulous local food cooked on the BBQ and for the first time Graham’s Hog Roast will be there.” Entry is free.

This year there will be beer from five breweries – Bond Brews, Indigenous, Amwell Springs, Loddon, Rebellion and Renegade Breweries – and cider from Tutts Clump and Green Shed. Visitors can enjoy “a wide variety of trade stalls, a traditional tea tent, and plenty of children’s games and entertainment, all accompanied by fantastic live music from local musicians and bands.” The venue offers plenty of free on-site parking. For directions, enter the postcode RG7 6PR into your navigation system.

Like last year, the trustees have decided to contribute at least 50% of the Beerfest profits to local charities. This year they are supporting MacMillan Cancer Support plus some other local charities.

Community notices

Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week) that also reduces food waste. There are refreshments and friendly conversation, recipe sharing, craft activities, seated exercise and signposting for any further help needed. Follow them on facebook for latest opening times more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• The VIAN environmental group is helping ‘Keep Thatcham Beautiful‘ by continuing to litter pick across the area. The group has been set up by the locally based asylum seekers and is led by Bahman, a primary school teacher from Iran who was forced to flee his country because of the Iranian regime, leaving behind his wife and children. 

• Quick reminder from Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Public Protection Partnership’s advice about scams and how to protect yourself and what to do if you get caught. There is no shame if you do get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

• Sat 26 Aug Bucklebury Beer Fest, Bucklebury.

• Wed 30 Aug Annual Street Football Tournament, Henwick Worthy Football Grounds.

Sun 3 Sept KATS Modern Time Musical Hall Performance, Bucklebury Memorial Hall.

Thurs 14 Sept KATS Modern Time Musical Hall Performance, Bucklebury Memorial Hall.

Thurs 21 Sept Vintage Adventure Celebration, Thatcham Medthodist Church.

Fri 22 Sept Charity Barn Dance, Thatcham Town Council, location TBD.

Sun 24 Sept Sustainability Fayre, The Living Rainforest, Hampton Norreys.

Sat 7 Oct Swings & Smiles Charity Ball, the Hennessy Suite, Newbury Racecourse.

• Regular events

Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

Ageing Creatively‘s weekly Chair Exercise classes for over 55s at Thatcham Methodist Church every Wednesday from 22 February to 29 March, and cost £2 per session. Hot drinks will be available afterward. Click here for further details.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

Just Play football for anyone 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability. Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; D-Day’s eightieth anniversary; speeding; planning matters; renewable energy projects; reports from the Chair, the Clerk and the ward member; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: HGVs; a bull in the field; a report from the ward member; the Clerk’s report; financial matters; the village magazine; planning matters; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matteras arising; reports from the ward members; the Clerk’s report; speeding; planning matters; financial matters; the NDP; and committee reports.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: traffic concerns; councillor co-options; a proposed tree-planting; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; speeding; dog bins; and financial matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was 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 Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 May 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 and minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon 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 bats, play in the park, football, refugees and uniforms – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for news of Bucklebury’s imminent Beerfest and another look at a housing proposal that’s waiting for the local plan to get finalised.

This week’s news

• The Nature Discovery Centre has a Bat Walk and Talk this Friday 18 August led by bat expert David Endacott. LLearn how to use bat detectors and walk around the lake to see what local species you can find. If you are lucky, you may even be able to get up close and personal to them. Click here to book a place. Click here to see a list of other activities this month, and check out their website to book ahead.

• Next Thursday 24 Aug is the next free Play in the Park session, which will be taking place at Kennet Heath, Thatcham. There will be games, sports and play equipment, including bats, balls and a big parachute and more. Sessions are free and open to all. Click here for details.

• Inspired by the Lionnesses? Thatcham Town Harrier Football Club is hosting free weekly adult female-only football sessions at the FA Just Play Centre in Thatcham for 16 to 65 years at any skill level – whether trying for the first time or a more seasoned player. Thanks to support from Berks & Bucks FA’s Boost Funding, the cost of all venue hire fees has been covered until the end of September 2023. This means that all bookings will be free during this time. Click here to book your place.

• 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.

On Bank Holiday Saturday 26 August you are invited to Bucklebury Beerfest at Bucklebury Village Recreation Ground. See separate section below.

• 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.

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 Newbury 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.

• Anyone with experience of local Mental Health Services is invited to a workshop hosted by Volunteer Centre West Berkshire at Thatcham Catholic Hall on Tuesday 12 September. Places are free but need to be pre-booked here.

The Mayor of Thatcham will be holding a Charity Barn Dance on Friday 22 September to raise money for his chosen charities, Sport in Mind and PALS (West Berkshire). There will be live music from The Aldbrickham Band and their caller will guide everyone through the dance steps. There will also be a raffle on the evening with some fantastic prizes. Tickets are £17 each, click here to book.

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.

West Berkshire Action for Refugees continue to see new arrivals with only the clothes they’re stood up in. So they are very grateful for donations of:
– womens jeans, shirts/tops, trainers & shoes sizes 4,5,6,7. Light jackets for summer wear
– mens small/med T-shirts, joggers, jeans, lightly worn trainers. white/sports socks, hoodies.
– toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste & deodorant)
– large suitcases, mobile handsets (unlocked only please)
Please drop off to Thatcham Town Council, Brownsfield Rd, RG18 3HF during normal office hours or message them on facebook to arrange a pick up.

The Great Thatcham Duck Race has been confirmed to return for 2023 at The Rowbarge, on Sunday 3 September. Tickets are available on the day or from the Rotary Club’s online shop. The race is supporting the charity Time 2 Talk West Berkshire who provide counselling services for 11 to 24 year olds.

• Quick reminder about West Berkshire Museum‘s Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, on display until 17 September 2023. Museum opening times are 10am to 3pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

• West Berkshire Council is asking local residents to complete its West Berkshire Bus Survey 2023. If you’d like to share your views and suggestions for improvements, complete the survey by 10 September 2023. For more information about the survey and how it will be used, please click here.

• Quick reminder about the free mortgage clinics on select days throughout the summer at Thatcham Town Council. Click here for more information including dates.

• 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.

• Thatcham Youth also has lots of fun activities planned this summer for their Vision and The Zone Youth Clubs, from games to crafts to sports, even Zorb football and a beach party. All taking place at the Moorside Community Centre in Thatcham. Click the links for details. Contact info@thatchamyouth.org.uk to find out more.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. The Bureau currently has vacancies for volunteer drivers and a volunteer office assistant to help out on Thursday mornings. Please see here for more details and how to apply.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which starts with morning sunshine and ends with truth. Anyone who lives in or has any interest in Cold Ash is recommended to subscribe: contact bulletin@cacp.org.uk to do this or if you have anything you’d like to contribute.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

Waiting for the plan

There’s an article on p23 of this week’s NWN which refers to the withdrawal of plans by the developers Croudace for a 200-home site in Henwick Park. This made me wonder if anything new had happened since I covered this on 4 August. On talking again to the developer, it seems not.

In summary, the scheme was, along with the Colthrop Village Partnership’s plans to the south of the town, in opposition to the then administration’s preferred scheme to concentrate development on four adjacent sites in NE Thatcham. Following the change of administration in May, the new council is attempting to get this part of the draft local plan amended, a suggestion that the planning inspector may or may not fall in with. Croudace has decided to wait to see what the outcome of this will be.  

“We still believe in the scheme” a spokesperson told me on 4 August “and we look forward to working collaboratively with the new administration” to work out how it can be brought to fruition. He agreed that there were objections to the scheme and that these would be looked at, but also stressed that a number of features (including the care home, the country park and the orchard) had received plenty of positive comment. He added that the company would welcome engaging with WBC on the local plan review – something that they and Colthrop Village may feel didn’t happen as much as they would have liked last time round – and also with local residents and their parish councils: Cold Ash, Thatcham and Bucklebury all opposed the original proposals.

It will be interesting to see if any re-boot of the relationship between Croudace and WBC produces plans that are likely to lead to wider approval. Certainly WBC’s new stated policy seems to depend on working with developers that operate at this kind of scale. Without projects like this, the risk increases of the housing land supply falling below five years. When that happens, companies proposing more unwelcome developments stand a much better chance of overturning any refusal on appeal, a situation that no planning authority welcomes.

It is in order to avoid these kind of problems, and remove what it feels is an unacceptable aspect of the Conservative-led draft, that WBC is seeking to get the local plan amended. Meanwhile, Croudace waits. I hope they have some sandwiches, a thermos of coffee and a good book as a final decision by the Planning Inspector as to whether the document can be re-visited will probably not be heard for some months.

Bucklebury’s beerfest

A reminder that the Bucklebury Beerfest will be held on Saturday 26 August 2023 from 1pm to 7pm at the Bucklebury Village Recreation Ground. The organisers describe it as “a fun day out for all the family, with a great selection of regional beers and ciders, as well as fabulous local food cooked on the BBQ and for the first time Graham’s Hog Roast will be there.” Entry is free.

This year there will be beer from five breweries – Bond Brews, Indigenous, Amwell Springs, Loddon, Rebellion and Renegade Breweries – and cider from Tutts Clump and Green Shed. Visitors can enjoy “a wide variety of trade stalls, a traditional tea tent, and plenty of children’s games and entertainment, all accompanied by fantastic live music from local musicians and bands.” The venue offers plenty of free on-site parking. For directions, enter the postcode RG7 6PR into your navigation system.

Like last year, the trustees have decided to contribute at least 50% of the Beerfest profits to local charities. This year we are supporting MacMillan Cancer Support plus some other local charities.

Community notices

Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week) that also reduces food waste. There are refreshments and friendly conversation, recipe sharing, craft activities, seated exercise and signposting for any further help needed. Follow them on facebook for latest opening times more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• The VIAN environmental group is helping ‘Keep Thatcham Beautiful‘ by continuing to litter pick across the area. The group has been set up by the locally based asylum seekers and is led by Bahman, a primary school teacher from Iran who was forced to flee his country because of the Iranian regime, leaving behind his wife and children. 

• Quick reminder from Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Public Protection Partnership’s advice about scams and how to protect yourself and what to do if you get caught. There is no shame if you do get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

Thurs 24 Aug Free Play in the Park, Kennet Heath, Thatcham.

• Sat 26 Aug Bucklebury Beer Fest, Bucklebury.

Sun 3 Sept KATS Modern Time Musical Hall Performance, Bucklebury Memorial Hall.

Thurs 14 Sept KATS Modern Time Musical Hall Performance, Bucklebury Memorial Hall.

Thurs 21 Sept Vintage Adventure Celebration, Thatcham Medthodist Church.

Fri 22 Sept Charity Barn Dance, Thatcham Town Council, location TBD.

Sun 24 Sept Sustainability Fayre, The Living Rainforest, Hampton Norreys.

Sat 7 Oct Swings & Smiles Charity Ball, the Hennessy Suite, Newbury Racecourse.

• Regular events

Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

Ageing Creatively‘s weekly Chair Exercise classes for over 55s at Thatcham Methodist Church every Wednesday from 22 February to 29 March, and cost £2 per session. Hot drinks will be available afterward. Click here for further details.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

Just Play football for anyone 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability. Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 1 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; D-Day’s eightieth anniversary; speeding; planning matters; renewable energy projects; reports from the Chair, the Clerk and the ward member; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: HGVs; a bull in the field; a report from the ward member; the Clerk’s report; financial matters; the village magazine; planning matters; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matteras arising; reports from the ward members; the Clerk’s report; speeding; planning matters; financial matters; the NDP; and committee reports.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: traffic concerns; councillor co-options; a proposed tree-planting; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; speeding; dog bins; and financial matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was 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 Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 May 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 and minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon 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 female footie, a roller disco, a barn dance, substandard housing, and a duck race – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for news of Bucklebury’s imminent Beerfest.

This week’s news

• Thatcham Town Harrier Football Club is hosting free weekly adult female-only football sessions at the FA Just Play Centre in Thatcham for 16 to 65 years at any skill level – whether trying for the first time or a more seasoned player. Thanks to support from Berks & Bucks FA’s Boost Funding, the cost of all venue hire fees has been covered until the end of September 2023. This means that all bookings will be free during this time. Click here to book your place.

• Thatcham Youth is holding a Roller Disco at the Moorside Community Centre for under 18s this Saturday 12 August. The event will offer four sessions for different age groups. Click here for more details.

On Bank Holiday Saturday 26 August you are invited to Bucklebury Beerfest at Bucklebury Village Recreation Ground. See separate section below.

• 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 Newbury 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.

The Mayor of Thatcham will be holding a Charity Barn Dance on Friday 22 September to raise money for his chosen charities, Sport in Mind and PALS (West Berkshire). There will be live music from The Aldbrickham Band and their caller will guide everyone through the dance steps. There will also be a raffle on the evening with some fantastic prizes. Tickets are £17 each, click here to book.

• There’s lots going on at the Nature Discovery Centre over the summer holidays. There’s talks on bats, grasshoppers, worms, pond life, and much more – as well as the usual nature trails and resources. Click here to see a list of dates and times for special activities this month, and check out their website to book ahead.

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.

West Berkshire Action for Refugees continue to see new arrivals with only the clothes they’re stood up in. So they are very grateful for donations of:
– womens jeans, shirts/tops, trainers & shoes sizes 4,5,6,7. Light jackets for summer wear
– mens small/med T-shirts, joggers, jeans, lightly worn trainers. white/sports socks, hoodies.
– toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste & deodorant)
– large suitcases, mobile handsets (unlocked only please)
Please drop off to Thatcham Town Council, Brownsfield Rd, RG18 3HF during normal office hours or message them on facebook to arrange a pick up.

The Great Thatcham Duck Race has been confirmed to return for 2023 at The Rowbarge, on Sunday 3 September. Tickets are available on the day or from the Rotary Club’s online shop. The race is supporting the charity Time 2 Talk West Berkshire who provide counselling services for 11 to 24 year olds.

• Quick reminder about West Berkshire Museum‘s Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, on display until 17 September 2023. Museum opening times are 10am to 3pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

• West Berkshire Council is asking local residents to complete its West Berkshire Bus Survey 2023. If you’d like to share your views and suggestions for improvements, complete the survey by 10 September 2023. For more information about the survey and how it will be used, please click here.

• Quick reminder about the free mortgage clinics on select days throughout the summer at Thatcham Town Council. Click here for more information including dates.

• 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.

• Thatcham Youth also has lots of fun activities planned this summer for their Vision and The Zone Youth Clubs, from games to crafts to sports, even Zorb football and a beach party. All taking place at the Moorside Community Centre in Thatcham. Click the links for details. Contact info@thatchamyouth.org.uk to find out more.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. The Bureau currently has vacancies for volunteer drivers and a volunteer office assistant to help out on Thursday mornings. Please see here for more details and how to apply.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which starts with an acrobat and ends with Robert Frost. Anyone who lives in or has any interest in Cold Ash is recommended to subscribe: contact bulletin@cacp.org.uk to do this or if you have anything you’d like to contribute.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

Bucklebury’s beer

The Bucklebury Beerfest will be held on Saturday 26 August 2023 from 1pm to 7pm at the Bucklebury Village Recreation Ground. The organisers describe it as “a fun day out for all the family, with a great selection of regional beers and ciders, as well as fabulous local food cooked on the BBQ and for the first time Graham’s Hog Roast will be there.” Entry is free.

This year there will be beer from five breweries – Bond Brews, Indigenous, Amwell Springs, Loddon, Rebellion and Renegade Breweries – and cider from Tutts Clump and Green Shed. Visitors can enjoy “a wide variety of trade stalls, a traditional tea tent, and plenty of children’s games and entertainment, all accompanied by fantastic live music from local musicians and bands.” The venue offers plenty of free on-site parking. For directions, enter the postcode RG7 6PR into your navigation system.

Like last year, the trustees have decided to contribute at least 50% of the Beerfest profits to local charities. This year we are supporting MacMillan Cancer Support plus some other local charities.

Community notices

Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week) that also reduces food waste. There are refreshments and friendly conversation, recipe sharing, craft activities, seated exercise and signposting for any further help needed. Follow them on facebook for latest opening times more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• The VIAN environmental group is helping ‘Keep Thatcham Beautiful‘ by continuing to litter pick across the area. The group has been set up by the locally based asylum seekers and is led by Bahman, a primary school teacher from Iran who was forced to flee his country because of the Iranian regime, leaving behind his wife and children. 

• Quick reminder from Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Public Protection Partnership’s advice about scams and how to protect yourself and what to do if you get caught. There is no shame if you do get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

Sat 12 Aug Charity Car Wash, Athletics Track, Crookham Common.

Thurs 17 Aug Free Play in the Park, Pound Lane, Thatcham.

Thurs 17 Aug Family Fun Day, Thatcham Youth, Thatcham.

Fri 18 Aug Roller Disco, Moorside Community Centre, Thatcham.

Thurs 24 Aug Free Play in the Park, Kennet Heath, Thatcham.

Sun 3 Sept KATS Modern Time Musical Hall Performance, Bucklebury Memorial Hall.

Thurs 14 Sept KATS Modern Time Musical Hall Performance, Bucklebury Memorial Hall.

Fri 22 Sept Charity Barn Dance, Thatcham Town Council, location TBD.

Sun 24 Sept Sustainability Fayre, The Living Rainforest, Hampton Norreys.

Sat 7 Oct Swings & Smiles Charity Ball, the Hennessy Suite, Newbury Racecourse.

• Regular events

Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

Ageing Creatively‘s weekly Chair Exercise classes for over 55s at Thatcham Methodist Church every Wednesday from 22 February to 29 March, and cost £2 per session. Hot drinks will be available afterward. Click here for further details.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

Just Play football for anyone 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability. Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: HGVs; a bull in the field; a report from the ward member; the Clerk’s report; financial matters; the village magazine; planning matters; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matteras arising; reports from the ward members; the Clerk’s report; speeding; planning matters; financial matters; the NDP; and committee reports.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: traffic concerns; councillor co-options; a proposed tree-planting; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; speeding; dog bins; and financial matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 4 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Medicine Festival (17 to 20 August); planning matters; D-Day’s eightieth anniversary; a possible memorial; speeding; reports from the Chair, the Clerk and the ward member; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 June and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was 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 Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 May 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 and minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon 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 play area, a fun day, an exhibition, a flood consultation, kids and ducks – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for a withdrawn application in Henwick (which may well return) and an offer for local artisans.

This week’s news

Last chance to have your say on Thatcham Memorial Fields Flood Alleviation Scheme by Sunday 6 August (not long now). The aim of the new scheme is to protect the remaining Thatcham properties which do not currently benefit from existing schemes in the area. To take part in the public consultation process and for more information please click here.  There will also be drop-in information sessions at the Public Exhibition, Memorial Hall, Thatcham on Friday 4 August, 11am ro 5pm and Saturday 5 August, 9am to 5pm.

• Thatcham Youth is holding a Family Fun Day on Thursday 17 August including crafts, light refreshments, bouncy castles and sports games. There is a morning session and evening session and tickets must be booked online to secure a place. Click here to book your child a place, more details can be found here.

Have you visited the new play park at Thatcham Memorial Field? The Queen Elizabeth play area is situated right by the Memorial Hall. There’s lots of fun equipment for little ones  to try out as well as huge field to let them run around in.

• Elysium Thornford Park will be a holding a fundraising Charity Car Wash on Saturday 12 August, over by the Crookham Common Athletics Track. Make a donation and have a clean car! The money raised will go towards the West Berkshire Therapy Centre and Cats Protection UK. See here for more information.

• There’s lots going on at the Nature Discovery Centre over the summer holidays. There’s talks on bats, grasshoppers, worms, pond life, and much more – as well as the usual nature trails and resources. Click here to see a list of dates and times for special activities this month, and check out their website to book ahead.

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.

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.

• 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.

The Great Thatcham Duck Race has been confirmed to return for 2023 at The Rowbarge, on Sunday 3 September. Tickets are available on the day or from the Rotary Club’s online shop. The race is supporting the charity Time 2 Talk West Berkshire who provide counselling services for 11 to 24 year olds.

• Quick reminder about West Berkshire Museum‘s Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, on display until 17 September 2023. Museum opening times are 10am to 3pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

Would you like to entertain the residents at Thatcham Court Care Home at their summer carnival and fete on the Saturday 2 September? If you juggle, do magic or ride a unicycle, sing or dance or are able to help in any way please contact Peter Tilling at peter.tilling@bupa.com.

• West Berkshire Council is asking local residents to complete its West Berkshire Bus Survey 2023. If you’d like to share your views and suggestions for improvements, complete the survey by 10 September 2023. For more information about the survey and how it will be used, please click here.

• Quick reminder about the free mortgage clinics on select days throughout the summer at Thatcham Town Council. Click here for more information including dates.

Click here for the 2022-23 annual report from the excellent Citizens Advice West Berkshire which has recently been published.

• 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.

• Thatcham Youth also has lots of fun activities planned this summer for their Vision and The Zone Youth Clubs, from games to crafts to sports, even Zorb football and a beach party. All taking place at the Moorside Community Centre in Thatcham. Click the links for details. Contact info@thatchamyouth.org.uk to find out more.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. The Bureau currently has vacancies for volunteer drivers and a volunteer office assistant to help out on Thursday mornings. Please see here for more details and how to apply.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which starts with lilies and ends with courage. Anyone who lives in or has any interest in Cold Ash is recommended to subscribe: contact bulletin@cacp.org.uk to do this or if you have anything you’d like to contribute.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

A pause at Henwick Park

As reported on p234 of this week’s NWN, Croudace homes has decided to withdraw its plans for 200 homes and a care home to the north of Thatcham.

The scheme was, along with the Colthrop Village Partnership’s plans to the south of the town, in opposition to the then administration’s preferred scheme to concentrate development on four adjacent sites in NE Thatcham. This proved to be a important issue in the local election campaign which resulted in a new administration. In many ways, both these schemes fit well into the new administration’s desire to see more pepper-potting of smaller developments around the district and re-using brownfield sites. The withdrawal therefore could be seen as a surprise.

The NWN article lists a number of objections from WBC, including regarding drainage, highways and trees. None of these seem insuperable but are clearly problems for the application as it stands. It seems that the reasons for the withdrawal were more to do with wanting to have a fresh start. This doesn’t seem like the end of the road.

A spokesperson for Croudace told me on 3 August that the developer still believed in the scheme and “looked forward to working collaboratively with the new administration” to work out how it can be brought to fruition. He agreed that there were objections to the scheme and that these would be looked at, but also stressed that a number of features (including the care home, the country park and the orchard) had received plenty of positive comment.

Much will depend on what happened with the draft local plan which is currently in a state of limbo. WBC wants to look at the parts of it that relate to NE Thatcham and the Planning Inspectorate has asked the Council a number of questions about what is seeking to change before deciding if it will be allowed to have it back. The Croudace spokesperson added that the company would welcome engaging with WBC on the local plan review – something that they and Colthrop Village may feel didn’t happen as much as they would have liked last time round – and also with local residents and their parish councils: Cold Ash, Thatcham and Bucklebury all opposed the original proposals.

It will be interesting to see if any re-boot of the relationship between Croudace and WBC produces plans that are likely to lead to wider approval. Certainly WBC’s new stated policy seems to depend on working with developers that operate at this kind of scale. Without projects like this, the risk increases of the housing land supply falling below five years. When that happens, companies proposing more unwelcome developments stand a much better chance of overturning any refusal on appeal, a situation that no planning authority welcomes.

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

Thatcham Community Larder is open from 1.30pm to 5.30pm on Wednesdays in the Frank Hutchins Hall. They offer affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week) that also reduces food waste. There are refreshments and friendly conversation, recipe sharing, craft activities, seated exercise and signposting for any further help needed. Follow them on facebook for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

• The VIAN environmental group is helping ‘Keep Thatcham Beautiful‘ by continuing to litter pick across the area. The group has been set up by the locally based asylum seekers and is led by Bahman, a primary school teacher from Iran who was forced to flee his country because of the Iranian regime, leaving behind his wife and children. 

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• Quick reminder from Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Public Protection Partnership’s advice about scams and how to protect yourself and what to do if you get caught. There is no shame if you do get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

Thurs 10 Aug Free Play in the Park, Cold Ash.

Sat 12 Aug Charity Car Wash, Athletics Track, Crookham Common.

Thurs 17 Aug Free Play in the Park, Pound Lane, Thatcham.

Thurs 17 Aug Family Fun Day, Thatcham Youth, Thatcham.

Thurs 24 Aug Free Play in the Park, Kennet Heath, Thatcham.

Sun 3 Sept KATS Modern Time Musical Hall Performance, Bucklebury Memorial Hall.

Thurs 14 Sept KATS Modern Time Musical Hall Performance, Bucklebury Memorial Hall.

Fri 22 Sept Charity Barn Dance, Thatcham Town Council, location TBD.

Sun 24 Sept Sustainability Fayre, The Living Rainforest, Hampton Norreys.

Sat 7 Oct Swings & Smiles Charity Ball, the Hennessy Suite, Newbury Racecourse.

• Regular events

Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• A local ladies football team in Thatcham is looking for new players. The age range is 16 to 50 and it’s a friendly team focused on the fun of enjoying the game. If you’re interested in joining, call Mel on 07954 171586.

Ageing Creatively‘s weekly Chair Exercise classes for over 55s at Thatcham Methodist Church every Wednesday from 22 February to 29 March, and cost £2 per session. Hot drinks will be available afterward. Click here for further details.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

Just Play football for anyone 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability. Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 26 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: HGVs; a bull in the field; a report from the ward member; the Clerk’s report; financial matters; the village magazine; planning matters; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: traffic concerns; councillor co-options; a proposed tree-planting; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; speeding; dog bins; and financial matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 4 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Medicine Festival (17 to 20 August); planning matters; D-Day’s eightieth anniversary; a possible memorial; speeding; reports from the Chair, the Clerk and the ward member; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 June and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was 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 Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 May 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 16 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon 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 a flood consultation, ducks, an exhibition, a play, kids and mortgage clinics  – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for the latest on our MP’s attempts to get a bridge for Thatcham, consultations for Cold Ash and Hermitage, HGV problems in Midgham and a recent hedgehog petition.

This week’s news

Have your say on Thatcham Memorial Fields Flood Alleviation Scheme by Sunday 6 August. The aim of the new scheme is to protect the remaining Thatcham properties which do not currently benefit from exisitng schemes in the area. To take part in the public consultation process and for more information please click here. You can also request a paper copy of the survey by emailing: FloodAlleviation@westberks.gov.uk. There will also be drop-in information sessions at the Public Exhibition, Memorial Hall, Thatcham on Friday 4 August, 11am ro 5pm and Saturday 5 August, 9am to 5pm.

• Did you know Thatcham’s Community Larder meets every Wednesday from 1.30pm to 5.30pm in the Frank Hutchings Community Hall and offers a selection of fresh fruit and vegetables and cupboard staples? They can also provide books, sanitary products, school uniforms, seated exercise classes, help and support as well as friendly conversation and a free cup of tea and cake. An annual membership is £10 which goes towards the charity SOFEA. For more information get in touch at 07500 764501 or email victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk. Click here for more information.

• The West Berkshire Family Hub are holding free Play in the Park sessions at various locations around the local area almost every Thursday throughout August. Their next session will be on Thursday 3 August at Thatcham’s Moors Park. Sessions start at 10am, no booking required. Click here to  see the dates and locations.

• Well done to Cheam School Pre-Prep who, over the course of the school year, have raised a fantastic £5,280 through bake sales, concerts, and challenge events for local charity Swings & Smiles.

The Great Thatcham Duck Race has been confirmed to return for 2023 at The Rowbarge, on Sunday 3 September. Tickets are available on the day or from the Rotary Club’s online shop. The race is supporting the charity Time 2 Talk West Berkshire who provide counselling services for 11 to 24 year olds.

• Quick reminder about West Berkshire Museum‘s Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, on display until 17 September 2023. Museum opening times are 10am to 3pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

Would you like to entertain the residents at Thatcham Court Care Home at their summer carnival and fete on the Saturday 2 September? If you juggle, do magic or ride a unicycle, sing or dance or are able to help in any way please contact Peter Tilling at peter.tilling@bupa.com.

• West Berkshire Council is asking local residents to complete its West Berkshire Bus Survey 2023. If you’d like to share your views and suggestions for improvements, complete the survey by 10 September 2023. For more information about the survey and how it will be used, please click here.

• Quick reminder about the free mortgage clinics on select days throughout the summer at Thatcham Town Council. Click here for more information including dates.

• 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.

Click here for the 2022-23 annual report from the excellent Citizens Advice West Berkshire which has recently been published.

• 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.

• Thatcham Youth also has lots of fun activities planned this summer for their Vision and The Zone Youth Clubs, from games to crafts to sports, even Zorb football and a beach party. All taking place at the Moorside Community Centre in Thatcham. Click the links for details. Contact info@thatchamyouth.org.uk to find out more.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. The Bureau currently has vacancies for volunteer drivers and a volunteer office assistant to help out on Thursday mornings. Please see here for more details and how to apply.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which starts with lilies and ends with courage. Anyone who lives in or has any interest in Cold Ash is recommended to subscribe: contact bulletin@cacp.org.uk to do this or if you have anything you’d like to contribute.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

The other side of the tracks

As anyone who needs to go south from Thatcham will testify, the level crossing at the station has proved to be a reliable way of adding a substantial chunk of time to any journey. There have been frequent calls for a bridge – I think one was offered by Uncle Sam when US troops were based at Greenham – but for one reason or another (mainly cost), nothing has happened. Even the THA20 proposals for 2,500 homes (later scaled down to 1,500) didn’t provide enough reason to do this, it being felt by WBC that this wouldn’t increase traffic at the level crossing.

This seemed mysterious to me, as it did to many residents. I suppose this might make sense, providing all the new residents in NE Thatcham signed binding agreements never for any reason to travel south of the railway line. Enforcement might, however, be a problem with this approach.

One of the promises made by the new WBC administration was to review the THA20 aspect of the local plan. If this can happen (it had already been submitted by the Planning Inspector at almost the last minute by the previous administration so a ten-point turn is now needed to get it back) this might bring into play the proposal by the Colthrop Village Partnership. This had one time proposed, and may yet still, a bridge.

In the meantime, Newbury MP Laura Farris has got involved and recently raised in parliament her campaign for a bridge to be built to help prevent motorists “suffering delays of up to an hour”. She spoke on the matter in the Sir David Amess Summer Adjournment on 20 July.

“It seems as good a time as any for me to raise my next infrastructure campaign,” she told MPs.”This is for a bridge over the level crossing, or at least some part of the adjacent railway line, in Thatcham. That may sound like a small issue, but what is in fact a significant signalling problem causes residents of that town extensive delays at peak times every single day. Many of my constituents say that they wait between 45 minutes and an hour per journey when travelling to and from work. I dread to think how many hours are lost to them each day.

“I have already met the Transport Secretary to discuss the problem, and I am grateful for his support so far, although I have not asked him for any money yet, and I will visit the site and meet the signalling team. However, I think that there are sensible, practical solutions to the infrastructure blockage problem. I know that the magic of this debate means that the bridge will be built very soon.”

Thatcham residents will be hoping that some of the magic can rub off.

Consulting on the plans

A statement recently issued by West Berkshire Council explains that Cold Ash Parish Council and Hermitage Parish Council have both been working on neighbourhood plans which have recently been submitted to WBC. After submission, responsibility for taking the plans forward lies with the local planning authority.

“Neighbourhood plans are formal planning documents prepared by Town and Parish Councils in consultation with their local community. They allow local people to shape the future of the areas in which they live, and they include policies for development and the use of land.

  • The neighbourhood plan for Cold Ash, also known as the Cold Ash Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP), will guide development in the parish of Cold Ash to 2039.
  • The neighbourhood plan for Hermitage, also known as the Hermitage NDP, will guide development in the parish of Hermitage to 2039.

“We are carrying out consultations on both the Cold Ash NDP and the Hermitage NDP from until 4.30pm on Friday 1 September 2023. These consultations are also known as ‘Regulation 16 Consultations’. We would like to invite your comments on the submitted plans and their supporting documents.”

For more information, including details of how you can take part, please click here.

Midgham’s HGVs

The following is taken from the minutes of the Public Session of the 17 July 2023 meeting of Midgham Parish Council.

“Midgham residents who own and live on the land adjacent to The Nurseries attended the meeting to raise concerns about retrospective planning approval which has been granted by WBC. The residents are concerned about the over-industrialisation of the land. Approximately seven HGVs have been observed at the site, leaving early (0500) and then returning at night and at the weekend. The Nurseries has right of way access for the road belonging to the neighbours; however, they have concerns that the road is small for HGVs turning onto, and off, the A4.

“The Chairman remarked that planning had been granted by WBC so options may be limited. The PC shares the concerns of the residents about industrialisation of the area. The residents also own the land where three phase power approval has been granted – they have concerns that this will also be over developed.

“Action: Clerk to raise with DC Read to ask for advice about HGVs in particular in relation to the conditions of the planning approval, and notify of our concerns. Residents were advised to keep a diary of events at the site.”

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.

Community notices

Thatcham Community Larder is open from 1.30pm to 5.30pm on Wednesdays in the Frank Hutchins Hall. They offer affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week) that also reduces food waste. There are refreshments and friendly conversation, recipe sharing, craft activities, seated exercise and signposting for any further help needed. Follow them on facebook for more details.

Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

• The VIAN environmental group is helping ‘Keep Thatcham Beautiful‘ by continuing to litter pick across the area. The group has been set up by the locally based asylum seekers and is led by Bahman, a primary school teacher from Iran who was forced to flee his country because of the Iranian regime, leaving behind his wife and children. 

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• Quick reminder from Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Public Protection Partnership’s advice about scams and how to protect yourself and what to do if you get caught. There is no shame if you do get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• This is the season where you might see a swarm of bees in your garden. Newbury Beekeepers Association can help collect them but please first check their website here for help with identification so you know it is honey bees you’ve got rather than wasps or tree bumble bees…

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

Mon 31 July Free Mortgage Clinic, Thatcham Council Offices, Brownsfield Road.

Thurs 3 Aug Free Play in the Park, Moors Park, Thatcham.

Thurs 10 Aug Free Play in the Park, Cold Ash.

Thurs 17 Aug Free Play in the Park, Pound Lane, Thatcham.

Thurs 24 Aug Free Play in the Park, Kennet Heath, Thatcham.

Sun 3 Sept KATS Modern Time Musical Hall Performance, Bucklebury Memorial Hall.

Thurs 14 Sept KATS Modern Time Musical Hall Performance, Bucklebury Memorial Hall.

Fri 22 Sept Charity Barn Dance, Thatcham Town Council, location TBD.

Sun 24 Sept Sustainability Fayre, The Living Rainforest, Hampton Norreys.

Sat 7 Oct Swings & Smiles Charity Ball, the Hennessy Suite, Newbury Racecourse.

• Regular events

Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• A local ladies football team in Thatcham is looking for new players. The age range is 16 to 50 and it’s a friendly team focused on the fun of enjoying the game. If you’re interested in joining, call Mel on 07954 171586.

Ageing Creatively‘s weekly Chair Exercise classes for over 55s at Thatcham Methodist Church every Wednesday from 22 February to 29 March, and cost £2 per session. Hot drinks will be available afterward. Click here for further details.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

Just Play football for anyone 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability. Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 15 May and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. There was also a meeting on 14 May which was mainly concerned with the election of the new Mayor, the minutes for which you can read here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: HGVs; a bull in the field; a report from the ward member; the Clerk’s report; financial matters; the village magazine; planning matters; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 16 June 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 the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 June and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 June 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 Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 May 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 16 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 March 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.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon area.

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

Thursday 20 July 2023

This week we cover an eco-school, an exhibition, VIAN’s award, youth activities and volunteers  – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for the latest on the town-centre strategy and the beginning of the end of the road for Cold Ash’s NDP.

This week’s news

Great news from Thatcham’s Parsons Down Eco School about the amazing eco and sustainable projects that the children have been doing this term. See here for details from their Eco Co-ordinator Miss Hargood.

• Quick reminder about West Berkshire Museum‘s Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, on display until 17 September 2023. Museum opening times are 10am to 3pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

• The next carers drop-in group event is on Thursday 27 July, from 10am until 1pm. Enjoy the tranquillity of the Jubilee Sensory Gardens, relax with cup of tea and a chat or even giving potting and gardening a go. All are welcome and no pre-booking required. See here for more details and for any queries please call 01635 863592.

• Congratulations to the VIAN Environmental Society (set up by asylum seekers based at the Regency Hotel) who were presented Certificates of Appreciation by the Mayor of Thatcham in recognition of their invaluable help marshalling and clearing up at the Thatcham Fun Day.

Do you have Eritrean hertitage or know an Eritrean family in or around Thatcham? West Berkshire Action for Refugees have a family who would love to have contact with others from their country. Please contact Karen at teamleader@westberksrefugees.org.

Would you like to entertain the residents at Thatcham Court Care Home at their summer carnival and fete on the Saturday 2 September? If you juggle, do magic or ride a unicycle, sing or dance or are able to help in any way please contact Peter Tilling at peter.tilling@bupa.com.

• West Berkshire Council is asking local residents to complete its West Berkshire Bus Survey 2023. If you’d like to share your views and suggestions for improvements, complete the survey by 10 September 2023. For more information about the survey and how it will be used, please click here.

• Are you concerned about your mortgage options or need some advice? Well there will be free mortgage clinics on select days throughout the summer at Thatcham Town Council. Click here for more information including dates.

• 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.

• Thatcham Youth also has lots of fun activities planned this summer for their Vision and The Zone Youth Clubs, from games to crafts to sports, even Zorb football and a beach party. All taking place at the Moorside Community Centre in Thatcham. Click the links for details. Contact info@thatchamyouth.org.uk to find out more.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. The Bureau currently has vacancies for volunteer drivers and a volunteer office assistant to help out on Thursday mornings. Please see here for more details and how to apply.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which starts with ants and ends with remembering. Anyone who lives in or has any interest in Cold Ash is recommended to subscribe: contact bulletin@cacp.org.uk to do this or if you have anything you’d like to contribute.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

Town-centre strategies

As mentioned most recently a couple of weeks ago, last year WBC started two projects, one for Thatcham and one for Hungerford, to create “visual plans for the town centres with a range of suggested improvements and uses which will enhance their vitality and economic success in the future.” These are variously known as place-making strategies and town-centre strategies. Whether by accident or design, these reached the end of their first stage just before the official start of the local election campaign at which point all such initiatives needed to pause.

That now being out of the way, work is set to re-start on these. On 18 July I caught up with Martin Colston, the portfolio holder responsible for these projects (and also the more advanced one in Newbury) to ask him what the next steps were.

He explained that he’d be attending a briefing about it later in the week and that further details would be announced thereafter: but he was able to say that the Chair of the Hungerford working group would be someone nominated by the Town Council. Discussions regarding Thatcham were slightly less well advanced but there was no reason he could see why the same would not apply there.

This is  important, for the Chair has a good deal of influence over what gets discussed. The aim of these groups is to develop plans and projects, informed by the results of the initial consultations, which will benefit the towns. As Martin Colston pointed out, all of this is hypothetical until money is raised. This might come from WBC, from the government or from other sources. In all cases, the fact that there’s a solid evidence base will make applications more likely to succeed. As regards who holds the reins once any such projects have been funded, he suggested that this would depend where the money had come from. If from WBC, the Council would probably wish to control how it was spent; if from elsewhere, other arrangements might apply. He was unable to confirm how large the working parties would be nor how the representatives would be chosen.

The projects that result could be substantial. As mentioned before, the whole thing will be the work of years rather than months. In Newbury, whose town-centre strategy was started earlier, funding has already been secured for a specific project at the Wharf. The groups in Thatchem and Hungerford, when formed, will doubtless be watching with interest how its Newbury counterpart goes about its work.

The local emphasis being placed on the decision-making will be welcomed by the two town councils. They know their areas better than does WBC and are thus better placed to create local engagement, which is vital. Martin Colston was for four years until May 2019 the Leader of Newbury Town Council so probably feels this more keenly than do many other people. NTC was not involved in the process to the same extent during the first phase of Newbury’s town-centre work , which started under the last administration. Putting this right seems a useful first step in the right direction.

Reg 16 in Cold Ash

At its meeting on 13 June, Cold Ash PC resolved to move its neighbourhood development plan onto the Regulation 16 stage, a public consultation prior to the formal submission for examination and, unlimitedly, a referendum. This is the point at which the end of the project seems finally to come into view although, as Marlborough discovered with its NDP last year, unexpected hitches can happen.

The following is taken verbatim from the minutes of the above-mentioned meeting.

“Cllr McArdle requested sign-off of the NDP documentation and approval to progress to Regulation 16. He advised that the core documentation is the submission version of the Neighbourhood Plan, The Consultation Statement and the Basic Conditions Statement. He confirmed that all three documents have been reviewed and agreed by the NDP Steering Group and our consultant.

“He highlighted that the changes between the Regulation 14 and Regulation 16 versions of the Neighbourhood Plan are reflected in the Consultation Statement, which capture all the comments and action taken. He advised that most comments have been taken on board, but on some points conflicting feedback was received. He highlighted that there were several comments on subjects that are outside of the scope of an NDP (eg, traffic issues and settlement boundaries). These have been noted.

“He highlighted that the only contentious point is around the Green Gap between the village settlement boundaries and the Thatcham and Newbury settlement boundaries. WBC proposed much smaller spaces than us. The case for sticking with our proposed Green Gap is that it meets both our and WBCs stated aims, whereas the WBC ones do not. Cllr McArdle proposed to submit the NDP for Regulation 16 this was seconded by Cllr Wilding and all Councilors were in agreement.”

Community notices

Thatcham Community Larder is open from 1.30pm to 5.30pm on Wednesdays in the Frank Hutchins Hall. They offer affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week) that also reduces food waste. There are refreshments and friendly conversation, recipe sharing, craft activities, seated exercise and signposting for any further help needed. Follow them on facebook for more details.

Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

• The VIAN environmental group is helping ‘Keep Thatcham Beautiful‘ by continuing to litter pick across the area. The group has been set up by the locally based asylum seekers and is led by Bahman, a primary school teacher from Iran who was forced to flee his country because of the Iranian regime, leaving behind his wife and children. 

Thatcham & Newbury Town Ladies & Girls Football Club offer three weeks free as a taster, so if you would like to try it out, email thatcham.newbury.girls.fc@gmail.com or visit their website.

• Quick reminder from Citizens Advice West Berkshire and the Public Protection Partnership’s advice about scams and how to protect yourself and what to do if you get caught. There is no shame if you do get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• This is the season where you might see a swarm of bees in your garden. Newbury Beekeepers Association can help collect them but please first check their website here for help with identification so you know it is honey bees you’ve got rather than wasps or tree bumble bees…

• Newbury Building Society is donating employee volunteering time to worthwhile causes in and around the local area. If your organisation needs volunteers, or you know a group that does, please apply here.

• There is always a volunteering opportunity available at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham for those with extra time willing to help out the reserve. See here for opportunities and more information.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• More local hosts are needed for people escaping the war in Ukraine. If you could consider hosting a Ukrainian refugee or family, please get in contact with the local support group or visit westberks.gov.uk/homesforukraine.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice.

Local events and activities

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

• Dates for the diary

Mon 31 July Free Mortgage Clinic, Thatcham Council Offices, Brownsfield Road.

Thurs 14 Sept KATS Modern Time Musical Hall Performance, Bucklebury Memorial Hall.

Fri 22 Sept Charity Barn Dance, Thatcham Town Council, location TBD.

Sun 24 Sept Sustainability Fayre, The Living Rainforest, Hampton Norreys.

• Regular events

Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• A local ladies football team in Thatcham is looking for new players. The age range is 16 to 50 and it’s a friendly team focused on the fun of enjoying the game. If you’re interested in joining, call Mel on 07954 171586.

Ageing Creatively‘s weekly Chair Exercise classes for over 55s at Thatcham Methodist Church every Wednesday from 22 February to 29 March, and cost £2 per session. Hot drinks will be available afterward. Click here for further details.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

Just Play football for anyone 16 to 75 years of any gender or ability. Instead of committing to join a club you can just play a friendly game on a weekly basis 6pm to 7pm Tuesdays at Henwick Worth Sports Ground. The surface is MUGA Astroturf so please only wear trainers/astros when playing.  Book here.

Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ADS Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. Read more information about the club here.

Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their children’s choir meets 6pm to 7pm and the community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• RMD Adventure Learning‘s youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, is for over 13s on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

 Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

Glendale Church hold regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.

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 Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 15 May and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. There was also a meeting on 14 May which was mainly concerned with the election of the new Mayor, the minutes for which you can read here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 16 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: possible councillor co-options; appointments and responsibilities; Berkshire Youth; repairs and maintenance; planning matters; a report from the ward member; the playpark; defibrillators; speeding; and financial matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 June and you can read the minutes here. items covered included: a request to the ward members; the Clerk’s report; planning matters; the NDP (see also separate section above); rights of way; the Recreation Ground; and reports from other bodies.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 June 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 Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 17 May 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 and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 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. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 16 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 March 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.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon area.

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

Thursday 13 July 2023

This week we cover remembrance, proms, a carnival, an exhibition and football  – plus our usual round-up of other local news, local events and activities and news from your local councils.

Scroll down below “This weeks news” for a new start for an old community transport company.

This week’s news

• This Sunday 16 July there will be a United Service of Remembrance at London Road Cemetery, starting at 3pm. Cold Ash Brass Band will be there along with members of Thatcham’s Clergy and Town Councillors. All are welcome, and if you would like to have your loved one’s name read out during the service, please email enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk.

Would you like to entertain the residents at Thatcham Court Care Home at their summer carnival and fete on the Saturday 2 September? If you juggle, do magic or ride a unicycle, sing or dance or are able to help in any way please contact Peter Tilling at peter.tilling@bupa.com.

• West Berkshire Council is asking local residents to complete its West Berkshire Bus Survey 2023. If you’d like to share your views and suggestions for improvements, complete the survey by 10 September 2023. For more information about the survey and how it will be used, please click here.

• On Saturday 15 July, Cold Ash Brass presents The Last Night of the Proms, at 7pm at St Marks Primary School, Cold Ash. You can bring your own picnic and enjoy an evening of stirring music. Click here for details.

• Are you concerned about your mortgage options or need some advice? Well there will be free mortgage clinics on select days throughout the summer at Thatcham Town Council. Click here for more information including dates.

• 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.

• Thatcham Youth also has lots of fun activities planned this summer for their Vision and The Zone Youth Clubs, from games to crafts to sports, even Zorb football and a beach party. All taking place at the Moorside Community Centre in Thatcham. Click the links for details. Contact info@thatchamyouth.org.uk to find out more.

Thatcham Refillable’s July newsletter includes latest news on how you can reduce your use of single use plastic – which is timely as we are in Plastic Free July. They also work closely with the West Berkshire Sustainable Community and would like to hear from any resident, business or organisation that would like to take the pledge and raise awareness of the single use plastic issue and to make a difference.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. The Bureau currently has vacancies for volunteer drivers and a volunteer office assistant to help out on Thursday mornings. Please see here for more details and how to apply.

• The latest Bulletin by St Mary’s and St Barnabas’ churches is available to read here.

• For recent news from Hermitage see the latest Hermitage Parish Council newsletter here.

• Click here to see the latest edition of the Cold Ash Community Bulletin which starts with a quiet garden and ends with Benjamin Franklin. Anyone who lives in or has any interest in Cold Ash is recommended to subscribe: contact bulletin@cacp.org.uk to do this or if you have anything you’d like to contribute.

• For the latest newsletter from Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton which covers updates, local groups and events across the Thatcham area, please visit their website here.

West Berkshire Museum currently has a Focus on Thatcham Exhibition, open from now until 17 September 2023. Museum opening times are 10am to 3pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

Ready the buses

I’ve been writing about the debacle of Readibus’s relationship with West Berkshire Council for several years. I’ve never understood what the point of principle was, as WBC’s Green Party Leader David Marsh said at the most recent meeting of WBC’s Executive, that caused the previous administration to “die in the ditch for.”

A “gagging clause” was proposed by WBC in the discussions with Readibus. In a press release in April 2021 and in public statements made by prominent councillors, it was claimed that the Council only required notification of any publicity. The written clause to which the Council was requiring ReadiBus Trustees to consent, however, stated very clearly that Readibus “shall not make any press announcement except with prior written consent of the Council.”

The two statements are in stark contradiction. Having seen the contract I can only agree with Readibus’ interpretation. I remain baffled as to why the alternative view continued to be believed for so long by the previous administration. Indeed, it still is. At the Executive meeting, Councillor Boeck said that “my understanding is” that the “clause safeguards both parties.” It doesn’t. There is no reciprocal condition.

In our 9 December 2021 Newbury & area Weekly News column, we pointed out that such gagging clauses were contrary to best practice:

Third Sector has recently reported on a campaign dating back seven years to do away with these “gagging clauses.” It quotes the Chief Executive of Children England as saying that that “these contracts aim to shut us up and belittle the work we do”, adding that criticism (if merited) should be welcomed: in any case, few charities would go public on a grievance unless they’d first discussed resolving it in private. Chloe Hardy, director of policy and communications at the Sheila McKechnie Foundation adds that “if you want charities to deliver services you have to accept that you are commissioning independent organisations.” The Director of the think tank Rogare, Ian MacQuillin, agrees: “on a point of principle, charities ought to reject donations that compromise how they could discuss or frame the cause they serve.” The article’s author suggests that “the idea of donors using their gifts to buy reputational capital and silenc