Thatcham Area Weekly News – 2024 Archive

To see the current Thatcham Area Weekly News section, please click here.

Please note that this section is presented as an archive of past columns and is not updated (except by the addition of the previous post every week). Some web links may no longer be active (usually indicated by a score-through), for instance when draft parish council minutes are replaced by adopted ones or when a consultation has closed.

Click here for the 2022 archive

Click here for the 2023 archive

Thursday 23 May 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes nature, an anniversary, a festival, a suspension and open studios – plus a look at Thatcham’s D-day plans. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include Meeting of the Mayors & Repair Cafe. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

• D-day in Thatcham

Thatcham Town Council will be supporting two commemorative events which will be taking place on Thursday 6 June, the eightieth anniversary of D-Day “to mark one of the most significant military operations in history, and to remember those who gave their lives for the freedom of Europe.”

At 11am  Thatcham Town Council will support The Royal British Legion Thatcham Branch as they conduct an act of commemoration at Thatcham Memorial Gardens (Brownsfield Rd Thatcham).  All attendees will be invited to the Town Council Chamber following the service where refreshments will be served.

In the evening, Thatcham Town Council will be supporting  reenham Parish Council and Newbury Town Council at a lighting of the Tower event at Greenham Control Tower. The lighting of the Tower and Beacon Lighting will take place at 9.15pm. There will also be entertainment starting from 6pm with Kennet Radio and a dance floor for the occasion, as well as Fish and Chips and liquid refreshment, which will continue after the Tower Lighting.

Thatcham Town Council is providing a free courtesy shuttle bus, run by Newbury and District Buses, taking members of the public who may wish to attend the Greenham Control Tower evening commemorations.

For more information, please see this page on Thatcham Town Council’s website.

• Other news

• The Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham is offering some lovely nature activities for families this May half-term including Blossom & Bees Trail and Brilliant Birds Day Camp. See here for details.

• The next Newbury & Thatcham Repair Cafe, is on Sunday 2 June, at the Frank Hutchings Community Hall. Newbury and Thatcham Repair Cafe holds events where visitors bring items for repair such as electronic and electrical goods, clothes and textiles, crockery, wood items, toys etc.  Volunteer repairers repair these items with the visitors, if those repairs are feasible.  Repairs are free but we appreciate donations to keep the Repair Cafe running. For more details see here.

• Quick reminder about Open Studios runs until Monday 27 May so why not take the opportunity to visit a couple of the many working studios of local artists across Thatcham, Newbury, Stockcross, Woolton Hill, Hungerford, Kintbury Holt, Bucklebury, Bradfield and Brimpton, Lambourn, East Ilsley and Wilton.

• Thatcham Town Council will be holding a Meeting of the Mayors event, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Thatcham becoming a town. Mayors of both past and present will joining the public in a coffee morning to reminisce together. Taking place on Tuesday 28 May from 10am to 12pm at the Council Offices on Brownfield Road. Click here for more information.

• Thatcham Town Council is supporting two events marking the 80th Anniversary of D-Day. On Thursday 6 July, in the morning they will be joining the local British Legion for a service at the Thatcham Memorial Gardens. In the evening they will be attending the Beacon Lighting Event at Greenham Control Tower. For further details about these events, click here.

• For anyone interested in holding an event for the Thatcham Festival, a reminder that the deadline for applications is Friday 24 May. The Council are seeking a wide range of activities from workshops, talks and walks, performances, and exhibitions for a range of different interests. Thatcham Festival is the place to inspire people to get involved, educate, and entertain. The festival takes place between Friday 11 and Sunday 20 October 2024. Click here to learn more about how to apply.

• A reminder that West Berkshire Libraries services will be temporarily suspended next week while they make improvements to their library management system. From Sunday 26 May to Saturday 1 June the library catalogue will unavailable, you will not be able to reserve books or other items, the app will be unavailable as well as some other digital services. If you need to photocopy or print anything please bring cash. No items will be due for return and no fines will be charged during this period. This will affect all WB libraries including Thatcham, Newbury, Theale, Burghfield Common, Mortimer, Lambourne, Pangbourne and Hungerford. Click here for the latest updates.

• West Berkshire Council announced it will soon be installing solar panels on the roof of the Kennet Leisure Centre. This advancement is thanks to a £237,600 grant that has been awarded to them by the Government and Sport England‘s £60m capital investment program. More details to come soon.

• A reminder for those of you with felines in the family, that from Monday 10 June, your cat must be microchipped. This new law cites that if you do not microchip and register your cat on a database by the time they are twenty weeks old, you can be fined up to £500. See full details here.

Calleva Stickdressers promote and encourage the traditional craft of stick making (walking sticks, shepherd crooks & thumbsticks etc ). They hold monthly work days on the third Saturday of the month in Beenham Victory Hall, RG7 5NN. They always welcome new members and encourage anyone interested to attend a work day to find out more about this historic craft. The next upcoming date is Saturday 15 June.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Thatcham Council has updated the Town Guide for 2024, which can be read here. It contains information about Thatcham’s history, annual events as well as local services.

• The Green Hub on West Berkshire Council’s website is focused on helping people make more sustainable choices collectively along our journey to net zero, whether you live, work or learn in West Berkshire or are a business owner or visitor. The information covers energy efficiencytaking climate actioncommunity work and sustainable business.

• Have your say

Have your say on current consultations being run by West Berkshire Council:

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consultations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Town Council is looking for volunteers to help the Jubilee Sensory Garden. If you have an interest in sustainable gardening and want to develop your knowledge and skills with gardening expert Sally, please contact  enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk or 01635 863592. Dates are to be confirmed. See here for more details.

Thatcham Pharmacy now offers advice and prescribes NHS medicine for certain health concerns. Learn more about the ‘NHS Pharmacy First’ scheme here.

• Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

• Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scamWImers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? Thatcham United Reformed Church is looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

• West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Mon 27 May Newbury Pride Family Craft Morning, West Berkshire Museum.

Tue 28 May Meeting of the Mayors: 50 Years of Thatcham, Thatcham Council, Brownsfield Road.

Sun 2 June Newbury & Thatcham Repair Cafe, Thatcham

Thurs 6 June British Legion: D-Day Commemorative Service, Memorial Gardens, Brownsfield Road.

Thurs 6 June D-Day Lighting of the Beacon, Greenham Control Tower.

Sun 30 June Family Fun Day, Henwick Worthy Sports Ground.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

Silly Socks Childcare children’s holiday club is planning to open in time for April half term at Burdwood Community Centre (Station Road, Thatcham).

• Sport in Mind offers badminton sessions at Kennet Leisure Centre on Wednesdays from 6 to 7pm to help improve the lives of anyone with mental health issues. See here for details and how to book.

• The Corn Exchange spring/summer season of Ageing Creatively courses and classes for over 55s across West Berkshire. See details here – there really is something for everyone.

• A new monthly Board Games Club at Thatcham Library on the first Friday of every month, from 2 to 4pm. There is no need to book: just drop in and join the fun playing some familiar games and learning some new ones.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Monthly Retirement Rebels group with Thatcham therapist Rob Donnelly meets on the second Monday of the month at the West Grange Hotel Thatcham, with speakers and mutual support for those approaching or in retirement. Click here to book.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Catholic Hall (along the A4) with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation from Citizens Advice West Berkshire; a presentation from Community United; reports from the Mayor and the Deputy; committee minutes; the Cricket Club lease; reports from ward members; and office accommodation.
Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 22 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: financial matters; planning matters; the annual parish meeting (23 May); and the Village Hall.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; the NDP (see separate section above); financial matters; the burial ground; highways; playgrounds; repairs and maintenance; the Village Hall; and the Youth Club.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 April and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 April and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here. 

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 April and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 19 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Woolhampton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 24 April and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: the Copse; HGV parking; a new councillor; matters arising; speeding; financial matters; planning matters; Douai Park; the village shop; travellers’ activity; a report from the ward member; and repairs and maintenance.
To see the dates and agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings, please click here

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

• Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.
• News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 16 May 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes an anniversary, a festival, D-day, art, cats and solar panels – plus a new Mayor for Thatcham, success at the referendums in Cold Ash and Hermitage and the chalet proposals at Hambridge back on the table. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include stick-dressing workshop and valuation day. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

• Thatcham’s new Mayor

Last Sunday 12 May, Councillor Suzanne Adamantos was elected Mayor of Thatcham at a ceremony at Frank Hutchings Community Hall. Cllr Adamantos’ husband Micky Adamantos was chosen to be her Consort. Cllr Petra Pemberton was elected Deputy Mayor, and her husband Cllr Justin Pemberton was chosen to be her consort.

Both the Mayor and Deputy Mayor first became Thatcham Town Councillors in 2023 and are “delighted to be able to serve their community” in such roles.

Mayor Councillor Adamantos says “I am so proud to have been elected Thatcham Mayor for this year. To be able to serve my community, attend events, and raise money and awareness for charities which mean so much to me is a special thing, and I am excited to get started!”

Mayor Adamantos has chosen Thatcham Youth and Cruse Bereavement Support to be this year’s Mayor’s Charities, and will be working hard throughout the year to raise funds and awareness for both.

See more here, including how to invite the Mayor or Deputy Mayor to a community event.

• Thatcham’s chalets

The plans for some angling chalets at Hambridge Lake on between Newbury and Thatcham have re-surfaced again, along with an appeal for the original application which was refused by WBC.

You can see details of the original application (for “Construction of nine holiday chalets and clubhouse with access from Hambridge Road, parking areas, new pedestrian links and ancillary works”) by clicking here. You can see details of the more recent application (for “Construction of five holiday chalets and clubhouse with access from Hambridge Road, parking, footpaths, fishing stations, bin/cycle stores and landscaping”) by clicking here. At the time of writing, this has already received seven objections.

One of the concerns that was raised at the time was that the development was a Trojan horse and that, far from being used merely as fishing chalets they would instead be used for more permanent occupation and perhaps as longer-term holiday lets for which the supporting infrastructure would be inadequate. The refusal notice for the 2023 application included amongst its reasons the fact that it would be harmful to the distinctive character of the area including the loss of trees and that it didn’t demonstrate a suitable biodiversity net gain. It’s hard to see that anything much has changed with then latest application, aside from the smaller size.

• Hermitage and Cold Ash’s referendum

The finishing line of Hermitage and Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan were crossed earlier this month when the residents approved the plan at referendum.

In Cold Ash, there was a turnout of 27% with 92% voting in favour and 8% against . In Hermitage, there was a turnout of 26% with 91% voting in favour and 9% against. The national averages are a 33% turnout with 88% voting in favour.

A purely formal stage for both plans is still to come with the ratification of the results at WBC’s Full Council meeting in July. The matches have been played, and won: all that remains is the presentation of the trophies.

Once ratified (or “made” as the technical phrase has it) the NDP becomes as much part of the district’s local plan as if WBC had created it itself. One immediate benefit is that the parish then receives a 25%, rather than a 15%, share of any CIL receipts on developments in the parish.

Congratulations to all concerned. These things take a lot of work and a lot of time. You can all have a couple of weeks off and then it will be time to start working on the refresh…

• Other news

• In other mayoral news, Thatcham Town Council will be holding a Meeting of the Mayors event, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Thatcham becoming a town. Mayors of both past and present will joining the public in a coffee morning to reminisce together. Taking place on Tuesday 28 May from 10am to 12pm at the Council Offices on Brownfield Road. Click here for more information.

• Thatcham Town Council have announced they will supporting two events marking the 80th Anniversary of D-Day. On Thursday 6 July, in the morning they will be joining the local British Legion for a service at the Thatcham Memorial Gardens. In the evening they will be attending the Beacon Lighting Event at Greenham Control Tower. For further details about these events, click here.

• For anyone interested in holding an event for the Thatcham Festival, a reminder that the deadline for applications is Friday 24 May. The Council are seeking a wide range of activities from workshops, talks and walks, performances, and exhibitions for a range of different interests. Thatcham Festival is the place to inspire people to get involved, educate, and entertain. The festival takes place between Friday 11 and Sunday 20 October 2024. Click here to learn more about how to apply.

• Please note some West Berkshire Libraries services will be temporarily suspended for one week while they make improvements to their library management system. From Sunday 26 May to Saturday 1 June the library catalogue will unavailable, you will not be able to reserve books or other items, the app will be unavailable as well as some other digital services. If you need to photocopy or print anything please bring cash. No items will be due for return and no fines will be charged during this period. This will affect all WB libraries including Thatcham, Newbury, Theale, Burghfield Common, Mortimer, Lambourne, Pangbourne and Hungerford. Click here for the latest updates.

• West Berkshire Council announced they will soon be installing solar panels on the roof of the Kennet Leisure Centre. This advancement is thanks to a £237,600 grant that has been awarded to them by the Government and Sport England‘s £60m capital investment program. More details to come soon.

Your West Berkshire is a new magazine bringing you news and events from West Berkshire Council. It’s a good opportunity to find out more about some of things they are doing for the community. They will be sharing news, events and stories about their work and the services which they provide. You can read it online here.

• A reminder for those of you with felines in the family, that from Monday 10 June, your cat must be microchipped. This new law cites that if you do not microchip and register your cat on a database by the time they are twenty weeks old, you can be fined up to £500. See full details here.

• Quick reminder about Open Studios flagship exhibition INSIGHT 2024 featuringwork by over one local hundred artists at The Base, Greenham until Monday 27 May. Plus many working studios of local artists to visit across Thatcham, Newbury, Stockcross, Woolton Hill, Hungerford, Kintbury Holt, Bucklebury, Bradfield and Brimpton, Lambourn, East Ilsley and Wilton. There is also an exhibition of three artists at West Berkshire Museum open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm and a Trio of Talents exhibit drawing, printing, ceramics, sculpture, woodwork and textiles every weekend in May at the Bowls Pavilion at Stockcross House.

• Have you got old items you would like to know the value of? Well, the T.Baker & Co Roadshow’s Vintage Valuation Day is coming to Thatcham Town Council Office on Monday 20 May. If you have any items that you would like a free valuation on, no fees or commission and cash paid, then just turn up on the day or contact info@tbakerroadshow.co.uk to learn more.

• Quick reminder that Thatcham Town Council invite you to their Garden Party for Dementia Action Week, on Friday 17 May in the Jubilee Sensory Garden. There will be a creative mindfulness workshop designed to help you live in the moment, Jane Fletcher will share her touching experiences of caring for her father, there will also be tea, cake and lots of wonderful people to talk to. Click here to learn more.

Calleva Stickdressers promote and encourage the traditional craft of stick making (walking sticks, shepherd crooks & thumbsticks etc ). They hold monthly work days on the third Saturday of the month in Beenham Victory Hall, RG7 5NN. They always welcome new members and encourage anyone interested to attend a work day to find out more about this historic craft. Upcoming dates are Saturday 18 May and 15 June.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Thatcham Council has updated the Town Guide for 2024, which can be read here. It contains information about Thatcham’s history, annual events as well as local services.

• The Green Hub on West Berkshire Council’s website is focused on helping people make more sustainable choices collectively along our journey to net zero, whether you live, work or learn in West Berkshire or are a business owner or visitor. The information covers energy efficiencytaking climate actioncommunity work and sustainable business.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consultations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Town Council is looking for volunteers to help the Jubilee Sensory Garden. If you have an interest in sustainable gardening and want to develop your knowledge and skills with gardening expert Sally, please contact  enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk or 01635 863592. Dates are to be confirmed. See here for more details.

Thatcham Pharmacy now offers advice and prescribes NHS medicine for certain health concerns. Learn more about the ‘NHS Pharmacy First’ scheme here.

• Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

• Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scamWImers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? Thatcham United Reformed Church is looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

• West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: Creative Mindfulness Workshop, Thatcham Council.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: ‘Keeping Memories Alive’ Talk, Thatcham Council.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: Garden Party, Thatcham Council.

Sat 18 May Traditional art of stick-making workshop, Beenham Village Hall.

Mon 20 May Vintage Valuation Day, Thatcham Council, Brownsfield Road.

Mon 27 May Newbury Pride Family Craft Morning, West Berkshire Museum.

Tue 28 May Meeting of the Mayors: 50 Years of Thatcham, Thatcham Council, Brownsfield Road.

Sun 2 June Newbury & Thatcham Repair Cafe, Thatcham

Thurs 6 June British Legion: D-Day Commemorative Service, Memorial Gardens, Brownsfield Road.

Thurs 6 June D-Day Lighting of the Beacon, Greenham Control Tower.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

Silly Socks Childcare children’s holiday club is planning to open in time for April half term at Burdwood Community Centre (Station Road, Thatcham).

• Sport in Mind offers badminton sessions at Kennet Leisure Centre on Wednesdays from 6 to 7pm to help improve the lives of anyone with mental health issues. See here for details and how to book.

• The Corn Exchange spring/summer season of Ageing Creatively courses and classes for over 55s across West Berkshire. See details here – there really is something for everyone.

• A new monthly Board Games Club at Thatcham Library on the first Friday of every month, from 2 to 4pm. There is no need to book: just drop in and join the fun playing some familiar games and learning some new ones.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Monthly Retirement Rebels group with Thatcham therapist Rob Donnelly meets on the second Monday of the month at the West Grange Hotel Thatcham, with speakers and mutual support for those approaching or in retirement. Click here to book.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Catholic Hall (along the A4) with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation from Citizens Advice West Berkshire; a presentation from Community United; reports from the Mayor and the Deputy; committee minutes; the Cricket Club lease; reports from ward members; and office accommodation.
Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 22 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: financial matters; planning matters; the annual parish meeting (23 May); and the Village Hall.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning matters; the NDP (see separate section above); financial matters; the burial ground; highways; playgrounds; repairs and maintenance; the Village Hall; and the Youth Club.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 9 April and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 April and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here. 

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 April and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 19 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Woolhampton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 24 April and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: the Copse; HGV parking; a new councillor; matters arising; speeding; financial matters; planning matters; Douai Park; the village shop; travellers’ activity; a report from the ward member; and repairs and maintenance.
To see the dates and agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings, please click here

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

• Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.
• News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

 

Thursday 9 May 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes an enforcement footnote, solar panels, road closures, dementia action and vintage valuation. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include handbell concert. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

• An enforcement footnote

I mentioned last week (see below) about the planning enforcement problems that West Berkshire Council seems to be facing and suggested that, without this being performed efficiently, the whole system risked being brought into disrepute. I’m sure WBC’s officers are doing as well as they can. The trouble seems to be that there aren’t enough of them.

I’ve recently learned that the Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire (which perform many of their operations in tandem) have nine such officers. The combined population of the districts is about 280,000 as against West Berkshire’s 159,000. The latter is about 57% of the former so by this crude logic you’d expect WBC to have 57% of the number of officers: five, in round numbers. In fact, I understand that it has only two. If the Oxfordshire neighbours can recruit this number then presumably WBC can as well.

• Other news

• There are a few road closures coming up in the area. On Monday 13 May, the Close, Thatcham will be closed 7am to 5pm, from its junction of Bailey Avenue. While Bury’s Bank Road will be closed on Tuesday 14 May, between 9:30am and 3:30pm, from the junction with Greenham Road to its junction with Crookham Hill. Both closures are for Volker Highways to carry out maintenance.

• West Berkshire Council announced they will soon be installing solar panels on the roof of the Kennet Leisure Centre. This advancement is thanks to a £237,600 grant that has been awarded to them by the Government and Sport England‘s £60m capital investment program. More details to come soon.

• As of this week, the Thatcham WI have changed their normal meeting place to the Catholic Hall (along the  A4). This will be the new location of meetings going forward. If you would like to get involved the the local Woman’s Institute, they meet on Thursdays at 7:30pm. To learn more get in touch at thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk.

• Quick reminder about Open Studios flagship exhibition INSIGHT 2024 featuringwork by over one local hundred artists at The Base, Greenham until Monday 27 May. Plus many working studios of local artists to visit across Thatcham, Newbury, Stockcross, Woolton Hill, Hungerford, Kintbury Holt, Bucklebury, Bradfield and Brimpton, Lambourn, East Ilsley and Wilton. There is also an exhibition of three artists at West Berkshire Museum open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am – 4pm and a Trio of Talents exhibit drawing, printing, ceramics, sculpture, woodwork and textiles every weekend in May at the Bowls Pavilion at Stockcross House.

• Come along to hear the delightful sound of the Barfield Handbell Ringers “Into the Limelight” show, with a programme featuring music from stage, screen and TV. Taking place on Sunday 12 May at 7pm, St Mary’s Church, Church Gate, Thatcham. Tickets will be available at the door (£6 full or £5 concessions, accompanied children free) and light refreshments will be available. For more information contact dianne@barfield.org.uk.

• Have you got old items you would like to know the value of? Well, the T.Baker & Co Roadshow’s Vintage Valuation Day is coming to Thatcham Town Council Office on Monday 20 May. If you have any items that you would like a free valuation on, no fees or commission and cash paid, then just turn up on the day or contact info@tbakerroadshow.co.uk to learn more.

• Quick reminder that Thatcham Town Council invite you to their Garden Party for Dementia Action Week, on Friday 17 May in the Jubilee Sensory Garden. There will be a creative mindfulness workshop designed to help you live in the moment, Jane Fletcher will share her touching experiences of caring for her father, there will also be tea, cake and lots of wonderful people to talk to. Click here to learn more.

Calleva Stickdressers promote and encourage the traditional craft of stick making (walking sticks, shepherd crooks & thumbsticks etc ). They hold monthly work days on the third Saturday of the month in Beenham Victory Hall, RG7 5NN. They always welcome new members and encourage anyone interested to attend a work day to find out more about this historic craft. Upcoming dates are Saturday 18 May and 15 June.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Thatcham Council has updated the Town Guide for 2024, which can be read here. It contains information about Thatcham’s history, annual events as well as local services.

• The Green Hub on West Berkshire Council’s website is focused on helping people make more sustainable choices collectively along our journey to net zero, whether you live, work or learn in West Berkshire or are a business owner or visitor. The information covers energy efficiencytaking climate actioncommunity work and sustainable business.

• Quick reminder that Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall reopens Wednesday 15 May. They offer affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consultations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Town Council is looking for volunteers to help the Jubilee Sensory Garden. If you have an interest in sustainable gardening and want to develop your knowledge and skills with gardening expert Sally, please contact  enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk or 01635 863592. Dates are to be confirmed. See here for more details.

Thatcham Pharmacy now offers advice and prescribes NHS medicine for certain health concerns. Learn more about the ‘NHS Pharmacy First’ scheme here.

• Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

• Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scamWImers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? Thatcham United Reformed Church is looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

• West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Sun 12 May The Barfield Handbell Ringers Concert, St Mary’s Church, Church Gate, Thatcham.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: Creative Mindfulness Workshop, Thatcham Council.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: ‘Keeping Memories Alive’ Talk, Thatcham Council.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: Garden Party, Thatcham Council.

Sat 18 May Traditional art of stick making workshop, Beenham Village Hall.

Mon 20 May Vintage Valuation Day, Thatcham Council.

Sun 2 June Wantage Silver Band & Cold Ash Brass Concert, St Nichols Church, Newbury.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

Silly Socks Childcare children’s holiday club is planning to open in time for April half term at Burdwood Community Centre (Station Road, Thatcham).

• Sport in Mind offers badminton sessions at Kennet Leisure Centre on Wednesdays from 6 to 7pm to help improve the lives of anyone with mental health issues. See here for details and how to book.

• The Corn Exchange spring/summer season of Ageing Creatively courses and classes for over 55s across West Berkshire. See details here – there really is something for everyone.

• A new monthly Board Games Club at Thatcham Library on the first Friday of every month, from 2 to 4pm. There is no need to book: just drop in and join the fun playing some familiar games and learning some new ones.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Monthly Retirement Rebels group with Thatcham therapist Rob Donnelly meets on the second Monday of the month at the West Grange Hotel Thatcham, with speakers and mutual support for those approaching or in retirement. Click here to book.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Catholic Hall (along the A4) with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation from Citizens Advice West Berkshire; a presentation from Community United; reports from the Mayor and the Deputy; committee minutes; the Cricket Club lease; reports from ward members; and office accommodation.
Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 22 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: financial matters; planning matters; the annual parish meeting (23 May); and the Village Hall.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Washing Estate; school warning signs; the litter pick; D-Day; repairs and maintenance; planning enforcement; planning matters; reports for the Chair, the Clerk and the ward member; and financial matters.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 20 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 19 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here. 

• The most recent meeting of Woolhampton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 24 April and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: the Copse; HGV parking; a new councillor; matters arising; speeding; financial matters; planning matters; Douai Park; the village shop; travellers’ activity; a report from the ward member; and repairs and maintenance.
To see the dates and agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings, please click here

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

• Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.
• News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 2 May 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes vintage valuation, bells, music, sticks and sustainability – plus a slightly surprising announcement about Walnut Close, enforcement in Woolhampton and a reminder about good causes celebrated at Thatcham’s civic reception. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include live music and handbell ringers. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

• Walnut Close

I saw from the most recent WBC Residents’ Bulletin that the former care home at Walnut Close is being “transformed.” “As part of our Transformation Programme,” the article continues, “we’re looking at ways to make best use of our buildings to save money and improve services for our residents. One of the ways we’re doing this is by converting part of the former Walnut Close care home in Thatcham into a new Family Contact Centre.’

My immediate reaction was one of surprise as I’d long believed that re-development here would only take place as part of a wider project that would also include the upgrading of the Library next door. There’s no mention in the article of whether this “transformation” is merely for the short term or for longer and no mention of the Library. Does this mean that the Library project has been shelved?

• Enforcement

It’s often said, and with justification, that West Berkshire Council does not have enough enforcement officers. These are essentially the planning department’s police force and investigators. The Gov.uk website has this to say:

“A breach of planning control is defined in section 171A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as:

  • the carrying out of development without the required planning permission; or
  • failing to comply with any condition or limitation subject to which planning permission has been granted.’

The document goes on to say that “Local planning authorities have responsibility for taking whatever enforcement action may be necessary, in the public interest, in their administrative areas. It should be noted that local authorities have a range of enforcement powers that extend beyond planning, as do the police in certain instances.

“There is a range of ways of tackling alleged breaches of planning control, and local planning authorities should act in a proportionate way. Local planning authorities have discretion to take enforcement action, when they regard it as expedient to do so having regard to the development plan and any other material considerations.”

All this covers quite a raft of responsibilities and issues on a number of cases, with potentially more being added every day. Each will require a different approach and many will be sensitive and hard to resolve.

One case, or rather two, which have recently got onto the enforcement team’s radar concern two sites near the A4 in Woolhampton:one where the former Sun Garage was and another slightly to the east. Both appear to be being used for the storage and movement of large numbers of HGVs and other vehicles. There have been reports of noise and near misses. I understand that no permission of change of use has been sought for either site. The Parish Council has raised the matter with the ward member, who has raised it with the enforcement team. It remains to be seen what action they feel is appropriate and will be able to take.

More information can be found in the encouragingly-named Beginners’ guide to planning enforcement published by the Royal Towns Planning Institute. This may be of use to town and parish councils who are finding, in this and so many other matters, that their parent authority lacks the resources to do the work and that the parishes may therefore need to gather some of the data themselves. You might think that planning enforcement is an obligatory task for planning authorities to perform but you’d be wrong.

“Planning Enforcement is discretionary,” one of the opening paragraphs of the RTPI document states. “It is not compulsory for a LPA to act against a breach of planning control. This concept can be confusing to new officers entering the profession for the first time.”

No kidding. It certainly seems confusing to me; slightly like having a lot of laws but no police. The problem is, as many have pointed out, that while too much enforcement can be heavy-handed, having too little brings the system into disrepute. It’s also necessary to ensure that the right offenders, not just the easy ones, are being targeted. Finding the balance is always the trick. So too, particularly these days, is finding the money.

• A civic reception

A reminder about an article we wrote last week concerning the Thatcham Mayor’s Civic Reception on 19 April 2024, hosted by the outgoing Mayor, Mark Lillycrop.

He also spoke of the various efforts made to bring people back into the town, “with special markets, new events for children, a smarter, greener, more colourful town centre, travelling theatre in the pipeline and much more. Plus, of course, our new 10K run, the brainchild of Councillor Ben Schiffer Harte and his organising committee, which has contributed so much to the two Mayor’s charities.”

The Mayor also gave four awards to local groups, his personal choice for those which he felt demanded special recognition.

• Other news

Popular local singer Luca Greenham is performing live at The Crickets Pub this Bank Holiday Sunday 5 May so do pop along for a good night out from 7.30pm.

• The popular annual Open Studios season starts this Saturday 4 May with their flagship exhibition INSIGHT 2024 featuring over one local hundred artists at The Base, Greenham until Monday 27 May 2024. This is where traditionally the public begin their open studios experience before enjoying the opportunity of visiting artists at work in their own studios across West Berkshire and North Hampshire. See the venues map of artists’ open studios, including in Thatcham, Newbury, Stockcross, Woolton Hill, Hungerford, Kintbury Holt, Bucklebury, Bradfield and Brimpton, Lambourn, East Ilsley and Wilton. There is also an exhibition of three artists at West Berkshire Museum open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am – 4pm and a Trio of Talents exhibit drawing, printing, ceramics, sculpture, woodwork and textiles every weekend in May at the Bowls Pavilion at Stockcross House.

• Come along to hear the delightful sound of the Barfield Handbell Ringers “Into the Limelight” show, with a programme featuring music from stage, screen and TV. Taking place on Sunday 12 May at 7pm, St Mary’s Church, Church Gate, Thatcham. Tickets will be available at the door (£6 full or £5 concessions, accompanied children free) and light refreshments will be available. For more information contact dianne@barfield.org.uk.

• Have you got old items you would like to know the value of? Well, the T.Baker & Co Roadshow’s Vintage Valuation Day is coming to Thatcham Town Council Office on Monday 20 May. If you have any items that you would like a free valuation on, no fees or commission and cash paid, then just turn up on the day or contact info@tbakerroadshow.co.uk to learn more.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall will be closed on Wednesday 8 May but reopens Wednesday 15 May. They offer affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• Our rivers are in trouble and ARK – Action for the River Kennet is asking for your help by joining the The Rivers Trust #BigRiverWatch this Bank Holiday weekend between Friday 3 and Monday 6 May. By reporting what you see in your local river, you’ll be contributing to the citizen science survey and help paint a big picture of the health of our rivers in the UK and Ireland. The more that we know about them, the better we can restore our vital waterways and demand action for rivers. Search for ‘Big River Watch’ in your app store or click here, to download and get started.

• Quick reminder that Thatcham Town Council invite you to their Garden Party for Dementia Action Week, on Friday 17 May in the Jubilee Sensory Garden. There will be a creative mindfulness workshop designed to help you live in the moment, Jane Fletcher will share her touching experiences of caring for her father, there will also be tea, cake and lots of wonderful people to talk to. Click here to learn more.

Calleva Stickdressers promote and encourage the traditional craft of stick making (walking sticks, shepherd crooks & thumbsticks etc ). They hold monthly work days on the third Saturday of the month in Beenham Victory Hall, RG7 5NN. They always welcome new members and encourage anyone interested to attend a work day to find out more about this historic craft. Upcoming dates are Saturday 18 May and 15 June.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Thatcham Council has updated the Town Guide for 2024, which can be read here. It contains information about Thatcham’s history, annual events as well as local services.

• The Green Hub on West Berkshire Council’s website is focused on helping people make more sustainable choices collectively along our journey to net zero, whether you live, work or learn in West Berkshire or are a business owner or visitor. The information covers energy efficiencytaking climate actioncommunity work and sustainable business.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consultations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Town Council is looking for volunteers to help the Jubilee Sensory Garden. If you have an interest in sustainable gardening and want to develop your knowledge and skills with gardening expert Sally, please contact  enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk or 01635 863592. Dates are to be confirmed. See here for more details.

Thatcham Pharmacy now offers advice and prescribes NHS medicine for certain health concerns. Learn more about the ‘NHS Pharmacy First’ scheme here.

• Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

• Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

• West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Sun 5 May Luca Greenham live at The Crickets Pub, Thatcham

Sun 12 May The Barfield Handbell Ringers Concert, St Mary’s Church, Church Gate, Thatcham.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: Creative Mindfulness Workshop, Thatcham Council.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: ‘Keeping Memories Alive’ Talk, Thatcham Council.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: Garden Party, Thatcham Council.

Sat 18 May Traditional art of stick making workshop, Beenham Village Hall.

Mon 20 May Vintage Valuation Day, Thatcham Council.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

Silly Socks Childcare children’s holiday club is planning to open in time for April half term at Burdwood Community Centre (Station Road, Thatcham).

• Sport in Mind offers badminton sessions at Kennet Leisure Centre on Wednesdays from 6 to 7pm to help improve the lives of anyone with mental health issues. See here for details and how to book.

• The Corn Exchange spring/summer season of Ageing Creatively courses and classes for over 55s across West Berkshire. See details here – there really is something for everyone.

• A new monthly Board Games Club at Thatcham Library on the first Friday of every month, from 2 to 4pm. There is no need to book: just drop in and join the fun playing some familiar games and learning some new ones.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Monthly Retirement Rebels group with Thatcham therapist Rob Donnelly meets on the second Monday of the month at the West Grange Hotel Thatcham, with speakers and mutual support for those approaching or in retirement. Click here to book.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation from Citizens Advice West Berkshire; a presentation from Community United; reports from the Mayor and the Deputy; committee minutes; the Cricket Club lease; reports from ward members; and office accommodation.
Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 22 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: financial matters; planning matters; the annual parish meeting (23 May); and the Village Hall.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Washing Estate; school warning signs; the litter pick; D-Day; repairs and maintenance; planning enforcement; planning matters; reports for the Chair, the Clerk and the ward member; and financial matters.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 20 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 19 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here. 

• The most recent meeting of Woolhampton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 16 January and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings, please click here

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

• Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.
• News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 25 April 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes fabric, a French market, dementia action, volunteer gardeners and a referendum draws closer – plus a look back at four awards from the recent Thatcham Civic Reception and Penny’s visit to a hidden gem in Cold Ash. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include french market. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

• 120 events, two charities and four awards

Penny Post was delighted to have been invited to the Thatcham Mayor’s Civic Reception at Thatcham Town FC on 19 April 2024. The outgoing Mayor, Mark Lillycrop, thanked all those who had made the evening a success as well as some of those, including the Town Council’s office staff, who have helped Thatcham TC’s work over the previous twelve months.

He then gave a summary of his busy mayoral year. This included attending over 120 events and being involved in a number of initiatives ranging from the town’s plastic-free charter to supporting the VIAN refugee group’s environmental work during their stay in Thatcham.

He also spoke of the various efforts made to bring people back into the town, “with special markets, new events for children, a smarter, greener, more colourful town centre, travelling theatre in the pipeline and much more. Plus, of course, our new 10K run, the brainchild of Councillor Ben Schiffer Harte and his organising committee, which has contributed so much to the Mayor’s charities.”

The Mayor also gave four awards to local groups, his personal choice for those which he felt demanded special recognition.

You can read more about the event, including details of the two charities and the four award recipients, in this separate post.

• Cold Ash’s hidden gem

Penny gets a tour of the wonderful 7.4 acre Cold Ash Wildlife Allotment Garden with Ivor McArdle and Trevor Howard – a hidden gem between Thatcham and Hermitage. Listen to full interview (27 mins) here.

• Other news

• Congratulations to Parsons Down Infant and Junior Schools Partnership for receiving this year’s Environmental Champions Award from Thatcham Town Council. The Eco-School was so proud to be joined by councillor Mark Lillycrop, Mayor of Thatcham for a special assembly to celebrate all the achievements of our Eco-Committee. See more details here.

• This Saturday 27 April the French Market is back at Thatcham Broadway, from 9am to 4pm. Come along to enjoy an array of mouth-watering cheeses, wines, bread, and indulge your senses in all things French!

• This Friday 26 and Saturday 27 April also sees the return of another Wool and Fabric Bargain Sale at Newbury’s Kennet Centre, from 10am to 4pm. Some of the Newbury Stitch Fair favourites are returning for this two-day event, including Stitch Fabrics, Geoff Rosenberg’s fabulous range of dress-making fabrics, Brian’s Best Wools from Yorkshire and Village Fabrics, with great discounts on offer at many stalls. The net proceeds of the sale will go to West Berkshire Mencap. See here for more details.

• You might remember a few weeks ago we mention Thatcham Town Council’s plan to fundraise for a new Baby Memorial Garden at London Road Cemetery. They have since made considerable progress, but haven’t met their funding goal yet. If you are able to donate anything at all your support is appreciated – every donation made through The Good Exchange is being generously match-funded by Greenham Trust so every £1 counts!

• Local resident Richard Garvie has created an online public meeting at 7pm this Friday 26 April for concerned residents to discuss the issue of sewage in West Berkshire, and to discuss what action could and should be taken to protect public health and put pressure on Thames Water, West Berkshire Council and the Government.

• Thatcham Town Council invite you to their Garden Party for Dementia Action Week, on Friday 17 May in the Jubilee Sensory Garden. There will be a creative mindfulness workshop designed to help you live in the moment, Jane Fletcher will share her touching experiences of caring for her father, there will also be tea, cake and lots of wonderful people to talk to. Click here to learn more.

• Speaking of which, the Council are looking for volunteer gardeners to help the Jubilee Sensory Garden flourish this summer. If you have an interest in sustainable gardening and want to develop your knowledge and skills further, then get in touch with their gardening expert Sally. Email enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk to register your interest.

• Quick reminder for Cold Ash residents to vote on the referendum on their Neighbourhood Development Plan on Thursday 2 May. See details here.

• There is just one space left on the exciting new Forest School for ages 1 to 5 years on Sunda 12 May at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham. See details on their Forest School Friends facebook page.

Calleva Stickdressers promote and encourage the traditional craft of stick making (walking sticks, shepherd crooks & thumbsticks etc ). They hold monthly work days on the third Saturday of the month in Beenham Victory Hall, RG7 5NN. They always welcome new members and encourage anyone interested to attend a work day to find out more about this historic craft. Upcoming dates are Saturday 18 May and 15 June.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Thatcham Council has updated the Town Guide for 2024, which can be read here. It contains information about Thatcham’s history, annual events as well as local services.

• The Green Hub on West Berkshire Council’s website is focused on helping people make more sustainable choices collectively along our journey to net zero, whether you live, work or learn in West Berkshire or are a business owner or visitor. The information covers energy efficiencytaking climate actioncommunity work and sustainable business.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consultations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Town Council is looking for volunteers to help the Jubilee Sensory Garden. If you have an interest in sustainable gardening and want to develop your knowledge and skills with gardening expert Sally, please contact  enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk or 01635 863592. Dates are to be confirmed. See here for more details.

Thatcham Pharmacy now offers advice and prescribes NHS medicine for certain health concerns. Learn more about the ‘NHS Pharmacy First’ scheme here.

• Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

• Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

• West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Sat 27 Apr French Market, Thatcham Broadway.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: Creative Mindfulness Workshop, Thatcham Council.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: ‘Keeping Memories Alive’ Talk, Thatcham Council.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: Garden Party, Thatcham Council.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

Silly Socks Childcare children’s holiday club is planning to open in time for April half term at Burdwood Community Centre (Station Road, Thatcham).

• Sport in Mind offers badminton sessions at Kennet Leisure Centre on Wednesdays from 6 to 7pm to help improve the lives of anyone with mental health issues. See here for details and how to book.

• The Corn Exchange spring/summer season of Ageing Creatively courses and classes for over 55s across West Berkshire. See details here – there really is something for everyone.

• A new monthly Board Games Club at Thatcham Library on the first Friday of every month, from 2 to 4pm. There is no need to book: just drop in and join the fun playing some familiar games and learning some new ones.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Monthly Retirement Rebels group with Thatcham therapist Rob Donnelly meets on the second Monday of the month at the West Grange Hotel Thatcham, with speakers and mutual support for those approaching or in retirement. Click here to book.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 25 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation from Citizens Advice West Berkshire; a presentation from Community United; reports from the Mayor and the Deputy; committee minutes; the Cricket Club lease; reports from ward members; and office accommodation.
Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Washing Estate; school warning signs; the litter pick; D-Day; repairs and maintenance; planning enforcement; planning matters; reports for the Chair, the Clerk and the ward member; and financial matters.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 20 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 19 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 March and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here. 

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 February and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Woolhampton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 16 January and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings, please click here

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

• Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.
• News and views from across the area and beyond: please see the most recent Weekly News with Brian column.

Thursday 18 April 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes a meeting, dementia action, fabric, a referendum and a forest school – plus a plastic-free accolade for Thatcham. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include Vintage adventure and Annual Town Meeting. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

Plastic-free Thatcham

Thatcham is proud to join a network of communities across the UK who are leading the way to tackle throw-away plastic at source. Thatcham has been awarded Plastic Free Community status by marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), in recognition of the work it has done to start reducing the impact of single-use plastic on the environment.

Registering with the SAS Plastic Free Communities movement, Nikki Coome, Jenny Kirby, Sam Carpenter and Eloise Morison from Eco Friends West Berkshire pulled together key organisations and businesses in the town to put in place a five-point plan. The objectives include: setting up a community-led steering group, getting local council commitment and working with local businesses, organisations and community groups to spread the word and minimise the amount of disposable plastics they use.

For more details and how to get involved see the full story here.

• Other news

• Quick reminder that electors of Thatcham are invited to attend the Annual Town Meeting on Thursday 25 April at 6.30pm in the Thatcham Council Chamber. The meeting is an opportunity to discuss topics which are important to our local communities. To submit a question in advance of the meeting, please email enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk or drop questions into the Council Offices up to 4.30pm on Thursday 25 April. See here to find out more.

 Would you like to reduce your utility bills? Pop into the new ‘Bill Clinic’ at Educafe in Newbury Library 11am to 2pm next Wed 24 April and Wed 29 May with your recent bills (electricity, gas, phone or broadband etc). Listen here to Graham Pocock explain all aboout it.

• Thatcham Town Council invite you to their Garden Party for Dementia Action Week, on Friday 17 May in the Jubilee Sensory Garden. There will be a creative mindfulness workshop designed to help you live in the moment, Jane Fletcher will share her touching experiences of caring for her father, there will also be tea, cake and lots of wonderful people to talk to. Click here to learn more.

• Speaking of which, the Council are looking for volunteer gardeners to help the Jubilee Sensory Garden flourish this summer. If you have an interest in sustainable gardening and want to develop your knowledge and skills further, then get in touch with their gardening expert Sally. Email enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk to register your interest.

• Fancy a bargain on fabric and yarn? Marion Scott-Baker, awarded Singer Sewing hero for 2023 for her work in bringing stitching to local communities, is running another Wool and Fabric Bargain Sale in Newbury’s Kennet Centre on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 April 10am to 4pm. The big fabric shows offer good prices but they are expensive to get to and park. So Marion likes to bring the show discounts to our local community by inviting the traders to Newbury. Some of the Newbury Stitch Fair favourites are returning for this two-day event, including Stitch Fabrics, Geoff Rosenberg’s fabulous range of dress-making fabrics, Brian’s Best Wools from Yorkshire and Village Fabrics range of attractive patchwork fabrics and over 60 styes of Tessuti patterns of tops, bottoms, dresses and coats. The net proceeds of the sale will go to West Berkshire Mencap. See here for more details.

• There is still time for Cold Ash residents to register to vote by proxy for the referendum on Neighbourhood Development Plan on Thursday 2 May. See details here.

• See April news here from Thatcham Refillable mobile household and cleaning product refilling service. If you’ve not heard of them do give them a try. We buy washing up liquid, laundry liquid and skin moisturiser from them to reduce our single use plastic consumption.

• Heads up about the exciting new Forest School for ages 1 to 5 years starting in May at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham. See details on their Forest School Friends facebook page.

Calleva Stickdressers promote and encourage the traditional craft of stick making (walking sticks, shepherd crooks & thumbsticks etc ). They hold monthly work days on the third Saturday of the month in Beenham Victory Hall, RG7 5NN. They always welcome new members and encourage anyone interested to attend a work day to find out more about this historic craft. Upcoming dates are Saturday 20 April, 18 May and 15 June.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Thatcham Council has updated the Town Guide for 2024, which can be read here. It contains information about Thatcham’s history, annual events as well as local services.

• The Green Hub on West Berkshire Council’s website is focused on helping people make more sustainable choices collectively along our journey to net zero, whether you live, work or learn in West Berkshire or are a business owner or visitor. The information covers energy efficiencytaking climate actioncommunity work and sustainable business.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consultations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Town Council is looking for volunteers to help the Jubilee Sensory Garden. If you have an interest in sustainable gardening and want to develop your knowledge and skills with gardening expert Sally, please contact  enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk or 01635 863592. Dates are to be confirmed. See here for more details.

Thatcham Pharmacy now offers advice and prescribes NHS medicine for certain health concerns. Learn more about the ‘NHS Pharmacy First’ scheme here.

• Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

• Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

• West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Thu 25 Apr Vintage Adventure Thatcham Methodist Church.

Thu 25 Apr Annual Town Meeting, Thatcham Town Council Chamber.

Sat 27 Apr French Market, Thatcham Broadway.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: Creative Mindfulness Workshop, Thatcham Council.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: ‘Keeping Memories Alive’ Talk, Thatcham Council.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: Garden Party, Thatcham Council.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

Silly Socks Childcare children’s holiday club is planning to open in time for April half term at Burdwood Community Centre (Station Road, Thatcham).

• Sport in Mind offers badminton sessions at Kennet Leisure Centre on Wednesdays from 6 to 7pm to help improve the lives of anyone with mental health issues. See here for details and how to book.

• The Corn Exchange spring/summer season of Ageing Creatively courses and classes for over 55s across West Berkshire. See details here – there really is something for everyone.

• A new monthly Board Games Club at Thatcham Library on the first Friday of every month, from 2 to 4pm. There is no need to book: just drop in and join the fun playing some familiar games and learning some new ones.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Monthly Retirement Rebels group with Thatcham therapist Rob Donnelly meets on the second Monday of the month at the West Grange Hotel Thatcham, with speakers and mutual support for those approaching or in retirement. Click here to book.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 29 January and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Washing Estate; school warning signs; the litter pick; D-Day; repairs and maintenance; planning enforcement; planning matters; reports for the Chair, the Clerk and the ward member; and financial matters.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 19 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: parking at the Church; planning matters; a report from the ward member; flooding; the Club Room; wassailing; the parish website; the dredge gang; and financial matters.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Yattendon Estate; the Playground; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; the emergency plan; the Clubroom; the defibrillator; the Annual Parish Meeting (15 May); and financial matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: St Gabriel’s Convent; planning matters; litter; dog waste; repairs and maintenance; D-Day; the Clerk’s report; financial matters; cemetery fees; and speeding.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a councillor vacancy; community coffee mornings; the Clerk’s report; dog bins; planning matters; the local plan; reports from the ward member; financial matters; D-Day; the Cemetery and Chapel; repairs and maintenance; highways; speeding; traffic near the school; and litter.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here. 

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 February and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 February and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Woolhampton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 16 January and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings, please click here

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 11 April 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes a town meeting, an NDP referendum, a forest school and a cycle shelter – plus good news coming soon for those who want to bank in Thatcham, pharmacy news, Francis Baily and the PCC elections. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include Vintage adventure and Annual Town Meeting. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

• Banking in Thatcham

No one will need reminding that the current trend it for banks to close their high-street branches. According to the House of Commons Library and the ONS, there were 14,689 branches in the UK in 1986 to 5,745 in 2023. Although for many people transactions have largely moved online, there are times when only a bank will do. This is particularly the case for the increasingly marginalised group of people who are unable or unwilling to use the internet; and for anyone, such as s shopkeeper, who needs to deposit cash – remember cash? Yes, it’s still used…

Many towns in this area, including Thatcham, have suffered a total loss of in-person banking services, and the number of ATMs not much better. It’s unlikely that this trend will reverse itself. Fortunately, there are some alternative solutions.

One such is an initiative by Newbury Building Society is partnership with OneBanx. The Society’s branch on Thatcham High Street, which is currently being refurbished, will have a OneBanx machine installed shortly after re-opening. The exact date will be confirmed by Newbury Building Society on its website and on social media @NewburyBS in due course. Penny Post understands that it is hoped that this will be by June: as with all projects involving refurbishment, however, this may change for reasons beyond NBS’s control.

A spokesperson for NBS told us on 10 April that the machine will “allow customers to deposit cash and coins into any personal or business bank account as long as they have the correct details. Customers will also be able to withdraw money from over 30 banks, including Natwest, Lloyds, Barclays and Monzo.” A full list of the currently participating banks can be found here.  Others will probably be added in the future.

“You don’t have to be a member of the Society to use the OneBanx machine,” the spokesperson continued. “It’s completely free to be utilised by the whole community. To find out more, pop into Thatcham branch, call 01536 5557000 or email marketing@newbury.co.uk.”

• Pharmacy news

We wrote last month about the problems affecting pharmacies across the district: specifically, on that occasion, in Newbury but also, historically, in Thatcham. The main problem was queuing times and the associated problem of poor communication. People might therefore find themselves waiting in line for a long time only to be told that the medication that they’d been led to believe was ready was in fact. few things are more calculated to make people leap onto social media.

Discussions last month at the WBC’s Health and Wellbeing Board and and the Health Scrutiny Committee considered whether the problem was that, certainly in Newbury and perhaps in Thatcham, there needed to be more pharmacies. Provision here exists in a kind of half-world between the public and the private sector. On the one hand, pharmacy provision is regulated; on the other, private companies provide the services. One of the points made against an extra pharmacy in Newbury was that there was only so much funding available: an extra outlet would result in the same amount of jam being spread more thinly and so, perhaps, benefitting no one.

One of the points made was there was much that could be done with improving efficiencies and systems at the existing pharmacies before rushing in to set up new ones. The indications are that this has produced some improvements in the Northbrook Street Boots in Newbury over the last few months.

That’s certainly been the experience in Thatcham. WBC Councillor Owen Jeffery – who has regularly highlighted and campaigned against any shortcomings in Thatcham’s services of all kinds – told me on 10 April that he’d noticed a real improvement there, despite the fact that there are now only two pharmacies compared to four before Covid and three this time last year. “These four were run by chains, both of whom have since pulled out of the town,” he told me. “Problems with queueing and other issues were continuous and well documented. Now, however, we have two independents run by entrepreneurial people with good staff and these problems seem largely to have disappeared – as have the level of complaints I receive.” Quality, not quantity, thus seems to be the way forward.

• The legacy of astronomer Francis Baily

The solar eclipse viewed from the USA this week sparked big interest in the shining jewels in the ring of light at full eclipse. These ‘Baily’s Beads‘ were discovered in 1836 by Newbury Grammar School-educated Francis Baily who earned a fortune on the stock exchange, retired in 1825 and devoted the rest of his life to astronomy, becoming President of the Royal Astronomical Society for several years. The lunar crater Baily was named after him, as was Baily’s metal, the rigid and thermally insensitive alloy used to cast the 1855 standard yard, and of course Francis Baily CofE Primary School in Thatcham. He is buried at St Mary’s Church in Thatcham Church. Thanks to Allan Mercado for bringing this story to our attention.

• Why it matters who the next PCC is

Police and Crime Commissioners are elected by the public to ensure the policing needs of communities are met. PCCs set police budgets, priorities and appoint the Chief Constable. The next PCC election is 2 May and the deadline to register to vote is 16 April. Registering to vote takes just five minutes at gov.uk/register-to-vote. To decide who to vote for, see our local Thames Valley candidates’ manifestos here.

Nigel Lynn, Police Area Returning Officer (PARO) and Chief Executive of West Berkshire Council, said: “This election is your opportunity to influence how your police service works. The PCC’s job is to make sure that crime in our area is tackled effectively and according to our local priorities. They’re elected by you, to be your voice and to hold the police force to account.”

• Other news

• Electors of Thatcham are invited by Thatcham Town Council to attend their Annual Town Meeting on Thursday 25 April at 6.30pm in the Council Chamber. This public meeting, open to all who are registered to vote in Thatcham, is an opportunity to raise matters or discuss topics which are important to Thatcham and its communities. Free refreshments will be available. To submit a question about Thatcham to Town and District Councillors or Thames Valley Police in advance of the meeting, please email enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk or drop questions into the Council Offices up to 4.30pm on Thursday 25 April. See here to find out more.

• See April news here from Thatcham Refillable mobile household and cleaning product refilling service. If you’ve not heard of them do give them a try. We buy washing up liquid, laundry liquid and skin moisturiser from them to reduce our single use plastic consumption.

• Heads up about the exciting new Forest School for ages 1 to 5 years starting in May at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham. See details on their Forest School Friends facebook page.

• There is still time for Cold Ash residents to register, get postal votes, vote by proxy etc for the referendum on Neighbourhood Development Plan on Thursday 2 May. But the deadlines are coming up soon – see details here. The referendum question is “Do you want West Berkshire Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for Cold Ash to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?”

• Still in Cold Ash, there is a new cycle shelter at Cold Ash Recreation Ground, next to the Acland Hall to give people the option of cycling to activities held at the recreation ground or the Acland Hall. See here for details.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Thatcham Council has updated the Town Guide for 2024, which can be read here. It contains information about Thatcham’s history, annual events as well as local services.

• The Green Hub on West Berkshire Council’s website is focused on helping people make more sustainable choices collectively along our journey to net zero, whether you live, work or learn in West Berkshire or are a business owner or visitor. The information covers energy efficiencytaking climate actioncommunity work and sustainable business.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consultations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Town Council is looking for volunteers to help the Jubilee Sensory Garden. If you have an interest in sustainable gardening and want to develop your knowledge and skills with gardening expert Sally, please contact  enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk or 01635 863592. Dates are to be confirmed. See here for more details.

Thatcham Pharmacy now offers advice and prescribes NHS medicine for certain health concerns. Learn more about the ‘NHS Pharmacy First’ scheme here.

• Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

• Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

• West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Thu 25 Apr Vintage Adventure Thatcham Methodist Church.

Thu 25 Apr Annual Town Meeting, Thatcham Town Council Chamber.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: Creative Mindfulness Workshop, Thatcham Council.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: ‘Keeping Memories Alive’ Talk, Thatcham Council.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: Garden Party, Thatcham Council.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

Silly Socks Childcare children’s holiday club is planning to open in time for April half term at Burdwood Community Centre (Station Road, Thatcham).

• Sport in Mind offers badminton sessions at Kennet Leisure Centre on Wednesdays from 6 to 7pm to help improve the lives of anyone with mental health issues. See here for details and how to book.

• The Corn Exchange spring/summer season of Ageing Creatively courses and classes for over 55s across West Berkshire. See details here – there really is something for everyone.

• A new monthly Board Games Club at Thatcham Library on the first Friday of every month, from 2 to 4pm. There is no need to book: just drop in and join the fun playing some familiar games and learning some new ones.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Monthly Retirement Rebels group with Thatcham therapist Rob Donnelly meets on the second Monday of the month at the West Grange Hotel Thatcham, with speakers and mutual support for those approaching or in retirement. Click here to book.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 29 January and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Washing Estate; school warning signs; the litter pick; D-Day; repairs and maintenance; planning enforcement; planning matters; reports for the Chair, the Clerk and the ward member; and financial matters.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Yattendon Estate; the Playground; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; the emergency plan; the Clubroom; the defibrillator; the Annual Parish Meeting (15 May); and financial matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: St Gabriel’s Convent; planning matters; litter; dog waste; repairs and maintenance; D-Day; the Clerk’s report; financial matters; cemetery fees; and speeding.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a councillor vacancy; community coffee mornings; the Clerk’s report; dog bins; planning matters; the local plan; reports from the ward member; financial matters; D-Day; the Cemetery and Chapel; repairs and maintenance; highways; speeding; traffic near the school; and litter.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here. 

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 February and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 February and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 23 January and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 4 April 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes a garden, badminton, bells, vintage adventure and a forest school – plus applications now open for the Thatcham Festival, some deadlines about to close for flooding grants and Bucklebury’ PCs view of the local plan. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include 10km run and Retirement Rebels. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

• Flood grants

West Berkshire Council would like to remind everyone that many of the grants have timescales for applications to be made. One has now closed (business recovery grant) with others closing this month including Community Recovery Grant (upto £500) which closes at 5pm on Friday 12 April 2024 and Property Flood Resilience Repair Grant Scheme (up to £5,000) closing on Tuesday 30 April 2024. The details of the grants are available on  Flood Grants – West Berkshire Council.

WBC has received a number of applications already but would like to ensure all who wish to apply have had the opportunity to do so – “so please do share this information within your community.” Any queries relating to these grants should be sent to floodgrants@westberks.gov.uk.

• Festival time

Thatcham-based individuals, community groups, charities and arts and leisure organisations are invited to apply with either one-off or a series of events “to make Thatcham Festival 2024 an unforgettable celebration of Thatcham’s creative innovation, learning, and community spirit.”

Thatcham Town Council is “seeking a wide range of activities from workshops, talks and walks, performances, and exhibitions for all ages and sections of the community. Whether you’re passionate about dance, theatre, music, arts, crafts, nature, local history, or want to help people explore the hidden gems of our town, Thatcham Festival is the place to inspire people to get involved, educate, and entertain. The events submitted to the Festival should not form part of an existing weekly or monthly programme of events.”

See this page on Thatcham Town Council’s website for more information. The deadline for applications is Friday 24 May 2024.

• Bucklebury’s view of the local plan

The following is taken from the minutes of the meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council on 11 March.

“BPC has funding for and is employing two experienced specialists to represent them (and a large part of the parish) at the hearing. The objections to the draft Local Plan are cogent and evidence based. There were approximately 800 letters of objection to the Regulation 19 consultation, which are filed in alphabetical order. However, Bucklebury’s objection is not filed under ‘Bucklebury’, but under ‘Andrew Black’ the consultant. The Planning Inspector is aware of this and the programme manager will ensure the issue is corrected.

“Representatives of BPC and District Cllr. Read met with Andrew Black to get his views on the stake holder responses, to discuss progress with the BPC response to matters due on the 22nd March and to consider who will say what in front of the Planning Inspector. The Planning Inspector is understood to be making an unannounced visit to the NE Thatcham site with an annotated OS map showing the critical ecological points, produced by Paul Gorriup.

“Following the hearing, the Planning Inspector will deliberate before making his recommendations.”

• Other news

• Thatcham Town Council is looking for volunteers to help the Jubilee Sensory Garden flourish this summer! If you have an interest in sustainable gardening and want to develop your knowledge and skills with gardening expert Sally, please contact  enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk or 01635 863592. Dates are to be confirmed. See here for more details.

• Sport in Mind is offering badminton sessions at Kennet Leisure Centre on Wednesdays from 6 to 7pm to help improve the lives of anyone with mental health issues. See here for details and how to book.

• There is still time to register for this month’s Retirement Rebels group with Thatcham therapist Rob Donnelly at the West Grange Hotel Thatcham, with speakers and mutual support for those approaching or in retirement. Upcoming dates are Mon 8 April, 13 May and 10 June. So if you would like help getting connected and informed, and leave feeling inspired to create the best retirement for you click here to book.

Barfield Handbell Ringers is a thriving, active team of 16 ringers. They practise at the church on Monday evenings, 7.30 to 9.30pm, and perform at concerts, festivals and many other occasions throughout the year.  They were founded in 1965 by Bill Butler whilst he was tower captain at St Mary’s Church. New members are always welcome. Please see here for contact details.

• Quick reminder that The Moors in Thatcham is closed until 12 April 2024, between 9.30am and 3.30pm, from its junction with Station Road to Lower Way, for resurfacing work as part of the highway’s improvement programme on behalf of West Berkshire Council. Diversion will be signed on-site. If you have any further questions email highwaysmaintenance@westberks.gov.uk or call on 01635 519080.

• The Corn Exchange is launching a new spring/summer season of Ageing Creatively courses and classes for over 55s across West Berkshire. See details here – there really is something for everyone.

• Earlybird tickets (offering some great savings) are now on sale for the Newbury Show on 21 and 22 September and there are also sponsorship opportunities still available. See more here.

• Year 5 volunteers from Thatcham Park Primary School are looking forward to supporting next month’s Vintage Adventure 2.30pm to 4pm on Thursday 18 April at Thatcham Methodist Church. The group for ‘anyone young at heart’ is very inclusive and dementia friendly. For more details see here or contact Revd Brenda Harland on 07968 136962.

• Heads up about the exciting new Forest School for ages 1 to 5 years starting in May at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham. See details on their Forest School Friends facebook page.

• Friends of Thatcham Library will be holding a free Easter Art Workshop for children on Tuesday 9 April, from 10am to 11:30am. It is for children 5+ and under 8s must be accompanied by an adult. The session is free but booking a place is essential: you can do this by contacting thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk or 01635 866 049.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Thatcham Council has updated the Town Guide for 2024, which can be read here. It contains information about Thatcham’s history, annual events as well as local services.

• The Green Hub on West Berkshire Council’s website is focused on helping people make more sustainable choices collectively along our journey to net zero, whether you live, work or learn in West Berkshire or are a business owner or visitor. The information covers energy efficiencytaking climate actioncommunity work and sustainable business.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consultations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Thatcham Pharmacy now offers advice and prescribes NHS medicine for certain health concerns. Learn more about the ‘NHS Pharmacy First’ scheme here.

• Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

• Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

• West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Sun 7 Apr Thatcham 10k Run 2024 

• Mon 8 Apr Retirement Rebels, West Grange Hotel

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: Creative Mindfulness Workshop, Thatcham Council.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: ‘Keeping Memories Alive’ Talk, Thatcham Council.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: Garden Party, Thatcham Council.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

Silly Socks Childcare children’s holiday club is planning to open in time for April half term at Burdwood Community Centre (Station Road, Thatcham).

• A new monthly Board Games Club at Thatcham Library on the first Friday of every month, from 2 to 4pm. There is no need to book: just drop in and join the fun playing some familiar games and learning some new ones.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 29 January and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Washing Estate; school warning signs; the litter pick; D-Day; repairs and maintenance; planning enforcement; planning matters; reports for the Chair, the Clerk and the ward member; and financial matters.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Yattendon Estate; the Playground; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; the emergency plan; the Clubroom; the defibrillator; the Annual Parish Meeting (15 May); and financial matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: St Gabriel’s Convent; planning matters; litter; dog waste; repairs and maintenance; D-Day; the Clerk’s report; financial matters; cemetery fees; and speeding.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a councillor vacancy; community coffee mornings; the Clerk’s report; dog bins; planning matters; the local plan; reports from the ward member; financial matters; D-Day; the Cemetery and Chapel; repairs and maintenance; highways; speeding; traffic near the school; and litter.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here. 

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 February and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 February and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 23 January and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 28 March 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes eggs, vintage adventure, a green hub, rebels and a festival – plus Pharmacy First in action and a look back at a successful repair café in Thatcham. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include lots of Easter fun. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

• Repair Cafe success

A warm welcome greeted West Berkshire Council Chairman and the Mayor and Mayoress of Thatcham and so many visitors bringing their broken items to the Newbury and Thatcham Repair Café in the Frank Hutchins Hall last Sunday 24 March.  Skilled fixers mended vacuum cleaners, toasters, food mixers, a hair dryer, lamps, shredders, and hedge cutters and a lawn mower.  Clipper blades, shears, scissors, secateurs and cutters were all efficiently sharpened by volunteers who had their work cut out for the morning!

Organiser Hazel Martin thanks all the volunteers who make the event ‘work’ and says “it was lovely to see items restored that had been owned by people for a long time – a ‘flapper’ necklace was mended which the owner hadn’t been able to wear for years, treasured soft toys were patched and a grandmother brought a wooden horse trike that her son used when he was a child.  The neck was stiff and wouldn’t move.  The repair was successful and now the grandson will enjoy it.”

The fixers also advise when spare parts are required, which ones to buy and the visitors asked to return at the next event. So, if you have something in a cupboard, a garage or your wardrobe that needs some fixing, sharpening or mending, take it to the next Repair Café! The volunteers will do their best to bring it back to life…

The Repair Café will be back in Thatcham at the Frank Hutchings Community Hall on Sunday 2 June in the morning and before that in Newbury at the Methodist Church Hall on Sunday 28 April in the afternoon from 2pm to 4.30pm.

• Pharmacy First

In this column on 14 March (see “queuing for the meds”) we looked at the possible solutions to the long queues at local pharmacies. After speaking to a very experienced pharmacist in the area, we also took a look at how the new Pharmacy First scheme was working. The conclusion was that this was a logical and pragmatic step given the lengthening waiting lists for GP appointments and the fact that pharmacists are highly trained and competent people who had perhaps been under-utilised by the NHS in the past.

Pharmacy First is being rolled out at different times in different places. One outlet that now offers this service is Thatcham Pharmacy which recently said that it has “really embraced” the scheme which enables its pharmacists to be the first point of contact for help and advice. They can also prescribe medicine for earache (one to 17 years), impetigo and infected insect bites (one year and over), shingles (18 years and over), sinusitis (12 years and over), sore throat (five years and over) and uncomplicated urinary tract infections (women 16 to 64 years). Please note that they can not prescribe antibiotics.

They also offer free NHS blood pressure checks currently as a drop-in service for over 40s who don’t currently have a diagnosis of hypertension and under 40s and have a recognised family history of hypertension  as recognised by their medical professional. You cannot use this service if you already know you have high blood pressure or if you have had your blood pressure checked by a healthcare professional in the past six months.

The pharmacy’s opening hours this Easter weekend are: Good Friday 10am to 1pm, Easter Saturday 9am to 1pm, Easter Sunday 10am to 1pm; and Easter Monday 10am to 1pm. For more details contact the pharmacy on thatchampharmacy.co.uk.

• Cold Ash’s referendum

Click here for information on the referendum on the Cold Ash neighbourhood development plan which will be put to the vote on Thursday 2 May to see if the long-worked-for plan will be adopted (or “made” as the technical parlance goes.

The post contains official information from WBC about the ways in which you can vote and what action you might need to take in order to do so.

• Other news

• Don’t miss the Easter Egg Hunt at Thatcham Easter Market from 8am to 2pm Good Friday 29 March. Head to the pet stall to pick up a card and follow the trail while you grab everything you need for the Easter weekend from their independent market traders.

• Earlybird tickets (offering some great savings) are now on sale for the Newbury Show on 21 and 22 September and there are also sponsorship opportunities still available. See more here.

• Year 5 volunteers from Thatcham Park Primary School are looking forward to supporting next month’s Vintage Adventure 2.30pm to 4pm on Thursday 18 April at Thatcham Methodist Church. The group for ‘anyone young at heart’ is very inclusive and dementia friendly. For more details see here or contact Revd Brenda Harland on 07968 136962.

• The Thatcham branch of Newbury Building Society will be closed on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 March due to the refurbishment and will reopen at 10am on Tuesday 2 April. For their full Easter branch opening and cheque clearance times, please see here.
The Moors in Thatcham will be closed from 2 to 12 April 2024, between 9.30am and 3.30pm, from its junction with Station Road to Lower Way, for resurfacing work as part of the highway’s improvement programme on behalf of West Berkshire Council. Diversion will be signed on-site. Thatcham Town Council reports that West Berks Council’s access advice for residents is: “Please let our gate staff or the site manager know your circumstances and they will do all they can to assist. Also let your carer / district nurse / midwife know about the road closure as they may need to allow extra time for the visit in case of delays. As the work involves hot asphalt and large equipment, if you live in the work area then vehicular access cannot be guaranteed, and they may need to park and use pedestrian access.” If you have any further questions email highwaysmaintenance@westberks.gov.uk or call on 01635 519080

• The Retirement Rebels group set up by Thatcham therapist Rob Donnelly has been running for 6 months now and is becoming very much a part of the scene in Thatcham. They meet on the second Monday of the month from 12pm to 1.30pm at the West Grange Hotel Thatcham, with speakers and mutual support for those approaching or in retirement. Upcoming dates are Mon 8 April, 13 May and 10 June. So if you would like help getting connected and informed, and leave feeling inspired to create the best retirement for you click here to book.

• Applications are now open for the Thatcham Festival 2024. Thatcham Town Council are seeking a wide range of activities from workshops, to talks and walks, performances, and exhibitions which showcase the creativity and innovation of the local community. Local individuals, community groups, charities and arts and leisure organisations are invited to apply, whether their interest be dance, theatre, music, arts, crafts, nature, local history, or something else. The festival will take place between  Tuesday 1 October and Sunday 20 October. The deadline for applications is Friday 24 May. To learn more get in contact at events.manager@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk.

• Heads up about the exciting new Forest School for ages 1 to 5 years starting in May at the Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham. See details on their Forest School Friends facebook page.

• Friends of Thatcham Library will be holding a free Easter Art Workshop for children on Tuesday 9 April, from 10am to 11:30am. It is for children 5+ and under 8s must be accompanied by an adult. The session is free but booking a place is essential: you can do this by contacting thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk or 01635 866 049.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Thatcham Council has updated the Town Guide for 2024, which can be read here. It contains information about Thatcham’s history, annual events as well as local services.

• The Green Hub on West Berkshire Council’s website is focused on helping people make more sustainable choices collectively along our journey to net zero, whether you live, work or learn in West Berkshire or are a business owner or visitor. The information covers energy efficiencytaking climate actioncommunity work and sustainable business.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consultations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Thatcham Pharmacy now offers advice and prescribes NHS medicine for certain health concerns. Learn more about the ‘NHS Pharmacy First’ scheme here.

• Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

• Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

• West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Sat 30 Mar Easter Eggstravaganza, St Mary’s Church Yard, Thatcham.

• Thur 4 Apr Thatcham Youth Easter Family Day, Moorside Community Centre.

• Sun 7 Apr Thatcham 10k Run 2024 

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: Creative Mindfulness Workshop, Thatcham Council.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: ‘Keeping Memories Alive’ Talk, Thatcham Council.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: Garden Party, Thatcham Council.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

Silly Socks Childcare children’s holiday club is planning to open in time for April half term at Burdwood Community Centre (Station Road, Thatcham).

• A new monthly Board Games Club at Thatcham Library on the first Friday of every month, from 2 to 4pm. There is no need to book: just drop in and join the fun playing some familiar games and learning some new ones.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 29 January and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Yattendon Estate; the Playground; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; the emergency plan; the Clubroom; the defibrillator; the Annual Parish Meeting (15 May); and financial matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 March and you can read the minutes here. items covered included: litter picking; speeding; volunteers; the PC’s website; D-Day; repairs and maintenance; planning matters; financial matters; parking; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 27 February and you can read the minutes here. This was entirely concerned with planning matters.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 February and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 February and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 23 January and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 January and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 21 March 2024

Gremlin update: our website migration to a dedicated server in the UK is scheduled for 11am on Monday 25 March so the website and emails might be down for a couple of hours. Hopefully after that all the problems we’ve recently had will be solved. It will double our hosting costs but should be money well spent if the website doesn’t crash any more. Huge thanks to those who’ve donated recently to help us keep the show on the road. If you are considering making a donation, please see here for the options.

Our usual round-up of  local news includes a festival, an award, art, Easter and community awards – plus a look at the latest news on the long-running Colthrop proposals and a celebration of some ocean protectors. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include repair cafe and coffee morning. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

• Colthrop

There’s quite a long post by Richard Garvie on the Newbury Happening Now FB page concerning the proposed plans for a development south of the railway at Thatcham. There are some political swipes at the local Lib Dems, collectively or individually, which I won’t go into. However, aspects of what he says provide a reasonable summary of the pros and cons of the plan.

One statement that’s not correct, however, is that the Colthrop Village Consortium has recently updated its website. I spoke to one of the directors on 21 March and was told that that this hasn’t been changed for some time. Nor are there, as Richard Garvie asserts, any immediate scheme for the scheme to “come forward”. Although development of the site has been a long-held ambition of the consortium and also many discussions are pre-app meetings have happened, I was told that no application has been lodged. The Consortium’s main engagement currently is as part of the Regulation 19 examination of WBC’s contentious local plan, in which many other parties also have an interest.

As Richard Garvie says, “there is a lot to like about this proposal.” There are, however, problems. One is a political and planning one. Now that WBC has been compelled to proceed with the previous (Conservative-run) draft of the local plan, NE Thatcham remains. This makes Colthrop, or any other sites such as Henwick which were offered as alternatives, less likely to proceed. Until the plan’s examination is completed, though, it won’t be clear whether the NE allocation is regarded as sound (as the Tories maintain) or flawed (the Lib Dems’ view).

In addition to this, there are two issues of over-riding importance that would need to be addressed; and also a third which all the discussions about the other aspects have so far partly obscured.

The first is the flooding risk. This was mainly the reason why WBC rejected the plan and recent water-related problems will not incline anyone to take a more optimistic view. It’s worth noting that most of the built part of the development will be on brownfield land which has, obviously, already been used.

When I spoke to them about this last year, the developers said that this problem had been addressed and that suitable mitigation measures can be used and this point was re-confirmed to me on 21 March. Moreover, it appears that Environment Agency is also satisfied. Whether WBC’s officers or planning committee members will think the same remains to be seen.

The second is the bridge. Few would argue that the situation at the level crossing is ideal and many people have argued that a bridge is the solution. MP Laura Farris clearly feels this is a vote-winner has recently being campaigning for this, though so far without any commitment from Whitehall. If I were in the Treasury, I’d be pointing to the fact that the developers have claimed that they can build it, so why should public money be spent?

The relevant page on consortium’s website certainly says that this would be part of the project, but stops short of promising that they could pay for it all themselves. The possibility thus exists of the project getting approved and started but the money then running out, forcing the government to stump up the balance.

I put this point to the Consortium on 21 March and was assured that the scheme is fully costed for the Consortium to cover in its entirety. £17m or thereabouts is the current estimate, though this would need to review as such figures are only moving in one direction. It was also admitted that the bridge would need to be started first and it was accepted that one condition might be that no homes could be occupied until it was finished.

I asked how a developer could fund a £17m bridge and all or part of the construction of over 900 homes and all the other promised features before any houses had been sold and was assured that this had been thought about too. I understand, for instance, that government loans or grants are available to help cover just such cash-flow issues.

(It’s also worth pointing out that there are strong arguments why a bridge is not the best solution. I looked at this in the 1 February edition of this column.)

If the flood risk can be addressed and the bridge funded, this would lead to a third problem (which Richard Garvie also touches on). One of the problems Thatcham faces is a lack of infrastructure. For a town of its size, many of the facilities or amenities are too small, too cramped or two few in number. Developers are only required, through CIL or S106 agreements, to mitigate the consequences of their own projects, not address pre-existing ones. Neither NE Thatcham nor Colthrop would do much to alleviate this.

True, in the latter case there would be a new crossing. That, however, will only tend to make Thatcham larger still. The whole area to the south of the town, currently fairly pristine, would be opened up for development. Aside for the environmental and bio-diversity damage, this would encourage future applications to come forward, so making the infrastructure deficit all the greater.

It seems that Thatcham is already more than big enough in population compared to the facilities it has. This is only likely to make the situation worse. None the less, the situation at the level crossing is absurd, more homes are needed (though more need to be affordable) and the developers are not going away. This one will rumble on for a while yet.

• Ocean Protectors

On Tuesday 12 March, Parsons Down Partnership of Schools in Thatcham took part in their Ocean Protectors Day. This was devised by their pupil-led eco committee. On the day, everyone came to school dressed in blue and donated money to the Marine Conservation Society, raising £163.20 for the charity.

The Ocean Protectors Day began with an assembly led by Sam Carpenter from Eco Friends West Berkshire who explained how litter can easily end up in the ocean via drains and rivers. Sam also talked about how reducing the amount of single-use plastic we buy can make a big difference.

Then children took part in various marine-themed activities in class, including creative writing and crafts. Each class was also given a cardboard template to work on. These will come together to create a display board in the hall, demonstrating the danger of single-use plastic to the marine environment.

Parsons Down also set some homework to complete during the week. Families were encouraged to take part in The Big Plastic Count. The school hopes this will spread the message even further.

Parsons Down’s Ocean Protectors Day was a marine topic action for their work on the Eco-Schools programme. To find out more about what the school has achieved, as part of this programme, please take a look at the Parsons Down Partnership website.

• Other news

Lots going on this weekend including a Repair Cafe, WI Coffee Morning, Stamp and Postcard Fair, Spring Show, Male Choir and Jumble Sale. See events section below for details.

• Thatcham Town Council has just installed a new defibrillator outside the Thatcham Memorial Hall. This is good news for local residents as it means that in the case of an emergency it is easy to access at a well-known landmark. However, £150 pounds is still needed yearly to fund its running. Anyone wishing to contribute to the ongoing maintenance of the defibrillator can contact the Memorial Foundation on (01635) 868244. More information can be found here.

• Applications are now open for the Thatcham Festival 2024. Thatcham Town Council are seeking a wide range of activities from workshops, to talks and walks, performances, and exhibitions which showcase the creativity and innovation of the local community. Local individuals, community groups, charities and arts and leisure organisations are invited to apply, whether their interest be dance, theatre, music, arts, crafts, nature, local history, or something else. The festival will take place between  Tuesday 1 October and Sunday 20 October 2024. The deadline for applications is Friday 24 May. To learn more get in contact at events.manager@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk.

• Congratulations to Hasmukh ‘Hash’ Shingadia for receiving an award for his unwavering commitment to Upper Bucklebury throughout his ordeals with the Post Office and the pandemic. He has run Peach’s Stores in Upper Bucklebury for 25 years. See the details on Newbury Today here.

Thatcham Town Council has just installed a new defibrillator outside the Thatcham Memorial Hall. This is good news for the local residents as it means that in the case of an emergency it is easy to access at a well-known landmark. However, £150 pounds is still needed yearly to fund its running. More information can be found here.

• Thatcham Youth will be holding an Easter Family Fun Day on Thursday 4 April, featuring arts and crafts, bouncy castles, outdoor sports, raffle prizes and face painting. Tickets can be reserved here, but act fast as the morning session has already sold out!

• Thatcham Town Council is raising funds to develop a calm reflection garden within the children’s burial area at London Road Cemetery, to provide a peaceful space for families to find solace. If you would like to make a donation, please click here.

• Quick reminder that nominations are open for Thatcham’s Community Awards 2024See here for categories and how to submit your nomination by 12pm Friday 22 March.

• Friends of Thatcham Library will be holding a free Easter Art Workshop for children on Tuesday 9 April, from 10am to 11:30am. It is for children 5+ and under 8s must be accompanied by an adult. The session is free but booking a place is essential: you can do this by contacting thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk or 01635 866 049.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Thatcham Council has updated the Town Guide for 2024, which can be read here. It contains information about Thatcham’s history, annual events as well as local services.

• The Green Hub on West Berkshire Council’s website is focused on helping people make more sustainable choices collectively along our journey to net zero, whether you live, work or learn in West Berkshire or are a business owner or visitor. The information covers energy efficiencytaking climate actioncommunity work and sustainable business.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consultations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Thatcham Pharmacy now offers advice and prescribes NHS medicine for certain health concerns. Learn more about the ‘NHS Pharmacy First’ scheme here.

• Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

• Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

• West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Fri 22 Mar Retro Bingo Thatcham Rugby Club, Henwick Worthy Sports Ground.

• Sat 23 Mar Woman’s Institute Coffee Morning, Thatcham Memorial Hall.

• Sat 23 Mar Newbury Cats Protection Jumble Sale, Thatcham Catholic Hall.

• Sat 23 Mar Cold Ash Spring Show Plant Sale, Acland Hall.

Sat 23 Mar Stamp & Postcard Fair, Kennet School, Thatcham.

• Sun 24 Mar Basingstoke Hospital Male Choir Charity Concert, St Mary’s Church, Thatcham.

• Sun 24 Mar Newbury and Thatcham Repair Cafe, Frank Hutchings Community Hall, Thatcham.

• Sat 30 Mar Easter Eggstravaganza, St Mary’s Church Yard, Thatcham.

• Thur 4 Apr Thatcham Youth Easter Family Day, Moorside Community Centre.

• Sun 7 Apr Thatcham 10k Run 2024 

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: Creative Mindfulness Workshop, Thatcham Council.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: ‘Keeping Memories Alive’ Talk, Thatcham Council.

Fri 17 May Dementia Action Week: Garden Party, Thatcham Council.

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

Silly Socks Childcare children’s holiday club is planning to open in time for April half term at Burdwood Community Centre (Station Road, Thatcham).

• A new monthly Board Games Club at Thatcham Library on the first Friday of every month, from 2 to 4pm. There is no need to book: just drop in and join the fun playing some familiar games and learning some new ones.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 29 January and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: Yattendon Estate; the Playground; planning matters; repairs and maintenance; the emergency plan; the Clubroom; the defibrillator; the Annual Parish Meeting (15 May); and financial matters.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 15 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: reports from the ward members; planning matters; financial matters; repairs and maintenance; and the Annual Parish Assembly (25 April).
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: local charities; financial matters; planning matters; annual parish meeting (16 April); the NDP (see separate section); the Recreation Ground; the Pre-school garden; and the Clerk’s report.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 February and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 January and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 14 March 2024

Gremlin update: we have started the process of migrating our whole website, emails and hosting to a new UK-based company – so, fingers crossed this goes smoothly next week but please bear with us if there any hiccups. Thanks again to those who have already helped cover our extra costs, including Joan from Newbury who says “I’ve learned so much from following your weekly bulletins over the years and I have at last arranged for a small monthly donation. Thank you so much for all you do.” This kind of feedback means the world to us. If you are considering making us a donation, please see here for the options.

Our usual round-up of  local news includes calm reflection, young authors, Easter fun, art and community awards – plus a look at three challenges (or opportunities) facing pharmacies in Thatcham. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include  youth quiz night and coffee morning.  See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

• Queuing for the meds

We mentioned in this column on 22 February about concerns in Newbury and elsewhere about the queues at local pharmacies. This was raised that day at the Health and Wellbeing Board (HWB) which looked at the (very complex) matter of pharmacy provision in the area. One of the assertions was that, certainly Newbury, needed an additional town-centre pharmacy (Thatcham has already had some changes in the last year). The counter argument from the Health Trust was that there was currently only a limited amount to funding and that if this spread over an extra outlet the result could be that the overall level service might diminish rather than increase.

The matter was given another airing at the West Berkshire Health Scrutiny Commission (HSC) on 12 March (you can see the agenda here: the minutes will be available here when published). I spoke to the HSC’s Chair Martha Vickers on 14 March and she confirmed the point above about the danger of the jam being spread too thinly. She added that, as a result, “the concentration has been on improving the efficiency of existing pharmacies.”

There was also discussion at the HSC about the Pharmacy First scheme which was announced in November and rolled out from early February. In my 22 February article, I suggested that this might be part of the problem. I also came up with a summary n favour of new new pharmacies opening up, certainly in Newbury. Having spoken to Martha Vickers and others about this, I now see this to have been, at best, an over-simplification.

There seem to be three issues. The first is that the number of pharmacies nationally has been falling and there are now about 10% fewer than there were five years ago. This will in part have been due to failing business models, falling demand or perhaps the lack of government funding. The Pharmaceutical Journal refers to the last issue in this article in November 2023 and also points to “a shift in ownership from large multiples to small multiples and independents, mainly down to the sale or closure of most LloydsPharmacy’s branches.” The sector is clearly experiencing some churn and disruption.

Pubs have seen a similar attrition: but pubs aren’t regulated. Pharmacy provision is: so it’s reasonable to assume that complex, and to an outsider opaque, systems by which this is managed is ensuring, perhaps imperfectly, that there are in general the right number of outlets in the right places. Organisations like the HSC and HWB exist to keep an eye on this. And yet people in Newbury and Thatcham have been complaining. If a new pharmacy isn’t the solution, what can be done to fix this?

This leads to the second point, of efficiency. Several of the members of the HSC agreed that improvements in systems, staffing and communication in the local pharmacies produced very rapid improvements in the levels of service and a commensurate fall in the number of complaints. Recruitment and retention remains an issue although, as Martha Vickers pointed out to me, the number of pharmacists in the Bucks, Berks and Oxon area has gone up from 690 in 2021 to 727 in 2022. If these improvements can be maintained then the situation may improve. More money from Whitehall might help, though it’s dangerous to assume that every problem will dissolve in the face of a larger pile of cash.

Thirdly, there’s the matter of Pharmacy First, I spoke to a well-established indecent pharmacist in the area who told me – again, contrary to what I suggested on 22 February – that the funding is in place and would appear to be adequate. The aim, he explained, was that virtually all pharmacies would in time be part of this scheme, although a few (for example ones with no consulting room) may not. Moreover, in each case the roll-out may be varied, with some outlets not able to offer all the services immediately. I suggested that this seemed like a logical and pragmatic step given the lengthening waiting lists for GP appointments and the fact that (and I really wasn’t just saying this to flatter him) pharmacists are highly trained and competent people and they had perhaps been under-utilised.

He broadly agreed with this, adding that the new initiative was in some ways a return to the situation that prevailed before the NHS when pharmacists were essentially high-street physicians: a criticism of the post 1946 arrangements is that they became dispensing factories. He added that the change has been anticipated to the extent that all pharmacists now qualifying have to have prescribing qualifications. In the past they hadn’t because it wasn’t part of the job. Now it is, for a limited range of medicines (which do not, it’s worth stressing, include antibiotics). He suggested that he felt this list would increase once the system had bedded down.

The fact that Pharmacy First has appeared at the same time as has a recurrence of complaints about queueing times might suggest that one was the cause of the other. If the pharmacy is already running less well than it might, this wouldn’t have helped, particularly in these early stages of the new scheme. However, they seem to be different issues with different funding streams designed to address different but related needs.

• Other news

• Thatcham Town Council is embarking on a project to develop a calm reflection garden within the children’s burial area at London Road Cemetery, to provide a peaceful space for families to find solace. Almost half of the funding required has been made through fundraising and grants from The Good Exchange and Greenham Trust Grants. If you would like to make a donation, please click here.

• Congratultions to young budding authors Tulullah Martin from Thatcham Park CE Primary School for winning the Year 4 – 6 category and to Gracie Williams from Cold Ash St Mark’s CE Primary School for winning the Year 1 – 3 category of Laura Farris MP’s Short Story Competition to celebrate World Book Day. Both of the winning stories can be read here.

• Be aware that Lower Way in Thatcham will be closed from 18 to 22 March 2024, between its junctions with Glebelands and Paynesdown Road. This closure is to enable the installation of new gas and electric connections. Residential access will be maintained throughout, and the diversion will be signed on site but blue light access will not be permitted. More details can be found here.

• Quick reminder that the first Newbury and Thatcham Repair Cafe at Frank Hutchings Community Hall in Thatcham will be on Sunday 24 March in the morning. The first one in Newbury was a huge success (see report here) so do go along and take something that needs fixing. See more details here.

• Thatcham Youth will be holding an Easter Family Fun Day on Thursday 4 April. A jam-packed day featuring arts and crafts, bouncy castles, outdoor sports, raffle prizes and even face painting. Admission is free, and tickets will be available to book here from Sunday 17 March at 6pm.

• Friends of Thatcham Library will be holding a free Easter Art Workshop for children on Tuesday 9 April, from 10am to 11:30am. It is for children 5+ and under 8s must be accompanied by an adult. The session is free but booking a place is essential: you can do this by contacting thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk or 01635 866 049.

• Quick reminder that nominations are open for Thatcham’s Community Awards 2024See here for categories and how to submit your nomination by 12pm Friday 22 March.

• Would you like to volunteer your business expertise to help Education Business Partnership prepare our local young people? Please see here for more details.

• Thatcham Council has updated the Town Guide for 2024, which can be read here. It contains information about Thatcham’s history, annual events as well as local services.

• The Green Hub on West Berkshire Council’s website is focused on helping people make more sustainable choices collectively along our journey to net zero, whether you live, work or learn in West Berkshire or are a business owner or visitor. The information covers energy efficiencytaking climate actioncommunity work and sustainable business.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consultations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Thatcham Pharmacy now offers advice and prescribes NHS medicine for certain health concerns. Learn more about the ‘NHS Pharmacy First’ scheme here.

• Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

• Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

• West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Sat 16 Mar Thatcham Youth Quiz Night, Moorside Community Centre.

• Fri 22 Mar Retro Bingo Thatcham Rugby Club, Henwick Worthy Sports Ground.

• Sat 23 Mar Woman’s Institute Coffee Morning, Thatcham Memorial Hall.

• Sat 23 Mar Newbury Cats Protection Jumble Sale, Thatcham Catholic Hall.

• Sat 23 Mar Cold Ash Spring Show Plant Sale, Acland Hall.

• Sun 24 Mar Basingstoke Hospital Male Choir Charity Concert, St Mary’s Church, Thatcham.

• Sun 24 Mar Newbury and Thatcham Repair Cafe, Frank Hutchings Community Hall, Thatcham.

• Sat 30 Mar Easter Eggstravaganza, St Mary’s Church Yard, Thatcham.

• Thur 4 Apr Thatcham Youth Easter Family Day, Moorside Community Centre.

• Sun 7 Apr Thatcham 10k Run 2024 

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

Silly Socks Childcare children’s holiday club is planning to open in time for April half term at Burdwood Community Centre (Station Road, Thatcham).

• A new monthly Board Games Club at Thatcham Library on the first Friday of every month, from 2 to 4pm. There is no need to book: just drop in and join the fun playing some familiar games and learning some new ones.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 29 January and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: local charities; financial matters; planning matters; annual parish meeting (16 April); the NDP (see separate section); the Recreation Ground; the Pre-school garden; and the Clerk’s report.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; repairs and maintenance; the BPC website; enforcement issues; planning matters (including “Change of use of land to Gypsy/Traveller site comprising the siting of 1 mobile home and 1 touring caravan plus 1 dayroom”); financial matters; and a grant award to Tadley Citizens Advice.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 January and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 January and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 January and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 7 March 2024

Gremlin alert: some people have recently had problems loading our web pages. We believe we’re close to solving this but you may find, if you return to this page later, that it’s unavailable. Please accept our apologies and try again in a bit. The solution involves upgrading our website server which we have put off as it costs more money. But the time has come when we have no choice. So, as we’ve said before, any small monthly donation you can make towards this cost would be very much appreciated. See here for ways to donate. And thanks again to those who have already done so.

Our usual round-up of  local news includes darts, litter, repairs, art and Easter – plus possibly bigger plans for the Library and surrounding area, flood defences approved and the final green light for Cold ash’s NDP. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include a litter pick and youth quiz night.  See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

• Thatcham’s Library

We mentioned last week that £1.2m has been allocated in the 2024-25 budget for the redevelopment of Thatcham Library. It seems that this is part of a wider plan for the whole Memorial Hall and Brownsfield area just to the north of the A4.

There are two aspects to this. Thatcham’s Library has long been recognised as inadequate for the needs of the town (the same could be said of other facilities) and under the last, Conservative, administration the opportunity was presented for a six-figure expenditure on improving it.

The view then taken was that, as there was the possibility of a more major redevelopment at some future point (particularly when the issue of the neighbouring and now closed Walnut Close Care home was resolved), any plans that risked needing to un-done in a few years was a waste of time. In 2023, work was therefore done on just changing the entrance porch and adding an accessible toilet. The current (Lib Dem) administration agrees that this was a sensible attitude to take.

The latest plan, as reported here last week, is that £1.2m has been earmarked for redeveloping the Library in 2024-25. This is, however, part of a wider plan which could incorporate the whole Brownfield Road and Memorial Hall just north of the A4. Tsports facilities, an enlarged surgery, a community hub and council offices are, it seems, all part of the unofficial vision for the area. The possibilities for change in this area are, as it was expressed to me this week, only limited by the Council’s ambition.

The problem with an ambition is knowing what size it should be. The previous administration rightly passed over the opportunity to go further with the plans for the Library because of the possibility of something larger. The current administration should also be be wary of the example of the various visions for the London Road Industrial Estate debacle in Newbury, which have so far resulted in vast expenditure with nothing to show for it.

The trick for any council is to produce a scheme which won’t be so small as to risk needing to be pulled down in two years’ time when something more shiny comes along and also not (like the LRIE) so big that it’s beyond its capacity to get it off the ground. To be politically cynical, it also needs to have had a spade in the ground at least before the next election lest the whole project, perhaps for a purely political motive, be cancelled.

This one seems to stand a reasonable chance. The re-development of this area was identified as a primary objective in the Thatcham place-making strategy. Most of the land is owned by either WBC or Thatcham TC, and is (unlike in the LRIE) unencumbered by long leases. Assuming the two bodies can agree a common approach, and that the scheme doesn’t achieve a grandiose aspect that makes it unachievable, then it may have legs. If it’s made too big, however, then it may fail. This is certainly an area of the town that could do with improvement, while the expansion of the facilities is also badly needed. We await the next news on this with interest.

• Flood defences

As mentioned last week, the Eastern Area Planning Committee met on 6 March to decide the application for the final part of Thatcham’s flood defence scheme. You can click here to see the EAPC’s agenda here which includes a link to all the documents and a video of the event.

This event was passed, following the officers’ recommendation. There was one small change to the conditions, proposed by Councillor Justin Pemberton. This concerned the loss of a dog-walking area as a result of the works. It had already been specified that this would be replaced but he tightened this up by ensuring that this was a like-for-like replacement as regarded scale and access and that it would be in place within three months of the scheme opening.

As with all such decisions, compromises between the various policies are needed. The job of the committee and the officers is not to find a solution which perfectly accord with every policy (which would be impossible) but one which gives the right amount of weight to each considering the circumstances of the application. In this case, the interests of the wider area needed also to be considered as this is the final piece of the town’s flood defences.

It was admitted, for instance, that the application potentially offended policies relating to trees (some will need to be felled, and re-planted) and open spaces. Most would agree, however, that the risk of flooding would be far worse. Anyone who was living in the area in 2007 will not need reminding of this.

• Cold Ash’s plan

We reported in this column on 15 February that Cold Ash’s and Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plans were approaching the finishing line. his week we received a further update for Cold Ash which, with only some very light edits, we reproduce verbatim below. “We have great news,” the statement begins…

“West Berkshire Council (WBC) has accepted the recommendations of the independent Examiner and decided that our NDP can go forward to referendum. The referendum will be the final step in the process that has taken over five years. The referendum has been scheduled for 2 May 2024. There is a risk that it may not happen then if a general election is called in the meantime.

“The process in now in the control of WBC. Cold Ash Parish Council (CAPC) and the Cold Ash NDP Steering Group’s formal involvement in the process has ended. Obviously, we still have a strong interest in the outcome of the referendum, however CAPC is not permitted to influence the outcome of the referendum. We are, however, permitted to share the facts that will help our parishioners decide on which way to vote:

  • The LibDems, the majority party on WBC, strongly recommend that all areas of West Berkshire be covered by an NDP.
  • The Conservatives, as the main minority party, made the following statement in their monthly parish newsletter “It is now even more pressing for rural parishes to consider developing Neighbourhood Plans which might provide some protection against unwanted excessive housing.”
  • The plan has been subject to several rounds of consultation. The responses to the plan, and the individual policies within it, have always been extremely positive. The main consultation, held in October 2021, resulted in positive responses from over 80% of respondents on the vast majority of the policies proposed.
  • The examination, by an independent examiner, made few recommendations that required changes. CAPC is content that the plan is materially unaffected by the required changes and is substantially the same plan that was consulted on.
  • A positive outcome in the referendum would establish our NDP as part of the Local Plan. This would provide a formal basis on which to ensure that local considerations are taken into account when decisions are made on the location and type of development taking place within our parish. This provides CAPC with the levers required to better represent the interests of you, our parishioners.

“The referendum will be the culmination of over five years of work, involving thousands of hours of effort. All of this has been done to provide the right conditions in which to maintain and evolve our parish, so that it continues be a wonderful place to live. We encourage all electors within the parish to vote in the referendum.”

And remember, when you do vote in this or any other election it is not obligatory to bring a dog and tie it up outside the polling station: though, judging from the number of such photos that appear at election time, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was. You will need photo ID, however.

• Other news

• The Thatcham Litter Pickers will be meeting at the Moorside Community Centre this Saturday 9 March to help clear up the Kennet Heath area. If you would like to get involved come along at 10am with reusage gloves and water bottle and you can borrow a picker, bag hoop, hi viz and bags. The head out picking for an hour, before returning at 11am to drop off the litter. Click here to learn more.

• This Saturday 9 March there will be a Darts Competition, held at the Castle Inn, at Cold Ash. It’ll start at 7:30pm and there will be a cash prize for winners. Entry is £5 and free snacks will be available. Click here for further details.

• Improvements are currently underway at the Thatcham branch of the Newbury Building Society which should be ready by April. As well as refurbishments, there building is getting an expansion to “provide members with a larger, more modern, and welcoming environment… and will feature a choice of open, semi-private, and private spaces to receive advice and guidance.“. To learn more click here. This NBS branch is the only remaining building society/banking facility in Thatcham.

• The first Newbury and Thatcham Repair Cafe at Frank Hutchings Community Hall in Thatcham will be on Sunday 24 March in the morning. The first one in Newbury was a huge success (see report here) so do go along and take something that needs fixing. See more details here.

• Thatcham Youth will be holding an Easter Family Fun Day on Thursday 4 April. A jam-packed day featuring arts and crafts, bouncy castles, outdoor sports, raffle prizes and even face painting. Admission is free, and tickets will be available to book here from Sunday 17 March at 6pm.

• Thatcham Refillable’s March newsletter announces some changes to their usual market schedule which will come into effect from April, a list of their events and delivery dates for March, as well as talking about their ‘SESI Refill’ products. Thatcham Refillable can be found every Friday at Thatcham Market or at their home in Northfield Road (by arrangement).

• A by-election will take place on Thursday 14 March to choose a new Thatcham Town Council member for the Thatcham North East wardClick here to see the notice of the election and a list of candidates.

• Friends of Thatcham Library will be holding a free Easter Art Workshop for children on Tuesday 9 April, from 10am to 11:30am. It is for children 5+ and under 8s must be accompanied by an adult. The session is free but booking a place is essential: you can do this by contacting thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk or 01635 866 049.

• Quick reminder that nominations are open for Thatcham’s Community Awards 2024See here for categories and how to submit your nomination by 12pm Friday 22 March.

• Would you like to help inspire the future workforce? Education Business Partnership helps prepare our local young people for the world of work, and to do this EBP relies on the support of local businesses and professionals. If you would like to volunteer your expertise please see here for more details.

• Thatcham Council has updated the Town Guide for 2024, which can be read here. It contains information about Thatcham’s history, annual events as well as local services.

• The Green Hub on West Berkshire Council’s website is focused on helping people make more sustainable choices collectively along our journey to net zero, whether you live, work or learn in West Berkshire or are a business owner or visitor. The information covers energy efficiencytaking climate actioncommunity work and sustainable business.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consultations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Thatcham Pharmacy now offers advice and prescribes NHS medicine for certain health concerns. Learn more about the ‘NHS Pharmacy First’ scheme here.

• Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

• Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

• Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

• West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Sat 9 Mar March Litter Pick at Kennet Heath, Moorside Community Centre.

• Sat 9 Mar Darts Competition, Castle Inn, Cold Ash.

• Sat 16 Mar Thatcham Youth Quiz Night, Moorside Community Centre.

• Fri 22 Mar Retro Bingo Thatcham Rugby Club, Henwick Worthy Sports Ground.

• Sat 23 Mar Woman’s Institute Coffee Morning, Thatcham Memorial Hall.

• Sat 23 Mar Newbury Cats Protection Jumble Sale, Thatcham Catholic Hall.

• Sun 24 Mar Newbury and Thatcham Repair Cafe, Frank Hutchings Community Hall, Thatcham.

• Sat 30 Mar Easter Eggstravaganza, St Mary’s Church Yard, Thatcham.

• Thur 4 Apr Thatcham Youth Easter Family Day, Moorside Community Centre.

• Sun 7 Apr Thatcham 10k Run 2024 

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

Silly Socks Childcare children’s holiday club is planning to open in time for April half term at Burdwood Community Centre (Station Road, Thatcham).

• A new monthly Board Games Club at Thatcham Library on the first Friday of every month, from 2 to 4pm. There is no need to book: just drop in and join the fun playing some familiar games and learning some new ones.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

• Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 29 January and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: local charities; financial matters; planning matters; annual parish meeting (16 April); the NDP (see separate section); the Recreation Ground; the Pre-school garden; and the Clerk’s report.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; repairs and maintenance; the BPC website; enforcement issues; planning matters (including “Change of use of land to Gypsy/Traveller site comprising the siting of 1 mobile home and 1 touring caravan plus 1 dayroom”); financial matters; and a grant award to Tadley Citizens Advice.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 January and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 January and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 January and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 29 February 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes refills, an election, art, community awards and board games – plus a look at two long-awaited projects in Thatcham which may soon be under starter’s orders: the upgrade of the Library and the last stage of the flood-defence scheme. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include a 1ok run and a repair café.  See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

• Thatcham’s Library

£1.2m has been allocated in WBC’s budget for upgrading Library which is earmarked to be spent this financial year. It’s not yet completely certain id this will be at the existing site or in a new location: if the former, it’s also not yet certain if the former Walnut Close care home will form part of this. The Library certainly needs expanding. It’s already very popular and the town’s population is only set to grow (particularly in the NE Thatcham development plans, now back on the table, come to fruition). All of the costs will be funded through developer contributions (S106 and/or CIL).

Last year, WBC did som work on health and safety and compliance matters, including adding an accessible toilet. These won’t need to be ripped out if the renovation takes place on this site. It work is to be completed this year then I’d imagine a planning application will need to be lodged soon, at which point everyone will be able to have their say.

• The last bit of the defences

At its meeting on 6 March, the Eastern Area Planning Committee will be considering the application for the final part of Thatcham’s flood defence scheme. This is described formally as “Flood Alleviation Scheme including detention basin and swale. New cricket facilities to replace those lost by the scheme (full description available at paragraphs 1.4 and 1.5 of the report) at Thatcham Memorial Playing Fields, Brownsfield Road, Thatcham.” The funding for this in in place. You can see the full details on the EAPC’s agenda pack here.

The plan has not been without its critics as there have been about 35 letters of objection and it has been called in for this reason. The officers’ recommendation is to approve, subject to conditions. I understand that there are also some issues relating to compensation that need to be agreed. It will a surprise if this is not approved, given the fact that this is the final piece of the jigsaw and then many still vividly remember the 2007 floods which proved the need for a scheme such as this.

One person who does remember 2007 is Thatcham’s current Mayor, Mark Lillycrop. “I was a personal vicim of those floods,” he told me on 29 February, “and I certainly wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone else. I for one will be very glad when this project is completed.” If EAPC agrees and the other matters can be dealt with, it’s hoped that this will have happened by this time next year.

• Other news

• The Thatcham 10k 2024 is just over a month away (Sunday 7 April) and if you’re a budding runner thinking about signing up, this might be your last chance. The race is limited to 250 runners, with no entries on the day, and they are down to their last few spaces. To learn more, click here.

• A by-election will take place on Thursday 14 March to choose a new Thatcham Town Council member for the Thatcham North East ward. Click here to see the notice of the election and a list of candidates.

• See the 15 February section below for the latest on the NDPs in Cold Ash and Hermitage.

• A new children’s holiday club is planning to open in time for April half term at Burdwood Community Centre (Station Road, Thatcham). If you are able to donate any toys, puzzles, books, dressing up clothes, etc, please get in touch with them via their Facebook page or drop them off at Thatcham Town Council.

• You can check out Thatcham Refillable‘s latest February newsletter here. If you want to reduce your consumption of single use plastics, you can refill your household and personal cleaning products with Thatcham Refillable every Friday at Thatcham Market or at their home in Northfield Road by arrangement.

• The Thatcham Pharmacy can now offer advice and prescribe NHS medicine for certain health concerns. Learn more about the ‘NHS Pharmacy First’ scheme here.

• Already looking ahead, Friends of Thatcham Library is holding a free Easter Art Workshop for children on Tuesday 9 April, from 10am to 11:30am. It is for children 5+ and under 8s must be accompanied by an adult. The session is free but booking a place is essential: you can do this by contacting thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk or 01635 866 049.

• Quick reminder that nominations are open for Thatcham’s Community Awards 2024. See here for categories and how to submit your nomination by 12pm Friday 22 March.

• Would you like to help inspire the future workforce? Education Business Partnership helps prepare our local young people for the world of work, and to do this EBP relies on the support of local businesses and professionals. If you would like to volunteer your expertise please see here for more details.

• Thatcham Council has updated the Town Guide for 2024, which can be read here. It contains information about Thatcham’s history, annual events as well as local services.

The Green Hub on West Berkshire Council’s website is focused on helping people make more sustainable choices collectively along our journey to net zero, whether you live, work or learn in West Berkshire or are a business owner or visitor. The information covers energy efficiencytaking climate actioncommunity work and sustainable business.

• A new monthly Board Games Club starts at Thatcham Library on the first Friday of every month,  from 2 to 4pm. There is no need to book: just drop in and join the fun playing some familiar games and learning some new ones.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Sun 24 Mar Newbury and Thatcham Repair Cafe, Frank Hutchings Community Hall, Thatcham.

Sun 7 Apr Thatcham 10k Run 2024 

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 27 November and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 6 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; repairs and maintenance; the BPC website; enforcement issues; planning matters (including “Change of use of land to Gypsy/Traveller site comprising the siting of 1 mobile home and 1 touring caravan plus 1 dayroom”); financial matters; and a grant award to Tadley Citizens Advice.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 January and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 January and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 January and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 December and you can read the minutes here. There was also an additional meeting on 16 January which was mainly concerned with the NDP and the precept (£66.000).
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 22 February 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes a by-election, drag bingo, refills, community awards, NDPs and  board games – plus a look at a proposed police logistics centre that might be a bit taller than it’s trying to make out. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include a quiz night and a winter concert.  See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

• Police logistics

The Thames Valley Police has announced its intention to build a logistics facility in Thatcham. The official summary is – take a deep breath – “a Logistics Hub comprising a three-storey block of approximately 7,800 square metres Gross Internal Area (GIA) accommodating offices, laboratories and associated ancillary uses; a yard; a garage and storage building; a single-storey gatehouse; and associated internal access roads, car and cycle parking, landscaping, lighting, drainage and boundary treatments on Land East Of Goddards Road and 2 Gables Way Thatcham.”

The details of the application (number 23/02965/FULMAJ) can be seen here. The determination deadline in 8 April but these are often more honoured in the breach than the observance. If you have any comments, you’d be advised to get them in before then.

A dozen or so residents have already set pen to paper, all of them (so far) to object. Several of these are concerned by the height, one pointing out that although the proposal is described as three-storey it’s actually more like the hight of a five-storey building. Neighbouring Midgham Parish Council has objected “due to flooding risk, the height of the building and concerns about ribbon development along the A4.”

Thatcham Town Council has supported “the principle of the development but, noting the comments of Midgham Parish Council, suggests that the applicant considers reducing the height of the development, in particular the portico on top, and also subject to sufficient EV charging points. Thatcham Town Council would also like to request that the roof space be used for solar panels.”

The usual horse trading and discussions will now follow. The final compromise may not be what any one party would wish but will, hopefully, be what all of them can live with.

• Other news

• A by-election will take place on Thursday 14 March to choose a new Thatcham Town Council member for the Thatcham North East ward. Click here to see the notice of the election and a list of candidates.

• See the 15 February section below for the latest on the NDPs in Cold Ash and Hermitage.

• Last weekend, Newbury Pride in collaboration with Thatcham Town Councill held its second Drag Bingo Night at Thatcham Rugby Club hosted by Wilma Fingerdoo. Tickets sold out quickly, but if you missed out they are planning their next one. Check out their Facebook page to see some great photos from the event, as well as to stay up-to-date with their latest news.

• A new children’s holiday club is planning to open in time for April half term at Burdwood Community Centre (Station Road, Thatcham). If you are able to donate any toys, puzzles, books, dressing up clothes, etc, please get in touch with them via their Facebook page or drop them off at Thatcham Town Council.

• You can check out Thatcham Refillable‘s latest February newsletter here. If you want to reduce your consumption of single use plastics, you can refill your household and personal cleaning products with Thatcham Refillable every Friday at Thatcham Market or at their home in Northfield Road by arrangement.

• The Thatcham Pharmacy can now offer advice and prescribe NHS medicine for certain health concerns. Learn more about the ‘NHS Pharmacy First’ scheme here.

Cold Ash Brass is holding its Winter Concert on Saturday 24 February, taking place at Thatcham Baptist Church. Music will include pieces from Les Misérables, the Electric Light Orchestra and more. Starting at 7pm, ticket cost £10 for adults or £5 for children. Click here to stay up to date.

• The Thatcham Memorial Foundation will be holding a fundraising quiz night to raise money for the maintenance of the Thatcham War Memorial. It will be taking place at 7pm on Thursday 29 February at the Bowls Clubhouse. It’s £40 per table, with a maximum of 8 per team (book by Friday 23 February to secure your place) by contacting enquiries@thatchammemorial.plus.com or call 01635868244. Food and drink will be available.

• Already looking ahead, Friends of Thatcham Library is holding a free Easter Art Workshop for children on Tuesday 9 April, from 10am to 11:30am. It is for children 5+ and under 8s must be accompanied by an adult. The session is free but booking a place is essential: you can do this by contacting thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk or 01635 866 049.

• Quick reminder that nominations are open for Thatcham’s Community Awards 2024. See here for categories and how to submit your nomination by 12pm Friday 22 March.

• Would you like to help inspire the future workforce? Education Business Partnership helps prepare our local young people for the world of work, and to do this EBP relies on the support of local businesses and professionals. If you would like to volunteer your expertise please see here for more details.

• Thatcham Council has updated the Town Guide for 2024, which can be read here. It contains information about Thatcham’s history, annual events as well as local services.

• There is a vacancy for a Town Councillor for Thatcham North East following the resignation of Councillor Christine Rice. For more details please see here.

The Green Hub on West Berkshire Council’s website is focused on helping people make more sustainable choices collectively along our journey to net zero, whether you live, work or learn in West Berkshire or are a business owner or visitor. The information covers energy efficiencytaking climate actioncommunity work and sustainable business.

• A new monthly Board Games Club starts at Thatcham Library on the first Friday of every month,  from 2 to 4pm. There is no need to book: just drop in and join the fun playing some familiar games and learning some new ones.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Thu 22 Feb Arts Workshop for Adults, Thatcham Library.

Sat 24 Feb Cold Ash Brass Band Winter Concert, Thatcham Baptist Church.

Thu 29 Feb Thatcham Memorial Hall fundraising quiz night (see details above).

Sun 24 Mar Newbury and Thatcham Repair Cafe, Frank Hutchings Community Hall, Thatcham.

Sun 7 Apr Thatcham 10k Run 2024 

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 27 November and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: reports from the Chair and the ward members; planning matters; financial matters; the precept (£62,990) and the budget; the burial ground; highways; repairs and maintenance; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 10 January and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 January and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 January and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 December and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 15 February 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes awards, partnerships, pharmacies, a quiz, art and board games – plus a look at Thatcham’s charter, Bucklebury’s thoughts on a public examination and the NDPs at Cold Ash and Hermitage enter the home straight. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include arts workshops and Fiddler on the Roof.  See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

• A public examination

On 9 February, a meeting was held in Bucklebury’s Memorial Hall regarding the proposed local plan. Bucklebury PC Chair Barry Dickens told me that there were about 75 people present, which pretty much qualifies as a full house. Meetings in this village on this subject have tended to be well-attended.

Local ward member Chris Read was in attendance and he summarised for us some of the points that were discussed. He is a Lib Dem, whose party opposed the development plans in NE Thatcham and tried to withdraw the plan which was submitted to the Inspector by the previous administration on 31 March 2023.

He referred to “the rumour that not having a Local Plan would lead to speculative uncontrolled development taking place across West Berkshire” – the situation where plans are likely to succeed on appeal if no up-to date plan is in place. Chris Read pointed out that a “highly experienced planning consultant” claimed at the meeting that these fears were unfounded. “Not only does the current plan cover West Berkshire until 2026,” he suggested, “but any planning application has to go through rigorous review to ensure it meets criteria for approval.”

I would suggest that there is, however, a gradual move towards the risk of development by appeal. The closer one gets to 2026, the more this risk increases. It’s also possible that, were the plan to have been withdrawn, the new one would not have been ratified by then. One of the reasons cited by the Inspector when allowing the recent Watermill Bridge appeal was that Basingstoke’s plan was a bit elderly, so making the developers’ case stronger.

It’s also possible that a speculative application could have been launched by one of the developers interested in the NE Thatcham site. However, the district can currently demonstrate a housing-land supply in excess of five years: an important safeguard. There’s also a political point. Having made withdrawing the plan, if this was possible a manifesto pledge, the new administration could not just drop it simply because it looked difficult.

Chris Read also referred to “23 questions in the National Inspectors pre-examination public review document (IN6)”, released on 21 November 2023. He reports the consultant as saying that “the Inspector would not have raised these questions unless he had serious concerns about the soundness of evidence” of the draft plan submitted in March. The criticism is that this was “rushed” through just before the election. Very little about a local plan is “rushed” in the way the word is generally used. However, it’s true to say that the NE Thatcham site allocation was a reasonably late entry to the process and had the look of something that was bolted on replace something else (the Grazeley scheme) that had fallen off. 

The third main point related to some residents’ concerns that the environmental aspects of the NE Thatcham plan had not been fully considered and addressed. Indeed, the consultant claiming there was “no evidence” this had happened. This was based on the fact that “hardly any material amendments made between Regulation 18 and the Regulation 19 consultation or thereafter before the final submission was made.”

All in all, about 800 public responses were received during the reg 18 consultation, about 40% of these (many very detailed) concerned NE Thatcham. Some have asked whether six weeks was long enough for all of these points to have been considered. It’s also been suggested that there are questions about the levels of statutory engagement conducted by WBC on matters such as sustainability and medical provision. I understand that all these and other matters have been raised with the Inspector.

The objectors, including Bucklebury PC, clearly feel they have a case: as Chris Read observed, “this fight is not over by a long way.” It’s currently expected that the examination in public (at which the interested parties will be represented) will take place in May and June. Unless the Inspector decides during this stage that the plan is indeed flawed and brings the curtain down early, a final decision will then be made about three months later. Once decided, I think that’s it and there’s no possibility of appeal.

• The finish line in sight for the Cold Ash and Hermitage NDPs

Neighbourhood development plans (NDPs) are essentially a formalised and structured way by which local communities (usually single parishes) can in partnership with the local planning authority write the section of the local plan that relates to their area. Once adopted (“made” is the slightly peculiar technical term, which makes them sound like something out of Goodfellas) they become as much part of the local plan as if the planning authority had written them itself.

The process rarely takes less than three years and can last more than twice as long. For months at a time they can, like a train in a long tunnel, vanish from public view altogether while work goes on behind the scenes. Each time they come back out into the daylight there will some element of public engagement or consultation involved. This is important: for NDPs must be able to demonstrate that they are genuinely community-driven exercises if they are to pass the examination.

Both Cold Ash’s and Hermitage’s are now approaching the end of their long journeys (which were started in 2018 and 2019 respectively). A special Council meeting of WBC next week is expected to confirm that all the preceding stages have been conduced successfully. At that point, WBC takes over driving the train. This will culminate in referendums in each parish, probably on Thursday 2 May. WBC will be responsible for publicising all the information regarding how people can vote and for supplying information about the plan and the process. The work of the steering group will thus be done, as will that of the public in providing any feedback. All that remains is for residents to turn out and vote.

As of 31 October 2023, 3,050 NDPs had been started in England and 1,604 had preceded to referendum. Of these, eleven had failed (about one in 145). There’s no room for complacency, however. None the less, the obligation of community involvement mean that the results should represent the wishes of the population, in so far as these are achievable by an NDP.

“The referendum will be the culmination of over five years of work  involving thousands of hours of effort,” Cold Ash NDP Steering Group Chair Ivor McArdle told Penny Post on 15 February.  “All of this has been done to provide the right conditions in which to maintain and evolve our parish so that it continues be a wonderful place to live. We encourage all electors within the parish to vote in the referendum. The Parish Council would like to thank everyone involved in developing, or contributing to the development of, our NDP.”

Once the date/s and WBC’s information about the referendums are confirmed we’ll provide links to them in this section.

• Thatcham’s charter

Thatcham Town Council has said that it is “committed to work in partnership with Eco Friends (West Berkshire) to obtain Plastic Free Community Approved status by Surfers Against Sewage, in recognition of our work to reduce the impact of single-use plastic on the environment.”

The statement adds that “as a community we can bring people together on a journey to tackle throwaway plastic. It’s not about removing all plastic from our lives. It’s about kicking our addiction to throwaway single-use plastic and changing the system that produces it.

“This means we ask everyone who lives in and visits our town to do their bit to help reduce disposable plastics. Thatcham Town Council has a significant role to play in that, through the services we provide – and this charter sets out our expectations. As a delivery partner or service user, we ask you to reduce your single use plastic (including biodegradable, compostable and recycled options), focusing on the ten main ‘offenders’ and not using, providing or selling any of the following:

• Plastic carrier bags
• Disposable coffee cups and lids
• Single-use plastic cups
• Plastic food or product packaging
• Balloons and balloon sticks
• Plastic straws (banned by law)
• Plastic cutlery (banned by law)
• Sachets
• Bathroom plastics
• Plastic drinking bottles

The Town Council has also pledged to work towards eliminating other single-use plastic wherever possible, including novelty plastic toys, unnecessary plastic packaging, laminated documents and single-use marketing products.

• Other news

• There will be a road closure in place on Crookham Hill (likely to affect anyone entering/exiting Thatcham via the level-crossing direction) on Monday 19 February from 9:30am to 3:30pm. The closure will be from its junction with Charterhouse Mill Lane to a property known as ‘The Hay Barn’. There will be diversion signs in place. Click here to learn more.

Cold Ash Brass is holding its Winter Concert on Saturday 24 February, taking place at Thatcham Baptist Church. Music will include pieces from Les Misérables, the Electric Light Orchestra and more. Starting at 7pm, ticket cost £10 for adults or £5 for children. Click here to stay up to date.

• The Thatcham Memorial Foundation will be holding a fundraising quiz night to raise money for the maintenance of the Thatcham War Memorial. It will be taking place at 7pm on Thursday 29 February at the Bowls Clubhouse. It’s £40 per table, with a maximum of 8 per team (book by Friday 23 February to secure your place) by contacting enquiries@thatchammemorial.plus.com or call 01635868244. Food and drink will be available.

• Already looking ahead, Friends of Thatcham Library is holding a free Easter Art Workshop for children on Tuesday 9 April, from 10am to 11:30am. It is for children 5+ and under 8s must be accompanied by an adult. The session is free but booking a place is essential: you can do this by contacting thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk or 01635 866 049.

• Last week, the Mayor of Thatcham unveiled a new post box at London Road Cemetery, dedicated to sending cards, letters and messages to lost loved ones, providing a meaningful way for people to connect with their departed. Click here for more information.

• The Thatcham Pharmacy can now offer advice and prescribe NHS medicine for the following health concerns: sinusitis, a sore throat, ear ache, infected insect bites, impetigo, shingles and uncomplicated UTIs in women. If you are experiencing any of these, stop by and see them. Learn more about the ‘NHS Pharmacy First’ scheme here.

• Quick reminder that nominations are open for Thatcham’s Community Awards 2024. See here for categories and how to submit your nomination by 12pm Friday 22 March.

• Would you like to help inspire the future workforce? Education Business Partnership helps prepare our local young people for the world of work, and to do this EBP relies on the support of local businesses and professionals. If you would like to volunteer your expertise please see here for more details.

• A new children’s holiday club is planning to open in time for April half term at Burdwood Community Centre (Station Road, Thatcham). They are in need of donations of toys, puzzles, books, dressing up clothes and games (no soft toys). If you have some you are happy to donate, please get in touch with them via their Facebook page or if you are passing Thatcham Town Council you can drop them off there.

• Are you caring for someone with dementia and feeling overwhelmed? Blue Bird Care are holding a Dementia Educational Session at the Thatcham Town Council office (Brownsfield Road) on Thursday 15 February from 2.30pm to 4.30pm and can answer all your questions. Call 01256 762324 or click here more information.

• Thatcham Council has updated the Town Guide for 2024, which can be read here. It contains information about Thatcham’s history, annual events as well as local services.

Thatcham Refillable‘s February newsletter to help you reduce your plastic use. Last month, January Jenny and Tom collected 275 plastic chocolate and biscuit tubs for recycling and this month they continue to refill customers bottles of household and personal cleaning products. Find out more at their stall every Friday at Thatcham Market.

• Speaking of which, if you want to reduce your consumption of single use plastics, you can refill your household and personal cleaning products with Thatcham Refillable every Friday at Thatcham Market or at their home in Northfield Road by arrangement.

• There is a vacancy for a Town Councillor for Thatcham North East following the resignation of Councillor Christine Rice. For more details please see here.

The Green Hub on West Berkshire Council’s website is focused on helping people make more sustainable choices collectively along our journey to net zero, whether you live, work or learn in West Berkshire or are a business owner or visitor. The information covers energy efficiencytaking climate actioncommunity work and sustainable business.

• A new monthly Board Games Club starts at Thatcham Library on the first Friday of every month,  from 2 to 4pm. There is no need to book: just drop in and join the fun playing some familiar games and learning some new ones.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Thu 15 to Sat 17 Feb KATS presents Fiddler on the Roof, Kennet School Thatcham.

Thu 22 Feb Arts Workshop for Adults, Thatcham Library.

Sat 24 Feb Cold Ash Brass Band Winter Concert, Thatcham Baptist Church.

Sun 24 Mar Newbury and Thatcham Repair Cafe, Frank Hutchings Community Hall, Thatcham.

Sun 7 Apr Thatcham 10k Run 2024 

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 27 November and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 18 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: reports from the Chair and the ward members; planning matters; financial matters; the precept (£62,990) and the budget; the burial ground; highways; repairs and maintenance; and the Village Hall.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a councillor vacancy; the Clerk’s report; the annual assembly (Friday 10 May); flooding; planning matters; BPC’s response to the local plan (see separate section above); the ward member’s report; financial matters; the budget and the precept (£38,000); the cemetery and the chapel; D-day; the play area; highways; and repairs and maintenance.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 January and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 December and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 8 February 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: eco friends, the town guide, refills, a holiday club and board games – plus a day without the level crossing See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include: bingo, Fiddler on the Roof and a roller disco.  See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

• Crossing the tracks

I mentioned last week (see below) that there is more than point of view about the wisdom or otherwise of building a bridge over the railway line at Thatcham station. Local MP Laura Farris has been throwing her support behind the bridge project and once of the first issues is whether there funding can be secured without (given the fact that the draft local plan can’t be withdrawn and amended) and contributions from local developments south of the railway, as the plan doesn’t provide for any.

As the comments from one resident last week demonstrated, there will also be a number of objections to be overcome. No infrastructure project in this country happens very fast so there’ll be plenty of time to discuss them.

In a couple of weeks, local residents will for a few hours be able to judge what life is like with no bridge and no level crossing, for this is being closed.

“Thatcham Level Crossing, Crookham Hill will be closed between the hours of 00:55 and 05:00 on 20 and 21 February 2024,” the official announcement reads. “The closure will be between its junctions with Station Road and Rainsford Farm Mews. This closure is to enable Network Rail to carry out maintenance works on the level crossing. An alternative route is via Station Road, Bath Road, Brimpton Road, Crookham Common Road, Crookham Hill and vice versa. Please Note: Blue light access will not be maintained. All enquiries please contact Sunbelt Rentals on 0370 0500792.” A plan of the closure and diversion route can be found here.

“Maintenance works” were cited as the reason not the more useful upgrade to the signalling system to allow for the gates to be down less often. The discussion about the possible bridge will not speed up this improvement: Network Rail will, quite reasonably, be reluctant to spend anything on improving the efficiency of a level crossing that may soon be redundant. A protracted bridge campaign which ultimately fails may therefore have done local residents a disservice.

• Question time at Kennet

Kennet School’s Sixth Form hosted a Question Time session on 30 January featuring a diverse panel of local politicians including Louis Carnell (Labour), Lee Dillon (Liberal Democrats), Steve Masters (Green Party) and Dominic Boeck (Conservative Party).. The session, chaired by Headteacher Ms Rigg, provided a platform for “robust discussions.” The subjects covered included:

  • Youth-Centric Policies: concern was expressed that policies often seem geared towards older demographics.
  • Education Reform: Rishi Sunak’s proposal to overhaul the education system by scrapping A Levels was debated.
  • Housing Development and Environmental Impact: The necessity of sacrificing natural landscapes for increased housing was explored, considering the strain on schools and healthcare facilities.
  • International Relations: The question of sending people to Rwanda prompted diverse viewpoints, leading to a robust exchange on the matter and its implications.
  • Future Vision for Britain: Responding to a YouGov poll indicating concerns about the country’s state, each panellist outlined their party’s vision for the future, addressing the perceived decline and assuring positive changes.

A statement from the school said that the event had “succeeded in its objective of encouraging political discourse among the youth, creating an atmosphere where diverse opinions could be explored and understood.”

“What an excellent event,” Mr Tamale, the Head of Sixth Form added. “It is great to see so many young people engaged with current political issues and posing challenging questions. Thank you to the panellists who responded really well.” For those of them standing at the next general election, still sterner tests await.

• Other news

Thatcham Town Council has announced that it voted unanimously to adopt the Thatcham Town Council Charter, created in partnership with Eco Friends – West Berkshire and Plastic Free Thatcham. The Council has committed to work in partnership with these groups to obtain Plastic Free Community Approved status by Surfers Against Sewage, by working to reduce disposable plastics in our town. To learn more click here.

• A new children’s holiday club is planning to open in time for April half term at Burdwood Community Centre (Station Road, Thatcham). They are in need of donations of toys, puzzles, books, dressing up clothes and games (no soft toys). If you have some you are happy to donate, please get in touch with them via their Facebook page or if you are passing Thatcham Town Council you can drop them off there.• Earlier this week, the Mayor of Thatcham unveiled a new post box at London Road Cemetery, dedicated to sending cards, letters and messages to lost loved ones. This initiative provides a meaningful way for people to connect with their departed family and friends throughout the year. Click here for more information.

• The Thatcham Pharmacy has just introduced the new ‘NHS Pharmacy First’ Services scheme. It will now be able to offer advice and prescribe NHS medicine for the following health concerns: sinusitis, a sore throat, ear ache, infected insect bites, impetigo, shingles and uncomplicated UTIs in women. If you are experiencing any of these, stop by and see them. Learn more about the new scheme on the BBC News.

• Are you caring for someone with dementia and feeling overwhelmed? Blue Bird Care are holding a Dementia Educational Session at the Thatcham Town Council office (Brownsfield Road) on Thursday 15 February from 2.30pm to 4.30pm and can answer all your questions. Call 01256 762324 or click here more information.

• Thatcham Council has updated the Town Guide for 2024, which can be read here. It contains information about Thatcham’s history, annual events as well as local services.

Thatcham Refillable‘s February newsletter to help you reduce your plastic use. Last month, January Jenny and Tom collected 275 plastic chocolate and biscuit tubs for recycling and this month they continue to refill customers bottles of household and personal cleaning products. Find out more at their stall every Friday at Thatcham Market.

• On Thursday 15 February the churches of Thatcham are holding another Vintage Adventure event at Thatcham Methodist Church. Running from 2.30pm to 4pm, it’s aimed at the young at heart and is dementia friendly. There will be singing, informal Christian worship, activities drinks and cakes. To book a place call Revd. Brenda Harland on 07968 136962.

• Quick reminder that nominations are open for Thatcham’s Community Awards 2024. Every year the Town Council seeks nominations from members of the public to celebrate individuals, groups, organisations and businesses who have demonstrated outstanding service to the community. See here for categories and how to submit your nomination by 12pm Friday 22 March.

• There is a vacancy for a Town Councillor for Thatcham North East following the resignation of Councillor Christine Rice. For more details please see here.

The Green Hub on West Berkshire Council’s website is focused on helping people make more sustainable choices collectively along our journey to Net Zero, whether you live, work or learn in West Berkshire or are a business owner or visitor. The information covers energy efficiencytaking climate actioncommunity work and sustainable business.

• If you want to reduce your consumption of single use plastics, you can refill your household and personal cleaning products with Thatcham Refillable every Friday at Thatcham Market or at their home in Northfield Road by arrangement.

• A new monthly Board Games Club starts at Thatcham Library on the first Friday of every month,  from 2 to 4pm. There is no need to book: just drop in and join the fun playing some familiar games and learning some new ones.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Thu15 Feb Vintage Adventure, Thatcham Methodist Church.

Thu15 to Sat 17 Feb KATS presents Fiddler on the Roof, Kennet School Thatcham.

Thu 22 Feb Arts Workshop for Adults, Thatcham Library.

Sat 24 Feb Cold Ash Brass Band Winter Concert, Thatcham Baptist Church.

Thu 29 Feb Quiz Night Fundraiser, The Bowls Clubhouse.

Sun 24 Mar Newbury and Thatcham Repair Cafe, Frank Hutchings Community Hall, Thatcham.

Sun 7 Apr Thatcham 10k Run 2024 

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 27 November and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a councillor vacancy; the Clerk’s report; the annual assembly (Friday 10 May); flooding; planning matters; BPC’s response to the local plan (see separate section above); the ward member’s report; financial matters; the budget and the precept (£38,000); the cemetery and the chapel; D-day; the play area; highways; and repairs and maintenance.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; flooding; repairs and maintenance; the Jubilee Green; possible purchases; planning matters; and financial matters.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 December and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 December and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 1 February 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: Pharmacy First, board games, vintage adventure, relaxation and refills – plus a look at another point of view regarding the proposed bridge over the tracks and Bucklebury Parish Council’s reaction to the local plan. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include: bingo, Fiddler on the Roof and a roller disco.  See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

• That’s a wrap

Last Saturday, Eco Friends West Berkshire hosted the county’s first Mass Unwrap at Thatcham Co-op. Mass Unwraps give shoppers the opportunity to think about the amount of plastic they take out of supermarkets and the pressure they can bring to bear on supermarkets to change their packaging habits.

Penny joined the group and spoke to the manager of the Co-op and the Mayor of Thatcham who were both in support of the event. ”Our Single-Use Plastic Mass Unwrap was an amazing success,” said Nikki Coome from Eco Friends. “In just two hours, we spoke to the majority of shoppers and unwrapped a total of 61 unnecessary pieces of plastic.  That may not seem like a great deal but for our first mass unwrap, I couldn’t be more pleased.

“If we multiply that out for all the 96 hours that the Co-op is open in a week, that would equate to 2,928 unnecessary pieces of single use plastics in a week. We will continue to do more to highlight this very real issue. We will feed this data back to both the Co-op and Surfers Against Sewage’s Plastic Free Communities, who campaign for reduced plastic use and plastic waste.

“We also encourage local residents, businesses and community groups to get involved with our Plastic Free Thatcham and Newbury campaigns or get in touch with us at plasticfree@eco-friends.org.uk  or via our Facebook group: Eco Friends West Berkshire.”

• The other side of the bridge

In all the things I’ve written about the proposal to replace the level crossing at Thatcham with a bridge, I concede that I’ve not given fair coverage to the views of those who oppose the plan. I apologise. It’s not that I felt these views didn’t exist but rather that I wasn’t clear what they were. Having since received an email from Richard Foster, a long-time resident south of the tracks, I now am.

The bridge would, he suggests “inevitably draw in extra through traffic, especially traffic travelling between Basingstoke and Oxford. With planning permission having recently been granted for 3.500 new houses at Manydown, off the A339 on the Newbury side of Basingstoke, that through traffic will only increase.” He adds that “with the new housing proposed for Northeast Thatcham coupled with the extra through traffic, the queues at the level crossing will be transferred to Northeast Thatcham. As far as I know no proper predictive traffic survey has been done to forecast the extent of these queues accurately.”

He argues that the bridge would also have “a devastating effect on the environment south of railway line.” The south side at present provides “our own area of outstanding natural beauty that is easily accessible for residents of south Thatcham, having a footpath and bridleway running through it. It is scenically beautiful, rich in diverse species and peaceful.” 

Another point he makes is that “it’s inconceivable that any cost benefit analysis could be created that doesn’t also include an upgrade to Crookham Hill – the only approach to Thatcham from the south – which would add to both the cost in money terms and the environmental cost.” At present, the road is closed to HGVs and so, he argues, unless Crookham Hill is upgraded, the bridge would have to be as well.

He also draws attention to fact that – at least until Laura Farris’ intervention – funding for the bridge has been linked to the Colthrop Village Consortium’s proposal to build 950 houses between the canal and the river. He points out that there are problems with this site, particularly due to its being on a flood plain, which led to WBC refusing the scheme. (It’s worth pointing out that the developers have claimed that these issues can be overcome.) Given Whitehall’s intervention in WBC’s local-plan process, however, this option is currently out of court. He further suggests that the word “bridge” is a misnomer: two bridges would be needed, one over the railway line and canal and another over the Kennet.

Finally, he considers the real bugbear in this, the “abnormally long” waiting times  at the crossing. These are caused, as I understand it, by a rather antiquated signalling system in the area which, understandably, errs on the side of caution. He suggests that although “as far as I know Network Rail has never been really pressed to provide costings to upgrade the signalling so as to reduce them,” it should not be impossible to improve this. 

Supporters of the scheme may argue that some of these points are over-stated or more than offset by other advantages. I welcome any further comments. I’m sure that Mr Foster has made his points to Laura Farris. I’d add in conclusion that my main reason for writing about this recently was to look at the background to the idea, including the Colthrop proposal and the controversial WBC local plan, and these points still apply. I was also interested in considering, as I did last week, what the chances were of a local MP getting the funding for what she clearly estimates would be a popular plan: though not, as the above shows, universally so. If she can extract the funding then the bridge might become a reality, with or without the Colthrop plan. At election time, anything is possible…

• Bucklebury’s response

The following is taken from the minutes of the 8 January meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council, under the heading “Update of the Local Plan”.

“The draft Local Plan has now been submitted to the inspector for Public Enquiry. WBC tried to withdraw the Plan, but this was blocked by the minister. It is currently unclear what WBC’s plan is, despite questions being asked.

“BPC must be ready to oppose the plan and specifically the NE Thatcham component. Councillors Spours and Dickens have spoken to Andrew Black (planning consultant) who has drawn up a plan and costing for his expected work of £8,282 including transport, ecology and VAT. This expenditure was approved. The hearing is expected to take place in the middle of May.

“Councillor Dickens has spoken to the Leader of Thatcham Town Council to reenergise the affected parishes working together. WBC is due to engage with Counsel on the 12th January and Councillor Vickers, the WBC portfolio holder for planning, will subsequently brief Cllr. Read and BPC (This took place on 19 January).

“BPC will organise a public meeting (now scheduled for 9 February) to inform HP parishioners on progress and the implications of the possible outcomes: that the plan is approved as sound, the plan needs minor modification (with recommended modifications), that the plan is legally unsound and would therefore require WBC to go back to Regulation 18 and a call for sites. It was noted that a lot of small development sites, “windfall sites” are not included in the Local Plan.”

• Other news

• Starting this week, the Thatcham Pharmacy are among one of the pharmacies nationwide introducing the new ‘NHS Pharmacy First’ Services. This means that they will be able to offer advice and prescribe NHS medicine for the following health concerns rather than visiting your GP: sinusitis, a sore throat, ear ache, infected insect bites, impetigo, shingles and uncomplicated UTIs in women. If you are experiencing any of these, stop by and see them. Learn more about the new scheme on the BBC News.

• A new monthly Board Games Club starts at Thatcham Library this Friday 2 February. This free activity will run on the first Friday of every month, 2-4pm. There is no need to book, just drop in and join the fun playing some familiar games and learning some new ones.

• Are you caring for someone with dementia and feeling overwhelmed? Blue Bird Care are holding a Dementia Educational Session at the Thatcham Town Council office (Brownsfield Road) on Thursday 15 February from 2.30pm to 4.30pm and can answer all your questions. Call 01256 762324 or click here more information.

• Thatcham Council have updated the Town Guide for 2024, which can be read here. It contains information about Thatcham’s history, annual events as well as local services.

Thatcham Refillable‘s February newsletter to help you reduce your plastic use. Last month, January Jenny and Tom collected 275 plastic chocolate and biscuit tubs for recycling and this month they continue to refill customers bottles of household and personal cleaning products. Find out more at their stall every Friday at Thatcham Market.

• On Thursday 15 February the churches of Thatcham are holding another Vintage Adventure event at Thatcham Methodist Church. Running from 2.30pm to 4pm, it’s aimed at the young at heart and is dementia friendly. There will be singing, informal Christian worship, activities drinks and cakes. To book a place call Revd. Brenda Harland on 07968 136962.

• Quick reminder that nominations are open for Thatcham’s Community Awards 2024. Every year the Town Council seeks nominations from members of the public to celebrate individuals, groups, organisations and businesses who have demonstrated outstanding service to the community. See here for categories and how to submit your nomination by 12pm Friday 22 March.

• West Berkshire Council has announced the winners of the Community Champion Awards: Gillian Hornzee (Volunteer of the Year), Susan Cocker (Lifetime Achievement Award), Speen Community Café (Community Group of the Year) and Thrishathi Srinivasan (The Pat Eastop MBE Junior Citizen of the Year Award). Many congratulations to all the winners who will receive their awards at a ceremony at Shaw House on 5 February, and thank you for all your hard work in the community.

• Does your teenager struggle with anxiety or stress? New drop-in Creative Relaxation for Teens sessions at Newbury Library might help. They start at 3.45pm on Wednesday 7 February and are free but need to be pre-booked here. Suggested donation £5. The activities are led by qualified secondary school teacher Libby from Magpie and the Mob, and organised by Educafe.

• There is a vacancy for a Town Councillor for Thatcham North East following the resignation of Councillor Christine Rice. For more details please see here.

The Green Hub on West Berkshire Council’s website is focused on helping people make more sustainable choices collectively along our journey to Net Zero, whether you live, work or learn in West Berkshire or are a business owner or visitor. The information covers energy efficiencytaking climate actioncommunity work and sustainable business.

• Would you like to develop skills in AI and Machine Learning and understand how it can help your business? University Centre Newbury has a few free places still available on its a fully-funded, comprehensive 8-week course beginning on Thursday 8 February, structured to cater to the needs of both in-person and online learners. Book your free place here.

• If you want to reduce your consumption of single use plastics, you can refill your household and personal cleaning products with Thatcham Refillable every Friday at Thatcham Market or at their home in Northfield Road by arrangement.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Fri 2 Feb The Mayor’s Bingo Night, Frank Hutchins Community Hall.

Sat 3 Feb Roller Disco, Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham.

Thurs 15 Feb Vintage Adventure, Thatcham Methodist Church.

Thurs 15 to Sat 17 Feb KATS presents Fiddler on the Roof, Kennet School Thatcham.

Thurs 22 Feb Arts Workshop for Adults, Thatcham Library.

Sat 24 Feb Cold Ash Brass Band Winter Concert, Thatcham Baptist Church.

Thurs 29 Feb Quiz Night Fundraiser, The Bowls Clubhouse.

Sun 24 Mar Newbury and Thatcham Repair Cafe, Frank Hutchings Community Hall, Thatcham.

Sun 7 Apr Thatcham 10k Run 2024 

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 27 November and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a councillor vacancy; the Clerk’s report; the annual assembly (Friday 10 May); flooding; planning matters; BPC’s response to the local plan (see separate section above); the ward member’s report; financial matters; the budget and the precept (£38,000); the cemetery and the chapel; D-day; the play area; highways; and repairs and maintenance.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 January and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; flooding; repairs and maintenance; the Jubilee Green; possible purchases; planning matters; and financial matters.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 December and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 December and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 25 January 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: unwrapping, community awards, refugees, a councillor vacancy and volunteers – plus Laura’s attempts to cross the tracks and a farewell at VCWB. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include: supermarket mass unwrap and Mayor’s Bingo Night. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

This week’s news

• Plastic Free Thatcham asks you to save up your weekly shop to participate in West Berkshire’s first Supermarket Mass Unwrap at Thatcham Co-Op in the Broadway this Saturday 27 January from 10am. To take part, simply shop and pay as normal and then unwrap your food from its packaging and put it straight into your own bags, boxes or re-useable containers. The plastic packaging is then collected by volunteers. The aim is to show how much waste is generated in a short space of time. To learn more, click here.

• Nominations are now open for Thatcham’s Community Awards 2024. Thatcham Town Council is looking for those amazing people and groups who are doing great things within their community, so that they can be formally recognised with a Community Award. Every year the Town Council seeks nominations from members of the public for individuals, groups, organisations and businesses who have demonstrated outstanding service to the community, made a significant contribution to public life in Thatcham and have shown real dedication in helping local residents. See here for categories and how to submit your nomination. The deadline for nominations is 12pm Friday 22 March.

West Berkshire Action for Refugees have announced new Refugee Drop-In sessions on Wednesday and Thursdays, 2pm until 3:30pm at their new meeting space and office in Newbury. These are intended to help offer support and advice where needed. Click here for details.

• Newbury Show is back for 2024 on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 September. For the latest news, including information about sponsorship opportunities, ticket offers and stall-holder bookings, please click here. Please note that Super Early Bird trade stand prices are only available until 31 January.

West Berkshire Council will not be collecting sandbags resulting from the recent floods. The Council will, however, accept them at its Padworth and Newbury Household Waste Recycling Centres as follows: sand to Area 1 Soil and Hardcore Bin and empty bags to the Energy Recovery Bin in Area 2 (Padworth) or Area 3 (Newbury).

• There is a vacancy for a Town Councillor for Thatcham North East following the resignation of Councillor Christine Rice. For more details please see here.

• Would you like to develop skills in AI and Machine Learning? University Centre Newbury has introduced a fully-funded, comprehensive 8-week course designed to equip adults with these cutting-edge digital skills. Beginning on Thursday 8 February, the course is structured to cater to the needs of both in-person and online learners. Book your free place here.

• Did you know that if someone is unable to get to one of West Berkshire Library’s Branches, their friendly At Home service delivers books in person on a three-weekly basis, free of charge? Whether it be because of personal circumstances, age, disability or for some other reason, please ring the At Home service on 01635 519827 or email library@westberks.gov.uk.

• Quick reminder about coping with winter weatheradvice about flooding and how to stay safe in icy conditions and how to thaw frozen condensate pipe from your boiler.

• For a report on Cold Ash Countryside Volunteers and the support they received from West Berkshire Countryside Society with their Wildlife Allotment Garden, please click here for WBCS’s winter newsletter and scroll down.

• Thatcham Town Council is accepting stallholder applications for 2024’s Family Fun Day as well as other events later in the year. Click here to register your interest.

• Thatcham Refillable are collecting empty sweet and cracker tubs until 3o January for the Tub2Pub scheme that raises money for Macmillan cancer. Contact Jenny and Tom at Thatcham Refillable to find out where to drop off your tubs or if they can collect they from you. The tubs will be taken to The Bear Hotel in Hungerford, part of the Greene King chain that organises the scheme.
• If you want to reduce your consumption of single use plastics, you can refill your household and personal cleaning products with Thatcham Refillable every Friday at Thatcham Market or at their home in Northfield Road by arrangement.

• Crossing the tracks

As we’ve mentioned before, Laura Farris has recently been pushing a campaign to get a railway bridge built at Thatcham Station to replace the level crossing. This is one of the busiest ones in south of England and the number of trains that pass and the limitations of the signalling system mean that the wait times there can be ridiculously long.

Most people who live in or use the town appear to agree that a bridge would be a good thing (there are some objectors, seemingly mainly on grounds of environmental damage and flood risk). Aside from the question of the cost, the plan would have been a lot easier to realise were the previous local plan not to have been forced through by Whitehall – yes, we come back to that.

The plan which WBC must adopt includes provision for a lot of housing in NE Thatcham but none to the SE. This therefore rules out, or at least reduces the likelihood of, the proposal by the Colthrop Village Consortium for about 950 homes south of the railway line. One never says never, of course.

It’s impossible to believe that planning permission would be granted here without a bridge. However, the developers have said that they could meet the cost of this. As the only viable use for this site is for development, and as a bridge would be needed, I imagine this cost has already been built in to the land-option deal between them and the landowners.

However, when developers built infrastructure projects as part of a scheme, these are normally left until late on when the project has raised some cash. Here, though, the bridge would have to be built first. Not to do so would be like expecting people in West Berlin in the ’70s to move to some new homes just the other side of the Wall, overlooking a place that they could see but not easily visit. Fronting the construction costs of this before a single house had been sold would be a tough ask for most companies. The costs were estimated to be about £12m in 2021 and about £16.5m in 2023 so perhaps £20m might be fair provision.

A statement from Laura Farris on 23 January referred to a meeting with “stakeholders” including Network Rail, West Berkshire Council, Great Western Railway and the Greenham Trust with the aim of “putting together a joint proposal for submission to the Department for Transport for a new bridge.” No mention of any developers, which suggests that the Colthrop Village plan is not seen as part of the solution. Her case is that even without this schemer, a bridge across the line is essential. As mentioned above, many agree.

If government funding can be obtained – and only last year the same some of money was found for a very similar project in Lincoln through the levelling-up scheme – then this would in many ways be simpler. Whitehall may , however, be unwilling to find the cash if it’s known that a local developer could fund the scheme at no public cost. If the Ministry asks that this option be investigated, West Berkshire Council will presumably retort by saying that first you need to allow us to withdraw and amend the local plan which you recently said we had to pass as it was and which excludes this scheme in favour of ones which provide no such advantages.

It is possible that the Colthrop scheme could move forward even though it’s not unallocated site. A bridge would reduce the main obstacle to that. This would, however, make something of a nonsense of the current plan for up to 2,500 homes between Thatcham and Bucklebury. The Colthrop site is a more sustainable, more accessible and less environmentally damaging than NE Thatcham and, with a crossing over the railway, would make immediate sense. There are flooding and de-contamination issues to be dealt with. The former the developers claim to have solved since the scheme was first proposed. The latter are not insuperable and certainly less extreme than those at the former Pirbright site in Compton,.

Laura Farris’ proposal is certainly eye-catching and likely to be a vote-winner. If she can pull it off she will deserve some congratulation. Supporting and helping to secure the funding for such infrastructure projects are one of the main ways that an MP can make a difference to their community. The chances of anything being decided before the election are vanishingly small but that’s  in many ways ideal as there’s no chance that the project can be judged a failure come polling day. It’s even possible that enough people associate her with the idea and vote accordingly, forgetting that nothing has yet been built, or even approved.

• Garry moves on

After twenty-five years at the helm of the Volunteer centre West Berkshire, Garry Poulson has decided he will retire in March 2024.

In his farewell letter he says that he has “managed to take the charity forward in several new directions and hopefully  have succeeded in maintaining the integrity of the charity without mission drift. He adds that   taking on the Council for Voluntary Service role seven years ago was “a major milestone and that has become a key and vital element of our work.”

You can click here to read his full valedictory statement as well as a tribute from the Chair of the VCWB’s trustees. We’d like to congratulate Garry and all his colleagues for the excellent work that the VCWB has done in the district. There have been many achievements particularly worthy of note: the work the organisation did during the pandemic is probably the one to single out.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Sat 27 Jan Mass Supermarket Unwrap, The Co-op, Thatcham Broadway.

Fri 2 Feb The Mayor’s Bingo Night, Frank Hutchins Community Hall.

Sat 3 Feb Roller Disco, Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham.

Thurs 15 to Sat 17 Feb KATS presents Fiddler on the Roof, Kennet School Thatcham.

Sat 24 Feb Cold Ash Brass Band Winter Concert, Thatcham Baptist Church.

Thurs 29 Feb Quiz Night Fundraiser, The Bowls Clubhouse.

Sun 24 Mar Newbury & Thatcham Repair Café, Frank Hutchings Community Hall, Thatcham.

Sun 7 Apr Thatcham 10k Run 2024 

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 27 November and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 December and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 December and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 December and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 December and you can read the minutes here
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 21 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 18 January 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: bingo, volunteers, unwrapping, tubs and coffee – plus a look at the background to WBC’s purchasing of some social-rent homes in Thatcham, problems on the trains and reflections on the recent volunteering event. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include: a jumble sale and martial arts. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

This week’s news

• Thatcham Town Council invites you to the Mayor’s Bingo Night on Friday 2 February, from 6:30pm to 10pm at the Frank Hutchings Hall. They will be raising money for the Mayor’s chosen local charities, which are PALS (West Berkshire) and Sport in Mind, . There will be a chance to win bingo and raffle prizes as well as. You can bring your own drinks and snacks. Ticket are £10 and can be purchased at the door, or bought in advance by emailing enquiries@thatchamtowncouncil.gov.uk.

• Plastic Free Thatcham invite you to participate in a Supermarket Mass Unwrap taking place at The Co-Op in the Broadway, Thatcham on Saturday 27 January at 10am. To take part, simply shop and pay as normal and then unwrap your food from its packaging and put it straight into your own bags, boxes or re-useable containers. The plastic packaging is then collected by volunteers. The aim is to show how much waste is generated in a short space of time. To learn more, click here.

• The West Berkshire Family Hub in Thatcham is holding a coffee morning for families or carers of children with disabilities or special educational needs on Wednesday 24 January at 1.30pm. Children under 5 are also welcome. For more information, contact sheril.candland1@westberks.gov.uk.

• Quick reminder about coping with winter weatheradvice about flooding and how to stay safe in icy conditions and how to thaw frozen condensate pipe from your boiler.

• For a report on Cold Ash Countryside Volunteers and the support they received from West Berkshire Countryside Society with their Wildlife Allotment Garden, please click here for WBCS’s winter newsletter and scroll down.

Would you like to find out about becoming Samaritan? Please pop into the informal Newbury Samaritans Information Evening 7pm Tues 23 Jan at at 58 West Street, Newbury – opposite the Lion pub.  Otherwise please visit www.Samaritans.org or email newbury.branchrecruitment@samaritans.org.

• Thatcham Town Council is accepting stallholder applications for 2024’s Family Fun Day as well as other events later in the year. Click here to register your interest.

• Thatcham Refillable are collecting empty sweet and cracker tubs until 3o January for the Tub2Pub scheme that raises money for Macmillan cancer. Contact Jenny and Tom at Thatcham Refillable to find out where to drop off your tubs or if they can collect they from you. The tubs will be taken to The Bear Hotel in Hungerford, part of the Greene King chain that organises the scheme.
• If you want to reduce your consumption of single use plastics, you can refill your household and personal cleaning products with Thatcham Refillable every Friday at Thatcham Market or at their home in Northfield Road by arrangement.

• Long-term homes

Back in March 2023, West Berkshire Council launched a £6m scheme (£2.5m of which came from the government) to purchase 27 homes in in Calcot, Thatcham, Newbury and Hungerford which would, initially, be used “as part of WBC’s ongoing support for Ukrainian and Afghan families settling in the district.” In a welcome example of a project started by one administration being continued by another without repetition, hesitation or deviation, in June 2023 the new Lib Dem team decided to extend this.

The current scheme is now a £9m one, with £3.6m coming from Whitehall which WBC (as a condition of the grant) match-funding it to the tune of £5.4m. This money will probably be borrowed from the Public  Works Loan Board (PWLB) but I understand that WBC is also seeing if this can be funded from Section 106 contributions from developers. (Given that these are often expressly paid in order to compensate the district for social housing which developers have been unwilling to build as part of their obligations, I would imagine that this should be reasonably simple to organise. Each one is, however, a separate legal agreement which can be very specific about what the funds can be used for. WBC needs to be sure that this expenditure will satisfy all the conditions.)

The key aspect of this scheme is that it satisfies two objectives. Not only does it enable WBC to provide accommodation to people settling in the district but also, in the longer term, boosts its own social-housing stock. “Essentially, this is allowing us to increase the supply of affordable housing in the district,” a spokesperson told me on 18 January. This will be accomplished without putting “additional pressures on homes which are advertised through our choice-based lettings scheme to applicants on the Housing Register.”

WBC is therefore using grants from Whitehall and cheap(-ish) money from the PWLB to boost its housing supply, albeit with this first being used to discharge its obligations to help re-settle families. The first dwellings have now been purchased. The project also includes the refurbishment of West Point House in Newbury.

The Council could still borrow PWLB money, or use S106 payments, or the results of any commercial-property disinvestment to purchase homes for its own use and may yet decide to do this. Many would argiue that for WBC to buy such properties, or build its own, is long overdue. Under this scheme, the government is footing 40% of the bill but demanding that the properties first be used for resettling Ukrainian and Afghan families. 

What’s less clear is when these dwellings will pass from their use under the various government resettlement schemes and into the the general pool of WBC’s housing stock. The WBC spokesperson told me that there was “no timeframe” for this: as the various migration schemes diminish (see p123 of the agenda pack for the June 2023 WBC Executive meeting for details of which schemes will be included) then these will be allocated to the general housing need. It was suggested that this would be in the “medium to long term.”

• Volunteering

The most recent issue of the Volunteer Centre West Berkshire’s e-newsletter looks back at last week’s annually volunteering event, the fiftieth one (hence its name of V365-50). The article reports that “55 charities attended the day long event and 310 members of the public visited the event designed to inform and encourage people to volunteer.”

“We had a great turn out of charities and the weather was perfect for us,” VCWB’s Director Garry Poulson said. “My team were  brilliant  as ever. This work is particularly important at a time when poverty and the cost of living is having an impact on West Berkshire charities which are feeling the pressure and need more volunteers. For anyone not able to attend the day the Volunteer Centre recruits volunteers year round and free impartial information advice and guidance is available  by visiting www.volunteerwestberks.org.uk  or calling 01635 49004.”

• More pain on the trains

The indefatigable Bedwyn Train Passenger Group sent out its latest newsletter this week and you can read the main points of this in this separate post.

Two of the issues that are covered are all too familiar: the next wave of strikes; and the indifferent service levels on the Bedwyn to Newbury stretch of line. In fairness to GWR, there’s some good news as well. There’s also some encouraging news about the appointment of a travel co-ordinator at Newbury to help at times of disruption and replacement buses and news of a new return service from west of Bedwyn. The BTPG also passes on a request for passengers to treat GWR staff with respect, something that didn’t happen in one incident at Newbury shortly before Christmas.

The Bedwyn Train Passenger Group has been campaigning for improved rail services from Bedwyn, Hungerford, Kintbury and Newbury since 2006. If you use these stations, we recommend subscribing to the BTPG newsletters by emailing info@bedwyntrains.org.uk.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

• Sat 20 Jan Cats Protection Jumble Sale, Thatcham Catholic Hall, Bath Road.

Sun 21 Jan Martial Arts Open Day, Kennet Leisure Centre.

Wed 24 Jan Family Hub Coffee Afternoon, Central Family Hub, Park Lane, Thatcham.

Sat 27 Jan Mass Supermarket Unwrap, The Co-op, Thatcham Broadway.

Fri 2 Feb The Mayor’s Bingo Night, Frank Hutchins Community Hall.

Sat 3 Feb Roller Disco, Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham.

Thurs 15 to Sat 17 Feb KATS presents Fiddler on the Roof, Kennet School Thatcham.

Thurs 29 Feb Quiz Night Fundraiser, The Bowls Clubhouse.

Sun 24 Mar Newbury & Thatcham Repair Café, Frank Hutchings Community Hall, Thatcham.

Sun 7 Apr Thatcham 10k Run 2024 

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others. If the link is scored through this may be because draft minutes have been replaced by approved ones and the drafts file deleted. If so, please follow the links provided to the council’s website.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 27 November and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 December and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 12 December and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 December and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 December and you can read the minutes here
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsBurghfield area; Wantage area; Marlborough area.

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

Thursday 11 January 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: jumble, bingo, recruitment, coffee and refills – plus confirmation that WBC will not be challenging the government over the local plan which so deeply affects NE Thatcham; and flood support information. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include: Roller Disco and Kennet Centre Open Day. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

This week’s news

• Newbury Cats Protection are requesting donations for their Jumble Sale at Thatcham Catholic Hall, Bath Road on Saturday 20 January at 11:30am. Donations can be taken to the Newbury Adoption Centre in advance or at dropped off at the Catholic Hall between 9am and 10:30am on the day only.

• The West Berkshire Family Hub in Thatcham is holding a coffee morning for families or carers of children with disabilities or special educational needs on Wednesday 24 January at 1:30pm. Children under 5 are also welcome. For more information, contact sheril.candland1@westberks.gov.uk.

• There is lots of support and information around the flooding situaton (see below). The Met Office also has tips on staying safe in icy conditions.

• Quick reminder about the 50th Anniversary Volunteer Recruitment Event this Saturday 13 January at the Corn Exchange in Newbury. There will be a diverse range of charities and non-profits attending, so whatever your interests or skillsets are, there is sure to be something for you. Click here to learn more.

• For a report on Cold Ash Countryside Volunteers and the support they received from West Berkshire Countryside Society with their Wildlife Allotment Garden, please click here for WBCS’s winter newsletter and scroll down.

• Save the date – The Mayor of Thatcham welcomes all to his Charity Bingo Night at Frank Hutchins Hall on Friday 2 February in aid of his chosen charities, Sport in Mind and PALS. See here for more details.

• Thatcham Town Council is accepting stallholder applications for 2024’s Family Fun Day as well as other events later in the year. Click here to register your interest.

• Thatcham Refillable are collecting empty sweet and cracker tubs until 3o January for the Tub2Pub scheme that raises money for Macmillan cancer. Contact Jenny and Tom at Thatcham Refillable to find out where to drop off your tubs or if they can collect they from you. The tubs will be taken to The Bear Hotel in Hungerford, part of the Greene King chain that organises the scheme.
• If you want to reduce your consumption of single use plastics, you can refill your household and personal cleaning products with Thatcham Refillable every Friday at Thatcham Market or at their home in Northfield Road by arrangement.

• Flood support

The flooding situation is probably going to last for a few weeks. As the ground is already saturated with water it will take a while for surface water to drain away. Here is a video statement about the West Berkshire Council’s response to flooding by Stuart Gourley, Executive Portfolio Holder for Climate Action, Recycling & Biodiversity. This short video from the Environment Agency explains what groundwater flooding is. Please see here a range of support and advice for affected communities:

• No challenge

Not particularly to anyone’s surprise, West Berkshire Council has decided that it will not challenge the decision by Whitehall to force it to adopt the local plan prepared by the previous administration. As I’ve mentioned before, the main point of contention was the allocation of at least 1,500 homes between Thatcham and Bucklebury. WBC had until 12 January to prove that exceptional circumstances would justify demanding that the plan be withdrawn but has decided that this battle is not worth fighting. Attention will now turn to the Planning Inspector’s examination of the plan, at which interested parties will be able to have their say.

At the risk of repeating what I’ve said before on this, it’s worth noting that this stand-off between the government and WBC only arose because the previous administration submitted the plan just before the election. The decision to proceed with it also changes nothing about the massive problems the scheme faces. Not the least of these is finding a way for up to four developers to work harmoniously, something which proved impossible with Sandleford. It also does nothing to address the almost total lack of supporting infrastructure. The eye-catching comparison (which is completely correct if 2,500 homes are built there, as may happen) is that this is like bolting a town the size of Hungerford onto the edge of Thatcham. This would, however, be without any of the leisure, transport, medical, sporting or other facilities that Hungerford enjoys.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Sat 13 Jan Roller Disco, Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham.

Thurs 18 Jan Vintage Adventure, Thatcham Methodist Church.

• Sat 20 Jan Cats Protection Jumble Sale, Thatcham Catholic Hall, Bath Road.

Sun 21 Jan Martial Arts Open Day, Kennet Leisure Centre.

Wed 24 Jan Family Hub Coffee Afternoon, Central Family Hub, Park Lane, Thatcham.

Sat 27 Jan Mass Supermarket Unwrap, The Co-op, Thatcham Broadway.

Fri 2 Feb The Mayor’s Bingo Night, Frank Hutchins Community Hall.

Sat 3 Feb Roller Disco, Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham.

Thurs 15 to Sat 17 Feb KATS presents Fiddler on the Roof, Kennet School Thatcham.

Sun 24 Mar Newbury & Thatcham Repair Café, Frank Hutchings Community Hall, Thatcham.

Sun 7 Apr Thatcham 10k Run 2024 

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 27 November and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 11 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Chair’s report; the Clerk’s report; Common clearing dates (23 March and 5 October 2024); planning matters; financial matters; the 2024-25 budget; the Cemetery and the Chapel; D-Day; the play area; highways; speeding; the community bus; the Memorial Hall; and grit bins.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; potholes; Thames Water tankers; concerns regarding the closure of Aldermaston Wharf lifting bridge and resulting diversions; D-Day; the land at the back of the hall; planning enforcement issues in Brimpton Common between Brimpton Lane and Blacknest Lane; planning matters; financial matters; and reports from the Chair, the ward member, the Village Hall Committee and the Brimpton PC representative on the AWE LLC.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 22 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area; Wantage area; Marlborough area; Swindon area.

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

Thursday 4 January 2024

Our usual round-up of  local news includes: a roller disco, repairs, recruitment, refills and stall-holders – plus a mass unwrap at Thatcham’s Co-op and a look at a local ward member’s letter about the local plan and the proposed NE Thatcham development. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Thatcham area events include: Roller Disco and Kennet Centre Open Day. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities. 

This week’s news

• Thatcham Youth are holding a Roller Disco at Kennet Leisure Centre on Saturday 13 January for all ages. There are even two time slots, so if you’re interested in attending make sure to book ahead here.

• Is your new years resolution to do volunteer work and make a difference in your community? The Volunteer Centre West Berkshire is holding their 50th Anniversary Volunteer Recruitment Event on Saturday 13 January at the Corn Exchange in Newbury. There will be a diverse range of charities and non-profits attending, so whatever your interests or skillsets are, there is sure to be something for you. Click here to learn more.

• June may seem a long way away, but Thatcham Town Council are already planning 2024’s Family Fun Day as well as other events later in the year and they are looking for stall holders. If you have unique products, delicious treats, or fun activities to share with the community, the Council would love to hear from you. Click here to register your interest.

West Berkshire Libraries are offering new online support for students: secondary students can sign up to a fun, interactive way of learning via Brillder, an exciting online resource, and a free 12 week Library Code Club starts from Monday 8 January for 9 – 11 years to learn to code at home with Scratch.

• Our local hospitals are under extra pressure during the Junior Doctor strike until Tuesday 9 January. For latest updates and advice please follow Great Western Hospital’s facebook page and Reading’s Royal Berkshire Hospital’s facebook page here.

• There is still time to have your say about the future of Willows Edge Care Home in Newbury. Please fill out this council survey by 11 January 2024. See background information here and below for more council surveys that might affect you.

• For the third year running, Thatcham Refillable are collecting empty sweet and cracker tubs until 3o January for the Tub2Pub scheme that raises money for Macmillan cancer. Contact Jenny and Tom at Thatcham Refillable to find out where to drop off your tubs or if they can collect they from you. The tubs will be taken to The Bear Hotel in Hungerford, part of the Greene King chain that organises the scheme.
• If you want to reduce your consumption of single use plastics, you can refill your household and personal cleaning products with Thatcham Refillable every Friday at Thatcham Market or at their home in Northfield Road by arrangement.

• NE Thatcham again

There’s a letter in this week’s NWN, which I was also sent, from Bucklebury ward member Chris Read. In this he takes issue with some comments made about the local plan debacle, in the process making several points with which I agree and haver mentioned before.

He starts by challenging the accusation that he made “false promises of ‘fixing the Local Plan’.” As he points out, this was a major plank of the Lib Dem’s manifesto. Given how divisive and unpopular the scheme was, it would have been politically insane for the Lib Dems not to have made this an election pledge.

Having been elected, there were three choices – amend the plan, withdraw it or pass it as it was. The last of these would have involved breaking a manifesto promise which I hope still counts for something. The favoured route was to amend it, but this was killed off by the Planning Inspector in November. That left two options, withdraw or proceed. The option to withdraw was killed off by the Secretary of State in December.

The administration has thus been forced to adopt something that it opposes. It is not the first authority to find itself in this position. Attention now turns to Planning Inspector’s examination which will determine whether or not the plan is indeed sound in all its assumptions, [articularly those which underpin the case for SP17 HE Thatcham.

Chris Read goes on to make another point, which I have also made. To quote from his letter, the previous administration was “cynical” when it “pushed through the local plan without further referral to Full Council in March 2023.” He goes on to say that the Conservatives were aware that”the vast majority of the objections (published on the examination website for the Local Plan) were against SP17 NE Thatcham development and the unsoundness of the policy to build their “new town”. The Conservatives wished to push this rushed and unsound development policy on to Thatcham, Bucklebury, Midgham, Stanford Dingley, Woolhampton and many local surrounding parishes.”

Why this matters is because the estimated costs of about £1.6m would, Chris Read points out, “have been significantly lower if the Conservatives had been reasonable and allowed the requested amendment to take another vote on the proposed Local Plan at the May Full Council after considering all the residents’ objections.”

He might also have added that, were the plan not to have been submitted, it could have been revised without WBC needing to go cap in hand to the Planning Inspector. Indeed, it might by now have been amended to reflect the public will. No rational person can claim that the electoral reverse that the Conservatives faced last May was merely a protest vote against the national party. There were serious local issues involved and none more serious, certainly in this area, than the SP17 plan.

As mentioned above, the battle continues though this time with the Planning Inspector, rather than WBC, being the decision maker. The Bucklebury says No group has long opposed the SP17 plan and recent events have reinvigorated its work. This is a separate entity from Bucklebury PC but it has a section on BPC’s website: see this page for more information and to keep up to date with latest developments.

• Mass Unwrap

Plastic Free Thatcham is raising awareness of the single use plastic issue faced today and invite us all to participate in a Supermarket Mass Unwrap at The Co-Op in the Broadway, Thatcham. It will start at 10am on Saturday 27 January with full support from the supermarket management.

But what, I hear you ask, is a Mass Unwrap? It is a very friendly, non-confrontational action that highlights the level of plastic packaging in supermarkets and puts people-pressure on them to change. Individuals, families, friends and communities can all take part. Simply shop and pay as normal and then unwrap your food from its packaging and put it straight into your own bags, boxes or re-useable containers.

The plastic packaging is then collected up by volunteers and put in empty trollies, to clearly illustrate how much waste is generated in a short space of time. The supermarket then takes the packaging away to recycle or dispose of it.

Plastic Free Thatcham is part of Eco Friends (West Berkshire). Please contact Jenny at plasticfree@eco-friends.org.uk for more details.

Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

Latest local newsletters


Community notices

• Have your say on current consulations by West Berkshire Council. Parish and town councils also run consultations from time to time: see the appropriate website/s below under Council contacts.

• Thatcham Community Larder in the Frank Hutchins Hall offers affordable food items (starting at £3.50 per week), refreshments, friendly chat and activities. Join their facebook group for more details. For more information contact 07500 764501 or victoria.roseblade1@westberks.gov.uk.

Thatcham Volunteers Bureau provides transport to doctors, dentists, hospitals, shops or to visit friends and relatives for those who struggle with public transport. They are currently looking for drivers so please get in contact as this service is massively needed. 

Citizens Advice West Berkshire advice about scams. There is no shame if you  get caught out by scammers and you must seek help and warn others.

Nature Discovery Centre in Thatcham has volunteering opportunities that range from litter picking, to helping in our shop, orchard work or being a Trailside Ambassador. Email hazelfell@bbowt.org.uk to discuss a specific role.

• Donations for West Berkshire Food Bank are gratefully received at Thatcham’s Co-ops, Waitrose and the Sainsbury’s Local. Donation bins are usually near the till.

• Do you or your child play an instrument and like to play with a group? The Thatcham United Reformed Church are looking for new band members. They play every third Sunday, with a practice at 10am before the service at 10.30am to 11.30am (although there is no commitment to do every service), with additional practice optional. Get in contact if you would like to learn more at minister@thatcham-urc.org.uk.

West Berks Warriors are an all-girls rugby team for 10 to 14 year olds currently looking for new players. All abilities are welcome and they train on Sunday mornings at Henwick sports ground. For more information, please contact Sam on thatchamrfcgirls@outlook.com.


Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Dates for the diary

Sat 13 Jan Roller Disco, Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham.

Sun 21 Jan Martial Arts Open Day, Kennet Leisure Centre.

Wed 24 Jan Family Hub Coffee Afternoon, Central Family Hub, Park Lane, Thatcham.

Sat 27 Jan Mass Supermarket Unwrap, The Co-op, Thatcham Broadway

Sat 3 Feb Roller Disco, Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham.

Thurs 15 to Sat 17 Feb KATS presents Fiddler on the Roof, Kennet School Thatcham.

Sun 24 Mar Newbury & Thatcham Repair Café, Frank Hutchings Community Hall, Thatcham.

Sun 7 Apr Thatcham 10k Run 2024 

• Regular events

• Thatcham Refillable stall every Friday at Thatcham Market You can bring your empty bottles or adopt one. Their product range is plant-based and reduces single use plastic waste. Win win.

• Sport in Mind runs free badminton activities at Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham on Wednesdays from 6pm.

• Thatcham Rugby Club runs Mixed Walking Touch Rugby sessions for all ages and abilities on the top pitch (near the astro pitch) at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground, Thatcham on Wednesdays, starting at 7pm.

• Barfield Handbell Ringers always welcomes new members and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to try handbell ringing. No previous experience required, just contact Dianne on dianne@barfield.org.uk 01635 867421.

• Thatcham W.I. meets at 7.30pm on the second Thursday of the month at Thatcham Memorial Hall with small groups for Book, Film, Craft, Walking, Coffee and Gardening. For more information please email thatchamwi@berkshirewi.co.uk or call Pauline on 01635 866904.

ASD Family Help for families of autistic children and adults hold free Teen Club sessions twice a month and a social club for adults once a month, at the Moorside Community Centre. See the facebook page here.

• Community Gardening sessions at Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre every Friday 2pm-4pm. Learn how to garden, create wildlife habitat or relax in a calming green space.

• Sing Louder Choir is looking for new voices for their adult community choir from 7.15pm to 8.15pm on Thursdays at Frank Hutchins Hall. Please contact singlouderchoir@gmail.com or their Facebook page.

• United Reformed Church coffee mornings every Tuesday from 10 till midday.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall indoor bowls group meets twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2pm to 4pm. More information here. Also you can check the venue diary here.

• Thatcham Library clubs and events information is on the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Thatcham Baptist Church event and group information is on their What’s On web page.

Glendale Church holds regular events for all ages. Further information can be found on their events guide page.

• Thatcham Youth Club activity details are on their Facebook page and website.


News from your local council

Note: “the most recent meeting” refers to the most recent one for which minutes (in some cases draft) or some other summary is available. Other meetings may have taken place since. Some councils publish minutes more promptly than do others.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available was on 27 November and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 5 December and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: matters arising; potholes; Thames Water tankers; concerns regarding the closure of Aldermaston Wharf lifting bridge and resulting diversions; D-Day; the land at the back of the hall; planning enforcement issues in Brimpton Common between Brimpton Lane and Blacknest Lane; planning matters; financial matters; and reports from the Chair, the ward member, the Village Hall Committee and the Brimpton PC representative on the AWE LLC.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 22 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereSee also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 14 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click hereInformation about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 13 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 8 November and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas and minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 2 October and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the minutes, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council for which minutes are available was on 26 September and you can read the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Thatcham area council contacts

Parishes: Thatcham Town CouncilHermitage Parish CouncilCold Ash Parish CouncilMidgham Parish CouncilBucklebury Parish CouncilBrimpton Parish CouncilStanford Dingley Parish CouncilFrilsham Parish Council and Woolhampton Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.


News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn ValleyNewbury area; Compton and DownlandsTheale area;