Hungerford Town Council Update December 2023/January 2024

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the HTC meeting on 2 January 2024, 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 (so-called until October 2023). HNP = Hungerford’s NDP (from October 2023). DC = District Councillor; TVP = Thames Valley Police.

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

Police report

No police report for December was provided for the meeting. The post will be updated if it is.

The local police team

The current set-up of the team is one Inspector, one Sergeant, three 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.

A possible co-option

David Reeves, who has recently moved both himself and his business to Hungerford, had put himself forward for co-option and gave a brief summary of his professional background, which has mainly involved marketing and recruitment for the leisure industry. In line with HTC’s policies in such matters, he was asked to attend as many committee meetings as he was able to during January with a final decision being taken at the February meeting.

The Mayor’s report

Most of you know that I’ve been out of action with Covid followed by a chest infection which has wiped me out for a month and I’m currently still on antibiotics and not quite fighting fit. My December diary is normally full of events that I greatly look forward to: in 2023, however, I was only able to attend a few before the lurgy struck…

OAP Christmas party hosted by year 11s at JOG

This was very well attended and a real highlight for our older residents. The year 11’s  were extremely attentive and really looked after us, there was singing and bingo and a delicious meal cooked by Donna and her team. Well done to all those who helped make a wonderful party for us to enjoy. It’s worth noting the year 11’s fund raise to host this event and made a whopping £2000 in doing so this year. Congratulations.

Hungerford Primary Nativity Play

Just magical! It never fails to amaze me how well the year 2’s remember so many lines, as well as dancing and singing. Albie even managed to perform a solo which was outstanding. Not a dry eye in the house. Congratulations to all the year 2 staff at HPS, you all work so hard to bring us these incredible performances.

Tuesday Burchett Club Xmas Lunch

Thank you for inviting me to attend again this year. We had a lovely afternoon tea with the most amazing raffle. I know how well this is received each year. Huge congratulations on the purchase of your replacement mini bus. I know you will continue to put on outings for all your elderly members who wouldn’t get out otherwise.

Hungerford Extravaganza

Congratulations Hungerford Chamber of Commerce for another excellent Victorian evening. I know this is a year in planning and takes huge commitment from the chamber committee.

The Mayor’s Carol Concert

Thank you to Jerry for stepping in at this annual event. I hope you all had a lovely service. I was extremely sad to miss it.

Burglary

I was devastated to read the news of one of our small independent family businesses (Hungerford coin and stamp centre) being raided in the early hours of new year’s eve. This was a devastating attack to both the business and the building. Obviously this is a live police investigation and the family has asked for privacy at this time. HTC wish to extend our sympathies and hope the perpetrators are caught and punished swiftly.

West Berkshire Council budget consultations

(This item was in the Mayor’s report for November/December 2023 but is repeated here as the consultations are still live.)

Many of you will already be aware of the current WBC consultations. These are hugely important and you need to make your voices heard. Please don’t waste the opportunity. You have until 11 January 2024 to respond.

I have added below links to ones that caught my eye. The full list can be found on the WBC site.

I know CHAIN will be hugely challenged if the cuts to community transport go ahead. The impact on communities by reducing services will leave holes in services and extra costs to us all. New parking charges to include evenings and Sundays will hugely impact local trade and deter visitors on Sundays.

District Councillors’s report

DC Gaines and Benneyworth were present at the meeting and their reports covered the following points:

  • The results of WBC’s Parking Strategy consultation will be published soon.
  • WBC’s budget consultations remain open until 11 January. The full list can be found on the WBC site.
  • The new Wiltshire Connect on-demand bus service that links Hungerford to Marlborough appears to be being well used.
  • The controversial issue of WBC’s local plan was referred to, DC Gaines explaining that Whitehall had decided that it could not be withdrawn and that the Council would now work with the Planning Inspectorate to attempt to “smooth the edges” of what the administration felt was a less than ideal document, particularly concerning NE Thatcham. DC Benneyworth said that he was glad that the plan, which his party had submitted to the Planning Inspectorate shortly before the election in May 2023, would now “proceed as was.” Both DCs said that they respected each other’s positions on the matter. From Hungerford’s point of view, this matter is not likely to have any effect on the progress of the Hungerford NDP (see separate section below).

The accident in the High Street

At the meeting, it was announced that the exterior works have been concluded on the building at the top (south) end of the High Street, formerly occupied by Snippit’s Barbers, following the serious accident in December 2022. As a result, the contraflow and lights have now been removed. It may take slightly longer for all the related signs to be removed.

The meeting also discussed whether the repairs to the parking bay on the other side of the street, which contains some prodigious pot holes, will now be repaired. It appears that work on this had been scheduled before the accident and was paused during the 13-month pause mainly caused by the discussions between the insurance companies. It should therefore find its place in WBC’s repair works in the near future.

The town-centre strategy

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

Councillor James Cole told the meeting that the most recent meeting of the Town Centre Steering Group took place on 14 December.

Members had sent him their views on prioritisation of the ten options then up for discussion (all of which had resulted from the considerable number of public responses received during the consultation organised by WBC in late 2022). The result of the meeting was agreement to further discuss the top six:

  1. The Town Hall, specifically the area immediately in front of it. Ideas included signage, parking and its possible use as a public space.
  2. The Canal, particularly the towpath to the east of the High Street bridge, where there is some serious work to be done. The aim of any improvement would be to encourage tourist boats to stop in the town.
  3. High Street facade improvements, with particular reference to certain shop fronts and perhaps also signage.
  4. Station Road and The Cuttings, a main entry-route into the town which could benefit from better lighting, pavements and vegetation-management.
  5. Parking, a matter that WBC was not keen to see as part of the discussion which is an aspect that no responsible town-centre strategy can ignore.
  6. Church Lane, improvements to which could include additional street lighting.

Discussion at the meeting stressed that the town-centre strategy project was still at a very early stage: most projects were very long-term and all would be dependent on securing funding.

The Hungerford neighbourhood development plan (HNP)

Good progress again in December:

  • Following the site consultations the Plan has been updated ready for Reg 14 Consultation.
  • The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) scoping report produced by AECOM. Expect full report completed early Feb. It’s an independent environmental audit that we have to wait for. Copies of the scoping report are available if interested.
  • There is still a chance of completing by late 2024, but may well end up in 2025 as delays from the Rule 16 consultation, examination and referendum are quite likely with the timescales out of our control.

Key next actions are: complete the SEA; and start Reg 14 formal consultation (six weeks from mid February 2024).

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

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

  • Environment and Planning. (Last meeting 11 December 2023 – click here to see the minutes.) Items covered included: outcome of actions; eight planning applications (three no-objections, four support and one request for a call-in); and WBC case officers’ reports.
  • Finance and General Purposes. (Last meeting 29 November 2023 – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: updates on actions from the previous meeting; and the provisional HTC budget for 2024-25. There was also a longer meeting of the same committee of 13 November 2023 – click here to read the minutes.
  • Highways and Transport. (Last meeting 27 November 2023 – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: update on actions from previous meetings; safety on High Street; EV charge points; litter bins; the number 3 bus; footpath signage;  footways works to The Croft; and future maintenance arrangements for streetlights.
  • Recreation, Amenities and War Memorials. (Last meeting 20 November 2023 – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: RoSPA report; play areas; the Youth Council; tree works; Gigaclear; the committee’s budget; Swimming Pool House; and health and safety checks.

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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