Compton & Downlands Weekly News, Thursday 24 August 2023

Compton & Downland Weekly News header

Thursday 24 August 2023

This week we cover  rubbish, results, art, uniform, coffee and sports – 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 two important planning matters in Compton which recently got an airing at WBC’s planning committee.

This week’s news

The Downs School is delighted to announce its A Level results with 13% of its A level students achieving an A*, 34% A* to A and 64% A* to B grades. Well done all.

Compton Parish Council is keen to remind residents to please take rubbish home with them if litter bins are full.

• Local resident Sarah Li-Rouse is going ahead with a village community tabletop garden/driveway sale on Sunday 3 September from 9am to 2pm. This will be a great opportunity to have a declutter and sell any unwanted clothing, toys, furniture or delicious edible treats or anything homemade, to get the kids involved. If you are interested then please contact Sarah on facebook or on sarahlirouse@gmail.com with your address and a brief description of what you will be selling, and she will create a map of Compton highlighting the properties for people to visit.

• 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.

• Enjoy an Arty Party Painting Party at The Swan at East Illsley on Thursday 31 August from 7pm to 9.30pm with Jill Hobbs Art. £35 per person, all materials included. Contact jillhobbsart@outlook.com to book your space.

• 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.

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.

• On Saturday 30 September from 10am to 12noon there will be a Macmillan Coffee Morning, in the Village Hall. Comechat to old friends and meet new ones, over a cuppa and a slice of delicious cake. Free entry, just donate what ever you would like for your coffee and cake.There will also be stalls in the Hall, selling locally made, grown or picked goodies. Get in touch with Chantal Cornelius  if you’d like a stall, orif you can bake/donate a cake, or help out on the day.

The Downland Practice – Social Prescribing suggest you check out these amazing meal deals for children during the summer break. See here for details.

• 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.

Afternoon Teas at St. Mary’s Church, Aldworth on every Wednesday until the end of September between 2.30pm and 4.30pm. Delicious homemade cakes in the company of The Aldworth Giants statues in the church. For further details and to book groups please contact Gill on 01635 578624 or gillwilding@hotmail.com.

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 Council’s Summer HAF (Holiday Activities & Food) Programme which offers everything from coding to kayaking, with free spaces for children and young people eligible for free school meals.

Brightwalton Village Hall welcomes footballers on the field next door on Wednesday evenings. Kick off at 7pm for all players over 15 years old.

• For road closures and other news visit Hampstead Norreys Parish Council‘s facebook page.

• Quick reminder about 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.

• A quick reminder that all are welcome to enjoy Tea and a Chat on Mondays from 9.30am to 11am at the Wilkins Centre in Compton.

• There is a Drop Off/Drop In Coffee Morning every Wednesday during term time at Brightwalton Church from 8.45 to 10am.

• For the latest Chaddleworth newsletter please see here.

Compton’s call-in

As local residents will be aware, re-development is currently taking place at the former Pirbright Institute in Compton. There are two parts to this: cleaning up the toxic site and then building the homes. I feel that these should have been decoupled and the latter not even considered until the former had been completed. That wasn’t what was agreed, however, and permission was granted to Homes England to do the work. As this progresses, it needs to apply to have various of the conditions discharged once it claims these have been done. Each block of these takes the form of a separate planning application.

Compton Parish Council has, correctly in my view, decided that the combined oversight of this by Homes England and WBC requires supplementing. It has therefore retained a specialist advisor to look at all the documents and other evidence that is produced. If it has any concern, it then requests that the ward member Carolyne Culver call the application in. This means that the matter gets pored over at the Western Area Planning Committee (WAPC).

So far, this has happened on every occasion such an application has been made. The most recent of these was considered as item two by the WAPC on 23 August. You can see the agenda pack and a video of the event here.

The discussion, which lasted for over an hour from about 43′ in the above link, suggested that this scrutiny was needed. Carolyne Culver’s remarks included concerns about documents missing from the application and the inaccessibility of others which had been archived, questions about ongoing enforcement, doubts about the fact that the site was completely free of uranium isotopes, issues surrounding arrangements for construction traffic particularly during school hours, the need for more details of monitoring of possible pollution incidents, worries about communication with neighbouring parishes and the hitherto lack of progress in setting up a community liaison plan to keep residents informed.

The applications were eventually all passed but this was no rubber-stamping. Homes England is now even more aware than it was before that it is being watched.

This is important because the current site is filthy, with anthrax and radioactive waste being just two of the suspected materials resting unquietly in the soil. This is a one-time chance to get it cleaned up properly. The local residents deserve to be reassured that this is being done properly. So if, in years to come, Compton is not over-run with bio-luminescent three-headed dogs, the residents should thank the current Parish Council, ward member and the other members of WAPC for having taken the trouble to check that everything was, back in the early 2020s, done with the utmost care.

Compton’s hall

The Western Area Committee meeting on 23 August also considered, as the final item in a mammoth four-hour sitting, the “extension and refurbishment of existing school sports hall. Temporary overflow car parking space to be resurfaced and reused for the duration of the construction process” at The Downs School in Compton. You can see the agenda pack and a video of the event here.

This was passed, with the usual raft of conditions, despite some misgivings from some of the members: Antony Amirtharaj, for instance having concerns about aspects of the design while several members were worried about the traffic impact. The ward member, Carolyne Culver, made two rather more serious points in her address.

The first concerned public access to the new facility. “While the agenda pack says ‘it is understood that consultation will be held regarding the community use of the facilities’,” she told the meeting, “coaches who run some of the public provision told me they have had no response from the new leisure contractor despite raising concerns with them. They were not consulted ahead of the tender exercise and as a consequence they now have problems they did not have under the previous contractor. I made this call-in 19 months ago. Why has no reassurance been provided in the mean time?”

Even more worrying is the question of drainage. “The Principal Engineer for Drainage and Flood Risk has raised a series of concerns since February 2022,” she said. “We have seen his emails of Feb 2022, April 2022, June 2022 and Aug 2023 on the planning portal. On 15 August 2023 he wrote ‘The flood risk assessment needs to be revised’. This is a fundamental problem. Looking at his emails I have no confidence that policy CS16 can be met. Why, 18 months after his first concerns have we still not got this sorted out so that members can vote with confidence that his concerns have been dealt with?”

She proposed that the matter be deferred until these could be resolved but this proposal didn’t command enough support. The application was eventually passed with all its various conditions a few minutes before the 10.30pm cut-off time.

What can not be closed down so easily, however, is the concern that, yet again, an application has been passed which may make flooding and drainage problems worse. Indeed, this issue returns time and time again like a stubbornly dripping tap.

Community notices

• See Compton Parish Council’s website for a list of current scams going around in the area that you should be aware of.

St Mary & St Nicholas, Compton has a drop-in café from 2.30pm to 4pm on the last Wednesday of every month at the Village Hall in Compton. Tea, coffee, cakes and biscuits are on offer and the chance for a friendly chit-chat. Open to anyone.

• Recovery in Mind and The Downland Practice host a free one hour introduction session for local adults wishing to further their knowledge on wellbeing and mental health. Please contact pm.downland@nhs.net to book your place.

• Free tea, coffee, cake and biscuits at The Wilkins Centre in Compton from 9.30 am to 11 am every Monday.

• Compton Karate based at Aldworth Village Hall is a small and friendly dojo that welcomes new members.

• 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.

• Regular events and groups

• Stay, Play and Learn at Compton Village Hall on Thursday mornings during term for children 0-4 years to socialise with others, exploring a variety of play activities and crafts. Book online with West Berkshire Council here.

• The Handybus service to Wantage picks up Chaddleworth and Leckhamstead residents from their homes on the second and fourth Tuesday morning. The round trip will cost £4. See here for more details and how to book.

Marcham Cricket Club welcomes new cricket players and officials.

• The Aldworth Saturday Market at Aldworth Village Hall, RG8 9SE from 10.30am to midday sells fresh fruit and vegetables, groceries, stamps and cards; and also offers freshly-brewed tea or coffee and biscuits to customers for only 50p. For further details please contact Kathy on 01635 578090 or e-mail kathyneville@outlook.com

• The Gents Breakfast Club created by The Downland Practice – Social Prescribing is proving popular. If you would like more information please contact nicky.ager@nhs.net.

Compton Tots on the first and third Thursday of every month at Compton Village Hall from 9.30am to 11am. Providing a safe, fun and educational space, in partnership will Compton Pre-school for 0-5 years and costs £2 per family (cash only).

• Quiz night at The Crown and Horns in East Ilsley every Thursday from 7pm with prizes to be won. You can reserve a table by calling 01635281545 and see more information here.

• Brickleton Babes Baby and Toddler Group in Brightwalton Village Hall. Join their facebook group for details.

• Autumn Group regular meetings include the Hobbies Club at the Wilkins Centre, Compton. Visit their facebook page for details. Anyone from surrounding villages very welcome.

• Aldworth Art/Painting Group at the Aldworth Village Hall on first and third Tuesday of every month from 9.30am to noon. Details on the East Ilsley Communicator (issue 105, p 21) here.

 Aldworth Craft Group meet at Aldworth Village Hall on the second and fourth Monday of every month (within the school term time) from 10am to noon. More details in the East Ilsley Communicator (issue 105, p 16), which you can download here.

• Hampstead Norreys Village Hall club and event information is on Hampstead Norreys Community website.

• Ilsley Under Fives meet every Wednesday between 10am to 11.30am at various locations throughout the Ilsley villages. Please join their Facebook group  or a see details here.

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 West Ilsley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 25 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; planning matters; financial matters; and the West Ilsley Parish Council Trust.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see minutes from past meetings please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Compton Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 18 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a report from the ward member; reports from the working parties; the Memorial Gardens; the play areas; planning matters; 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 click herePlease click here for the latest on Compton’s neighbourhood development plan (which has now been ratified).

• The most recent meeting of Brightwalton Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 17 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a councillor co-option; the community co-ordinator; the Village Hall; matters arising; dog bins; repairs and maintenance; speeding; highways; financial matters; and an aggressive dog.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here

• The most recent meeting of Peasemore Parish Council for which minutes are available took place 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 here

• The most recent meeting of Aldworth Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 10 July and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and mintues for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Beedon Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 5 July and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereTo see minutes from past meetings please click here. Please click here for details of the planning applications currently active in the parish.

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

• The most recent meeting of Hampstead Norreys Council for which minutes are available  took place on 18 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 East Ilsley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 16 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 Chaddleworth Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 9 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.

• Compton & Downlands area council contacts

Parishes: Hampstead Norreys Parish Council, Compton Parish CouncilAshampstead Parish CouncilBeedon Parish CouncilChaddleworth Parish CouncilBrightwalton Parish CouncilPeasemore Parish Council, Aldworth Parish CouncilWest Ilsley Parish Council and East Ilsley 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; Thatcham area; Burghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Archives

To see earlier Compton & Downlands & Surrounding Area Weekly News columns, please click here.

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