East Garston Parish Council Chair’s Annual Report 2023-24

The Parish Council team has remained constant and intact over the last year with the exception of recruiting a new clerk. We were very pleased to welcome Gillian Woodward who joined us in October last year. Gillian lives in Ramsbury and spent some time with Ramsbury Parish Council. I’m sure she will be a great addition to our team. Huge thanks also to Sonia Coyle who stayed in post for much longer than she wanted to until we found her replacement.

In addition, we are very grateful to Lee Michigan who has taken on the role as editor of East Garston News and Henry Wilson who has taken on the responsibility of the East Garston website. If you have any content for either of these please contact Lee or Henry directly on eastgarstonnews@gmail.com or news@eastgarston-pc.gov.uk respectively. It’s great to have a photographic record of events in the village so please do send any photos to Henry to include.

The Parish Council has continued to support local services such as the Wantage bus service and the Lambourn Library, as well as the Village Hall’s broadband. We also ensure that the defibrillator (on the wall of the Village Hall) is maintained and ready should it ever be needed.

In 2023 the Parish Council, helped by funding from the Tesco’s Grant Scheme and East Garston Amenities, purchased some new chippings and re-surfaced the playground in Jubilee Meadow – many thanks to Henry Matysek, Nikki Richardson, Poppy Maspero and Ria for helping Jonathan and I to prepare and lay the new surface.

The winter of 2023/24 will be largely remembered for the heavy rain and the resulting flooding and sewage problems. The Parish Council keeps a supply of sandbags should anyone need them.

Martyn Wright has been tireless in his battle with Thames Water (TW). Between us, we arranged a public meeting in December 2023 with some of TW’s Directors and technical team. We were assured that East Garston’s problems had been identified and funding secured to make the necessary repairs as soon as the groundwater levels dropped. They also promised to install an ATAC filter unit to reduce the need for constant tankers. Whilst this certainly helped we still have overflowing manholes and backed-up toilets.

In March, a new group, the Sewage Action Group for the Lambourn Upper Valley (SAGLUV), which Martyn will chair, was set up to tackle sewage pollution in the East Shefford STW catchment. The group comprises the three Chairs of of Lambourn, East Garston and Great Shefford Parish Councils, some additional people from each parish, plus two District Councillors. Within weeks, this had held its first meeting with senior Directors of TW to highlight problems which need dealing with now.

At the time of writing, we are waiting for news from TW on how it is going to address these. By the time of the annual parish meeting, TW should also have started rotavating and reseeding the Millennium Field following work there last year.

Last summer saw the celebration of the Coronation of King Charles III in true East Garston style. Thanks to East Garston Amenities for organising such a popular and fun community event.

This summer sees the return of the village fete which will take place on Sunday 7 July. Celebrations will start with a band night on Friday: the fete on Sunday will include the produce show, Garston Gallopers, Hungerford Band, a dog show and much, much more. We hope to see as many of you there as possible.

Parish Council costs have once again risen over the last year and regretfully we have had to increase the precept by £500 – this equates to an average increase of £2.15 per household or £1.17 per elector. We are conscious of the increase in cost of living so are doing everything we can to provide the services which are important at minimal cost.

The Parish Council is lucky to have such an enthusiastic team of volunteers who help out around East Garston. This is hugely appreciated and enables us to keep the costs down as much as we can. Despite retiring from the Parish Council last year, Chris Tonge still spends many hours working around the village, helped by Trevor Butcher, Richard Talmage and Dave Knight. Thanks also to Karen Hack and her team of volunteers who look after the churchyard. Finally, thanks to everyone who keeps the verges in front of their homes tidy and improves the look of our village.

Should anyone be interested in helping out with village chores please contact us (see p4). Much work – ranging from from tidying up public areas to filling grit bins –is done by volunteers and councillors which largely goes unnoticed but is hugely appreciated.

The Parish Council welcomes any comments or ideas from parishioners on village matters and to this end you can find all our contact details below.

I would now like to hand over the remainder of this newsletter to the various organisations which help make East Garston such a delightful place to live. Our thanks go to them for all their energy and enthusiasm. The Parish Council wishes them and any other organisations which may emerge every success for the future.

Finally, thanks to Penny Post for producing our annual newsletter and for once again keeping the price the same as last year – much appreciated!

Sue Tulloch,
Chair, East Garston Parish Council


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