Thursday 13 May 2021

• The May edition of Penny Post Hungerford e-newsletter was published last week. Click here to read it if you didn’t get it. Please email penny@pennypost.org.uk if there’s anything you’d like to see included in Penny Post Hungerford in the future. The next one will be published on 1 June.

• Covid lateral flow tests, previously available in the Hungerford Rugby Club, are now operating from a mobile unit in the car park next to the Hungerford Library and Hub. More details here.

• Back in June 2020, Hungerford and Kintbury’s three ward members decided that a revised planning application by Bewley Homes should be called in (meaning that it would be looked an in committee, rather than just by officers). This application requested that West Berkshire Council set aside the requirement (specified in the final planning permission) that Bewley provide 28 social-rent houses at its 100-home development to the south of the town, since named Lancaster Park (more on that aspect below). Opposition to the proposal was widespread and vehement. What followed was 11 months of discussion, meetings, emails, reports and then more of the same in which the developers sought to convince West Berkshire Council that this condition, which had seemed acceptable when the permission was granted, now suddenly made the project non-viable. On 12 May, WBC’s officers decided to turn this application down. Bewley has six months in which to appeal.

If Bewley decides not to do so – which would be a far higher-risk and higher-cost strategy than was the revised application – or if does and loses, there are a number of victories in this. Most importantly, it’s victory for 28 families from the district (not necessarily Hungerford) who badly need such homes: as The Guardian pointed out in December 2020, recent construction levels have been well below what’s required. It’s a victory for Hungerford, in being able to insist that it has some say in what’s built in the town. (The Town Council and three ward members deserve particular credit, as do all the people who kept the issue alive.) It’s a victory for West Berkshire Council’s planning experts who looked carefully at all the representations and made their decision based on the Council’s policy. Finally, it’s a victory for the power of legal agreements willingly entered into. It’s not, of course, a victory for Bewley or its partner Wates; but it’s hard to see how either will lose money on the deal. Property prices in places like Hungerford have risen sharply in the last 12 months and the majority of the homes will still be for sale for between £565,000 and £760,000. Hopefully they’ll see this as a win-win-win-win-sort-of-win situation, sell up and move on.

Hungerford Mayor Helen Simpson professed herself “delighted” by WBC’s verdict. “It took a long time,” she added, “but the officers made the right decision in the end. These socially-rented homes are badly needed and Bewley and Wates did, after all, agree to provide them.” The Town Council has recently issued a statement on the matter. How much of this local scrutiny will still be in place if the government’s Planning Bill as currently envisaged becomes law is another matter.

• Moving on from the tenure of the homes, another problem has also been sorted out this week. This concerns the names of the new streets in the development. In past times, the situation with this was very simple: new streets were named after the (usually male) councillors, their wives or their mistresses. Other, more inclusive and sensitive methods are now employed. The names, which celebrate people and places from Hungerford’s past, have now been agreed: see this statement from the Town Council.

• Two letters in this week’s NWN refer to Hungerford Town Council’s never-ending battle with the town’s pigeons and a recent suggestion that be be relocated. One letter refers to the efforts made by the Provencal town of La Napoule to lure the birds to an out-of-town pigeon ghetto; another points out the health hazards after the writer’s daughter was hospitalised for five months after picking up an infection from them. As a born and bred Londoner, I regard these animals as being on a par with rats and fleas. Our cats take a similar view.

• A reminder that a joint venture between Hungerford Town Council and West Berkshire Council has led to five new recycling bins for recycling metal cans and plastic drink bottles being installed at Canal Walk, Bulpit Lane Play Park, One Stop Shop in Fairview Road, WH Smiths and outside the Town Hall. (These are in addition to the plastic recycling container recently installed by West Berkshire Council in the Station Road car park). If you have any views on this, including whether this is something you would like to see more of in the town, please contact HTC at admin@hungerford-tc.gov.uk or 01488 686195.
• See here for details of the Covid lateral flow tests that are now available in Hungerford (note that this will now take place in the Hub, not at the Rugby Club).

• Click here for an update of the state of play with Hungerford neighbourhood development plan (Hungerford 2036).

• The most recent meeting of Shalbourne Parish Council took place on 18 March and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Kintbury Parish Council took place on 1 April and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Froxfield Parish Council took place on 8 March and you can read the minutes here.

Froxfield PC will host its annual parish meeting and its annual PC meeting, one after the other starting at 7pm on Monday 17 May. Click here to see the agendas. Items for discussion include the problem of parking along the Green; next steps towards road calming; planning issues around the siting of the new electricity transformer to the north of the village; the Best Kept Village competition; and the need for a new councillor. There will be some Covid-safety restrictions and numbers attending must be capped due to social-distancing rules.  If you wish to attend, please contact the Clerk, Esther Cope, on clerk@froxfield.org so you name can be placed on the attendees list.  Information about these necessary precautions is also on the website.

• The May 2021 Froxfield Parish Council Newsletter has recently been published and you can read it here. If you would like to receive these, please email froxfieldPCnews@mail.com.

• The most recent meeting of Chilton Foliat Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the minutes here.

• Click here for the May edition of the Inkpen and Coombe Bulletin.

Hungerford area council news

Parishes: click here for Hungerford Town CouncilKintbury Parish CouncilShalbourne Parish Council, Ham Parish Council,  Chilton Foliat Parish CouncilFroxfield Parish Council and Inkpen Parish Council.

West Berkshire Council: click here to visit the website.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Lambourn Valley; Marlborough area; Newbury area; Thatcham area; Compton and Downlands; Theale area; Wantage area; Swindon area.

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

Thursday 6 May 2021

• The May edition of Penny Post Hungerford e-newsletter was published earlier this week. Click here to read it if you didn’t get it. As well as the usual updates from the Town Council (HTC), the Town and Manor and the local retailers, we have news of the re-launch of the Rose of Hungerford, lateral flow tests (see also below), local bluebell woods, the local schools, the Smarten Up team, the Theatre Company, The Tennis Club and HEAT. There’s a sponsorship opportunity at the Cricket Club, the latest diary instalment from Richard Hawthorne of John O’Gaunt School, an elegant and rounded rosé and a book that shows how gardening can boost mental health. There’s also news of the 2021 Hungerford in Bloom, this weekend’s Food and Artisan Market (see below), a look up at the stars, a look back at the National, advice about buying royal memorabilia and an election-time short story.  Please email penny@pennypost.org.uk if there’s anything you’d like to see included in Penny Post Hungerford in the future. The next one will be published on 1 June.

• As mentioned above, the next Hungerford Food and Artisan Market will take place this Sunday 9 May from 10am to 1pm in the Croft Field. More details here.

• Covid lateral flow tests, previously available in the Hungerford Rugby Club, are now operating from a mobile unit in the car park next to the Hungerford Library and Hub. More details here.

• As mentioned above, the next Penny Post Hungerford e-newsletter will be published on 1 June. This will not include a summary of that month’s full council meeting as HTC has to decided to cancel it. When in its wisdom the government decided to insist that all council meetings must be held in person, rather than online, or as councils decided,, from 7 May, it didn’t seem to take into account that social-distancing measures will still be required until at least 21 June. Many parishes were thus faced with the choice between holding meetings virtually after 7 May (and breaking the law) or doing so in buildings that were often too small or unsuitable (and breaking the law). It’s true that Hungerford’s Corn Exchange is large enough to hold a meeting legally (if not always audibly) but it was pointed out at the recent HTC meeting that the work in getting this usable before 21 June would be irksome for the staff, all of whom are busy enough as it is. After a discussion which looked at almost every permutation of dates for June and July’s meeting, it was decided to do away with June’s altogether. The next one will be on Monday 5 July. HTC’s work on the matter is not yet done: for another extraordinary council meeting is also required on 6 May to discuss how arrangements can be made to host in-person meetings safely until the Covid threat has receded and what extra use might be made of the Council’s delegated powers to make decisions.

The cancellation of June’s meeting does not create a massive democratic deficit as many councils (particularly small ones, or larger ones that delegate many matters to committees, of which Hungerford has several) don’t meet every month normally. However, it’s not ideal to have these decisions thrust upon them all for the sheer want of any trust by Whitehall that they can arrange these matters for themselves.

• I mentioned last week that HTC had been asked by BT if it wants to adopt the phone box on the High Street. Although the asking price is only £1, HTC would then assume responsibility for it which might include needing to move it if, as some claim, its obstruction of the line of sight to the zebra causes an accident. It’s already been established that moving it would cost a four-figure sum. The question of visibility in that part of the High Street also came up at the above-mentioned meeting after HTC’s Highways and Transport committee had earlier unanimously agreed to as West Berkshire Council (WBC) to convert the parking bays just up from the zebra to pavement: this is effectively what’s been the case for the last year as these the parking bays have been cordoned off to encourage social distancing on the pavement. After some discussion following objections to this plan by a member of the public, it was agreed to proceed with the request to WBC. Whether WBC will agree to do something that will cost money, potentially reduce its revenue and embroil it in a local controversy is another matter.

• A joint venture between Hungerford Town Council and West Berkshire Council has led to five new recycling bins for recycling metal cans and plastic drink bottles being installed at Canal Walk, Bulpit Lane Play Park, One Stop Shop in Fairview Road, WH Smiths and outside the Town Hall. (These are in addition to the plastic recycling container recently installed by West Berkshire Council in the Station Road car park). If you have any views on this, including whether this is something you would like to see more of in the town, lease contact HTC at admin@hungerford-tc.gov.uk or 01488 686195.
• See here for details of the Covid lateral flow tests that are now available in Hungerford (note that this will now take place in the Hub, not at the Rugby Club).

• Click here for an update of the state of play with Hungerford neighbourhood development plan (Hungerford 2036).

• The most recent meeting of Shalbourne Parish Council took place on 18 March and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Kintbury Parish Council took place on 1 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: dog fouling; the co-option of a new councillor; two planning applications; financial matters; the settlement boundary review; the handrail at the churchyard steps (which seems to be a fairly regular item on the agendas); and the annual parish newsletter.

• The most recent meeting of Froxfield Parish Council took place on 8 March and you can read the minutes here.

• The May 2021 Froxfield Parish Council Newsletter has recently been published and you can read it here. If you would like to receive these, please email froxfieldPCnews@mail.com. This issues covers the need for a new parish councillor; the appointment of Esther Cope as the new Parish Clerk, taking over from Sarah Whatley; work to begin on 10 May on the traffic-calming measures on the eastern approach of the A4; Froxfield’s entry in the CPRE’s 2021 Best0kept Village competition; the Wiltshire Parish Steward; and a reminder about the What 3Words system for referencing a location down to a few square metres. (I’ve just looked mine up and where I’m sitting now is “delighted waiters handbags”, which I rather like: makes me feel like the answer to a particularly ingenious crossword clue.)

• The most recent meeting of Chilton Foliat Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the minutes here.

• Click here for the May edition of the Inkpen and Coombe Bulletin.

Thursday 29 April 2021

• The next meeting of Hungerford Town Council will take place virtually at 7pm on Tuesday 4 May and you can view the agenda here (including the Zoom link).

• The April edition of Penny Post Hungerford e-newsletter was published earlier this month. Click here to read it if you didn’t get it. The May issue will be published on Wednesday 5 May and will, as ever, include a report on the previous evening’s meeting (see paragraph above). Please email penny@pennypost.org.uk if there’s anything you’d like to see included in Penny Post Hungerford.

• This week’s NWN reports on an issue that’s come up before and has been considered by Hungerford Town Council: whether or not to adopt the red phone box in the High Street, BT being prepared to let this and mayn others in the country go for £1. The problem is what would then happen to it. To demolish it is impossible, as its lists. To move it would cost several thousands of pounds. To leave it where it is is seen by some as dangerous as it blocks the sight-line to the zebra crossing. Then there’s the question of what it would be used for. A defibrillator? A book exchange? A tourist information point? A fish tank? Given the safety concerns, perhaps the most useful thing would be to pack it full of first-aid equipment so that if there were an accident on the zebra crossing (possibly caused by the phone box blocking the view) it could then help remedy the situation. Whether it was wise to put a zebra in this exact spot is a question that’s too late to ask now.

• A joint venture between Hungerford Town Council and West Berkshire Council has led to five new recycling bins for recycling metal cans and plastic drink bottles being installed at Canal Walk, Bulpit Lane Play Park, One Stop Shop in Fairview Road, WH Smiths and outside the Town Hall. (These are in addition to the plastic recycling container recently installed by West Berkshire Council in the Station Road car park). If you have any views on this, including whether this is something you would like to see more of in the town, lease contact HTC at admin@hungerford-tc.gov.uk or 01488 686195.
• See here for details of the Covid lateral flow tests that are now available in Hungerford (note that this will now take place in the Hub, not at the Rugby Club).

• The next Food and Artisan Market in Hungerford will be on Sunday 9 May. Click here for more information.

• Click here for an update of the state of play with Hungerford neighbourhood development plan (Hungerford 2036).

• The most recent meeting of Inkpen Parish Council for took place on 1 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: dog fouling; thew co-option of a new councillor; two planning applications; financial matters; the settlement boundary review; the handrail at the churchyard steps (which seems to be a fairly regular item on the agendas); and the annual parish newsletter.

• The most recent meeting of Shalbourne Parish Council took place on 18 March and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Kintbury Parish Council took place on 4 March and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Froxfield Parish Council took place on 8 March and you can read the minutes here.

• The May 2021 Froxfield Parish Council Newsletter has recently been published: if you would like to receive these, please email froxfieldPCnews@mail.com. This issues covers the need for a new parish councillor; the appointment of Esther Cop as thew new Prish Clerk, taking over from Sarah Whatley; work to begin on 10 May on the traffic-calming measures on the eastern approach of the A4; Froxfield’s entry in the CPRE’s 2021 Best0kept Village competition; the Wiltshire Parish Steward; and a reminder about the What 3Words system for referencing a location down to a few square metres. (I’ve just looked mine up and where I’m sitting now is “delighted waiters handbags”, which I rather like: makes me feel like the answer to a particularly ingenious crossword clue.)

• The most recent meeting of Chilton Foliat Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the minutes here.

• Click here for the April edition of the Inkpen and Coombe Bulletin.

Thursday 22 April 2021

• See here for details of the Covid lateral flow tests that are now available in Hungerford.

A joint venture between Hungerford Town Council and West Berkshire Council has led to five new recycling bins for recycling metal cans and plastic drink bottles being installed at Canal Walk, Bulpit Lane Play Park, One Stop Shop in Fairview Road, WH Smiths and outside the Town Hall. (These are in addition to the plastic recycling container recently installed by West Berkshire Council in the Station Road car park). Mayor of Hungerford Helen Simpson, said that  “The placing of these bins is a start in the council’s commitment to helping create best environmental practice and reducing the council’s and the town’s carbon footprint. Depending on the success of this initiative, we hope to implement further recycling facilities in the town.” West Berkshire Council’s Executive Member for the Environment, Councillor Steve Ardagh-Walter said “WBC was pleased to work with Hungerford on this initiative. I commend Hungerford Town Council for its commitment to providing their residents with more opportunities to recycle.” If you have any views on this, including whether this is something you would like to see more of in the town, please contact HTC at admin@hungerford-tc.gov.uk or 01488 686195.

• The April edition of Penny Post Hungerford was published earlier this month. Click here to read it if you didn’t get it.

• See p12 if this week’s NWN for a report on the excellent Food and Artisan Market in Hungerford last Sunday. The next one will be on Sunday 9 May. Click here for more information.

• On 13 April I was delighted to have been invited to the Hocktide Court and Court Leet of the Hungerford Town and Manor. Click here for an article I wrote about it which puts the occasion in its historical context.

• Click here for an update of the state of play with Hungerford neighbourhood development plan (Hungerford 2036).

• The most recent meeting of Shalbourne Parish Council took place on 18 March and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Inkpen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 25 January and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Kintbury Parish Council took place on 4 March and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Froxfield Parish Council took place on 8 March and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Chilton Foliat Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the minutes here.

• Click here for the April edition of the Inkpen and Coombe Bulletin.

Thursday 15 April 2021

• See here for details of the Covid lateral flow tests that are now available in Hungerford.

• The April edition of Penny Post Hungerford was published last week. Click here to read it if you didn’t get it. As usual, it provides the best and most comprehensive round up of what’s going on in the town.

• On 13 April I was delighted to have been invited to the Hocktide Court and Court Leet of the Hungerford Town and Manor. The event is not easy to describe in a word – click here for an article I wrote about it which puts the occasion in its historical context.

• Click here for an update of the state of play with Hungerford neighbourhood development plan (Hungerford 2036).

• The most recent meeting of Shalbourne Parish Council took place on 18 March and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Inkpen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 25 January and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Kintbury Parish Council took place on 4 March and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Froxfield Parish Council took place on 8 March and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Chilton Foliat Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the minutes here.

• Click here for the March edition of the Inkpen and Coombe Bulletin.

Thursday 8 April 2021

• See here for details of the Covid lateral flow tests that are now available in Hungerford.

• This being the start of the month, Penny Post Hungerford has once again arrived to give you the best and most comprehensive round-up of life in the town. Click here to read it if you didn’t get it. As usual, we have the news from the Town Council, the Town and Manor and the local retailers. We have the latest diary from the Head of JoG, an summary from the Head of the Nursery School and an appeal for volunteers from Smarten Up Hungerford. We’ve got news about the various re-openings and advice about making travel plans. We’ve got special offers, a fragrant red wine, a weather-decoding book, a prize winner, a look back at Cheltenham, a spot of star-gazing and a short story. We’ve got property, jobs, events, advice on keeping active and, to round it off, some wise words from Katherine Hepburn. In short, just the range and depth you’ve come to expect.

• Geordie Taylor of the Hungerford Self-isolation Network hasprovided a brief summary of the excellent work which the group has done over the last 12 months and also confirmed that the money left over from the various donations he’s received will be being split between a number of local charities and community groups. Click here to read the full text.

• It’s to be hoped that some definite news on the proposal by Bewley Homes to set aside the condition that the Lancaster Park development contain 28 social-rent homes will be announced by the end of year (which will be nearly a year on from the revised application).

• Click here for an update of the state of play with Hungerford neighbourhood development plan (Hungerford 2036).

• The most recent meeting of Shalbourne Parish Council took place on 18 March and you can download the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Inkpen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 25 January and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Kintbury Parish Council took place on 4 March and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Froxfield Parish Council took place on 8 March and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Chilton Foliat Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the minutes here.

• Click here for the March edition of the Inkpen and Coombe Bulletin.

Thursday 1 April 2021

• See here for details of the Covid lateral flow tests that are now available in Hungerford.

• Geordie Taylor of the Hungerford Self-isolation Network hasprovided a brief summary of the excellent work which the group has done over the last 12 months and also confirmed that the money left over from the various donations he’s received will be being split between a number of local charities and community groups. Click here to read the full text.

• This month’s meeting of Hungerford Town Council will be not on a Monday but a Tuesday (6 April), due to Easter and you can see the agenda here. (Note that Laura Farris will not now be able to attend but hopes to be able to do so at a future meeting.) As ever, a report on this will appear in the April Penny Post Hungerford the following day.

• One of the items that may be covered at that is the proposal to widen the pavement on the east side of the High Street. This was discussed at the recent meeting of the Highways and Transport Committee, the minutes of which you can read here.

• The recurring matter of the town’s troublesome pigeon population was also discussed at there above meeting.

• One of the items that will doubtless be asked – though possibly not answered – is where we are with the proposal by Bewley Homes to set aside the condition that the Lancaster Park development contain 28 social-rent homes. The matter has been called in by one of the ward members so if there is no successful conclusion to the seemingly interminable discussions between Bewley and West Berkshire Council, the matter will be discussed in committee at some point in the future.

• Click here for an update of the state of play with Hungerford neighbourhood development plan (Hungerford 2036).

• The most recent meeting of Shalbourne Parish Council took place on 18 March and you can download the minutes here. Items covered included: new playground equipment; tidying the small green in Oxenwood; various planning applications; the Shalbourne Club; the hope that events such as the Classic Car Show can result in 2021; dog fouling; and the need to establish the ownership of land on the southern side of the Bourne to proceed with Action for the River Kennet’s plan to clear the bourn and the footpaths.

• The most recent meeting of Inkpen Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 25 January and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Kintbury Parish Council took place on 4 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a vacancy for a councillor to be filled by co-option; dog fouling; several planning applications; a possible grant to Citizens Advice West Berkshire; financial matters; the handrail at the churchyard steps; and the Coronation Hall.

• The most recent meeting of Froxfield Parish Council took place on 8 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Water meadow Boardwalk; the emergency plan; the problems caused by parking on the Green; and financial matters.

The Froxfield Community Speedwatch Group has finally been given the green light to start operating from three locations in the village from 29 March. If you would like to join the group and help tackle the speeding issues, contact Sarah Whatley on Froxfieldclerk@yahoo.com.

• The most recent meeting of Chilton Foliat Parish Council took place on 9 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: financial matters; the asset register; four planning applications; the Recreation Ground; blocked gullies; speeding issues; weight restrictions on Soley Lane; flooding at Orchard Green allegedly caused by “work arranged by BT”; Playground inspection; and tree planting.

• Click here for the March edition of the Inkpen and Coombe Bulletin. If you want to subscribe or contribute, contact gloriakeene@hotmail.com.

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