Hungerford Town Council Update April/May 2023

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the HTC meeting on 15 May 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 HTC meeting in May 2023 was later than usual because of the local elections.

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.

Formal business

This being the annual meeting of HTC, there was a good deal or formal business to conduct, including regarding policies, key dates and the audit report. At the start of the meeting, there were also four HTC roles that needed to be filled:

  • The Mayor: Helen Simpson (for a record sixth consecutive year)
  • The Deputy Mayor: Claire Winser
  • The Chair of the the Finance and General Purposes Committee: Claire Winser
  • The Deputy Chair of the the Finance and General Purposes Committee: Keith Carlson

All the above were the only people who stood and all were elected unanimously.

New HTC councillors

The Mayor welcomed three new councillors: Helen Armstrong, Mark Cusack (who was also an HTC councillor in the past) and James Cole (the former ward member). The first two were present at the meeting.

Police report

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

April to May has been a busy period for the team. We were invited by the Town and Manor to the Constable’s Parade marking the final day of Hocktide. We also joined our RBFRS colleagues at Cobbs Farm for a large community event.

Unfortunately this last month has seen a spate of burglaries in the town. The team have taken on much of the investigation enquiries and liaison with the premises effected.

  • Following an investigation by Thames Valley Police a man has been charged with burglary and fraud offences following incidents in Hungerford and Newbury. Michael Phillipson was charged with two counts of business burglary and seven counts of fraud by false representation. The Hungerford incident relates to the Funghi Club on 8 April.
  • Overnight on 18/19 April two persons targeted three business premises on the High Street. Mr Fry, Elaine’s Coffee shop and the Town Hall. Messy searches were conducted and various items stolen. The team is still investigating these incidents and arrests have been made. If anyone has any information the lead crime number is 43230169356 when calling 101 or reporting online.
  • On Wednesday 10 May at about 1.30am, an attempted burglary occurred at the Co-op in Hungerford whereby three males entered the store in an unsuccessful attempt to steal items. A black Jaguar vehicle has been used. The same males and same vehicle have then committed a burglary in Lambourn at The Family Mart.

If you have any information regarding these incidents or have CCTV or dashcam footage that may cover the area at this time, please contact us (see below). Information can be reported online or by calling 101, quoting reference 432 302 02420.

Please also see the Mayor’s report below.

Since the beginning of April there have been three reports of anti-social behaviour and two shopliftings.

Thank you to everyone who safely celebrated the Coronation across the Thames Valley. Hundreds of our dedicated officers and staff worked tirelessly to support numerous community events across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, including The Big Coronation Lunch and The Big Help Out events.

On Sunday, Windsor took centre stage for the Coronation Concert inside the grounds of Windsor Castle. Thousands of people also watched the festivities at a screening on the Long Walk. Chief Constable Jason Hogg said: “The Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla was a momentous occasion in our country’s history. Thames Valley Police was proud to support our communities across the Thames Valley in their celebrations. I would like to thank all local residents, businesses and visitors to the Thames Valley this weekend for their support and cooperation.”

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 HungerfordandDownlandsNHPT@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk  This is not monitored 24/7 and should not be used to report a crime.
  • The local police team is keen to promote the Herbert Protocol initiative which helps us all to try to keep vulnerable members of our community safe.

The Mayor 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 reached the end of another council term. Huge congratulations to all 15 councillors who were re-elected or elected. Congratulations also to our district councillors Dennis Benneyworth, Denise Gaines, and Tony Vickers. HTC is looking forward to working with you over the next four years.  I’m sure it will take a little time for everyone to settle into their roles.

Coronation party

Thank you to all those who attended the Coronation party on 7 May.

Wow! I was thrilled this event, went as well as the committee hoped it would. Congratulations to Jerry, Deborah, Simon, Nicola, Fiona, Claire, Neale, Derek, Denise, and myself. I’ve never seen the croft green look so busy, you all worked so incredibly hard to pull this off. Everybody had an amazing afternoon, I’ve been stopped in the street all week by residents telling me how much they enjoyed the event, begging us to do an event in Hungerford every year. Over to you then Jerry!

Hocktide & the Wetlands project

Congratulations to Julie Lloyd who has been re-elected as Constable of the Town and Manor. Hocktide celebrations went extremely well and were well attended. Well done to Simon and Kate (trustees) who were this year’s Tuttimen. I certainly enjoyed Hocktide Lunch, ale tasting and Constable’s parade. Well done T&M thank you for your warm hospitality.

Town and Manor invited councillors to visit the wetlands site, to help visualise this amazing project. I can’t wait to watch its progress over the coming year. Please complete the public consultation and support this exciting new project for the charity.

Bowls Club Open Day

Thank you for the kind invitation to open this year’s bowling season. I know the club are looking for more bowlers, please pop along and meet the club members and have a roll-up. You will always receive a warm welcome and a cuppa.

JOG presentation evening

Thank you to Councillor Alford for stepping in for me. It’s always a pleasure to see students thriving and receiving their awards. Well done JOG students!

Mayor’s reception

Thank you to all those who attended my reception. I hope you all had a lovely evening networking. It was nice to thank the many organisations and groups HTC works alongside throughout the year.

Croft Field

I know this is an agenda later but, Jerry, Claire and I visited the site to see how the project was going. A work in progress. It was noted that a couple of requirements in phase two of the project might benefit from moving into phase 1 in-order to be cost effective and to give us two hiring rooms, without disturbing any works completed in phase 1. HTC is excited to see our newly furnished building completed soon.

Thatcham Civic Reception

I was invited as one of this year’s chain gang to Councillor Jeff Brooks civic reception. It was a nice opportunity to meet the in-coming Mayor for 2023 and to socialise with many of the councillors from the district.

Meeting with Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber on 3 May 2023 

Thank you to our district councillors who helped to pull this meeting together.

Present: Claire Rowles, Dennis Benneyworth, James Cole, Karen Salmon (CofC) Matthew Barber (PCC) Police Commander Zahid Aziz, Alistair Fyfe (representing T&M) and me.

I have been extremely concerned about the recent break-ins within the town. Hungerford’s small independent businesses cannot afford these repeated attacks, especially within the current economic climate.

I was keen to understand the policies and reviews being driven through the force in relation to local policing and how these changes may benefit Hungerford residents. I was thrilled to hear three arrests had been made covering all three recent Hungerford break-ins. One was returned to prison, one was out on court bail and the third was bailed. At the time of writing I’ve heard of another break-in at the Co-op. Luckily the alarm sounded, the intruders left empty handed. They sped away, causing further crime in Lambourn and further on into Hampshire using a stolen vehicle.

I am pleased to say Hungerford and Downlands will have two new officers joining the neighbourhood team by November. There are also two vacancies for PCSOs. We discussed the issue of officers needing to cover such a large area making response times longer and knowledge around local patterns of crime harder to target. It is hoped this concern may be addressed as the force completes a review later in the year (I’ll be keeping a close eye). Those attending suggested a team should be based in Hungerford full time, and another team at the opposite end of their patch.

There is a huge shortage of Police vehicles across the force: this is because broken vehicles are often out of service for long periods, unable to source the parts to fix them. Police vehicles must adhere to a strict servicing policy. This issue will not be a quick fix and the force is trying to free up other vehicles until this challenge can be rectified.

CCTV is also being looked at. There is a new scheme which may be able to link cameras owned by the town (and other towns) to a central control room which will give the police direct access to any footage recorded. There is also a mobile phone type app which could be shared across the police force. Matthew will be contacted the town council office to look at how HTC cameras could be included into this scheme.

I’d like to thank Mathew for attending and addressing the towns concerns. I feel the force is currently in a real time of change, we may have to wait a little longer to see some real results. We’ve agreed to hold another meeting in six months to see how things are going.

District Councillors’ reports

Following the elections, the three councillors representing the ward are now Dennis Benneyworth (Con), Denise Gaines (Lib Dem) and Tony Vickers (Lib Dem). The first two were present at the meeting. Contact information for them and all the other WBC councillors can be found here.

  • DC Benneyworth congratulated all the HTC members on their election and said that it was wonderful to have a full complement of 15.
  • He added that he “very much looked forward” to working with his new ward colleagues.
  • DC Gaines echoes these sentiments and said that said that her main focus would be on representing the residents of the ward.
  • She added that the formal composition of the council, including the portfolios and shadow portfolios would not be decided until the first meeting on 25 May.

The Neighbourhood development plan (H2036)

There has been some progress that in summary includes:

  • The new site assessments. All consultations have been received except for the AONB’s and a few clarifications from WBC’s Highways team. We do have to wait for these but they are due any day and should be complete  by June.
  • The skeleton draft of the plan has been completed by Navigus and we are infilling gaps and trying to ensure it reflects Hungerford. Notably we have submitted a request to key organisations in the town about the main issues challenges and opportunities over the coming years, including the Town & Manor, CofC, schools, the surgery and others.  Some useful feedback received. We also have a brief history of the town as background.
  • An updated programme has been produced. It has all slowed up as we have been delayed by the above, but there is progress. The end date is now expected in June 2024.
  • The key next actions are completing site assessments; and completing the draft of the plan.

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

Hungerford Youth Council

HTC (Councillors Alford and Lewis in particular) have been involved in serving up a Youth Council for Hungerford. The Local Youth Youth Council Network’s website describes the as follows:

“Local youth councils are forums that represent the views of young people at a local level. Run by young people for young people, they give young people a voice and enable them to make their views heard in the decision-making process. They give young people the chance to discuss relevant issues, engage with decision makers and contribute to improving the lives of young people within their communities.” There are currently over 600 active youth councils across the UK.

The Hungerford Youth Council (HYC) currently has five Youth Councillors, all pupils at John O’Gaunt School, and three representatives from HTC. The most recent meeting took place on 19 April. The youth members had previously been asked to identify the different groups in the town, including those which addressed the needs of young people. The next stage was for the youth members to contact these groups and establish what needs they had which the HYC could help investigate.

In due course, the work of the HYC will feed more formally into that of HTC and will have its own page on HTC’s website.

The contraflow in the High Street

It was agreed at the meeting that the current contraflow and pedestrian route, introduced following the accident on 13 December, could do with being improved and made both safer and more attractive, particularly as it seemed that the arrangement might remain in place for some time. DC Gaines agreed to raise this at a forthcoming meeting with the Highways team at WBC.

Speeding action plan

Work is progressing with looking at a series of measures to reduce speeding along the whole length of the High Street.

Footpath improvements 

HTC is adopting a rolling plan of checking all footpaths in the parish of Hungerford to see if any problems need to be fixed.

The Skate Park

The situation has not changed from what was announced at the April HTC meeting: 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 progressing well. Following a recent site visit, it was proposed that there should be an additional expenditure of £15,554 so as to make some improvements to the design and also to avoid the need for disruptive and expensive works when phase two is progressed with at some future point. This expenditure was approved at the meeting.

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.

  • Environment and Planning. (Last meeting 11 April 2023 – click here to see the minutes.) Items covered included: four planning applications (four no-objections, three support); and WBC case officers’ reports.
  • Highways and Transport. (Last meeting 27 March 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; the use of speed indicator Devices (SIDs) in the town; cal dredging; bus-service changes; Liftshare; litterbugs: rights of way; and Lancaster Park.
  • Finance and General Purposes. (Last meeting 15 March 2023 – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: updates on actions from the previous meeting; a grant to the Nursery; the grant to the Leisure Centre; the Heritage project; and the Bridge Street War Memorial Gardens.
  • 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.

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

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

Contacting HTC

HTC can be contacted in the following ways:

  • By email to townclerk@hungerford-tc.gov.uk
  • By post to The Town Clerk, Hungerford Town Council, The Library, Church Street, Hungerford RG17 0JG.
  • In person at the above address between 10am and 2pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • By phone on 01488 686 195.

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

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

Contacting WBC in an emergency

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

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

 

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

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

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

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