Hungerford Town Council Update August/September 2023

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the HTC meeting on 4 September 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 either no meeting or, as in 2023, a short one to conduct necessary or formal business). Meetings normally take place on the first Tuesday if the first Monday is a bank holiday. 

The agenda for the future meetings (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 WBC’s Western Area Planning Committee. NDP = Neighbourhood Development Plan. H2036 = Hungerford’s NDP. DC = District Councillor; TVP = Thames Valley Police.

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

Police report

The following report was provided for the meeting by the local TVP team:

Dates for the diary

  • Sat 9 Sept: Members of the team, RBFRS and hopefully SCAS will be at Cobbs Farm from 1pm to 4pm for the annual Emergency Services Day.
  • Sun 10 Sept: Have Your Say event at Lancaster Park from 1pm to 3pm. We will be parked up in one of the laybys if you wish to come and speak with us.
  • Mon 11 Sept: we will be in the High Street between 10pm and noon raising awareness on violence against women and girls (VAWG).
  • Mon 18 Sept: we will be holding another Scam and Fraud Awareness event with Trading Standards outside the Town Hall, following the successful one in August.

Residents are invited to pop along and come and see us if you have questions, require advice or just wish to know more.

Crimes

For the month of August (1st to 25th) there were no reports of anti-social behaviour,  shoplifting or burglary, four reports of criminal damage and three reports of theft.

We are aware that there is potentially some unreported anti-social behaviour occurring in the town. It is vital that this and anything else is reported to us so that the team can deal with the issues. If we don’t know about it we can’t deal with it. The easiest and quickest way is our online reporting tool on our website.

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. 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 in an emergency or 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’s report

Welcome back and I hope you’ve all enjoyed the summer break. I can’t quite believe we are already at the end of this season. Did I miss it?

Three farewells

Most of you will already know, but I wanted to share my sadness and give thanks to three Hungerford stalwarts who passed away over the summer.

Elizabeth Cardwell. Elizabeth was a former Mayor who served her term in 2009-2010. Elizabeth was also a friend, always on hand to advise or share her experience as Mayor. Our children went to school together and I’d like to send my sympathy and condolences to her boys.

Dennis Cryer. Dennis served as Constable on the Town and Manor and was hugely involved in all things Hungerford. I enjoyed a game of bingo with Dennis on several occasions, always enjoying the many tales and adventures he’d share.

Lesley Blackwell. Lesley was chair of Hungerford Blind Club and was one of life’s special people, working tirelessly to help others whenever she could. I attended many of the club’s events as Mayor and was always given a warm welcome. Lesley will be hugely missed by us all. I was last with the Blind Club in May: we made crowns and celebrated the Kings Coronation. December won’t be the same without Lesley’s amazing homemade Christmas cake.

The Enterprise Centre

I held a meeting with the town clerk and a member of the community who has a background and interest in this area. We wanted to explore an enterprise centre in Hungerford. There are already some units in existence, we are keen to engage with WBC to better understand how this could be further developed in the town. Hopefully a meeting will be set up soon to explore this further.

The friendship bench

Karen Salmon, the Chair of Hungerford’s Chamber of Commerce,  and I were thrilled to unveil Hungerford’s first friendship bench, on The Wharf. We hope it will offer a safe place for people to sit and offer support or friendship to anyone needing to talk. The bench has a QR code which links to various organisations providing help and advice. Karen and I hope this won’t be the only friendship bench in Hungerford. Do check out the press coverage on this and read Karen’s wonderful story from Winnie the Pooh.

Croft Field Activity Centre

We are very nearly there with our build. The centre is looking amazing! HTC is really looking forward to hiring out this wonderful community asset. I would like to thank our town clerk for the heavy workload on this project. Molly has also been busy organising signage,and furniture for the centre. HTC will be holding our first event this weekend. It’s certainly been a real labour of love and one of the biggest projects HTC has undertaken.

We will now review the terms of hire and look forward to welcoming more guests to the centre. The centre is now fully accessible to all users and now has baby changing facilities. The project has come in over budget,but this was mainly due to bringing a lot of phase two works into the phase one of the build. Long-term, this will prove more cost effective. We would have been disturbing work already carried out in phase one. Obviously, old buildings also bring unforeseen challenges and we’ve addressed a few of these so far. I believe the council has learned a lot from this build and will be more knowledgeable in the future.

Howdens

I would like to thank our local Howdens branch for their generous donation of a kitchen for phase two works in the North Room of the Croft Activity Centre. The kitchen has been delivered and will be fitted shortly. HTC will publish photos once complete. My personal thanks to Liam at Howdens for making the process so easy. HTC and the wider community are extremely grateful for the new kitchen.

Norway

I have recently returned from a week staying with friends in Norway. This trip we visited Trondheim and I was amazed at the infrastructure and green initiatives around the city centre. EV charging points are everywhere. In 2022 79.3% of all new car sales were for electric battery powered vehicles. Norway will reach its climate goal of 100% BEV sales in 2025.

When will we receive our two EV charging points in Hungerford? Should it really be this hard?

District Councillors’s reports

DC Gaines was present at the meeting and reported on the following matters.

  • Mail deliveries. Severe problems with deliveries have been reported recently and DC Gaines will be doing what she can yo see this is improved. Please click here for how to contact Royal Mail on this. If problems persist, you can let HTC, your district councillors or Laura Farris MP know.
  • Footpaths. Mainly due to the summer weather of alternating rain and sun, several pavements have been reported as having weeds growing through them. There has been some attempt at weed-killer application but that doesn’t seem to have been successful. It is on DC Gaines’ agenda for her next meeting with Highways officers.
  • RAAC. As WBC has recently announced, no cases of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete have been found in any of WBC’s schools though further checks are being made in some cases. Other public buildings are now being examined as well.
  • The Lido. As previously reported in Penny Post and elsewhere, this has recently re-opened. Pre-booking is not essential but advised if you want to ensure you can get in at busy times.
  • Recycling centres. More appointment slots are now available: click here for details.
  • WBC’s bus survey. This closes on 10 September: click here for details.
  • WBC’s parking consultation. This is expected to be launched in early October: more details to follow.
  • Community forums. These public events, which are designed to “ensure that positive engagement is undertaken, and information and views are gathered that will help to inform Council decisions”, have been re-activated. The first one took place last month on the subject of the Faraday Road football ground in Newbury. Future ones are planned, perhaps every quarter. If you have any suggestions as to what these might cover, please email Denise.Gaines1@westberks.gov.uk.

DC Benneyworth was not able to attend the meeting but mentioned that “the next round of Members’ Community Bids is up and running and you have until 31 October 2023 to submit your application. There is a new aspect to funding that benefits parishes with smaller precepts. Hungerford still has to match-fund by 50%, Kintbury now by 40% and all others within the Hungerford and Kintbury ward by just 30%, with the exception of Combe and West Woodhay for which no match-funding is required.”

Dog bins

The problems with the current collection of the dog-waste bins have been widely reported and the hope is that a corner has been turned with WBC’s contractor. If you see any that need to be emptied, please go to WBC’s report a problem page.

There are also four bins on the Canal that were formerly the responsibility of the Canal and River Trust but have now been taken over with HTC, the cost of emptying them being split between HTC and the Town and Manor (number 8, 9, 10 and 11 on this list). If any of these need to be emptied, please contact HTC.

Councillor surgeries

The meeting discussed the ideas of having regular surgeries, perhaps on Saturday mornings, at a town-centre venue, involving a DC, a Town Councillor and perhaps representatives of other local organisations. A good response was received to the proposal at the meeting and further details will be announced when a decision has been made.

Signs and pavements

It was mentioned that several street signs had become overgrown and/or effectively defaced by dirt and mildew and that several paving stones in the High Street had been damaged as a result of utility works and inadequate replacements provided, DC  Gaines promised to address these issues.

Councillor Dan Lewis

It was announced at the meeting that he had recently resigned from HTC. The Deputy Mayor paid tribute to his work for HTC and said that she believed he would still remain involved in the work of the Youth Council which he had helped establish. His departure will mean that there will be a vacancy on the council which will be publicised in due course.

The Skatepark 

Work on this continues and the project remains on schedule with the work expected to be completed ahead of schedule on Thursday 7 September. HTC discussed at the meeting the possibility of having an official opening ceremony at a later date, a matter that was deferred.

The Croft Field Activity Centre

This hosted the grant awards and Hungerford in Bloom civic ceremonies on 2 September – see below for more information – but it was reported at the meeting that there are still a few final snagging problems to be resolved. Until this has happened, the building is not available for public hire. As with the skate park (see above), the meeting included a discussion about a possible official opening event: this matter was also deferred.

See also some thoughts on this project in the Mayor’s report above.

Hungerford’s grant awards and Hungerford in Bloom

HTC has made over £11,000-worth of grant donations to local groups for 2023-24 with more expected to be confirmed. Please see this separate post for details of all the grants and information about how you can make applications in the future.

Boots the Chemist

There have recently been concerns about the level of service at, and the possible viability of, the Boots pharmacy in the High Street.

Two representatives of the Hungerford Surgery, Practice Manager Mike Hall and Pharmacy Technician Lauren Burbidge, addressed the meeting. They explained that any changes that Boots chose to make were entirely down to them and the Surgery had no control over these. One such change is that Boots has now withdrawn a long-established repeat-prescription service. In the past, Boots arranged for repeat medication on the patient’s behalf: now, the patient needs to do this themselves. If you have any questions about any prescription issues, please see this FB post or contact the Surgery.

Although the Surgery has no direct influence over how Boots or any other pharmacy operates, the spokespeople at the meeting stressed that they are concerned at the possibility that it might close. They have recently made repeated attempts to arrange meetings with the new Hungerford manager and area representatives to discuss the situation, so far without success.

It’s also worth stressing that there is no law that insists that a town the size of Hungerford has a pharmacy; just as there is nothing to say that it needs to have a Post Office, a local service that was nearly lost to Hungerford about seven years ago, a situation that was only averted by the intervention of HTC in ensuring an outreach service to bridge the gap between the departure of Martins and the arrival of WHS. It’s highly improbable that HTC will be able to intervene in this way were Boots to close (which is, we must stress, currently no more than a possibility). None the less, residents should be aware that the Surgery and HTC are both aware of this threat and doing what they can to ensure it doesn’t translate into reality.

The neighbourhood development plan (H2036)

Work continues, but a bit more slowly than usual due to the holiday period. In summary, progress includes:

  • Confirmation of a grant of £10,000 to help fund the project from the Department of Communities. This is great news as we have been waiting for it and it will help to fund the planning consultant, the consultations and the production of the plan.
  • The NDP text is progressing well and is almost there as a first full draft. We have many photos that are being sorted and added in.
  • When the draft plan is done then hopefully we can progress with the consultation in October and November. The end date is still expected in October 2024, or at least by the end of 2024.

Key next actions are to set out site options for consultation; to complete the first full draft of the Plan for consultation; and to prepare for consultation in the autumn of 2023.

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

Roof leak in the Hungerford Hub

this has been a minor and intermittent problem for a couple of years but has recently become more serious. Attempts to patch up the flat roof above The Curve area have not worked and damage to stock has resulted. It was agreed at the meeting that HTC would seek further professional help to address the issue.

The town-centre strategy

This project was started in late 2022 and paused before the May 2023 elections. See this post for information on the progress so far.

The 25 March entry said that “It’s expected that during the summer of 2023 the new West Berkshire Council will, in conjunction with the main organisations in the town, agree how the work will continue.” Councillor James Cole announced at the meeting that terms of reference had been provided and that these were being discussed by HTC, WBC and other local stakeholders.

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 & Planning generally meets once a month and the others every other month. See the separate section above for the H2036 (NDP) committee.

  • Environment and Planning. (Last meeting 14 August 2023 – click here to see the minutes.) Items covered included: outcome of actions; a WBC planning consultation; seven planning applications (five no-objections, one objection and one noted to have gone to appeal); and WBC case officers’ reports.
  • Highways and Transport. (Last meeting 24 July 2023 – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: update on actions from previous meetings; safety on the High Street; EV charge points; dog bins; CCTV on the Triangle Field; an unlit footpath; parking on pavements and verges; litter bins; the continued contraflow at the top of the High Street; and footpath signage.
  • Recreation, Amenities and War Memorials. (Last meeting 17 July 2023 – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: update on actions from previous meetings; the Triangle Field; RoSPA; repairs and maintenance; the War Memorials and Tragedy Gardens; the playparks; the tree programme; the Croft Field Activity Centre; and the Skatepark.
  • Finance and General Purposes. (Last meeting 12 July 2023 – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: updates on actions from the previous meeting; the tennis courts’ lease; the Christmas lights; the freehold of the Bridge Street War Memorial; and the Croft Field Activity Centre.

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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