This week with Brian 14 to 21 September 2023

Further Afield the week according to Brian Quinn

This Week with Brian

Including the the Fat Controller goes forth, more dirty water, the next step for the nutrients, a retracted apologia, a delayed memoir, roughly right, more assaults, objective and subjective offence, a pain in the economy, missing accounts, gremlin update, school buildings, an excellent speech, solar, scrutiny, Jesus and the Devil, three palindromes, a short frontier and Dupree’s diamond blues.

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

I like trains: that’s to say, I like the idea of them connecting communities and obviating me from the need for any motor skills or drink-driving regulations once I’m on board, although the prices in this country are enough to make you want to hire a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce instead. Above all, I have a deep-seated fear of missing them or finding myself on the wrong one. This has happened a lot less often in reality than it does in my dreams. Perhaps that’s what dreams are for: to provide us with a version of life that is in most cases even more horrible that the reality so that when we wake up we we say “thank god that didn’t happen.”

[more below] 

• Trains

Where was I? Oh yes, trains. One important train trip took place this week when Kim Jong Un embarked on a 733-mile journey to Russia in his private train to meet up with his new best mate. The BBC estimates that its speed was little more than 30mph due to the antiquity of the North Korean railway infrastructure, the massive weight of the armoured carriages and the amount of lobster, donkey meat, molluscs, vodka, French wines and other delicacies that the Respected Comrade might wish to consume during the journey there and back.

The meeting, with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin – who seems with each photograph more and more to be turning into a crocodile – was ostensibly to discuss “bilateral relations.” The reality seems to be Russian help for Kim’s space ambitions in exchange for ammunition, possibly about the only thing that the strange state of North Korea manufactures in quantities sufficient to be exported.

I doubt that Putin cares about this very much, but the idea of a would-be world tyrant scuttling about with a man like Kim to buy bullets seems a tad grotesque. Mind you, both men have re-defined what this word means; indeed rendered it obsolete by most people’s reckoning. None the less, I think it marks a new low in Putin’s behaviour.

And then, the meetings concluded, the Fat Controller got back on his train and went shush-te-cuff shush-te-cuff all the way back to his starving and adoring subjects in Animal Farm. There’s a peculiar horror story in this as well but one so ghastly and permanently stuck in parody that it seems almost beyond censure. Orwell has never seemed so relevant.

• Water

The Office for Environmental Protection has suggested that the government and the regulators have broken the law over how they regulate and manage sewage leaks. The issue turns on the discharges of sewage into waterways on “dry days” without rain. This happens plenty of times and so appears to infringe a 2012 EU directive, still in force in the UK. Campaign groups including WildFish and River Action have supported the assertion, the former claiming that the government and the regulators have been “complicit in allowing the pollution”: DEFRA, OfWat and the EA have issued more ponderous statements which, in DEFRA’s case, seems to stop only just short of claiming that it feels the allegation is a load of rubbish.

“This tough approach from the OEP is welcome news,” Charlotte Hitchmough from Action for the River Kennet told Penny Post on 13 September. “Our rivers have been let down by all the agencies whose job is to regulate pollution. It’s particularly pertinent for the Kennet and Lambourn. The permits for sewage treatment works issued by the Environment Agency are clear that storm overflows are only permitted after exceptional weather conditions or snow melt. In catchments with high groundwater like ours, spilling of untreated sewage goes on for weeks or months on end in averagely wet years – not due to exceptional circumstances.

“The Environment Agency turns a blind eye because the effluent is diluted by clean spring water, as a result the impact isn’t immediately catastrophic – however untreated sewage is still reaching the river and it’s hard to imagine that there is no impact from that constant stream of pollution.”

• Nutrients

In a related development, the Labour Party has said that, if elected, it would re-introduce the nutrient neutrality (NN) regulations which were, in the Lambourn catchment area and many others, implemented in March 2022. In August 2023 the government announced that – pending legislation – these would be removed. With the necessary bill passing through parliament (though the proposed changes were rejected by the House of Lords on 13 September) and a general election on the horizon, there’s every chance that the regulations could be, over about three years, not in force, in force, not in force again and in force again.

I suggested in this article that NN may have been aimed at the wrong target (home building) and using the wrong method (the planning system) with which to implement it. In particular, I argued that to insist that developers, of whatever size, be forced to provide mitigations for the effect of new homes suggests that we accept that the water companies aren’t doing their job and that a good part of the phosphates and nitrates that result from toilet flushes are going to end up in the rivers.

Charlotte Hitchmough pointed out to me “even the best system will increase nutrient load if we put more sewage through it. No system removes everything. All the effluent treated and untreated ends up in the river (with the exception of a few treatment works that discharge to ground).”

I concede the point: however, it still seems to me that the NN regulations as they stood are akin to saying that a planning application should be refused because it’s felt that the owner will create more rubbish than the council can deal with – if so the solution is to fix the rubbish-collection system.

Charlotte Hitchmough suggests that the bigger question is “who pays? It will be us as customers and government have made it clear to water companies that they can’t put bills up.”

The flip side to this is that the country is desperately short of housing, particularly of the “affordable” kind. Businesses like pubs and racing yards also need to change and expand. Certainly in West Berkshire, the regulations seemed to have acted as a brake on even quite benign development.

The government’s announcement was ecstatic about the economic boost and the number of new homes that will be miraculously created as a result of abolishing the NN regulations. These are good examples of pre-election fantasy. A more certain reality, Charlotte Hitchmough reminds us, is that “the government has relaxed EU rules designed to protect the environment, something it promised not to do.”

Agriculture produces more nutrient pollution than do new homes do and in a way which is far more difficult to constrain. In what appears to be another example of post-Brexit weakening standards, The Guardian claims that the UK “has failed to ban 36 harmful pesticides outlawed for use in EU.” (It should be added that an industry expert speaking on BBC R4’s World at One on 13 September said that some of the chemicals banned by the EU had since been withdrawn by their makers). None the less, the claim that the UK is “the toxic poster child of Europe” may tale some shaking off. The results of all of this will end up in our rivers. No such chemicals are, so far as I’m aware, used in domestic homes and flushed down the toilet. If we want cheap and plentiful food, this seems to be the price we have to pay for it until someone has a better idea.

There are other ways. Evidence suggests that good crop yields without intensive fertilisers are possible while examples from Scandinavia show that more effective water-treatment is possible. The key issue is whether we’re prepared to pay for this. The answer, in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis and the need to make changes to our habits to work towards de-carbonisation, seems to be “no.” Certainly it’s not an option any politician has so far dared suggest.

These pollution issues will not, however, go away. Our precious chalk streams may get killed off as a result. If so, many might not immediately be affected. However, even if we ignore that tragedy, everything is connected to everything else in ways we are only starting to understand. The NN regulations may not have been perfect but the aspiration was worthy, even if the target and method were flawed.

Rather than re-introducing them as they stand, Labour should (if elected) discard the bad, re-inforce the good and re-focus the rest. Ideally, that would involve getting the opinions of organisations like Action for the River Kennet to provide on-the-ground experience of how the world actually works in affected areas. Will this happen? Whether the next government is Labour, Conservative or a coalition, I may be holding my nose but won’t’ be holding my breath.

• Assault

There don’t seem to be any safe professions for women. The problems of being a victim of unwelcome attention by a male member of the Metropolitan Police or the captain of the World Cup-winning football team are well documented: but more is coming out every day. Female surgeons have, it appears, been sexually assaulted during operations. This is a horrific story on every level and gives a new dimension to the traditional pre-op remark for patients that “you’re only going to feel a little prick.” The the DJ Annie Mac announced that there is a “tidal wave” of revelations about sexual assault in the music industry waiting to be told. Who’s next?

Perhaps we should all move to Afghanistan in the strength of Tory MP Tobias Ellwood’s assertion that society there has been “transformed” since the Taliban took over. Well, that’s one way of putting it. What does your wife think, Tobe? He’s since been forced to resign as Commons defence committee chairman, one of the members having branded him “a fucking idiot” after making a video which some have seen as being an apologia for the Taliban.

• Delay

It seems that the long-awaited The Plot: The Political Assassination of Boris Johnson by the current but soon to be ex member for Mid-Bedfordshire Nadine Dorries has been delayed. This is, according to Private Eye 1606,  because of, as the publishers claim ” the huge volume of material the author has consulted, the number of high-level sources spoken to and the required legal process needed to share her story”: a rather opaque sentence which Lord Gnome helpfully translated as “we don’t want to get sued.” This will mean that publication will be after the Conservative conference in early October which the author so hoped to gatecrash in this way.

There’s something rather dismal about these kind of political memoirs. Perhaps she felt that her career had ended prematurely, falling on the sword of BoJo for whom she increasingly to have developed an almost unhealthy devotion, and that the world still owed her something more. It seems incredible that we’re still talking about these yesterday’s people: and yet I am. So I shall now stop.

• Skills

Penny was talking to someone in her 30s this week who said that, as part of her education in Wokingham, there was a compulsory life-skills course. This included how to cook half a dozen basic meals, how to open a bank account and how to fix a rip in a piece of clothing with needle and thread. I’m not aware that anything like this happens here in West Berkshire: certainly our sons weren’t taught these things.

This seems like a good idea to me and set me thinking about what other things might feature on such a course. How to change a flat tyre on a car, how fuse boards and trip switches work and how to use a power drill all might have their place. So too might how to keep calm while waiting for someone at a call centre to answer the phone, how to give a pill to a cat without having your thumb bitten off and how to say “please”, “sorry” and “thank you” in half a dozen major languages. The advanced course could include things like the LBW law, the difference between the British Isles, Great Britain, the UK and the four constituent countries and the correct use of the apostrophe. There could also be a module on the “good enough” concept for maths, my contention being that getting the answer to questions such as “what’s 12% of 80?” roughly right is good enough about 95% (see what I mean?) of the time. I look forward to seeing all this on all school curriculums from next September.

• And finally

• I’ve just had a press statement from one local political party calling out a member of another local political party for using the term “Chinglish” in a tweet, or whatever they’re called these days. This describes the term as “offensive” and “insensitive” and urges the councillor to withdraw it. I’ve not seen the tweet (though the link was provided) as I don’t want to vanish down a political rabbit hole. I am, however, interested in where the increasingly common “offence” lines are drawn regarding a word or phrase (and who draws them).

Context is, of course, everything. So too is the fact that some people are more sensitive than others. Offence needs to be taken as well as given. That said, there are some words which could be called objectively offensive and would be seen as such in any context and by any rational person (not, of course, that we all agree about which these are). Many more terms, however, are subjectively offensive, depending on how and to whom they’re used. “Chinglish” might be one of these.

Wikipedia says that word “may have pejorative or deprecating connotations” (note the “may”) whereas the OED describes it as “a mixture of Chinese and English; esp. a variety of English used by speakers of Chinese or in a bilingual Chinese and English context, typically incorporating some Chinese vocabulary or constructions, or English terms specific to a Chinese context.” This blog from journalist Serena Puang (who speaks both languages) observes that “recently, there has been controversy surrounding this word. Some people use it in a derogatory/pejorative sense, and in reaction, others call it racist. However, Chinese Linguists and people in my parents’ generation (first-generation immigrants) use the term to describe Chinese influenced English.”

We certainly need to tread with caution through the maze of language and all its connotations and sub texts, some of which seem to change by the day. What does seem clear is that “Chinglish” has its place and its uses in a non-pejorative way. Whether this context was one of them I couldn’t say. It’s up to all of us to judge and take our chances. 

• Many might say that it’s “objectively offensive” to suggest that “we need to see pain in the economy” and that higher levels of unemployment would serve to remind “arrogant” workers of their place. Thus spoke Australian millionaire Tim Gurner earlier this week but, following “a global backlash”, he’s retracted his comments which he now says he “deeply regretted.” I suppose all employers want to see high unemployment as it reduces staff costs (though if there are too many unemployed then fewer people will be able to buy your products). The only odd thing was that he actually said it out loud.

• Some numbers, or the lack of them, can also be offensive. Private Eye 1606 reports that Copeland Borough Council has not filed any accounts for four years, presumably because they wouldn’t make very happy reading. A massive rebate claim, a cyber attack and accusations of political incompetence all seem to be part of the problem. I don’t know which is more remarkable, the fact that the council’s financial officer felt that not filing accounts was OK or that no one from Whitehall seemed to have chased them up.

I wonder how many more there are in this situation? Each case is probably a section 114 notice (an admission of effective bankruptcy) in waiting. Birmingham’s recent high-profile collapse won’t be the last.

• So far there have been no signs of the gremlins which knocked PP sidewise last week and caused us to delay publication by a day, something that only the death of the Queen almost exactly twelve months before had managed to accomplish. Trouble is, gremlins don’t give any warning or book an appointment to come and mess you up – they just arrive, often at the worst possible moment. As we all know, they’re also more dangerous after dark. Perhaps this is nature’s way of tell us we should try to get the newsletter out before sunset…

Across the area

• School buildings

This week I received a press release from our MP Laura Farris. This noted that she’d recently taken part in a Commons debate on school buildings during which she “told MPs the accusation from the opposition that the government has failed to invest in school buildings and failed children did not add up.” She added that “the government has invested heavily in Newbury’s schools and acted promptly to tackle the issue of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) used in schools from the 1950s until the mid-1990s.”

West Berkshire appears to have no schools with the dreaded RAAC but whether this is because they’ve all be fixed or there was never any in the first place I haven’t been able to establish. However, a number of objective sources including the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the House of Commons Library suggest a rather different conclusion nationwide. All seem to agree that spending on schools, including maintenance, peaked in 2010, declined for about nine years thereafter and has increased a bit since. As for the Building Schools for the Future scheme, Michael Gove described ditching this after the 2010 election as “his biggest mistake.

Laura Farris then refers to the construction of Highwood Copse School (though this, of course, has nothing to do with RAAC). Highwood Copse doesn’t represent the triumph of any school-building policy but rather a delayed reaction to a long-term under-estimate by the local education authoty of the number of school places required. I understand that the Council was offered space for a school at the Racecourse development in about 2010 which it mysteriously turned down.

In addition, the construction history ay Highwood was problematic to put it mildly and resulted in a number of features such as solar panels which were part of the original plans not being included. The school may well be, as our MP describes it, “brilliant” but is sustainability credentials are almost certainly not.

She also cites some other examples of work that’s been done at other schools including Francis Baily Primary, Whiteland Park Primary, Trinity, Park House Kennet and John O’Gaunt. I’m sure these are all correct but they don’t really prove anything. All they suggest is that some schools have had an unspecified sum of money spent on them since 2019. No one is claiming that the government has done nothing. Many, however, claim that they’ve not done enough, an assertion that Laura Farris’ statements don’t dispel.

Laura’s superb speech

I disagre with our MP on the above matter but am totally on Team Farris regarding a superb speech she made in the Commons in July criticising those who so shamefully sought to undermine the work of the Commons Privileges Committee. In this separate post, you can read some background to this unedifying issue, the full text of her remarks and a link to the video of her delivering them.

She is to be warmly congratulated for saying, and saying very well, what needed to be said, despite the fact that this involved criticising members of her own party. I commend it to the House…

• Solar Together

We mentioned this initiative when it was first launched and it’s recently been pointed out to me that it’s still in operation. WBC explains that Solar Together Berkshire is “a solar panel and battery storage group-buying scheme. It enables householders and small businesses to install Solar PV systems and batteries at a competitive price with a trustworthy, pre-vetted installer. Any tenant, homeowner, small business or common hold association in Berkshire can register.”

I understand that it has proved very popular with, so far, over 1,600 people registering and over 300 having made purchases through it. See this post for more information.

Scrutiny

The latest meeting of West Berkshire’s Scrutiny Commission took place on 14 September and you can click here to see the agenda and watch a video of the event. Items that the committee will be looking at include crime and disorder, finance, task-and-finish groups and WBC’s Executive Forward Plan. We’ll have a report on this next week.

The scrutineers’ next outing will be on Wednesday 11 October. This will be looking at the performance of Thames Water and the Environment Agency in the district, with representatives of both organisations in attendance. If you have any questions you’d like ask or concerns you’d like to raise, please email these to Executivecycle@westberks.gov.uk by 18 September. The meeting will be streamed live on the Council’s YouTube channelfor residents wanting to follow the meeting as it happens or at their convenience later. Click here for more details. 

• The first hundred days

The new Lib Dem Council was sworn in on 25 May, so the group’s hundredth day in power passed at the start of this month. As mentioned last week, we took a look at a number of the pledges that the then-opposition party made before the election and compared these with how much progress has been made. The aspects we looked at included CIL charges, Faraday Road, Readibus, green-bin charges, pedestrianisation, the local water and sewage system, advisory groups, community forums and the local plan.

Click here to read our assessment of the work done so far by clicking here.

• Residents’ news

The latest Residents’ Bulletin from West Berkshire Council covers a new learning building, Newbury Show, Hungerford’s 3G pitch, scrutiny, cycling, a careers fair, a law webinar, compost, jabs, nature recovery, kids’ activities and voter registration.

• 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

• Congratulations to the West Berkshire Cycle Forum which on 12 September celebrated 20 years “of unwavering commitment to advancing the cause of cycling within West Berkshire.” You can read more here.

• West Berkshire Council has announced some improvements to the district’s bus services, mainly involving Newbury, Thatcham and Mortimer.

• A reminder that on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 September 2023 there will be a give-away event at the Padworth Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF), Padworth Lane, RG7 4JF, between 10am and 4pm where residents will be able to pick up Veolia’s locally produced soil conditioner for free. For more information, click here.

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

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 animal of the week is this American Bully XL (whoever thought of naming a dog breed after a shirt size?) that attacked several people in Birmingham this week including an eleven-year-old girl. “Oh, he’s only playing,” the demented owner might have said. These are the last words some people hear.

• The letters section of the Newbury Weekly News includes, as well as ones referred to elsewhere, communications on the subject of the Kennet Centre, the BBC and the NHS, digital by default, 440 years of work and no place for party politics.

• 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

• So already we’re at the Song of the Week. Wow – what a piece of work is this version of The Grateful Dead’s Dupree’s Diamond Blues by Ryan Montbleau and Stephane Wrembel.

• So next must be the Comedy Moment of the Week. We’re back on the wonderful Big Train for Office Politics: Jesus v the Devil.

• Which only leaves us with the Quiz Question of the Week. This week’s question is: Russia has fourteen land borders with other countries. That with Kazakhstan is the longest continuous one in the world (7,512km). With with which country does Russia share its shortest land border (of about eleven miles)? Last week’s question was: What do the words rotator, deified and racecar have in common? The answer is that they are all palindromes – or “palinilaps” as they should be known if only English were more logical. 

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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