Compton & Downlands Weekly News, Thursday 9 May 2024

Compton & Downland Weekly News header

Thursday 9 May 2024 

Our usual round-up of  local news includes cricket, black tights, de-cluttering, libraries at home and cakes – plus a chat with Cognition, the company behind the clean-up at Compton’s Pirbright site. See also below for community notices and news from your local council.

Upcoming Compton area events include driveway sale and plant, cake and book sale. See below for details, plus regular events and group activities.

Compton’s clean-up

Since last autumn, the former Pirbright site in Compton has been being demolished, de-contaminated and generally cleaned up on behalf of the current owners, Homes England. This process is expected to take until the end of 2024. Outline planning permission has already been obtained for up to 160 homes.Once this work’s finished, the site will probably be sold to a developer who’ll put in a reserved matters application and, in time, start building.

The clean-up is being conducted by Cognition Land + Water which describes itself as “a market leading, pioneering provider of bespoke solutions to complex civil engineering and remediation problems.” Earlier this week, I had a chat with Cognition’s Technical Director to find out what kind of projects the company tended to work on and specifically to learn more of what’s going on at Compton.

The first thing is, that compared to some of its schemes, the Compton one is not that big – the Royal Wharf in London’s docklands, for instance, took over five years and cost £25m. Each job presents its own challenges and one of the key things is to ensure all the likely problems are known before the work started. Different consultants are probably have been employed: plus, of course, the owners would have been obliged to keep records, as would bodies such as the Environment Agency to which they must report.

The problem here is that records can go missing or not be kept up to date. This is particularly the case when they date back to the pre-digital age (which is not that long ago). The Environment Agency was established in 1993 and before that, the various aspects were the responsibility of other bodies. As with most things, the further back one goes and the more different bodies are involved, the more likely the documentary records are to be incomplete or not easily available.

In Compton, he told me, it seems that good records were kept. These suggested that there was specific contamination in eight different locations, something that was supported during Cognition’s initial investigations. There wasn’t any widespread contamination across the whole site and no traces of anthrax spores, as had at one time been suggested. The three main issues were animal remains, radiological contamination and asbestos. All of these were, it seems, found in exactly the places where it was predicted that they would be and none has been found elsewhere. In each case, there are well-understood processes for removing and dealing with these.

So, who’s watching all this? Quite a few people.

Reports on the progress need to be made to the EA and to Homes England. Any developer with which Homes England is in discussion will also be interested and will, one presumes, demand an indemnity in the event that the clean-up is less than perfect. Homes England will therefore also demand this of Cognition, which will help focus the mind. West Berkshire Council as the planning authority is responsible for ensuring that all the conditions have been correctly completed (“discharged”). The local ward member is also keeping her eye on the the work.

Finally, there’s Compton Parish Council – which in many ways has the most direct interest in the matter – which has said it will ensure that any application to discharge conditions is called in to committee if it’s in the slightest bit doubtful. There’s also the general court of public opinion to which all organisations are subject (if not always immediately).

Andy O’Dea said Cognition was perfectly happy with this level of scrutiny which was a normal and necessary part of the the process for which the company signed up. He stressed that Cognition was keen to work closely with local community but accepted that such work inevitably causes certain amounts of noise, dirt and perhaps smells. He said that Cognition was also happy to accommodate where practicable site visits. For more information on the Compton project, contact compton@cognitionltd.com or 03333 494 400.

• Other news

• Compton resident Caroline Herman who runs the All Yours period product scheme reports that The Department for Education have pulled their provision of tights for schools – without mentioning it to the schools. All Yours has two secondary schools locally who need supplies of black tights and she would be grateful for any donations of tights from the Amazon wish list that she has just sent up here so that she can pass them on to the schools.

• If you know someone who finds it difficult to visit the library, through age, disability or other special circumstances, they may be able to come to you. Contact West Berks Libraries’  ‘At Home’ service by phoning 01635 519827 or email library@westberks.gov.uk

Home-Start West Berkshire is looking for compassionate individuals to join their team of volunteers. If you’ve been wanting to give back,or connect with families, please register for this training course that starts on Monday 13 May. As a volunteer with Home-Start West Berkshire, you’ll have the chance to support families in need, provide invaluable emotional support, and make lifelong connections. Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, or just have a passion for helping others contact office@home-startwb.org.uk or call 01635 760310 to reserve your spot.

Hampstead Norreys WI is in search of books in good condition, fiction, non-fiction or children’s. If you can help please call 07393 299938 and a pick up can be arranged.

• With only just a week to go before Compton Village Driveway Sale on Sunday 19 May, Sarah Li-Rouse, invites more people to sign up to help make this event a success. It’s a great opportunity to declutter and sell some preloved items, homemade crafts, cakes & bakes. For any further information email sarahlirouse@gmail.com.

Compton Parish Council is keen to remind residents that if you have a neighbour, friend or family members who would struggle if the power is off, by registering for SSEN’s free Priority Services, a dedicated team will contact you, or your nominated contact if they need to switch off your power to carry out essential maintenance. Click here to register.

• On Saturday 18 May Hampstead Norreys WI will be holding their Annual Plant, Cake and Book Sale from 10am to 12 noon in the grounds of St. Mary’s Church. Donations of plants, shrubs or nearly new paperbacks would be gratefully received beforehand. Call 07393 299948 to arrange.

• West Ilsley Willows ladies cricket team is inviting newcomers to join them for this Summer. All abilities welcome, and no previous cricket experience is necessary.  Please contact Danni on 07825 819355 for further info.

• 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.

The Green Hub on West Berkshire Council’s website is focused on helping people make more sustainable choicescollectively 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.

• The Rural Business Grant Scheme funds micro and small businesses located in rural areas across West Berkshire to help facilitate growth, diversify, and support the rural economy. See details here and how to apply.

• For road closures and other news visit Hampstead Norreys Parish Council‘s facebook page.

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.

Drop-in café at St Mary & St Nicholas, Compton on the last Wednesday afternoon of the month at Compton Village Hall. Refreshments and friendly chit-chat. Open to anyone.

• Downland Volunteer Group has a new electric HandeBus. For those wishing to use the HandeBus or volunteer to help the DVG’s work, contact 07713 813 523; dvg.handebus@btinternet.com; or at www.downlandvolgroup.org. More information can also be found here.

U6, U7 and U16 footballers are welcome at FC Cougars. Please contact graham on graham@fccougars.com.

• Compton Parish Council is keen to remind residents to please take rubbish home with them if litter bins are full.

• Compton Karate based at Aldworth Village Hall is a small and friendly dojo that welcomes new members.

• For how to avoid scams and what to do if you unluckily get caught, please see important advice here from Citizen’s Advice. There is no shame if you do get caught out by scammers (Penny has) and you must seek help and warn others.


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 19 May Driveway Sale, Compton Village

• Sat 18 May Hampstead Norreys WI Annual Plant, Cake and Book Sale  St. Mary’s Church.

• Sat 6 Jul Compton Fete Recreation Ground.

• Sat 13 Jul Beer, Cider & Ale Festival The Swan, Compton.

• Regular events and groups

• Stay, Play and Learn at Compton Village Hall on Thursday mornings during term for children 0-4 years to socialise with others, exploring a variety of play activities and crafts. Book online with West Berkshire Council here.

The Handybus service to Wantage picks up Chaddleworth and Leckhamstead residents from their homes on the second and fourth Tuesday morning. The round trip will cost £4. See here for more details and how to book.

• Marcham Cricket Club welcomes new cricket players and officials.

Tea and a Chat on Mondays from 9.30am to 11am at the Wilkins Centre in Compton: all welcome.

Downland Practice – Social Prescribing reminds patients that Hillier’s Garden Centre is delighted to be able to host the Ladies Breakfast Club on the second Wednesday of every month.

Wellbeing and mental health free one hour introduction session with Recovery in Mind and The Downland Practice. Please contact pm.downland@nhs.net to book your place.

Drop Off/Drop In Coffee Morning every Wednesday during term time at Brightwalton Church from 8.45 to 10am.

Free coffee and cake morning at The Wilkins Centre in Compton from 9.30 am to 11 am every Monday.

Aldworth Saturday Market at Aldworth Village Hall, RG8 9SE from 10.30am to midday sells fresh fruit and vegetables, groceries, stamps and cards; tea and coffee. Contact Kathy on 01635 578090 or e-mail kathyneville@outlook.com

• The Gents Breakfast Club created by The Downland Practice – Social Prescribing is proving popular. If you would like more information please contact nicky.ager@nhs.net.

• Compton Tots on the first and third Thursday of every month at Compton Village Hall from 9.30am to 11am. Providing a safe, fun and educational space, in partnership will Compton Pre-school for 0-5 years and costs £2 per family (cash only).

• Quiz night at The Crown and Horns in East Ilsley every Thursday from 7pm with prizes to be won. You can reserve a table by calling 01635 281545 and see more information here.

• Brickleton Babes Baby and Toddler Group in Brightwalton Village Hall. Join their facebook group for details.

• Autumn Group regular meetings include the Hobbies Club at the Wilkins Centre, Compton. Visit their facebook page for details. Anyone from surrounding villages very welcome.

• Aldworth Art/Painting Group at the Aldworth Village Hall on first and third Tuesday of every month from 9.30am to noon. Details on the East Ilsley Communicator (issue 105, p 21) here.

 Aldworth Craft Group meet at Aldworth Village Hall on the second and fourth Monday of every month (within the school term time) from 10am to noon. More details in the East Ilsley Communicator (issue 105, p 16), which you can download here.

• Hampstead Norreys Village Hall club and event information is on Hampstead Norreys Community website.

• Ilsley Under Fives meet every Wednesday between 10am to 11.30am at various locations throughout the Ilsley villages. Please join their Facebook group or see details here.


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 Peasemore Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 27 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 Brightwalton Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 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 Aldworth Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 11 March and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and mintues for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Chaddleworth Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 5 March and you can read the minutes here. There was also a short meeting on 2 April to consider one planning application.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meetings of Ashampstead Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 4 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 Compton Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 4 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 click herePlease click here for the latest on Compton’s neighbourhood development plan (which has now been ratified).

.• The most recent meeting of West Ilsley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 20 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 Hampstead Norreys Council for which minutes are available  took place on 25 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 Beedon Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 7 March 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 minutes from past meetings please click here. Please click here for details of the planning applications currently active in the parish.

• The most recent meeting of East Ilsley Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 14 November and you can download the minutes here.
To see the dates, agendas and minutes for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.


News from other areas

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

Archives

To see earlier Compton & Downlands & Surrounding Area Weekly News columns, please click here.

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