This week with Brian 24 to 31 August 2023

Further Afield the week according to Brian Quinn

This Week with Brian

Including things in common, self-investigation, counting the managers, a state within a state, missing items, opportunism, a list of shame, revenge time, wonky arson, tritium, council strikes, book balancing, advisory groups, a job fair, mutualism, birds on the big train, Ella’s goals, the second-widest street and a war baby.

Click on the appropriate buttons to the right to see the local news from your area (updated every Thursday evening).

If there’s anything you’d like to see covered for your area or anything that you’d like to add to something that we’ve covered already, drop me a line at brian@pennypost.org.uk

Further afield

• What do the British Museum and the Countess of Chester NHS Foundation Trust have in common? The answer is that both organisations have highly paid people at the top who appeared to have ignored numerous warnings that something was going wrong. Lucy Letby’s crimes were on a far more ghastly scale than those of the person(s) unknown who seem to have been pilfering things from the lumber rooms of the Museum. However, it’s the reactions to both which seem so similar, and so worrying.

[more below] 

• Management

There have been plenty of media reports relating to both of these stories. These letters to The Guardian speak of a “culture of denial” in the NHS. This article on the BBC website speaks of the Museum “sweeping [the allegation of thefts] under the carpet.” In both cases there had been internal investigations but both reported “nothing to see here” and in neither case did the police get involved until respectively one and two years after the allegations were made by whistleblowers (in the former case internal, in the latter external). All crimes are complex to investigate, those involving medical procedures and art thefts perhaps more than most. The more time that elapses the harder this task becomes. Investigating things is what the Police does.

OK, I hear you say: the Police can’t be trusted either. Even more recently than either of the above stories, we have learned of the conviction of a Met officer, Adam Provan, for raping a 16-year-old in 2010. At the trial, the judge criticised the Met for being “more concerned with looking after one of their own than taking the accusation seriously.” The identical allegation could be levelled at the Countess of Chester Trust and the British Museum. When all investigations are concluded, they may yet be more formally. The upshot of all three crimes therefore confirms something we really knew all along: organisations are not very good at investigating themselves.

One of the fundamental management roles of any organisation, particularly one funded publicly as all these three are, is to ensure that the law is not being broken and that all the protocols, regulations and standards expected of the staff are being adhered to. Given the fact that, in these three cases, there appear to have been serious failures, one’s left asking what all these managers actually do.

One of the recurring tropes about the NHS is that it is top-heavy. I can’t pretend to be an expert, so thought I’d ask Google the question “how many NHS managers are there?”

Statistica says that in 2022 there were 35,496. In 2018, Warwick Business School offered a figure of “about 31,000”.  NHS Confederation counted 25,119 for 2018-19 and The King’s Fund 32,588 for 2018. The Lowdown proposed in 2023 a figure of about 3% of the staff in NHS hospitals which would suggest a total of about 39,000. GB News quoted a government source in October 2022 as saying that there were 36,664. By contrast, The Daily Mail suggested in 2021 that the number was 47.5% of the NHS’s 1.2m staff, so about 570,000 people, a figure that exceeds all the others combined but one which many will have accepted.

Even the reputable sources have a certain amount of wobble, which suggests a problem of definition: what is a manager? In 2015 – and the situation may still apply now – The Nuffield Trust said, in answer to the self posed question “does the NHS have too many managers?” that “NHS managers aren’t who people think they are. The public discourse about NHS managers tends to imply they are a discrete suit-wearing group, set apart from doctors, nurses and patients. But there isn’t such a neat line between ‘managers’ and ‘non-managers’. Lots of people do a little bit of management – even though they might have a full time professional role. Meanwhile, people whose job title is ‘manager’ or ‘director’ may still get involved in hands-on front-line work.”

Moreover, some feel that the NHS is actually under-managed. The Lowdown, for instance, suggested that the 3% of people employed as managers (however defined) in the NHS “is a much lower level than in the economy overall in England, where 11% of staff are employed in management roles” (however defined).

To a certain extent, we are all managers in that we take some level or responsibility for our own work. Many of us might also supervise others, however nominally or occasionally. Does that make us managers? 

The pandemic reinforced the idea that the NHS is a national institution. It’s also big. If it were a country, it would be about the sixtieth largest by GDP in the world. It employs about as many people as live in Latvia. It is the largest employer in Europe and by many measures in the top ten in the world. It could be seen as a state within a state. That is certainly the way that the presentation of the news surrounding the Lucy Letby case has left many of us feeling. We’re conditioned to trust it – when was the last time any of us argued with our GP? However, this case appears to turn on a senior doctor being treated with a similar level of disdain as we would be if we disputed a diagnosis at our 9.35 appointment. And yet Dr Stephen Brearley seems to have been proved right.

Moreover, we have been here before. As Private Eye 1605 points out, in 1993 there was a similar case, also involving murdered children and insulin, that of Beverley Allitt in Lincolnshire. The Eye says that the enquiry showed that “vital clues were missed” during her time on the ward. The piece concludes that both stories involve “an organisation keen to bury scandal and preserve its reputation [rather than acting] on the serious concerns of senior clinical whistleblowers, a tale as old as the NHS itself.”

• Opportunism

To return to the British Museum, Despina Koutsoumba of the Association of Greek Archaeologists, said on BBC R4 Today programme on 23 August that “we want to tell the British Museum that they cannot any more say that Greek culture heritage is more protected in the British Museum.” Tim Loughton, the Conservative chairman of the British Museum All-Party Parliamentary Group, retorted that this was “blatant opportunism” and that the institution is taking the threats “seriously.”

Well, not that seriously until this week: the claim that something was wrong was first made two years ago and dismissed. Mr Loughton added that “it’s incredibly rare that things go missing.” How can he know that for sure?

This isn’t, of course, really about these particular items, however many exactly there are. When the story first became public last week, the Director of the Museum described it as “a highly unusual incident.” I suggested that it was not that unusual: how does he think many of the treasures came to be in the Museum in the first place? There are about eight million objects in the Museum’s archives, only a fraction of which are or ever have been on public display. Some of these – and certainly a good deal more than the 2,000 odd that are now missing – are regarded by the BM as “contested artefacts”. The claimants prefer stronger terms.

This article on Vice.com looks at ten of “the most disputed” which include items from China, Nigeria, Iraq, India and, of course, Greece. Geoffrey Robinson QC goes even further, claiming in 2019 that “the trustees of the British Museum have become the world’s largest receivers of stolen property.”

Given how long Greece has been demanding that the Elgin marbles be returned, the country’s desire to raise the matter again now can hardly be called “opportunistic.” The Museum has claimed that “It’s universally recognised [a bold claim] that the sculptures that still exist could never be safely returned to the building: they’re best seen and conserved in museums.” It seems unlikely that the Elgin marbles will be stolen: but the implicit claim that the smaller “contested artefacts” are safer locked away in the vaults of the museum than they would be in their countries of origin has taken a bit of a knock.

• Dishonour

Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list is still a hot potato, not least because of the wretched Nadine Dorries’ refusal to jump some months after she said she would, an act of self-interested abuse of democracy which she has now been reminded about by two town councils in her constituency.

However, this may pale compared to the list which his successor, the hopeless Liz Truss, seems to have put up. This is currently being vetted by the House of Lords’ Appointments Commission and the Cabinet Office. The fact that she should be able to submit any names at all is remarkable. She has, according to The Guardian, offered 14. Her 50-odd days at the helm will go down as the most disastrous premiership in English history. As well as throwing a sackful of cobras into the financial market which resulted in interest-rate hikes that exacerbated the cost-of-living crisis for millions, she did untold harm to the reputation of her own party. Sunak should refuse to accept any suggestions from her at all.

The whole idea of a resignation honours list – which both Blair and Brown refused to submit – is in any case the kind of thing that brings our politics into disrepute. With the possible exception of Theresa May, all PMs since Wilson have left office because of electoral defeat, personal disgrace or political incapacity. Their time having ended, and on such a down-beat, what possible justification do they have for raising their allies to positions of influence in our bloated and unrepresentative second chamber?

All of her predecessors had at least one achievement of which they could have been proud. Liz Truss can have none. Does she also have no shame?

• Retribution

It appears that Wagner mercenary supremo Yevgeny Prigozhin has been killed in a plane crash north of Moscow. It’s impossible to believe anything that comes out of that country’s official news agencies at the moment but something like this was on the cards. You don’t mount what was effectively a coup against Putin and then die peacefully in your sleep thirty years later.

Putin himself spoke about the crash on 24 August, sending his condolences to the families of the dead and describing Prigozhin as “a talented businessman.” This accomplishment, even if true, seems an odd aspect of the man’s career to single out. It’s a bit like someone remembering Henry VIII mainly for being “an accomplished musician.”

US President Joe Biden said he was “not surprised” by the news of the crash. Asked by reporters if he thought Putin was responsible, he said: “there’s not much that happens in Russia that Putin’s not behind.” Why would Putin not kill him if the opportunity presented itself?

Biden might be wishing he could do the same to Donald Trump. None of his Republican rivals seem able to do much more than make a few dents in DT’s popularity ratings. As for Biden, The New York Times says that “the president is experiencing a flurry of good news on the economy, crime, immigration and other areas, but voters so far have not given the president much credit.” Terrifying and unimaginable as it might have seemed during the Capitol riots, the prospect of a Trump victory can’t be ruled out – even if he’s in prison come election day.

• And finally

• The fire that gutted the so-called “wonkiest pub in Britain”, the Crooked House in Staffordshire earlier this month, had “arson attack” written all over it. On 24 August it was announced that two people had been arrested for just this reason. Yet to be explained as the events that led to it being demolished a couple of days later.

• Japan has started discharging millions of tonnes of treated waste water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific. This has sparked howls of protest from China, that noted guardian of environmental interests. Most scientists appear to agree that the threat caused by the tritium (which is very hard to remove from the water) exists but is negligible, certainly by comparison with some of the other punishments which we’re meting out to the oceans.

• The season of strikes continues. On 24 August, the Local Government Chronicle announced that Unite workers in 23 councils across England and Wales will start taking industrial action next week after rejecting a pay deal. The publication quoted the union as saying that it would be “escalating the industrial action throughout the autumn, with coordinated action, longer periods of strikes and more members joining the dispute.” I wonder what group or profession will be out next…

Across the area

• Balancing the books

At a press conference on 22 August, representatives of West Berkshire Council discussed several measures which the new administration planned to adopt in order to ensure that it can balance its books. Forecasts earlier in the year showed a possible £8.7m overspend by year-end although measures put in place already have, it was claimed, reduced this to £6.3m. This is uncomfortably close to the remaining reserves of £7.2m.

WBC has implemented an action plan to reduce spending. A statement from the Council said that it “continues to be affected by rising inflation, increasing customer demand and a challenging job market.” The increasing demand is principally in social care, children and family services and education which account for around £5.8m of these extra costs. Few councils – particularly those which provide social care services, as WBC does – will be immune from such pressures.

A statement from WBC issued just after the press conference said that “spending reductions will be focused on internal measures with frontline services remaining available to the public and future spending prioritised towards supporting our most vulnerable residents.” It added that a spending review has been put in place and that “over the summer the Council has worked quickly to halt spending and put in place spending controls which include:

  • Reviewing all recruitment activity to fill only the most critical vacancies this year;
  • Reviewing all spending and approving only that which relates to statutory services or which are otherwise unavoidable;
  • In particular, reducing the cost of agency workers;
  • Working with staff to look at new ways to save money, and bringing forward transformation projects which to deliver savings sooner;
  • Developing plans now to deliver savings for 2024/25.”

Three other points came from the press conference.

The first concerned the high – according to some research I have done, excessively high – reliance on agency staff. As the Finance portfolio holder Iain Cottingham admitted, these cost WBC about twice as much as do salaried staff. This aspect of the Council’s costs had come up several times in the past: what was going to change now?

Assurances were offered that this was a top priority. I’m also aware that the Deputy Leader, Jeff Brooks, has spent his career in the recruitment industry and is working with officers on this aspect. I’m not sure if reducing reliance on agency staff was a priority of the last regime but it certainly appears to be under this one.

The second was partly informed by the fact that there were national local-government publications on the Zoom call as well, something that doesn’t normally happen at WBC press events. The gap between £5.8m of overspend and £7.2m of reserves was, I suggested, uncomfortably close. At what point might WBC have to consider the possibility of issuing a Section 114 notice? (This could be described for a council as a combination of bankruptcy, a period in special measures, a removal of spending powers and a serious naming and shaming in the press.)

I was assured that the measures mentioned above were designed to avoid this evil. (Private Eye 1605’s Rotten Boroughs columns in less sanguine. “Even well managed councils face bankruptcy,” it claims, quoting a report from a local-government expert which cites just the problems WBC has identified in its own district as being widespread.)

The third question concerned WBC leader Lee Dillon’s claim that the incoming administration “was very surprised by the level of overspend.” I wondered why this was and what new information had become available in August which had not been apparent in March 2023 when the previous administration passed the 2023-24 budget.

It’s since been suggested to me that it took time for the new administration to get to grips with the full details of the budget: also, perhaps, that the demand for children’s and adult social care services was rising even more quickly than had been predicted earlier this year.

In retrospect, the election perhaps came at the worst possible time. As it was known that the financial situation was parlous and as a change of administration was always a strong possibility, it’s a shame that officers didn’t recommend introducing a spending review in March, to continue at least until any new administration had fully understood what it was dealing with. No one wants to work for or represent a council which has had to issue a S114 notice. In the coming months, many might find that they do. Hopefully West Berkshire’s staff and members will not be among them.

• Cleaning up the bin story

Last week I wrote about the three West Berkshire Council advisory groups and, in particular, the Environmental one which held its first meeting under the new open-format arrangements on 31 July. Some may have received the impression from some articles on the subject that the proposals regarding, for instance, changes to the frequency of bin collections are now policy. They aren’t.

The Chair of the advisory group and environment portfolio holder Adrian Abbs certainly felt the message may have got lost and contacted Penny Post. His comments were also published in the letters section of this week’s Newbury Weekly News.

“As the Environmental Advisory Group (EAG) Chairman for West Berkshire Council (WBC),” he wrote, “I thought it might help if I commented.

“The consultants who presented at the meeting were engaged and paid for by the previous administration (the Conservatives). These consultants presented detail on what they had found and their conclusions when looking at similar authorities around the UK. It is not a WBC report, just data being presented to the council.

“The Liberal Democrats promised, during the recent election campaign, to open previously closed meetings so the public could see what councillors were being presented with. The aim was, and is, that the public see some of the deliberations of elected members on matters of importance and have a chance to see the same information well ahead of any decisions.

‘If you watch the YouTube video, you will also see a presentation on micro hydro possibilities in West Berkshire’s canals and rivers.”

As I mentioned last week, the intention of the possible change to less frequent collections is not to save money (though it might have that effect) but to nudge our behaviour. The consultant’s report suggested that, where this has happened in other districts, the result has been an increase in re-cycling and a decrease in food being put in black bins. As Adrian Abbs put it, “we have a weekly food waste collection that is underused. Moving the 25% (by weight) of food waste from the black bin to this food caddy has a number of benefits.”

These include an increase in recycling, a decrease in methane emissions as food decomposes in landfills and an increase in the resulting compost WBC can sell to farmers.

“So, contrary to what some people are saying,” he concludes, “the front-page story [in NWN on 17 August 2022] does not indicate, in any way, that West Berkshire Council has taken a position on the matter. A great deal more data is needed before any new waste strategy is created.”

Perhaps the moral here is that when something new happens, communication needs to be made by the originators before and immediately afterwards to explain what has happened (and what has not). This is particularly important when something, like this advisory group, has been private but is now public.

The transport one will be opened up soon: the planning one, for reasons I explained last week, might take a bit longer. I look forward to getting press statements from WBC about these in due course.

• A job fair

A jobs fair in Newbury next month will provide information about job and training opportunities available locally.

The event will bring together employers and organisations that are able to offer work and training opportunities with local people who are seeking employment, a change of career or career advice. In attendance will be West Berkshire Council and other organisations from a wide range of sectors – from health and social care to construction, banking, telecoms, retail and hospitality. Other local employers attending including Vodafone, Metro Bank, AWE and Sovereign Housing. It’s been organised by Laura Farris, MP for Newbury, with the support of Newbury Jobcentre Plus. 

The event will take place on Thursday 28 September from 10am until 1pm at the Northcroft Leisure Centre. Admission to the jobs fair is free, but places must be booked for a specific timeslot via email or by calling 01635 551070

• Residents’ news

The latest Residents’ Bulletin from West Berkshire Council covers the opening day at the Lido, updating the electoral register, A-level results, the jobs fair, career opportunities at WBC, the community forum, staying safe online, Reading Festival travel and the John Rankin School Legacy Project.

• News from your local councils

Most of the councils in the area we cover are single-tier with one municipal authority. The arrangements in Oxfordshire are different, with a County Council which is sub-divided into six district councils, of which the Vale of White Horse is one. In these two-tier authorities, the county and district have different responsibilities. In all cases, parish and town councils provide the first and most immediately accessible tier of local government.

West Berkshire Council

Click here for details of all current consultations being run by West Berkshire Council.

West Berkshire Council is looking for your views on local bus services. To take part in the survey (which closes on 10 September), please click here.

Click here to sign up to all or any of the wide range of  newsletters produced by West Berkshire Council.

Click here to see the latest West Berkshire Council Residents’ Bulletin (generally produced every week).

Click here for the latest news from West Berkshire Council.

Vale of White Horse Council

Click here for details of all current consultations being run by the Vale Council.

Click here for latest news from the Vale Council.

Click here for the South and Vale Business Support Newsletter archive (newsletters are generally produced each week).

Click here to sign up to any of the newsletters produced by the Vale’s parent authority, Oxfordshire County Council.

Wiltshire Council

Click here for details of all current consultations being run by Wiltshire Council.

Click here for the latest news from Wiltshire Council.

Swindon Council

Click here for details of all current consultations being run by Swindon Council.

Click here for the latest news from Swindon Council.

Parish and town councils

• Please see the News from your local council section in the respective weekly news columns (these also contain a wide range of other news stories and information on activities, events and local appeals and campaigns): Hungerford areaLambourn Valley; Marlborough area; Newbury area; Thatcham area; Compton and Downlands; Burghfield area; Wantage area

• Other news

Click here to take part in the consultation about West Berkshire’s bus services (closes 10 September).

• A reminder that  West Berkshire Libraries has challenged primary age children to read up to six library books in the Summer Reading Challenge until 15 September and to collect free incentives from their local library for their achievements as they read, with medals and certificates for everyone who completes the challenge. More details here.

Click here for information about help available with the cost of living crisis in West Berkshire, the Vale and Wiltshire.

Please click here for information about what local councils are doing to help support refugees from Ukraine and how you can help.

Click here for a post listing the various places which are offering a takeaway and/or delivery service. If you are aware of any others, let us know.

• The animals of the week are any of these that thrive as a result of the idea of mutualism, that they do better when working with other creatures (often massively different from them) to achieve mutual benefit.

• The letters section of the Newbury Weekly News includes, as well as ones referred to elsewhere, communications on the subject of varying recollections, car-free roads, one size fits all, censoring the mail and a bus stop in the wrong place.

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently: see the various news area sections (links above) for further details.

 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 


 


 


 


 

• Nothing to see

One of the many problems that emerged when the time came to sell the Millennium Dome in London was that there were no clear record of what was in, or on, the building, who owned them and what obligations attached to these. The due diligence and record keeping had been rushed, and in some cases not done at all. There was, obviously, a fairly large ticking clock demanding that the thing be opened on time: but even so…

Much the same thing, admittedly on a rather smaller scale, appears to have happened when the Faraday Road ground was closed in June 2018. This was a WBC asset, although some things may have been owned by others, such as the football club. Knowing what’s there and to whom everything belongs at any change of tenure seems a pretty basic requirement of any organisation. The place was, so the wisdom then ran, to be mothballed and eventually bulldozed, so perhaps this wasn’t seen as important. Matters did not, however, develop remotely as the administration had planned.

Surely the officers should have anticipated this. “What you want to do may happen but it may not. Either way, we need to have a record of what’s there.” Items such as the stand (now in Hungerford), the permitter fence (whereabouts unknown) and the club house (demolished after an arson attack) could have been crossed off the list as they vanished. As it is, we don’t know exactly what was there.

All this became even more important because of the debate about whether or not Monks Lane would be a replacement facility. Sport England’s guidelines are clear that a facility at least as good as that closed has to be provided before development starts (a point WBC did not recognise at the time, but does now). If Monks Lane is not to be built, then Faraday Road needs to be restored to at least the condition it was in before in every significant respect. Not having a single and authenticated point of reference for this makes this task harder. If there is such a document, it’s never been cited in the numerous exchanges on the subject in which different people have claimed different things about the place. There’s also the wider point that for a council not to keep such a record is, at best, insouciant. Might this also have happened elsewhere in the district?

 

 


 


 


 


 


 


 

• Recycling slots

West Berkshire Council has announced that the availability of appointments at our (HWRCs) across the district will increase.

 


 

Household Waste Recycling Centres

“This collaboration with our waste contractor, Veolia, will provide more flexibility and capacity during the most popular time slots for residents,” , “and comes just in time for the summer season and the upcoming bank holiday. Additionally, to better serve the community, our Newtown Road HWRC has extended its operating hours on Thursdays, closing at 8.00pm until September. With a total of 628 daily appointments now available at Newtown Road and 488 at Padworth Lane, we aim to accommodate more residents and make recycling more convenient than ever before.”

 


 

the statement says

 


 


 


 


 

• Residents’ news

The from West Berkshire Council covers a fostering football sponsorship deal, recycling, the Lido, career opportunities, a search for poets, the Wizard of Oz, consultations, a summer fete, a community garden and the Festival of the Moon.

 


 

latest Residents’ Bulletin
 

 


 


 


 


 


 


 

• News from your local councils

Most of the councils in the area we cover are single-tier with one municipal authority. The arrangements in Oxfordshire are different, with a County Council which is sub-divided into six district councils, of which the Vale of White Horse is one. In these two-tier authorities, the county and district have different responsibilities. In all cases, parish and town councils provide the first and most immediately accessible tier of local government.

 


 


 


 


 

West Berkshire Council

• for details of all current being run by West Berkshire Council.

 


 

Click hereconsultations

West Berkshire Council is looking for your views on. To take part in the survey (which closes on 10 September), .

 


 

local bus servicesplease click here

• to sign up to all or any of the wide range of   produced by West Berkshire Council.

 


 

Click herenewsletters

• to see the latest West Berkshire Council (generally produced every week).

 


 

Click hereResidents’ Bulletin

• for the latest from West Berkshire Council.

 


 

Click herenews

 


 


 


 


 

Vale of White Horse Council

• for details of all current being run by the Vale Council.

 


 

Click hereconsultations

• for latest from the Vale Council.

 


 

Click herenews

• for the South and Vale  archive (newsletters are generally produced each week).

 


 

Click hereBusiness Support Newsletter

• to sign up to any of the produced by the Vale’s parent authority, Oxfordshire County Council.

 


 

Click herenewsletters

 


 


 


 


 

Wiltshire Council

• for details of all current being run by Wiltshire Council.

 


 

Click hereconsultations

• for the latest from Wiltshire Council.

 


 

Click herenews

 


 


 


 


 

Swindon Council

• for details of all current being run by Swindon Council.

 


 

Click hereconsultations

• for the latest from Swindon Council.

 


 

Click herenews

 


 


 


 


 

Parish and town councils

• Please see the section in the respective (these also contain a wide range of other news stories and information on activities, events and local appeals and campaigns): ; 

 


 

News from your local councilweekly news columnsHungerford area; ; ; ; ; ; . Lambourn ValleyMarlborough areaNewbury areaThatcham areaCompton and DownlandsBurghfield areaWantage area
 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 


 


 


 


 

• Other news

• A reminder that   has challenged primary age children to read up to six library books in the until 15 September and to collect free incentives from their local library for their achievements as they read, with medals and certificates for everyone who completes the challenge. .

 


 

West Berkshire LibrariesSummer Reading ChallengeMore details here
 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 

 


 


 


 

Click here for information about help available with the cost of living crisis in West Berkshire, the Vale and Wiltshire.

• about what local councils are doing to help support refugees from  and how you can help.

 


 

Please click here for information Ukraine

•which are offering a . If you are aware of any others, let us know.

 


 

Click here for a post listing the various places takeaway and/or delivery service

• The   that (unlike ours) are very scared of cucumbers.

 


 

animals of the weekare these cats

• The of the includes, as well as ones referred to elsewhere, Newbury Wharf, bollards, pollution, overgrown paths, cycles of violence and trains to Oxford.

 


 

letters section Newbury Weekly News 

• A number of have received valuable support recently: see the various news area sections (links above) for further details.

 


 

good causes 

The quiz, the sketch and the song

• It’s time for the Song of the Week. Think we’ll have another one from Tom Robinson. This one is the superb War Baby which is also notable, in our family, for the drumming by Newbury-based Steve Laurie who was our son Toby’s drum teacher for several years (Toby is now an excellent drummer, so that worked well).

• So next is the Comedy Moment of the Week. Something else from Big Train for you this time out and a wonderful parody of one of the many memorable scenes in The Birds.

• Which only leaves the Quiz Question of the Week. This week’s question is: Stockton-on-Tees has the widest high street in England. Which town has the second widest? Last week’s question was: Who is the only English footballer to have scored in the quarter-final, the semi-final and the final of a major international tournament (Euros or World Cup)? The answer is Ella Toone, who scored in both the quarters and the final of the Euros in 2022 and in the World Cup semi-final this month. Nothing in the final, sadly…

For weekly news sections for Hungerford areaLambourn Valley; Marlborough area; Newbury area; Thatcham area; Compton and Downlands; Burghfield area; Wantage area  please click on the appropriate link.

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