Hungerford Town Council Update June/July 2024

These notes incorporate some but not all of the matters discussed at the HTC meeting on 1 July 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.

Police report

The following report was produced by the local police team and supplied on 4 July.

Events in June

The team have had a busy month with various community engagements and events.

  • On 7 June Jo and Lee were invited along to Oaklands School. We visited each class and spoke about what we do. The children were very engaging and asked lots of questions. They enjoyed the chance to sit in and have a look round the police car.
  • On the evening of 10 June the team were in Newbury multi-storey car park taking part in a training exercise with South Central Ambulance Service and Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue. These exercises are important and help us all to prepare for real-life scenarios.
  • The Young Farmers event at the County Showground on the 16 June was very well attended. We were joined at the event by colleagues from the Rural Crime Taskforce.
  • Jo and Lee thoroughly enjoyed the D-Day weekend on 28 to 30 June. It was great to see so many people out lining the streets and at Sunday’s event supporting the town. Well done to everyone involved in the planning and organising – you did Hungerford proud.

Crimes and incidents

In June there were two reports of anti-social behaviour, three cases of criminal damage, one case of shoplifting, two cases of theft and two cases of burglary.

We are appealing for witnesses to an assault in Prospect Road. The victim was attacked at some point between 8.45pm on Saturday 29 June and 12.30am on Sunday. The victim, a man in his late teens, sustained stab wounds to his side, arm and forehead.and required treatment at hospital. More information on the incident (ref 43240307849) can be found by clicking here.

The local police team

The current set-up of the team is one Inspector, one Sergeant, three Police Constables and four 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.

Open forum

Local resident and former HTC Councillor John Downe addressed the meeting.

After congratulating HTC and all those responsible for the excellent D-Day event the previous weekend, and also for the repairs to the pavements in the High Street, he gave a brief summary of the EV vehicle event organised by HEAT (Hungerford Environmental Action Team) on 26 June. (More information can be found in this separate article.)

He pointed out that using EVs would result in fuel costing the equivalent of 20p per litre for its users, that the air would be cleaner and the town quieter. The HEAT event, which attracted a high level of interest, was designed to promote these ambitions.

He also distributed some copies of a booklet, The Little Book of EV Myths, which looks at and refutes about forty accusations commonly made about EV cars: often, he suggested, from sources with close links to the fossil-fuel industry. He added that anyone who wanted to find out more about EVs was welcome to contact heat_hungerford@yahoo.com.

On a related matter, he added that it was a continued and deepening embarrassment to WBC that the EV charge points promised for the town’s car parks three years ago had still not materialised, with all manner of reports and surveys having produced no results. DC Benneyworth, the only DC present at the meeting, agreed.

The Mayor’s report

The first part of my report is from Deputy Mayor James Cole who kindly attended various engagements whilst I was away on holiday with my family. Thank you for representing HTC in my absence, James.

James Cole’s Report 5 to 16 June

King’s proclamation

In the absence of the Mayor, I had the pleasure of attending the King’s Proclamation on 6 of July. We gathered on the steps of the Town Hall with the Constable and other representatives of the Town and Manor to hear the Bellman read the D-Day Anniversary proclamation at 8 am as prescribed. As always, he did a wonderful job.

The Lord Lieutenant’s summer reception

I attended The Lord Lieutenant’s summer reception, held as a preview of the Windsor Flower Show, where as well as meeting the new Lord Lieutenant Andrew Try, those I talked to include the previous Lord Lieutenant, several deputy Lieutenants, the Mayors of Newbury and Slough and the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police. It is a good venue – I had never even heard of the Windsor Flower Show and the new Lord Lieutenant is one of the people that has been behind the resuscitation of this long-running event.

Agatha Christie

I attended a performance of The Stranger, an Agatha Christie play put on by the Community of Hungerford Theatre Company in John O’Gaunt School Hall on 15 June. This is an Agatha Christie play that I had never come across – it has not been performed that often – but it made for an enjoyable evening’s entertainment. Kathy Bossom was particularly good as Mrs Huggins.

St Lawrence’s

On 16 June I went to St Lawrences Church, Hungerford, for the official opening of the changes made to the back (western end) of the church. Bishop Olivia came to officiate, and this could be her last time in Hungerford as Bishop of Reading. What the team has achieved is remarkable – taken from the church website, “the project has provided us with a new glass entranceway, a brand-new kitchen, one replacement loo and one new disabled loo, a large downstairs flexible meeting area, two upstairs meeting rooms, additional storage, and access once again to the long blocked off west door”.

This has created space and light. I looked online for pictures of how it used to look, and they don’t exactly jump off the pages – the result of the new works is very photogenic. However please note that while the job is done, they are still raising money to pay for it.

Camburn Trust

As a trustee, I was delighted to again be part of the interview team. It was such an inspiring morning, listening to those applying for a grant to support their studies. I could not be prouder of all the stories of achievements and future goals and aspirations. HTC gave a grant to support this charity and it is a pleasure to be part of the trust.

Chamber of Commerce

The AGM was held again at Hungerford Rugby Club on Wednesday 19 June. Thank you to the Tuttipole for the delicious snacks. I was delighted to see Karen Salmon voted in again as chair. Karen has been a terrific ambassador for commerce in Hungerford and works incredibly hard for all the members. HTC has worked with Karen to launch the Visit Hungerford website. If you haven’t had the opportunity to look at the site, please take a moment to do so. We are thrilled with how the site looks and it’s already receiving a large amount of hits and sessions.

D-Day 80 Commemorative weekend

Wow, wow, wow – I am completely overwhelmed at what Hungerford has achieved by pulling off this incredible weekend of commemoration. Councillor Jerry Keates, led the volunteer team and project, which has been a year in the planning. The team included Jerry, me, Town Clerk Claire Barnes, Councillor David Reeves, Derek Loft, Neale Marney, Kate Edwards, Fiona Hobson, Susan Mayes, Nicola Wood, Simon Hobden, Councillor Keith Carlson and District Councillor Denise Gaines. I could not have been prouder.”

Formal thanks to all our sponsors will follow from the team and HTC when we’ve found our feet again and reflected. I know we have made an enormous amount of money for the Royal British Legion Veterans (Hungerford Branch); I can’t wait to share all the news in due course.

Thank you to all the residents and visitors who came out to enjoy and support this event.

D-Day

Councillor Jerry Keates was congratulated for his role in having organised a very successful weekend, which had also raised a large (and to-be-confirmed) sum for the Hungerford Royal British Legion. He stressed that the event had involved numerous people and had been a triumph for Hungerford as a whole: also that its three main ambitions, of “commemoration, celebration and education”, had all been achieved.

See also the Mayor’s remarks in her report above.

More information on the event can be found in this post.

Street lights

ABout five years ago, HTC embarked on a programme of upgrading the hundred or so street lights in the town that it owned. When these were brought up to a suitable standard, these would then be adopted by WBC which would thereafter assume all responsibility for their maintenance and electricity. About 70 had been through this process, leaving 31 still unmodernised and unadopted.

WBC has, however, recently said that not only does it not want to adopt any more lights but also that it will no longer maintain HTC’s ones: previously it did this and charged HTC but from April 2025 HTC will need to take on this directly. If HTC has to find its own contractor this is likely to cost more as the economies of scale will have vanished.

HTC is considering its next move on this. It also needs to decide if it will continue to upgrade the remaining 31 lights so reducing future maintenance cost, or deal with each problem as it arises. Another issue is that most of these lights are in poor condition or awkward locations. A report referred to at the meeting suggested that only three or four could be decommissioned without causing a loss of amenity: in any event, the costs wouldn’t end there as a light could still be a hazard even if not operational and to remove it would cost money as well.

Chestnut Walk

The Mayor said at the meeting that, despite considerable local pressure and publicity, nothing had yet been decided or could be announced about the immediate future of the joint venture between Sovereign and West Berkshire Council which has many years promised, though without any results, to re-develop the former care home in the town for much-needed affordable housing.

She added that she had recently spoken to WBC’s CEO Nigel Lynn on the subject and made clear that HTC would be “extremely disappointed” if the decision was taken not to create the affordable housing which the town had demanded, been promised and for so long worked towards.

Grass cutting

As reported last month, questions have been asked of WBC regarding the grass cutting, with particular reference to the Ramsbury Drive playground which had been allowed to get into a condition which made it unusable. It was admitted by WBC that one scheduled cut had been missed. One resident took matters into his own hands and strimmed the playground area himself.

A meeting between Councillor David Reeves and WBC’s Head of Countryside Paul Hendry las month produced assurances that WBC would in future  be more assiduous in following its own schedule and the next one was scheduled for mid July.

Play park in Ramsbury Drive

Still in this location, the meeting learned that a new slide had recently been installed there, despite this not being one of the pieces of equipment that had been identified as problematic. Councillor Fyfe would enquire about this; also about the replacement or repair of the other pieces of equipment that seem to be defective.

On this point, there is still disagreement between WBC and HTC about the state of some of the rest of the equipment, WBC maintaining that all is well and HTC asserting otherwise. An imminent RoSPA report will hopefully provide some clarity.

Lancaster Park

The various issues here were once again discussed at the meeting.

The concerns which have been expressed for some time, and which were considered at last month’s meeting, remain unaddressed. The most recent development was an email sent to Bewley Homes by Lancaster Park resident (and HTC member) Stella Coulthurst, in a personal capacity, on 30 June which summarised the situation as she saw it. You can see this email;in full, along with other recent communication and comment, by clicking here.

District Councillors’ reports

Only DC Benneyworth attended the meeting. Aside from his reporting that there would be a mega-meeting of WAPC this month to try to clear a planning-decision backlog (seven matters would be considered, four of which involved Hungerford) and DC Gaines’ message of congratulation to those who organised the D-Day event, there was nothing to report. The work which was being doing done on the local plan examination and the restrictions as a result of the period or pre-election sensitivity were largely responsible for this comparative silence.

The Hungerford neighbourhood development plan (HNP)

There has been no particular progress on the HNP this month, all for reasons beyond the steering group’s control.

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

• Christmas 2024

Hungerford Town Council is now inviting tenders for installation of its spectacular Christmas lights. Please visit this page of Hungerford TC’s website for more information.

The closing date is 10am Monday 15 July 2024.

• The conservation areas

Last month, Councillor Cole reported that the long-standing question of the reassessment of Hungerford’s two conservation areas (the larger of which covers most of the town centre) was raised at a recent meeting of West Berkshire Heritage Forum. He also pointed out that a planning authority has under the 1990 Town and Country Planning Act to serve a notice if it feels that the condition of a building is harmful to the area. the possibility existed for these to be devolved but there were practical obstacles in the way of this.

It was further suggested that Newbury, Thatcham and Hungerford Town Councils might approach WBC jointly and agree a more formalised way by which they could act as WBC’s eyes and ears in this respect, which would include a process by which their recommendations were acted on.

Councillor Cole told the meeting that he had duly reported Hungerford’s views on what it could and could not take on back to the West Berkshire Heritage Forum, and that this needed positive reactions from Thatcham and Newbury to be able to do anything useful; he would attend the Heritage Forum’s AGM at the end of the week and follow this up.

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.

  • Environment and Planning. (Last meeting 10 June – click here to see the minutes.) Items covered included: five planning applications (one “strong support”, four “no objection”); and case officers’ reports.
  • Highways and Transport. (Last meeting 28 May – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: election of Chair and Deputy; SID data; safety improvements at The Croft; A-boards and footway parking; cleaning the York stone; speeding issues and suggestions; EV charge points; the Christmas lights; CCTV coverage; streetlights; and bollards.
  • Finance and General Purposes. (Last meeting 22 May – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: accounting and financial procedures; D-day expenditure; the lease of the Bridge Street War Memorial Gardens; bus costs; grant applications; and HTC’s investment policy.
  • Recreation, Amenities and War Memorials. (Last meeting 20 May – click here to read the minutes.) Items covered included: election of Chair and Deputy; repairs and maintenance; RoSPA report; possible extended opening ours at the Resource Centre; possible car parking charges at the Croft Field Activity Centre; health and safety inspections; outstanding works at the Croft Field Activity Centre; and pitch-fire rates at the Triangle Field.

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.

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Email
Print

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up to the free weekly

Penny Post
e-newsletter 

 

For: local positive news, events, jobs, recipes, special offers, recommendations & more.

Covering: Newbury, Thatcham, Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage, Lambourn, Compton, Swindon & Theale