Hungerford Town Council Update April/May 2024

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the HTC meeting on 7 May 2024, the agenda for which can be found here. The official minutes of the meeting will in due course be found on the HTC site. Any references below to “the meeting” refer to this event unless specified otherwise. Any such issues are not necessarily covered here in the order in which they were discussed.  This report may also include information about HTC’s activities which were not discussed at the meeting. 

Full Council Meetings generally take place at 7.00pm in the Library on the first working Monday of every month except August. Meetings normally take place on the first Tuesday if the first Monday is a bank holiday. 

The agenda for the future meetings (as well as for the Council’s various committee meetings) can be found in this section of the HTC website

See the foot of this post for more information.

HTC = Hungerford Town Council; WBC = West Berkshire Council; WAPC = WBC’s WBC’s Western Area Planning Committee. NDP = Neighbourhood Development Plan. H2036 = Hungerford’s NDP (so-called until October 2023). HNP = Hungerford’s NDP (from October 2023). DC = District Councillor; TVP = Thames Valley Police.

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

A Community Award

Before the meeting proper, the Mayor praised 12 year old John O’Gaunt student Millie Blackwell whose 30-day litter pick challenge (with 30 large sacks of litter collected) in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital has now been completed (watch Penny Post’s short video interview with Millie here). She has exceeded her target and raised over £2,000 but donations are stll appreciated here should you want to contribute. She was presented with a Community Award and a Mayor’s coin.

Police report

No police report was provided for the meeting.

The local police team

The current set-up of the team is one Inspector, one Sergeant, three Police Constables and five PCSOs to cover the Hungerford and Downlands area. Please see below for how to contact them.

Local events

If you have any community events for which you would like representation from your local NHPT, please contact them via the email address below. While local TVP representatives cannot guarantee always to be able to attend, they will make every effort to do so. 

General information (including contacts)

  • Please report all incidents to the Police or otherwise they will not be officially recorded – news travels fast round a community but if no one reports incidents the police may not know about it. Mentioning an incident on social media does not count as reporting the crime.
  • People are encouraged to sign up for Thames Valley Alerts. As well as local crime information, you can receive details of the latest scams.
  • Thames Valley Police has a Facebook page.
  • The local policing team also wants to draw attention to the ‘what three words’ app which is used to help with the prevention of rural crime by locating people. The app provides a three-word code for each grid which is mapped over the world. By ringing 999 and quoting it, the police can locate you.
  • If you believe you have been a victim of fraud or cybercrime, please report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.
  • You can report incidents online but if it is urgent please continue to call on 101 (non-emergency) and 999 in an emergency.
  • If you would like to report anonymously you can do so via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online.
  • The team’s email address is HungerfordandDownlandsNHPT@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk  This is not monitored 24/7 and should not be used in an emergency or to report a crime.
  • The local police team is keen to promote the Herbert Protocol initiative which helps us all to try to keep vulnerable members of our community safe.

Election time

This also being the annual meeting, it was necessary to have elections for four roles. In the event, all were unopposed.

  • The Mayor: Helen Simpson.
  • The Deputy Mayor: James Cole.
  • Chair of Finance & General Purposes Committee: Claire Winser.
  • Deputy Chair of Finance & General Purposes Committee: Keith Carlson.

The Mayor’s report

Hocktide celebrations

Thank you to the Town & Manor for its kind invitation to the Hocktide celebrations. It is always a special town event. Thank you also to Sharon for laminating all the tree decorations for HTC’s tree, and to Jerry and Stella for attaching them.

D-day

Plans are progressing well. Special thanks to Jerry for the huge amount work he’s put in. Also, to Claire B for all the administration. I am really looking forward to a weekend of activities. This will be a very special event for the town. Look out for posters and social media news and please start planning your 1940s-themed clothing…

Bowls

I was delighted to be asked to open the bowls season again this year and to bowl the first bowl on the green. It was a lovely warm afternoon and I enjoyed being at the club again. The club are looking for new members, please pop along to their open day on 25 May from noon and have a go – it’s great fun and the team are really welcoming.

Redwood House tea party

I was invited to attend afternoon tea at Redwood house with residents. We all had a lovely afternoon chatting and enjoying the delicious cakes. I noticed while there, that the pigeons are creating quite a mess across the site. There are quite a lot of ledges and balconies on which the pigeons have made themselves at home. Sadly, some residents are now unable to use their balconies due to the build-up of guano making the surface slippery. I am hoping Sovereign Housing may be able to help. I believe pigeon-proofing with spikes and netting could really help the residents.

Mayors reception

Thank you to all those who joined HTC for the Mayors reception. It was great to celebrate another busy year with you all.

Crime meeting with the Neighbourhood team and MP Laura Farris

I was really pleased to see a good turnout for the meeting. I think the general message from residents is that more police presence in Hungerford was needed, the current area was too large to be effective. Secondly, it was felt anti-social behaviour, theft and criminal damage was happening with little consequence to the perpetrators. Members of the public are tempted to take matters into their own hands as they feel unprotected. Laura will feed back public concern and campaign for the team to be based in Hungerford.

School assembly

I attended a recent primary school assembly alongside Claire W and Helen A, to present six children who drew a poster for the Hungerford’s Got Talent competition. All the entries were brilliant, and it was hard to choose just three. It was decided that we would choose six posters and the winners were presented with their poster framed and a book token. The entries will now advertise the competition.

Year end

I would like to thank all councillors and staff for their support throughout the year. It has certainly been another busy one for HTC. I have attended over 170 meetings, appointments and events over the last civic year. It has been a pleasure to represent the town.

HTC is a brilliant team and I’m pleased we have a complete cohort going into another term.

The lay-by/parking space on the High Street

As has been mentioned several times, this area at the south (top) end of the High Street has been in a deplorable condition for some time. For some time this could not be repaired because of the contraflow following the December 2022 accident. After representations from HTC, WBC has announced that the job is on the work schedule and should be done by the end of May.

District Councillors’ reports

DC Gaines attended the meeting and referred to the following matters:

  • The local plan examination. This starts on 8 May and is expected to continue for about a month. She pointed out that the work that this involves has put extra pressure on the planning department which may translate into delays to applications and other matters being addressed.
  • The Housing Support Fund. About £700,000 has been received from the government for this initiative which is designed to support anyone, particularly the elderly, those who care for others and those receiving free school meals, with a range of household costs. As before, the distribution of the money is being done in conjunction with a number of local charities and community groups. Anyone is entitled to apply. More information will be available soon on WBC’s website. This is a six-month extension of the 2023-24 scheme that closed in March so all money must be distributed by September 2024.
  • A magazine for West Berkshire. This has recently been launched by WBC and you can see more here.
  • Neighbours’ planning letters. The system by which letters were sent to neighbours advising of planning applications, which was stopped some years ago to save money, has re-started. The number of people that these are sent to will depend on various factors including the size of the proposed development. This is in addition to the orange notices which are a statutory responsibility.

The changing places facility

This has now had its first user although it’s yet to be officially opened. Now all the formalities of construction and handover have been completed, i t’s hoped that a brief ceremony will be arranged in the near future.

Hungerford’s Got Talent

This event, which has emerged from the work that’s been done by the Youth Council Working Group, will be held at John O’Gaunt on Saturday 6 July 2024. Pupils from the Primary School have designed some posters, six of which have been chosen. For more information, please see this page on the HTC website.

York stone and possible bollards

Following damage done to the pavement in the High Street by contractors acting for Gigaclear, their seeming inability to find suitable replacements and lay these correctly and then citing supply and cost problems for needing to replace these with concrete ones, HTC has managed to source some replacement York stone slabs locally. These should be delivered and laid on or shortly after 30 May.

Consideration is also being given to whether bollards should be placed in front of the former Co-op (now Morrisons) store to recent lorries pulling up onto the pavement. Planning permission would be required for this. These have been rejected by WBC at the junction of High Street and Park Street where a number of accidents have happened but are currently being considered outside the Coin and Stamp Centre which was the subject of a ram-raid on 31 December 2023.

D-Day

See here for information on the many events that are planned for the weekend of 29 to 30 June. Four types of aircraft – Spitfires, Dakotas, Tiger Moths and Lancasters – will take part in fly-pasts at various times.

Tickets for the Swing Dance on 28 January will go on sale on 15 May. These will be available in various ways but those who buy them from Crown Needlework in the High Street will avoid the booking fee. Early booking is recommended for what promises to be a popular event.

The Hungerford neighbourhood development plan (HNP)

There was progress in April, though this was slow.

The Regulation 14 consultation was completed successfully but responses are still awaited from WBC’s Highways and Drainage teams. Comments will then need to be supplied by the HNP’s planning consultants.

Once these are received, changes may well need to be made to the plan, Once completed, the plan can be submitted to WBC for the formal Regulation 16 consultation, the last public outing for the HNP before the referendum. The Steering Group feels that, as a number of these factors are outside its control, the timetable has slipped somewhat and early or mid 2025 now looks like the likely date for this.

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

HTC’s committees 

The following committee meetings have recently taken place (“last meeting” refers to the last meeting for which minutes were available on the day this post was published). Environment & Planning generally meets once a month and the others every other month. See the separate section above for meetings relating to the Hungerford neighbourhood Plan and the Town-centre Strategy.

  • Highways and Transport. (Last meeting 25 March – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: update on actions from previous meetings; a possible 40mph limit of the A4; SIDs and speeding; EV charge points; streetlights; CCTV search charges; protection for the Plume building; the High Street taxi rank; footpaths and signage; parking on verges; potholes; paving slabs; overgrown vegetation; and lorry parking in Charnham Park.
  • Recreation, Amenities and War Memorials. (Last meeting 18 March – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: actions from the previous meeting; maintenance list; the RoSPAreport; the skate park fence; grass matting; Saturday interments and St Saviours; potholes; memorial headstones; plaques on benches; war-memorial cleaning; and health and safety checks.
  • Environment and Planning. (Last meeting 11 March – click here to see the minutes.) Items covered included: a presentation form Archel Homes regarding the Station Road site; and five planning applications (three no objection, one objection, one retrospective granted by WBC).
  • Finance and General Purposes. (Last meeting 6 March – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: updates on actions from the previous meeting; electricity at the Croft Field; D-Day costs; the Tennis Courts lease; and the lease at the War Memorial Gardens.

Note: if the links above don’t work, this may be because they were linked to unadopted (draft) minutes which have since been replaced by adopted ones. If so, please visit this page of HTC’s website for the most up-to-date information on meetings past and the agendas of those yet to come.

For details on HTC’s committees, including membership, agendas and minutes, please click here (and go to the “Town Council” tab).

Contacting HTC

HTC can be contacted in the following ways:

  • By email to townclerk@hungerford-tc.gov.uk
  • By post to The Town Clerk, Hungerford Town Council, The Library, Church Street, Hungerford RG17 0JG.
  • In person at the above address between 10am and 2pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • By phone on 01488 686 195.

Any questions for an HTC meeting need to arrive by 2pm on the day (please allow more time if you have left this on the ansafone).

Members of the public are also welcome to attend any meetings.

Contacting WBC in an emergency

You can also contact West Berkshire Council out of office hours for emergencies. These are considered to include:

  • Major incidents such as major accidents or significant flooding.
  • Fallen trees and other debris blocking or restricting roads or causing potential danger to road users.
  • Traffic lights not working (West Berkshire Council only manages fixed traffic lights, not temporary ones).
  • Emergency repairs to council-owned temporary accommodation (tenants of properties should contact their housing association, landlord or agent).

 

The sections above cover the main issues with which HTC has recently been involved or concerned: it by no means describes all of HTC’s activities. Nor is this an official record of any meeting nor of any other aspect of HTC’s activities. Links to the official minutes of this and other meetings are provided in this post. For more information on HTC, please click here.

If there’s anything that you’d like to see addressed by HTC, and perhaps also covered in this way in future editions of Penny Post Hungerford, please email claire.barnes@hungerford-tc.gov.uk. Any such suggestions should be received at least four working days before the end of the month (and preferably sooner) if they are to be included in the corresponding post for the following month. That is not, of course, to say that HTC will not in any case give the matter its attention and respond personally if appropriate.

This information has been compiled by Penny Post from information supplied by HTC and others. Every reasonable effort has been made to provide a clear and dispassionate summary of the points covered but these may contain expressions of opinion which may not accord with HTC’s official view on the matter. Links have been provided to other posts, on the Penny Post site or elsewhere, to give additional information where this has been judged useful or necessary. The presence of such a link should not be taken to imply that HTC necessarily agrees with, endorses or supports any of the material contained therein.

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