Hungerford Town Council Update March/April 2023

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the HTC meeting on 3 April 2023, the agenda for which can be found here. The official minutes of the meeting will in due course be found on the HTC site. Any references below to “the meeting” refer to this event unless specified otherwise. Any such issues are not necessarily covered here in the order in which they were discussed.  This report may also include information about HTC’s activities which were not discussed at the meeting. 

Full Council Meetings take place generally at 7.00pm in the Library on the first working Monday of every month except August (when there is no meeting, although an extraordinary one may take place to conduct necessary or formal business). Sometimes meetings take place on the first Tuesday if the first Monday is a bank holiday. The agenda for the next one (as well as for the Council’s various committee meetings) can be found in this section of the HTC website

See the foot of this post for more information.

HTC = Hungerford Town Council; WBC = West Berkshire Council; WAPC = WBC’s Western Area Planning Committee. NDP = Neighbourhood Development Plan. H2036 = Hungerford’s NDP. DC = District Councillor.

For HTC updates from previous months, please visit the archives here.

Police report

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

“The crime and anti-social behaviour reports to TVP for Hungerford over the past 12 months are as follows:

  • Antisocial Behaviour: 35.
  • Burglary (inclusive of non-dwelling and businesses): 19.
  • Criminal damage: 21.
  • Shoplifting: 13.”

The local police team

The current set-up of the team is one Inspector, one Sergeant, two Police Constables and five PCSOs to cover the Hungerford and Downlands area:

  • Inspector Alan Hawkett
  • Sergeant Dan Lond
  • Police Constables Luke Smith, Josh Harrop and Sean Morris
  • Police Community Support Officers Joanna King, Lee Bremner, Sarah Preston, Sally Joyce and Paul Smith

Please see below for how to contact them.

Local events

If you have any community events for which you would like representation from your local NHPT, please contact them via the email address below. While local TVP representatives cannot guarantee always to be able to attend, they will make every effort to do so. 

General information (including contacts)

  • Please report all incidents to the Police or otherwise they will not be officially recorded – news travels fast round a community but if no one reports incidents the police may not know about it. Mentioning an incident on social media does not count as reporting the crime.
  • People are encouraged to sign up for Thames Valley Alerts. As well as local crime information, you can receive details of the latest scams.
  • Thames Valley Police has a Facebook page.
  • The local policing team also wants to draw attention to the ‘what three words’ app which is used to help with the prevention of rural crime by locating people. The app provides a three-word code for each grid which is mapped over the world. By ringing 999 and quoting it, the police can locate you.
  • You can report incidents online but if it is urgent please continue to call on 101 (non-emergency) and 999 in an emergency.
  • If you would like to report anonymously you can do so via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online.
  • The team’s email address is [email protected]  This is not monitored 24/7 and should not be used to report a crime.
  • The local police team is keen to promote the Herbert Protocol initiative which helps us all to try to keep vulnerable members of our community safe.

The Mayor pointed out that this did not include any reference to the burglary at The Plume which had resulted in the theft of about £6,000-worth of goods from it premises.

The Mayor’s report 

I can’t quite believe we’ve reached the end of another council term. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the councillors who’ve supported me and the residents throughout the year. Thanks also to the wider HTC team. It’s been another very busy year, with some major projects finally coming together. I’m so looking forward to seeing the Croft Field Centre finished and the start of building our new skate park.

Annual town meeting

HTC held its annual town meeting last week alongside several invited organisations. The meeting was well attended and the feedback positive. Thank you to all attendees. I hope you found the meeting useful, and it gave you all an opportunity to network and share news and shared experiences.

A departure

John Downe is stepping down from HTC, tonight being his last full council meeting. John has been a fantastic councillor who works tirelessly for the residents of Hungerford and has been our environmental champion, always helping us through and encouraging us to be greener in our choices. John I’ve really enjoyed working alongside you over the last four plus years. I hope you and Sylvia have some time out to enjoy all the adventures you have planned. I know the team will miss having you around. Don’t be a stranger!

Presidents lunch & schools tournament

Several HTC members attended HRFC’s president’s lunch. We also stayed on to watch the Rugby Match. HTC were thanked for its continued support of the club.

I was delighted to spend the afternoon watching the school’s rugby tournament later in the week. The children had a fun afternoon playing touch rugby and every child received a medal for taking part. It was a cold and wet day but the sun eventually came out ready for the presentations.

Hungerford’s town-centre strategy

The strategy has recently been adopted by the Executive at WBC and an initial meeting has taken place involving a number of stakeholders. It’s not yet clear how the project will evolve: more information will be provided in due course. See also the separate section below.

King Charles III’s Coronation

Much of the planning is well underway. Councillor Jerry Keates is leading the committee. Save the date (Sunday 7 May). Posters have gone out through the press and social media.

CHAIN’s thank-you

I was invited to attend a thank you event for Hungerford CHAIN. The gathering was well attended by those who give their time to support the charity in various ways. CHAIN is short of drivers and office staff. Please let Councillor Knight know if you have any free time to help.

The Croft Field

Work is continuing in the Croft Field. The project is due to last around 12 to 15 weeks. HTC looks forward to re-opening the centre for summer bookings.

The Skate Park

The new skate park is waiting for a certificate of lawfulness from WBC’s Planning department. As soon as we receive the permissions required, we will look to book in the build with our contactor. So many children within the town are asking when it’s going to be built. It’s nice to know there is excitement for the project.

The friendship bench

Hungerford’s first friendship bench will be available on the wharf very soon. The wording for the plaque was agreed and we hope anyone needing to talk, share a problem or concern will use the bench once installed. We all need someone to talk to from time to time. Hopefully more will follow. Do let us know what you think about them and perhaps offer any other location ideas.

District Councillors’ report

All three DCs – Claire Rowles,James Cole and Dennis Benneyworth – were at the meeting. The matters they covered included the following:

  • Potholes. WBC had, of 22 March, fixed 800 of these since Christmas, about four times as many as is the same period the previous year, damage caused by extreme weather being cited as the cause of the problem. WBC has recently received £950,000-worth of additional government funding for this. It was pointed out that first fix tends to be very short-term and should be followed up a week or so later with a more permanent solution.
  • Liftshare. This project, which is being trialled in Hungerford and parts of the Lambourn Valley, is now active.
  • Town-centre strategy. See separate section below.
  • Good Hope Farm. Although in Hamstead Marshall, DC Rowles suggested that this initiative would be of interest of and value to residents of Hungerford. See more here.
  • DCs Claire Rowles and James Cole. Tributes were paid by DC Benneyworth and the Mayor to the work that these two ward members (who will not be standing for re-election in May) have done for the town over the last four years.

Hungerford’s town-centre strategy

As mentioned in the Mayor’s report, this has been approved at WBC’s Executive and initial meetings have taken place involving a number of local stakeholders. HTC has formed a steering group with James Cole as the Chair but it’s currently unclear (due to factors such as staff absences at WBC and the pre-election period) exactly how this will mesh with WBC’s plans for the project.

DC Cole stressed that it was a long-term project which could produce some valuable benefits for the town; also that the funding so far allocated by WBC is mainly for officers to work on this and the similar plan for Thatcham; and that WBC had in recent years proved itself adept at obtaining grant funding from external sources for specific projects (which is what this exercise is intended to accomplish). He stressed, however, that there was no reason he could see why the two towns should not develop their strategies using different structures and organisations is if it made local sense to do so.

It’s hoped there will be some more clarity by the time of HTC’s meeting in early May.

The Neighbourhood development plan (H2036)

There has been some progress that in summary includes:

  • The new sites and being assessed. Mapping has been produced by Navigus. This has been sent to WBC for consistent assessment, as before. We have had a few responses, but some big ones awaited, notably AONB.
  • Skeleton Draft of the plan completed by Navigus. The team is producing comments to send back to consultant.
  • An updated programme has been produced which culminates in a referendum in January 2024. It’s a bit optimistic but it remains our target and is just about on schedule at the moment.
  • Key next actions are (i) to complete site assessments; and (ii) to make further progress with a draft of the plan.

For more information on the H2036 project, see this separate post.

Local bus services

It was confirmed at the meeting that the plan proposed at the March meeting – whereby HRC’s funding support for the H1 bus would instead be transferred to Wiltshire Council to support an on-demand (via phone or an app) bus service to serve the Pewsey Vale area, the eastern part of which WC regarded as being in Hungerford – had now been actioned. The proposal was that that this would replace the current route 20 (though not the school services to and from St John’s).

A number of details are still the be confirmed and more news will follow when available.

Salisbury Road roadworks

There appear to be some confusions as to the nature of the roadworks in Salisbury Road from 11 April:

  • The electronic sign on the southbound lane of the A338 (Hungerford High Street) currently says that the road will be closed from 11 to 15 April but doesn’t mention times
  • It was suggested at the meeting that the closures would only be from 7pm until 1am on each day.
  • The OneNetwork map currently says that the closure will be from 7pm on 11 April to 5am on 15 April but without saying whether it will be open any any times between these.

Until any clarity emerges, drivers are advised to allow extra time for journeys which involve travelling top or from Hungerford from Lancaster Park or Kennedy Meadow, for whom a five-mile diversion might be required.

Councillor Richard Hudson questioned whether, given the nature of repairs (“highway improvements”) and the width of the road (a generous 7m+) it was not possible to have a contraflow instead. The DCs promised to raise this with WBC.

The contraflow in the High Street

Councillor Downe pointed out that the current arrangement, following the accident on 13 December, were “a mess”: and, more importantly risked being dangerous for pedestrians and road-users alike. He suggested that, as the matter was an insurance-company one to resolve and so might need to remain in place for some time, that WBC should put in place measures that would survive this time-scale. The DCs promised to raise this with WBC.

The coronation

Councillor Jerry Keats told the meeting that everything had now been booked and that about 75% of the £4,000 budget had been spend. He added that he felt it was unlikely there would be any more significant costs.

More information on the event on 7 May can be found here.

2023 Hungerford Town Meeting 

This took place on 29 March at the Corn Exchange. The Mayor reported that, perhaps because of the awful weather, attendance was slightly down on 2022’s event (the first post-Covid one) but that it was widely regarded as a success. She thanked all those who had attended and all the organisations which had taken stalls.

EV charge points in Hungerford

Councillor John Downe asked the ward members for the final time (as his will not be standing as an HTC councillor in May). DC Cole (who will also not be standing), offered Councillor Down the following information in the way of a farewell gift.

WBC is currently in the early stages of planning the next phase of public car park charge points, beginning with the procurement of a supply contract. The provisional target is the installation approximately 53 further charge points over the next four years in WBC-controlled car parks, subject to funding and local conditions such as electricity-grid capacity.

Councillor Downe has, for the last two years, been asking more or less every month when Hungerford will get more of these and the DCs have on each occasion passed these on to WBC. The matter was also raised at the March meeting of HTC when WBC’s CEO Nigel Lynn was in attendance. For some time the issue involved WBC trying (and failing) to get a wayleave arrangement with the relevant landowner to allow permission for the cables to pass under their property to provide an EV service at the Station Road car park. It appears that the above-mentioned contrasting exercise by WBC has identified a number of possible locations in Hungerford although HTC is yet to be apprised of these.

Bulpit Lane playground repairs

After some discussion at the meeting, it was  agreed that up to £3,500 should be spent on repairing, rather than replacing, one of the items of equipment there. It was also acknowledged that other improvements were also required, including to painting, gates and bins.

It was also suggested by Councillor Schlanker that an ongoing-maintenance contract should be agreed with a preferred supplier to deal with such matters in the future. It was agreed that this idea would be put to the Recreation & Amenities Committee.

The Skate Park

A certificate of lawful development (essentially, an approval from WBC, the local planning authority, that the work can proceed without planning permission) has been lodged and a decision is expected soon.

The Croft Field Centre

Work is continuing in the Croft Field. The project is due to last around 12 to 15 weeks. HTC looks forward to re-opening the centre for summer bookings.

HTC’s committees

The following committee meetings have recently taken place (“last meeting” refers to the last meeting for which minutes were available on the day this post was published). Note also that most committees do not meet in August. Note also that because of the period of mourning following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, any meeting scheduled for September 2022 were cancelled.

  • Environment and Planning. (Last meeting 13 March 2023 – click here to see the minutes.) Items covered included: two planning applications (both no-objections); and WBC case officers’ reports.
  • Highways and Transport. (Last meeting 27 February 2023 – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: update on actions from previous meetings; safety and traffic-calming measures on the High Street; parking on footways and verges; grit bins.
  • Recreation, Amenities and War Memorials. (Last meeting 16 January 2023 – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: update on actions from previous meetings; RoSPA report; maintenance list; the Youth Council; the Marsh Lane allotments; the Cemetery; the Triangle Field; the Croft Field Activity Centre; the skate park; the war memorials; and the health & safety walkabouts.
  • Finance and General Purposes. (Last meeting 11 January 2023 – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: updates on actions from the previous meeting; amended terms of reference; the local council risk system; the freehold of the Bridge Street war memorial; personnel matters; and contractors’ terms.

Note: if the links above don’t work, this may be because they were linked to unadopted (draft) minutes which have since been replaced by adopted ones. If so, please visit this page of HTC’s website for the most up-to-date information on meetings past and the agendas of those yet to come.

For details on HTC’s committees, including membership, agendas and minutes, please click here (and go to the “Town Council” tab).

Contacting HTC

HTC can be contacted in the following ways:

  • By email to [email protected]
  • By post to The Town Clerk, Hungerford Town Council, The Library, Church Street, Hungerford RG17 0JG.
  • In person at the above address between 10am and 2pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • By phone on 01488 686 195.

Any questions for an HTC meeting need to arrive by 2pm on the day (please allow more time if you have left this on the ansafone).

Members of the public are also welcome to attend any meetings.

Contacting WBC in an emergency

You can also contact West Berkshire Council out of office hours for emergencies. These are considered to include:

  • Major incidents such as major accidents or significant flooding.
  • Fallen trees and other debris blocking or restricting roads or causing potential danger to road users.
  • Traffic lights not working (West Berkshire Council only manages fixed traffic lights, not temporary ones).
  • Emergency repairs to council-owned temporary accommodation (tenants of properties should contact their housing association, landlord or agent).

 

The sections above cover the main issues with which HTC has recently been involved or concerned: it by no means describes all of HTC’s activities. Nor is this an official record of any meeting nor of any other aspect of HTC’s activities. Links to the official minutes of this and other meetings are provided in this post. For more information on HTC, please click here.

If there’s anything that you’d like to see addressed by HTC, and perhaps also covered in this way in future editions of Penny Post Hungerford, please email [email protected]. Any such suggestions should be received at least four working days before the end of the month (and preferably sooner) if they are to be included in the corresponding post for the following month. That is not, of course, to say that HTC will not in any case give the matter its attention and respond personally if appropriate.

This information has been compiled by Penny Post from information supplied by HTC and others. Every reasonable effort has been made to provide a clear and dispassionate summary of the points covered but these may contain expressions of opinion which may not accord with HTC’s official view on the matter. Links have been provided to other posts, on the Penny Post site or elsewhere, to give additional information where this has been judged useful or necessary. The presence of such a link should not be taken to imply that HTC necessarily agrees with, endorses or supports any of the material contained therein.

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