Thursday 14 October 2021

Thatcham Festival runs until 17 October 2021 with new live events from author talks and poetry workshops to walks in the beautiful countryside that surrounds Thatcham. There will also still be a range of events to enjoy online. See details here. There’s also a report on the opening evening on p25 of this week’s NWN. We were there and can testify to the atmosphere and the entertainment (and the excellent weather, which it was very clever of the organisers to book in advance). See Thatcham Town Council’s facebook page for video from the event.

• As reported by Newbury Weekly News in this article, Thatcham Garden Centre hosted a blue plaque unveiling to honour the history of the site which began in 1907. The plaque was unveiled by Thatcham Town Council’s heritage working party, plus Mayor of Thatcham John Boyd and honorary president of the Berkshire Gardens Trust Dr Christina Hill-Williams. To watch a video of the event please click here.

• Thatcham Town Council has announced, in this post on its Facebook page, that there will be overnight road closures to A339 (Basingstoke Road) in both directions between New Greenham Road Roundabout and Swan Inn Public House Roundabout from 18 to 29 October 2021 between 8pm to 6am. The reason for the closures is work needed “to fell a large number of Ash trees in decline from Ash Die Back”.

• A reminder that Penny Post contributor Liam Heisig had the opportunity to interview his old headmaster at Kennet Academy, Paul DickRead the interview here to find out about Mr Dick’s magistracy roles, experiences as a headmaster and food heaven and hell.

• Latest news from Churches Together in Thatcham includes details about events and community groups this month. To view, click here.

• For up-to-date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for northeast Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section). You can also click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group.

• The calendar girls fundraiser for Newbury Cancer Care is still open. The next event is Boys in Bras, Babes in Boxers on Saturday 6 November 2021 which involves men and women walking from Thatcham Broadway to Victoria Park in handmade undergarments. More information can be found on the Hope, Strength and Courage Facebook page and you can find the link to buy the calendar here.

• The hard work from the Thatcham Litter Pickers group has been rewarded with further funding from Thatcham Town Council, as reported by Newbury Today in this article. Anyone who wishes to join the volunteer group can do so on Sunday 31 October 2021 from 10 to 11am at Henwick Worthy sports ground car park.

• NWN reports in this article that an eco-friendly market has recently returned to Thatcham. The next sustainable living market will be held on Saturday 20 November 2021 from 10.30am at the Catholic Hall on Bath Road which is being organised by Thatcham and Newbury plastic free, recycling and zero waste UK Facebook group.

• Newbury Today reports here  that Thatcham Town Council is looking to start “dialogue and engagement” with West Berkshire Council to make improvements to Thatcham train station. These are planned to include improved accessibility for the footbridge, car parking extensions, a new ticket machine, shelters and toilets. No mention of a bridge…

• Thatcham’s Nature Discovery Centre has tweeted the dates on which their Lakeside café and shop will be closed throughout October 2021: click here.

• See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

• Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• The Thatcham Community Larder is open 2pm to 6pm every Weds at the Frank Hutchings Hall. See here for more details.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with the Hound of the Baskervilles and ends with Edgar Allen Poe.

• West Berkshire Libraries recently asked for donations to the West Berkshire food bank which can be dropped off at Thatcham Library during their opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to their website.

Thatcham’s infrastructure

• After nearly a year of delay, WBC has recently published its infrastructure delivery plan for Thatcham. This will form a vital part of understanding what is planned by way of mitigation for the proposed 2,500 homes which, as we’ve reported many times (see below) are planned for north east Thatcham as part of WBC’s latest plans. Representatives of Thatcham Town Council and of the neighbouring parishes are currently studying this document and I’ll hope to bring you some of their thoughts in the next week or so.

The delay in publishing this delivery plan is but one of the uncertainties this application is facing. The refresh of WBC’s (and other planning authorities) local plan has recently been delayed (perhaps by up to a year) due to changes in government regulations which now require a 30-year vision for the impact of such major developments. My sympathies to all planning officers everywhere who are grappling with the implications of this. There has also been a change of Secretary of State with Michael Gove replacing Robert Jenrick in last month’s reshuffle. One of Gove’s first acts was to pause the controversial planning white paper which, as well as its many manifest shortcomings, was proving increasingly alarming to backbenchers. The PM has also weighed into the debate, promising at the recent Conservative Party Conference that there will be a brownfield-first approach to new planning. The 2,500 homes planned for Thatcham are all greenfield and several potential brownfield sites do exist in and around Thatcham. It’s even being suggested that the new regime may feel that a slavish adherence to housing numbers (West Berkshire has been allocated 515 homes a year for the 15-year life of the local plan) may not be the way forward and that a more flexible approach is needed.

That’s the national backdrop. On a local level, opposition to the plan continues. MP Laura Farris, who grew up in Bucklebury, recently held an open meeting in the parish and was treated to a number of forthright comments about the effect the development would have. Until the implications of the infrastructure plan are clearer it’s impossible to say what mitigation will be provided. However, it seems unlikely this will do more than address the impact of the development (and perhaps not even that) and do nothing for the town’s considerable and decades-long infrastructure deficit which is admitted by local politicians of every party to whom I’ve spoken.

Huge questions remain over the new school, including who will pay for it and at what stage of the development it will be built. There’s also the huge practical question of whether four developers can work in concert when two have, for many years, failed to agree on important matters at Sandleford in Newbury. Some of the assumptions also relied on data collated in pre-pandemic times and it’s unsure how many of these may no longer be valid or need revision. It’s also proposed that a masterplan be done for Thatcham: this would seem to be difficult if it has to be predicated on this development as an objective look at the town’s needs may come to a different conclusion.

There are also two other factors. One is the climate emergency. A glance at the map will show that the new site is not within easy walking distance of the railway station nor, for those in the north, of Thatcham town centre. Car traffic is likely to be the main method of travel. Questions of loss of habitat and biodiversity are also looming larger both in planning decisions and in the public’s perception of how acceptable a development will be. There seems little doubt that these will be first casualties of an approval.

Finally, there’s the political dimension. West Berkshire will go to the polls in about 18 months’ time to elect a new council. A potentially decisive number of seats are in wards where either the development will be taking place or where its impact will be keenly felt. Indeed, as it’s proposed that 1,000 affordable and social-rent houses will be built there, the decision has district-wide implications.

All in all, something of a perfect storm seems to be enveloping the project. We all accept that new homes, including affordable ones, are needed but there seem to be increasingly strong reasons for believing that this development in this location is not the best answer.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

• Friday 15 October the Thatcham Arts Festival Dance Performance at Kennet School from 7pm is part of the Thatcham Festival.

Saturday 16 October Thatcham Tornadoes 50th Anniversary celebrations will host many different events on the day at Moors Playing Field, Thatcham from 2pm to 5pm to bring together the generations of volunteers and playing staff that have been at the club throughout the decades. Please click here to view more information on the event.

• Saturday 16 October Oktober ‘Beer’ Fest at Hermitage Village Hall from 5pm to 10.30pm. You can find out more information on the event and how to book tickets here.

• Saturday 16 October Quiz Night organised by Glendale Church (Newbury) at the newly renovated The Well, Green Lane, Thatcham. See here for details.

Wednesday 20 October West Berkshire Parent Carer Forum’s Special Needs Day has multiple events happening throughout the day, between 9.30am to 2.30pm at Thatcham Town Football Club. More event information can be found in this tweet.

Wednesday 20 October Brimpton CoE Primary School have an open morning between 10 to 11am where parents have the opportunity to learn more about the school. For details click here to download The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (21 10 edition, p 20).

Saturday 23 to 24 October Made In Brimpton art exhibition is to be held at both Brimpton CoE Primary School and St Peter’s Church, Brimpton. The event will display art and craft work created locally to highlight local talent. More information can be found in The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (21 10 edition, p 22) which can be downloaded here.

 Sunday 24 October Discovery Dog Day at the Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre between 11am to 3.30pm. More information on the event can be found here.

Thursday 28 October A monthly coffee morning will be held at Oak Room, Memorial Hall, Upper Bucklebury for anyone to attend if they want to meet new people within the local community. More information on the event can be found here.

Saturday 30 October Any volunteers wishing to help collect litter to tidy up Bucklebury Common can meet at Memorial Hall from 2pm. Litter picking equipment will be provided as well as refreshments afterwards. Please click this link for further details.

Sunday 31 October Thatcham Litter Pickers will meet for their monthly litter pick at Frank Hutchings Community Hall, Thatcham beginning at 10am. Click here to view more information on the event.

Sunday 31 October The Kings Head, Thatcham pub has a kids ‘Halloween party between noon to 3pm with themed games plus a colouring and costume competition.

Wednesday 10 November Brimpton Church have November’s monthly coffee morning from 10 to 11.30am, more information can be found on The Benefice of Aldermaston and Woolhampton Magazine (21 10 edition, p 23) which can be downloaded here.

Thursday 4 November Bucklebury Walkers are meeting at The Cottage Inn from 10am, more information can be found here.

Saturday 20 November Eco-friendly market at the Catholic Church, Bath Road starting from 10.30am. To learn more about the market, please request to join its organisers’ Facebook page.

Wellbeing Walk for anyone struggling with mental health problems meet every Monday at 5pm at the Nature Discovery Centre Café, Thatcham, RG19 3FU. It is run by Tony from Sport in Mind. For more information on how to sign up, visit the Sport in Mind website.

Walking for Health meet every Tuesday outside Burdwood Surgery, Thatcham at 10.30am. For future dates and more information please click here to visit the Thatcham Town Council events page.

• Anyone looking to get into yoga or join a group of fellow enthusiasts, then head down to Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre on Sunday mornings for an hour of relaxation. The sessions are between 10am and 11am and if you’d like to find out more or get in contact with the organisers, then please click this link.

• RMD Adventure Learning is running a youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, Thatcham for those over 13 years old. The club takes place on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm. Please see this Facebook post from RMD Adventure Learning for more information.

• Thatcham Library has many different clubs and events for people of all ages throughout October 2021. For more information on future events at Thatcham Library, click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• Bucklebury Memorial Hall have acquired two indoor carpet lanes plus equipment for indoor bowls. If you would like to join the group, they meet twice a week on Mondays 10.30am to 12.30pm and Fridays 2.30 to 4.30pm. More information and contact details can be found here.

News from your local council

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 28 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 28 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Remembrance Day Parade; the memorial bench; anti-social behaviour; vacancies on the council; and planning applications and decisions. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here. There will be an open meeting about this at the Acland Memorial Hall from 11am to 4pm on Saturday 23 October.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 13 September and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: the need for at least one more councillor; an “unfortunate incident”; Common clearing; The Oaks; planning applications and decisions; an update from the working group on the emerging local plan (which included the observation that “questions need to be answered by WBC about how the local plan was funded”); payments for green-waste collections; highways; new benches; damage to the gates at Hockett Field; fireworks; hedge cutting; the Cemetery and the Chapel; the Playpark; conservation work; the coffee morning; speeding; recycling; financial matters; and reports from meetings and the Round Table. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 7 September and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 6 September and you can read the draft minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 1 September and you can read the draft minutes hereTo see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 2 August and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 22 July and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

News from other areas

Penny Post area – please see the following separate sections: Hungerford area; Lambourn Valley; Marlborough area; Newbury 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 7 October 2021

• Plans for the proposed development at Chapel Street have been submitted. You can see the details here on WBC’s planning portal.

Penny Post contributor Liam Heisig had the opportunity to interview his old headmaster at Kennet Academy, Paul Dick. Read the interview here to find out about Mr Dick’s magistracy roles, experiences as a headmaster and food heaven and hell.

• Latest news from Churches Together in Thatcham includes details about events and community groups on this month. To view, click here.

• For up-to-date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for north east Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section). You can also click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group.

• See last week’s section (below) for the state of play on the illegal development at Lawrence’s Lane in Thatcham.

• Also see last week’s section for the  “calendar girls” fundraiser for Newbury Cancer Care. The fundraiser is still open and there is another happening at noon on Saturday 6 November 2021 – Boys in Bras, Babes in Boxers, which involves men and women walking from Thatcham Broadway to Victoria Park in handmade undergarments. More information can be found on the Hope, Strength and Courage Facebook page and you can find the link to buy the calendar here.

• The hard work from the Thatcham Litter Pickers group has been rewarded with further funding from Thatcham Town Council, as reported by Newbury Today in this article. Anyone who wishes to join the volunteer group can do so on Sunday 31 October 2021 from 10 to 11am at Henwick Worthy sports ground car park.

• As reported by this week’s NWN, Thatcham’s Spurcroft Primary School will be the recipients of an award to highlight its work on raising the school pupils’ awareness of mental health wellbeing. In the article there are many photos of the ‘wellbeing tree’ made by the pupils. Deputy headteacher Mrs Griffiths is quoted saying that “all pupils, from Year one to Year six, were involved in creating the wellbeing tree – which they now revisit when they are feeling down.” The article also highlights that the work being done is a “whole school approach” and adds that “this is just the beginning” of the school’s focus on providing their pupils with support regarding their personal mental health.

• NWN reports in this article that an eco-friendly market has recently returned to Thatcham. The next sustainable living market will be held on Saturday 20 November 2021 from 10.30am at the Catholic Hall on Bath Road which is being organised by Thatcham and Newbury plastic free, recycling and zero waste UK Facebook group.

• Thatcham’s Nature Discovery Centre has tweeted the dates on which their Lakeside café and shop will be closed throughout October 2021: click here.

• See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

• Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• The Thatcham Community Larder is open 2pm to 6pm every Weds at the Frank Hutchings Hall. See here for more details.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with a pile of logs and ends with Oscar Wilde.

• West Berkshire Libraries recently asked for donations to the West Berkshire food bank which can be dropped off at Thatcham Library during their opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to their website.

Thatcham Festival, 9 to 17 October 2021

• After last year’s festival being online due to lockdown, Thatcham Festival is delighted to be back even bigger and better 9 to 17 October 2021 with new live events from author talks and poetry workshops to walks in the beautiful countryside that surrounds Thatcham. There will also still be a range of events to enjoy online. See details here.

The festival kicks off with Saturday 9 October with the Festival Leisure & Craft Fair 10am to 3pm in the Broadway and St Mary’s Church followed by The Big Thatcham Fest-Off from 4.30pm to 10pm on Thatcham High Street. The street will be closed to traffic and dedicated to a small night market and a stage with choral music, acoustic music and spoken word presentations alongside the giant poetry installation. High Street shops have been encouraged to open late to create a special atmosphere.

Local events and activities

For more information on events and activities across the Penny Post area, see the website calendar.

Friday 8 October: Kennet School’s PTA Quiz starting at 7pm.

Saturday 9 October: The Nature Discovery Centre Teen Rangers group will be re-starting on this date. You can find out more and how to book your 12 to 16 year olds place on this tweet.

Friday 15 October: the Thatcham Arts Festival Dance Performance at Kennet School will  from 7pm as a part of Thatcham Festival.

Saturday 16 October: Oktober ‘Beer’ Fest at Hermitage Village Hall from 5pm to 10.30pm. You can find out more information on the event and how to book tickets here.

Saturday 16 October: a fun quiz night, which has been organised by Glendale Church (Newbury) at the newly renovated The Well, Green Lane, Thatcham. A poster for the event was posted onto the Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page which has more information plus how you can book your place for the quiz.

Sunday 24 October: Discovery Dog Day at the Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre between 11am to 3.30pm. More information on the event can be found here.

• Every Monday from 5pm till 6pm there is a Wellbeing Walk for anyone struggling with mental health problems, starting at the Nature Discovery Centre Café, Thatcham, RG19 3FU.It is run by Tony from Sport in Mind. For more information on how to sign up, visit the Sport in Mind website.

• Anyone looking to get into yoga or join a group of fellow enthusiasts, then head down to Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre on Sunday mornings for an hour of relaxation. The sessions are between 10am and 11am and if you’d like to find out more or get in contact with the organisers, then please click this link.

• RMD Adventure Learning is running a youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, Thatcham for those over 13 years old. The club takes place on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm. Please see this Facebook post from RMD Adventure Learning for more information.

• Thatcham Library has many different clubs and events for people of all ages throughout October 2021. For more information on future events at Thatcham Library, click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

News from your local council

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 28 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 13 September and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: the need for at least one more councillor; an “unfortunate incident”; Common clearing; The Oaks; planning applications and decisions; an update from the working group on the emerging local plan (which included the observation that “questions need to be answered by WBC about how the local plan was funded”); payments for green-waste collections; highways; new benches; damage to the gates at Hockett Field; fireworks; hedge cutting; the Cemetery and the Chapel; the Playpark; conservation work; the coffee morning; speeding; recycling; financial matters; and reports from meetings and the Round Table. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 7 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: road signs; jubilee plans; speeding; the ownership of the Brimpton Common Fuel Allotment; the land at the end of Enborne Way; cherry trees; bulbs; a possible plaque for the war memorial; planning applications; financial matters; a report from District Councillor Dominic Boeck; and the Village Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 6 September and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: traffic; drainage issues; tree planting; a proposed memorial to PC Harper; Butchers Piece; the problem of aerobatics over the parish; the Village Field; the Village Green; planning applications; the parish census; a leadership issue on the events committee; the Dredge Gang; and rights of way. You can read the minutes for that hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 1 September and you can read the draft minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 24 August and you can read the minutes here.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here. There will be an open meeting about this at the Acland Memorial Hall from 11am to 4pm on Saturday 23 October.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 2 August and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 22 July and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

Thursday 30 September 2021

• After last year’s festival being online due to lockdown, Thatcham Festival is delighted to be back even bigger and better 9 to 17 October 2021 with new live events from author talks and poetry workshops to walks in the beautiful countryside that surrounds Thatcham. There will also still be a range of events to enjoy online. See details here.

• For up-to-date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for north east Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section). You can also click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group.

• As reported on 23 September 2021 (see below), WBC obtained an injunction on 18 August to stop the illegal development at Lawrence’s Lane in Thatcham. This was set to run until 27 September and on that day there was a further hearing in the courts. More evidence wanted to be admitted than the allocated time permitted so it was decreed that both parties have until 25 October to submit attentional material and that a day and a half be set aside in December 2021 to hear all the submissions. You can read WBC’s statement on the matter here.

• This week’s NWN has on p27 a report on Thatcham TC’s discussions about repairing or replacing play equipment throughout the town. Some of this was in need of serious TLC anyway but all the areas have experienced heavy use in the last 18 months which have accelerated the decline. The Council plans to bring all the facilities up to standard in one go and introduce a maintenance programme and a sinking fund to maintain it thereafter. Playground equipment is not cheap: there’s unlikely to be much change out of £20,000 for all the works that have been identified.

• This week’s NWN reports on the “calendar girls” fundraiser for Newbury Cancer Care. We contacted Lynne Buckland, one of those involved in the project.“30 years ago, I had leukemia,” she told us. “I didn’t think I was going to make it – but I did. Everyone involved with the process has been affected by cancer in some way.” Each month has its own sponsor from local organisations and individuals. “One of my favourite photos is the month of January (I created the snowman, by the way),” she explained. All the props were donated or created by people who were involved and the whole process took six weeks from the first meeting to printing the calendars.

The fundraiser is still open and there is another happening at noon on Saturday 6 November 2021 – Boys in Bras, Babes in Boxers, which involves men and women walking from Thatcham Broadway to Victoria Park in handmade undergarments. More information can be found on the Hope, Strength and Courage Facebook page and you can find the link to buy the calendar here.

• Congratulations to Abigail Sumara (aged eight) from Parsons Down Junior School whose NHS stamp drawing has reached the finals of the Royal Mail Heroes Stamp Design competitionClick here for all the finalists in the South East and scroll down to find Abigail’s entry.

Thatcham Tornadoes football club is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year – back in 1971, Arsenal had just won the double, Ted Heath was Prime Minister and we were just getting used to that newfangled decimal currency. Click here for more information.

• And still with the beautiful game, Thatcham Town FC fell victim to the fuel crisis that has frustrated most of the UK towards the end of September 2021. The Kingfishers’ midweek away match against Bedfont Sports FC was due to be played on 29 September 2021 but was postponed. In this article on the club’s website they explain the reasoning behind the postponement as “due to the ongoing issues with fuel distribution it has been mutually agreed between both clubs that our away fixture at Bedfont Sports FC on Wednesday evening has been postponed”.

• Thatcham Library has many different clubs and events for people of all ages throughout October 2021. For more information on future events at Thatcham Library, click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• West Berkshire Libraries recently asked for donations to the West Berkshire food bank which can be dropped off at Thatcham Library during their opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to their website.

• The Thatcham War Memorial Gardening Group is appealing for anyone who can spare time once a month to help upkeep the War Memorial and Garden. Next session is at 10am Friday 1 October 2021. If you can help please contact 01635 868244 or clerk@thatcham.memorial.plus.com.

Thames Valley Police (TVP) West Berkshire tweeted out details of their ‘Have Your Say’ meetings for residents of Bucklebury, Cold Ash and Curridge which will all be held on Sunday 10 October 2021. Details of the Bucklebury meeting can be found here, for Cold Ash and Curridge residents the details of the meetings can be found on this tweet by TVP.

• Every Monday from 5pm till 6pm there is a Wellbeing Walk for anyone struggling with mental health problems, starting at the Nature Discovery Centre Café, Thatcham, RG19 3FU.It is run by Tony from Sport in Mind. For more information on how to sign up, visit the Sport in Mind website.

Anyone looking to get into yoga or join a group of fellow enthusiasts, then head down to Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre on Sunday mornings for an hour of relaxation. The sessions are between 10am and 11am and if you’d like to find out more or get in contact with the organisers, then please click this link.

• RMD Adventure Learning is running a youth club at The Moor Pavilion, Lower Way, Thatcham for those over 13 years old. The club takes place on Fridays between 6.30pm and 8.30pm. Please see this Facebook post from RMD Adventure Learning for more information.

• See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

• Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• Plans for the proposed development at Chapel Street have been submitted. You can see the details here on WBC’s planning portal.

• Timetables for West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for lateral-flow tests  can be found here

• The Thatcham Community Larder is open 2pm to 6pm every Weds at the Frank Hutchings Hall. See here for more details.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with two fences and ends with Albert Einstein.

News from your local council

See links to each council website below.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 28 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 13 September and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: the need for at least one more councillor; an “unfortunate incident”; Common clearing; The Oaks; planning applications and decisions; an update from the working group on the emerging local plan (which included the observation that “questions need to ba answered by WBC about how the local plan was funded”); payments for green-waste collections; highways; new benches; damage to the gates at Hockett Field; fireworks; hedge cutting; the Cemetery and the Chapel; the Playpark; conservation work; the coffee morning; speeding; recycling; financial matters; and reports from meetings and the Round Table. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 7 September and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: road signs; jubilee plans; speeding; the ownership of the Brimpton Common Fuel Allotment; the land at the end of Enborne Way; cherry trees; bulbs; a possible plaque for the war memorial; planning applications; financial matters; a report from District Councillor Domic Boeck; and the Village Hall. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 6 September and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: traffic; drainage issues; tree planting; a proposed memorial to PC Harper; Butchers Piece; the problem of aerobatics over the parish; the Village Field; the Village Green; planning applications; the parish census; a leadership issue on the events committee; the Dredge Gang; and rights of way. You can read the minutes for that hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 1 September and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: The History of Frilsham; the Yattendon Estate; a licensing application; planning applications, green waste; grass cutting at Beechfield Lane; maintenance work at the playpark; problems with dog-waste bins (a recurring riff in PC minutes across the district for months); the Clubroom; rights of way; 16 fruit trees for the community orchard; the Classic Vehicle Day; and financial matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 24 August and you can read the minutes here.  To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here. There will be an open meeting about this at the Acland Memorial Hall from 11am to 4pm on Saturday 23 October.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 2 August and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 22 July and you can read the minutes hereTo see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

Thursday 23 September 2021

• Visitors to The Broadway on 17 September may have been alarmed by what appeared to be a pitched battle. This was in fact a historical re-enactment  to commemorate King Henry II’s grant allowing Thatcham to host a weekly market, in spite of opposition from a few ‘characters’ from Newbury. If you missed these historical shenanigans, you can watch the video here with actors from Torchlight Heritage, students from Kennet School and members of KATS and the U3A. The event was also covered by Newbury Today in this article, and there is a report on p26 of this week’s Newbury Weekly News.

• As for when and by whom this charter was granted, both the above-mentioned articles mention 1125 and Henry II. This combination is not possible as he didn’t become king until 1154 (he was eight in 1125 and living in Anjou). Henry I did make a grant concerning Thatcham in 1125 but this was to transfer it to his new foundation of Reading Abbey (where he was buried in 1135) and this also conferred the right to hold a Sunday market. His grandson Henry II issued at least three charters confirming Thatcham’s during his reign (1154 to 1189) but I haven’t been able to establish the dates of these nor which was the one being commemorated last week. Any further information welcomed.

• Moving from uncertain events in the past to uncertain ones in the future, for up-to-date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for north east Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section). You can also click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group.

• As reported last week (see below), WBC obtained an injunction on 18 August to stop the illegal development at Lawrence’s Lane in Thatcham. A judicial hearing on 31 August confirmed the injunction against any further work being carried out and this will last until 27 September.

• An article on p26 of this week’s NWN refers to discussions at Thatcham Town Council about whether to make a small charge for community events which have previously been free. One the arguments suggested is that people who’ve reserved a ticket and paid are more likely to show up than those who’ve reserved a ticket which is free. There’s plentiful evidence that good events can command a reasonable entry fee. The problem with only charging £1 is that this might not be enough to dissuade people from breaking the date while the costs of setting up a payment system and the transaction charges may lead to a loss. Make it a fiver and throw in a drink is one way round this.

• Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust has been working with the mental health charity Response to build an allotment for the residents at Carramar House in Thatcham. The Response website explains that “the home is for people who have been unable to leave hospital for some time because there was nowhere suitable for them to move to.” The project’s aim is to help support the mental health and wellbeing of those in need at Carramar House, and you can see their fantastic work done on the allotments in this tweet posted on 19 September 2021.

• Kennet School had a very special guest on 16 September 2021 as Louise Sugden came back to visit her old secondary school along with her bronze medal she won during this summer’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. Team GB’s Para-Powerlifter will provide inspiration to many pupils at the school, but maybe none more so than those within the school’s Physically Disabled Resource who we can imagine will look back on the day with fond memories. Kennet School tweeted out photos of Louise’s visit. You can read her interview with Newbury Today reflecting on her day at the school by clicking here.

• The Corner Shop in Woolhampton is selling hand-painted, eco-friendly cards to raise money for two local charities (Camp Mohawk and The Music Club). These cards have been flying fast off the shelves due to their beautiful artwork painted by 7 year old Amelie Turnbull. As reported in this article by Newbury Today (NT) “Her mother Davina Turnbull said that Amelie’s first ever card, the watermelon, was created while Amelie’s grandparents were looking after her and her brothers for the afternoon in Bucklebury.” There is also a very touching reasoning behind her inspiration to sell the cards, as reported in the NT article, “Amelie has two brothers, Harry and George. George is 14-years-old, and has complex disabilities due to a brain abnormality. Amelie decided to donate 50 per cent of the profits from her card sales to Camp Mohawk and The Music Club.  Both local charities support our family hugely due to George’s needs.”

• 19 September 2021 saw the return of Yattendon Classic Vehicle Day (YCVD). You can view photos of the many different vehicles on display at the event by visiting the YCVD Facebook page, or read about the day in this Newbury Today article.

Thatcham Library has many different clubs and events for people of all ages . Those wanting help to discover more about their family tree can visit the library for their Family History Sessions which start Friday 24 September 2021 at 10am till noon. Also starting on the 24 September is the Arts and Crafts Group, which is held at the library at 2-4pm. Any adults wanting to get creative can also join Thatcham Library’s Colouring Club on Monday 27 September 2021 at 2-4pm. Finally, any children under 5 years old can attend the Duplo Play Sessions at the library on Tuesday 28 September 2021 at any time between 10:30-11:30am. For more information on future events at Thatcham Library, click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• West Berkshire Libraries recently asked for donations to the West Berkshire food bank which can be dropped off at Thatcham Library during their opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to their website.

• September’s meeting for Thatcham Litter Pickers will be on Saturday 25 September 2021 between 10-11am. If you wish to help the clean up, to make West Berkshire a safer and more litter-free place, then you can meet the litter pickers at the Old Bluecoats School, Thatcham or visit this page on the Thatcham Town Council website for full details.

• Every Monday from 5pm till 6pm there is a Wellbeing Walk for anyone who is struggling with mental health problems, which is being run by Tony at Sport in Mind. The meeting place for the walk is by the Nature Discovery Centre café, Lower Way, Thatcham, RG19 3FU. For more information on how to sign up, click this link to the Sport in Mind website.

See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• Plans for the proposed development at Chapel Street have been submitted. You can see the details here on WBC’s planning portal.

• Timetables for West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for lateral-flow tests  can be found here

The Thatcham War Memorial Gardening Group is appealing for anyone who can spare time once a month to help upkeep the War Memorial and Garden. Next sessions are at 10am on Friday 3 September and Friday 1 October. If you can help please contact 01635 868244 or clerk@thatcham.memorial.plus.com

The Thatcham Community Larder is open 2pm to 6pm every Weds at the Frank Hutchings Hall. See here for more details.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with a top end WAG and ends with Paulo Coelho.

News from your local council

See links to each council website below.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 28 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 6 September and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: traffic; drainage issues; tree planting; a proposed memorial to PC Harper; Butchers Piece; the problem of aerobatics over the parish; the Village Field; the Village Green; planning applications; the parish census; a leadership issue on the events committee; the Dredge Gang; and rights of way. You can read the minutes for that here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 1 September and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: The History of Frilsham; the Yattendon Estate; a licensing application; planning applications, green waste; grass cutting at Beechfield Lane; maintenance work at the playpark; problems with dog-waste bins (a recurring riff in PC minutes across the district for months); the Clubroom; rights of way; 16 fruit trees for the community orchard; the Classic Vehicle Day; and financial matters. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 24 August and you can read the minutes here. items covered included: the Straight Elms Farm application; the election of a new Chair; loud music; planning applications; financial matters; the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee; equipment at the Recreation Ground; the member’s bid; dog bins; the unauthorised development at Lawrence’s Lane; and committee reports. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here. There will be an open meeting about this at the Acland Memorial Hall from 11am to 4pm on Saturday 23 October.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 9 August and you can read the draft minutes here.  To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 3 August and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 22 July and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

Thursday 16 September 2021

• WBC’s Planning portfolio holder Richard Somner and Thatcham Town Council’s Leader Martin Colston have recently been exchanging view in the ever-increasing option column that is the letters section of the Newbury Weekly News on the subject of the proposed 2,500 homes in NE Thatcham. As well as disputing about the extent to which the recent changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (which resulted in a delay to WBC’s local plan) could have been foreseen, Thatcham’s supremo also taken issue with other concerns about how the matter has been handled including the lack of an infrastructure plan, a potential conflict of interest regarding the developers and doubts about the site’s sustainability.

• A reminder that local MP Laura Farris held a meeting at the Bucklebury Memorial Hall on 31 August “to hear your thoughts about the proposed North East Thatcham development. See last week’s column below for some thoughts on how this went.

• For up-to-date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for north east Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section).You can also click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group.

• As reported last week (see below), WBC obtained an injunction on 18 August to stop the illegal development at Lawrence’s Lane in Thatcham. A judicial hearing on 31 August confirmed the injunction against any further work being carried out and this will last until 27 September.

• This week’s NWN report on p26 that Thatcham TC has been assessing WBC’s plans for new cycle lanes on the A4 and the High Street. Discussions between the two bodies on the matter have been going on since early 2021.

• There are many events for people of all ages being held at Thatcham Library throughout September 2021, including a Colouring Club and Duplo play sessions. For more information, click here to visit the West Berkshire Library Facebook page or contact Thatcham Library at thatchamlibrary@westberks.gov.uk.

• West Berkshire Libraries recently asked for donations to the West Berkshire food bank which can be dropped off at Thatcham Library during their opening hours. If you wish to find out more about the food bank please click this link to their website.

• Former Chairman of the Thatcham Flood Forum (TFF), Mr Iain Dunn, was the recipient of a presentation from Thatcham Town Council mayor John Boyd who thanked him for his efforts in ensuring “that we have preventative measures in place to hopefully never see flooding similar to that of July 2007.”

• September’s meeting for Thatcham Litter Pickers will be on Saturday 25 September 2021 between 10-11am. If you wish to help the clean up, to make West Berkshire a safer and more litter-free place, then you can meet the litter pickers at the Old Bluecoats School, Thatcham or visit this page on the Thatcham Town Council website for full details.

• A reminder that starting on Friday 17 September 2021, there will be two heritage open days in the Thatcham area. The Broadway, Thatcham will have a historical re-enactment starting from midday on 17 September to commemorate King Henry II’s grant for Thatcham to host a weekly market in the 12th century.

The other exhibition will be across Cold Ash Hill and will tell the extraordinary life of Victorian Rev John Bacon. The in-person talks will include “some of his artefacts and an original photo album of his daughter, Gertrude, his assistant on many flights. The local amateur radio society will provide a demonstration of radiotelegraphic communication.” The event spans from 17 to 19 September 2021. To view the various times of the exhibition and learn more about the event, please click here.

• And while we’re in Cold Ash, see p27 of this week’s NWN for a report and photos on the recent horticultural show (including a picture of some of the largest leeks I’ve ever seen).

• Every Monday from 5pm till 6pm there is a Wellbeing Walk for anyone who is struggling with mental health problems, which is being run by Tony at Sport in Mind. The meeting place for the walk is by the Nature Discovery Centre café, Lower Way, Thatcham, RG19 3FU. For more information on how to sign up, click this link to the Sport in Mind website.

See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• Plans for the proposed development at Chapel Street have been submitted. You can see the details here on WBC’s planning portal.

• Timetables for West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for lateral-flow tests  can be found here

The Thatcham War Memorial Gardening Group is appealing for anyone who can spare time once a month to help upkeep the War Memorial and Garden. Next sessions are at 10am on Friday 3 September and Friday 1 October. If you can help please contact 01635 868244 or clerk@thatcham.memorial.plus.com

The Thatcham Community Larder is open 2pm to 6pm every Weds at the Frank Hutchings Hall. See here for more details.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council took place on 28 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 24 August and you can read the minutes here. items covered included: the Straight Elms Farm application; the election of a new Chair; loud music; planning applications; financial matters; the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee; equipment at the Recreation Ground; the member’s bid; dog bins; the unauthorised development at Lawrence’s Lane; and committee reports. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here. There will be an open meeting about this at the Acland Memorial Hall from 11am to 4pm on Saturday 23 October.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 9 August and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: the Meadows; Laura Farris’ public meeting (see section below for a report on this); several Community Conversation meetings with WBC (the minutes reported that “despite these meetings being about communication, disappointingly there has been no follow up to these meetings which took place during the week of the 12 July”); the Common Clearing; a hacked website; planning applications; verge maintenance; the Cemetery and thew Chapel; repairs to the playwark; conservation work; speeding; re-cycling; local bus services; the Victory Room; fly-tipping; and grit bins.  To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 3 August and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 27 July and you can read the draft minutes here. There was also an extraordinary meeting on 27 July mainly to consider some planning applications. You can read the minutes for that here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 22 July and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 14 July and you can read the draft minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with some old bikes and ends with Jane Austen.

Thursday 9 September 2021

• As reported last week (see below), WBC obtained an injunction on 18 August to stop the illegal development at Lawrence’s Lane in Thatcham. A judicial hearing on 31 August confirmed the injunction against any further work being carried out and this will last until 27 September.

• Local MP Laura Farris held a meeting at the Bucklebury Memorial Hall on 31 August “to hear your thoughts about the proposed North East Thatcham development. See last week’s column below for some thoughts on how this went.

• There’s a letter in this week’s NWN from planning portfolio holder Richard Somner in response to Thatcham Town Council Leader David Lister’s remarks in the same paper the week before. This concerns changes to the National Planning Policy Framework and the extent to which these changes, announced in July, might have been anticipated from the consultation document published in January. Hindsight is a great thing but the consultation did make the connection between the idea of large developments and “significant extensions” to existing settlements. I concede the point made to me by WBC’s Planning Policy Manager that “large development” is “such a loose term in planning”; also that there are plenty of other developments in the country which are on a much larger scale than Thatcham’s proposal. However, it’s certainly “large” within the context of previous developments in this district. Given HMG’s constant tinkering with the system, I’m not sure I entirely agree with Richard Somner’s statement that there was “no way of anticipating this change.” Planning officers are busy people but there was a worse-case scenario lurking in the undergrowth which has now shown its teeth. The upshot is that the district’s local plan will need to be delayed while work is done on preparing the 30-year vision that the proposed 2,500 homes in Thatcham now requires. This will presumably include an infrastructure delivery plan which is so far absent. (The wider problem, as mentioned before, is that the more out of date a local plan is, the more likely any planning refusal anywhere in the district is to succeed on appeal.)

The letter concludes with a challenge to the Lib Dems as to where they would put these houses if not in what is effectively a new town outside Thatcham. A fair question. I’m not a member of the Lib Dems or any other party so can’t comment. My personal view is that smaller developments in as many existing settlements as possible would be fairer and more realisable. They would make fewer demands on local infrastructure and effectively none in areas where roads, schools, surgeries and the like had adequate capacity. I agree that this leaves open the problem of affordable homes: however, viability assessments being what they are, these can’t be guaranteed from large developments either. In any case, why should all these be in one place?

Another issue that’s recently arisen is something that only became clear recently as a result of an FoI request: the Thatcham Growth Study was funded (to the tune of about £100,000) by the developers promoting the site. I understand that a question will be asked about this at WBC’s Full Council on 9 September.

• The Mayor of Thatcham has sent her congratulations to Thatcham’s Paralympic star Kayla Bell for her participation in Team GB’s women’s wheelchair basketball team for the Tokyo 2020 games via social media. We would also like to say how proud we are to have West Berkshire being represented on the world stage by one of our own. Well done Kayla.

• Starting on Friday 17 September 2021, there will be two heritage open days in the Thatcham area. The Broadway, Thatcham will have a historical re-enactment starting from midday on 17 September to commemorate King Henry II’s grant for Thatcham to host a weekly market in the 12th century.

The other exhibition will be across Cold Ash Hill and will tell the extraordinary life of Victorian Rev John Bacon. The in-person talks will include “some of his artefacts and an original photo album of his daughter, Gertrude, his assistant on many flights. The local amateur radio society will provide a demonstration of radiotelegraphic communication.” The event spans from 17 to 19 September 2021. To view the various times of the exhibition and learn more about the event, please click here.

• While in Cold Ash, our congratulations also go to The Spotted Dog pub for finishing runner up in local Newbury MP Laura Farris’s West Berkshire Pub of the Year. The results were published on 3 September 2021 and the pub finished in second place in every category. To see the results from the competition, click here.

• Thatcham Town Cricket legend ‘Rocky’ retired as a scorer after his final game on 4 September 2021. He was described by the club in this tweet as “a permanent fixture at 1st XI and 2nd XI matches for decades as a scorer.” The club wishes ‘Rocky’ all the best for the future and thank him for his service to the community.
Source:

• More news from Thatcham Cricket Club whose annual Fun Day is on Saturday 11 September 2021 with a 10am start. If you wish to learn more about the day (affectionately known by those at the club as ‘Vaughany Day’) please click here.

• And – still padded up to receive deliveries from Thatcham Cricket Club – the club’s annual Fun Day is on Saturday 11 September 2021 with a 10am start. If you wish to learn more about the day more affectionately known by those at the club as ‘Vaughany Day’ then please click here.

• There have been two updates from the Nature Discovery Centre, Thatcham. In this tweet they announced that the cafe and shop will close at 2pm between 8 to 11 September 2021 due to staff shortages. Also in this earlier tweet they confirmed that “Muddy Lane, the track leading to the small ‘Reedbeds’ car park will be resurfaced” on 6 to 10 September 2021. “Vehicle access will be limited and at times the track will be closed.” However they have reassured anyone hoping to visit that “Access to the main car park and the small car park next to the visitor centre will not be affected”.

• Thames Valley Police (TVP) is asking any Crookham residents to attend a ‘Have Your Say’ event on Friday 10 September 2021 between 10am till noon. The event is being held at Crookham Park, Crookham and you can read this recent tweet by TVP West Berkshire to learn more.

• Every Monday from 5pm till 6pm there is a Wellbeing Walk for anyone who is struggling with mental health problems, which is being run by Tony at Sport in Mind. The meeting place for the walk is by the Nature Discovery Centre café, Lower Way, Thatcham, RG19 3FU. For more information on how to sign up, click this link to the Sport in Mind website.

• For up-to-date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for north east Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section).

Click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group.

• See the 29 July entry (below) for some thoughts about Thatcham’s proposed masterplan.

See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• Plans for the proposed development at Chapel Street have been submitted. You can see the details here on WBC’s planning portal.

• Timetables for West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for lateral-flow tests  can be found here

The Thatcham War Memorial Gardening Group is appealing for anyone who can spare time once a month to help upkeep the War Memorial and Garden. Next sessions are at 10am on Friday 3 September and Friday 1 October. If you can help please contact 01635 868244 or clerk@thatcham.memorial.plus.com

The Thatcham Community Larder is open 2pm to 6pm every Weds at the Frank Hutchings Hall. See here for more details.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council took place on 28 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 3 August and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 27 July and you can read the draft minutes here. There was also an extraordinary meeting on 27 July mainly to consider some planning applications. You can read the minutes for that here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 27 July and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 22 July and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 14 July and you can read the draft minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 12 July and you can read the draft minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with a rustic bridge and ends with Marilyn Monroe.

Thursday 2 September 2021

• As reported last week (see below), WBC obtained an injunction on 18 August to stop the illegal development at Lawrence’s Lane in Thatcham. A judicial hearing on 31 August confirmed the injunction against any further work being carried out and this will last until 27 September: more news expected round about then. Meanwhile, as mentioned before, the relevant planning application will continue its slightly surreal journey through the system.

• You can read Thatcham Town Council’s statement on the matter here.

• Local MP Laura Farris held a meeting at the Bucklebury Memorial Hall on 31 August “to hear your thoughts about the proposed North East Thatcham development. It will also be a chance for me to update you with the work I have done on the issue.” I spoke to someone who was there. It was well attended by about 100 people and lasted for about 80 minutes, at least half of which was taken up with questions and answers. She had, I was told, been well briefed on planning matters and knows the area very well, having grown up in the village. One thing worth stressing – and which she stressed – is that MPs cannot solve every problem they’re confronted with. Planning decisions are taken by the planning authority (West Berkshire in this case) and, if it comes to it, the Planning Inspectorate or the Secretary of State. An MP has influence with these bodies (perhaps less so the second one) and can advise and support and make representations. For instance, she said that she had had discussions with the Secretary of State which resulted in West Berkshire’s annual housing requirement being reduced from 695 to 520. However, she has no magic wand to make this figure disappear altogether.

One point she did make is that Bucklebury and its residents had not been sufficiently well consulted about this. Indeed, I don’t think anyone, even in Thatcham, was consulted about it at all. She was also asked several questions about how education (particularly for secondary school pupils) could be provided when no developer contributions were currently envisaged until the site was 50% complete: similar questions were asked about healthcare. She had no answers to these (I’m not sure there are any) but promised to take these away and ask further. Environmental and flooding concerns were raised as well. She also accepted that the recent requirement that the development (which the Housing Ministry now regards as a “significant extension”) requires a 30-year plan is likely to lead to a good deal of extra work and thus time. Finally, she sounded out the feeling of the meeting as to whether any compromise solution (such as concentrating the development around the A4) would be acceptable. Many seemed to feel that it would not be – the whole plan was, they felt, seriously flawed and poorly thought-through and many other possible sites had not been considered.

It’s undeniable that West Berkshire needs more homes. Whether putting a large number of them in one place is a good idea or even viable is another matter. Pepper-potting them around the district would not, it’s true, lead to either significant infrastructure contributions nor (if the developments are 10 or fewer) to any affordable-home provision. On the first point, the infrastructure needs (in terms of roads, surgeries, schools and leisure facilities) would be negligible for many communities which had, say, 5% more homes built as there’s quite a lot of slack in many areas. The 2,500-home development would require infrastructure: but Thatcham needs this anyway and it’s unlikely that the net change after all the work was done would be an improvement. As regards affordable homes, there’s no guarantee that the 40% target will be met on the 2,500-home development either, viability assessments being what they are. The government or planning authorities need to build these themselves: but, whoever does this, I don’t think that having them all concentrated in one part of the district is the way to go. With four developers involved, the plan looks undeliverable to me. Those opposing the scheme have assured me that they’ll not be assuming anything of the kind and will press forward with their campaigns. Laura Farris’ meeting will have shown them that their concerns are not groundless but it remains to be seen how much weight their, or her, opinions will have when the decision is made. It certainly seems that the site will be in the local plan, when that finally appears, and so will become a piece of WBC policy which any subsequent administration will be obliged to observe unless it’s removed at a subsequent refresh. Looks like a long struggle.

• Every Monday from 5pm till 6pm there is a Wellbeing Walk for anyone who is struggling with mental health problems, which is being run by Tony at Sport in Mind. The meeting place for the walk is by the Nature Discovery Centre café, Lower Way, Thatcham, RG19 3FU. For more information on how to sign up, click this link to the Sport in Mind website.

• If you have been inspired by Team GB at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, then you can try wheelchair basketball on Saturday 4 September 2021 at 12pm down at the Kennet Leisure Centre, Thatcham. Thames Valley Kings, who are hosting the event, have said that “All ages and abilities welcome, you don’t need a disability to come have fun!”. If you’re interested in finding out more, click here to view Thames Valley King’s recent tweet.

• See p26 of this week’s Newbury Weekly News for photos and a report on the Fun on the Broadway event last week.

• For up to date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for north east Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section).

Click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group.

• See the 29 July entry (below) for some thoughts about Thatcham’s proposed masterplan.

See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• Plans for the proposed development at Chapel Street have been submitted. You can see the details here on WBC’s planning portal.

• Timetables for West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for lateral-flow tests  can be found here

The Thatcham War Memorial Gardening Group is appealing for anyone who can spare time once a month to help upkeep the War Memorial and Garden. Next sessions are at 10am on Friday 3 September and Friday 1 October. If you can help please contact 01635 868244 or clerk@thatcham.memorial.plus.com

The Thatcham Community Larder is open 2pm to 6pm every Weds at the Frank Hutchings Hall. See here for more details.

Click here for details of the Midgham Community festival on the weekend of 3 to 5 September centred on the Coach and Horses.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council took place on 28 June and you can read the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. To see the dates and agendas for future Town Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 3 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a dog-on-dog attack; proposals for bulb planting, a litter pick and a memorial plaque; overgrown vegetation; no-cold-calling zone; the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee; the ownership of the Brimpton Common Fuel Allotment; planning applications; financial matters; CIL funds; the Village Hall; and speeding. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Midgham Park footpath; a presentation from West Berkshire Libraries; WBC’s winter service plan; financial matters; the resolution of a muddle about an invoice from WBC for £75 relating to expenses at the 2019 election; the Village Hall; the proposed greening campaign; planning applications and decisions; and the proposed 2,500-home development in Thatcham (to which MPC is strongly opposed). To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 27 July and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 22 July and you can read the minutes here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 14 July and you can read the draft minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 12 July and you can read the draft minutes here. To see the dates of future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here. To see the agendas, please click here.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 5 July and you can read the draft minutes here. There was also an extraordinary meeting on 27 July mainly to consider some planning applications. You can read the minutes for that here. To see the dates and agendas for future Parish Council meetings (including any committees), please click here.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with Footpath 16 and ends with Oscar Wilde.

Thursday 26 August 2021

• Last week, West Berkshire Council obtained an injunction to stop work at the unlawful development at Lawrence’s Lane: read WBC’s statement here. The fact a planning application was lodged (albeit the afternoon before) means that this must now be seen through the system. It appears that there are some problems with the details of this, though I’m not sure if these apply to the documentation or to the fact that the works prematurely done over the weekend differed from what was specified. If the latter, this would seem to have been a serious faux pas by the applicants – complete accord between the plans and what had been started would make their case stronger and turn the issue effectively into a retrospective application, of which there are many each year. Like the application to demolish the clubhouse at Faraday Road in Newbury which has already had to be demolished, this will proceed through the system as if nothing had happened.

• Local MP Laura Farris will be holding a meeting at the Bucklebury Memorial Hall on 31 August “to hear your thoughts about the proposed North East Thatcham development. It will also be a chance for me to update you with the work I have done on the issue.” Click here for more.

• If you’re interested in Thatcham’s history and heritage then why not become a member of the Heritage Working Party? It meets quarterly and current projects include the annual blue plaques and a QR code walking trail. All are very welcome. The next zoom meeting is 7pm on Wednesday 1 September. Please see agenda here.

• This week’s NWN reports on a familiar tale on p30 of two councils at loggerheads, this time over an uneven pathway opposite Whybrow Court in Thatcham. Thatcham TC says that it’s dangerous; WBC says that the site presents “no immediate hazards.”

• For up to date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for north east Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section).

Click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group.

• See the 29 July entry (below) for some thoughts about Thatcham’s proposed masterplan.

See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• This week’s NWN reports that amended plans for the proposed development at Chapel Street have been submitted. You can see the details here on WBC’s planning portal.

• Timetables for West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for lateral-flow tests  can be found here

The Thatcham War Memorial Gardening Group is appealing for anyone who can spare time once a month to help upkeep the War Memorial and Garden. Next sessions are at 10am on Friday 3 September and Friday 1 October. If you can help please contact 01635 868244 or clerk@thatcham.memorial.plus.com

The Thatcham Community Larder is open 2pm to 6pm every Weds at the Frank Hutchings Hall. See here for more details.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council took place on 28 June and you can red the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Midgham Park footpath; a presentation from West Berkshire Libraries; WBC’s winter service plan; financial matters; the resolution of a muddle about an invoice from WBC for £75 relating to expenses at the 2019 election; the Village Hall; the proposed greening campaign; planning applications and decisions; and the proposed 2,500-home development in Thatcham (to which MPC is strongly opposed).

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 27 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: anti-social behaviour; a footpath diversion; a withdrawn circus; a removed basketball hoop; the Recreation Ground; planning applications and decisions; financial matters; and members’ bids.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 22 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: regulatory matters; planning applications; the NDP; financial matters; repair and maintenance work around the parish; and the Village Hall.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 14 July and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 12 July and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 6 July and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 5 July and you can read the draft minutes here. There was also an extraordinary meeting on 27 July. mainly to consider some planning applications. You can read the minutes for that here.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with the delphiniums and ends with no mistakes (yet).

Thursday 19 August 2021

• The recent government announcement that a council’s local plan must include a 30-year vision has cast doubt over the 2,500 proposed homes in Thatcham. As Bucklebury Parish Council Chairman Barry Dickens was quick to point out to me on 19 August, that is not to say that the plan should be regarded as dead: “as long as it’s still on the table we’re going to assume it could happen and will continue to oppose it.” The council has, for instance, has made the Memorial Hall available for Laura Farris to hold a meeting “to hear your thoughts about the proposed North East Thatcham development. It will also be a chance for me to update you with the work I have done on the issue.” Click here for more.

• For up to date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for north east Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section).

Click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group, the “No” referring as you might expect to the 2,500-homes plan.

• The government has said that it wants to streamline and simplify the planning process. However, an application being lodged at 4.30pm on a Friday and work starting the following morning may not be what it had in mind. That was, however, what happened at Lawrences Lane last weekend and you can read WBC’s statement here. A temporary stop notice has been issued and there also been an official site visit involving “a WBC planning officer, a traveller liaison officer and Thames Valley Police to carry out a number of investigative actions.” It may seem odd that, if they were going to start work in any case, the applicants bothered to put in an application at all. The reason probably is that, so long as it’s correct, WBC will be obliged to consider it. Moreover, the applicants may claim that providing what they have built is in line with what they have applied for (which I understand it is) then any enforcement on removing it should await the outcome of an application (which would, for the work already done, be retrospective). The planning officers are obliged to consider any application on its merits as it’s presented to them and, like a jury in a court case, ignore any media coverage. Should the matter come before a committee (which will only happen if the officers recommend acceptance) it’s hard to see the members being so constrained.

• As mentioned last week (see below), a recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council has questioned the wisdom of a proposed expansion to the Colthrop Industrial Estate.

• A meeting of Thatcham TC’s Planning and Highways Working Party on 17 August included a statement from Thatcham’s TC’s Leader David Lister referring to three occasions where he claims WBC’s Policy Planning Manager Bryan Lyttle made comments that “did not represent (his) views and which are incorrect for several reasons.” These relate to a discussion about the need to change from a fossil-fuel-based economy and the way his questions were handled on a FB event earlier this year to discuss the proposed new homes in Thatcham. You can read his full statement here.

• See the 29 July entry (below) for some thoughts about Thatcham’s proposed masterplan.

See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• Details of activities for those aged between 11 and 18 in Thatcham between now and the end of August can be found here. There’s a wide range of stuff from reptile handling to African drumming and from zorbing to survival skills.

• This week’s NWN reports that amended plans for the proposed development at Chapel Street have been submitted. You can see the details here on WBC’s planning portal.

• Timetables for West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for lateral-flow tests  can be found here

The Thatcham War Memorial Gardening Group is appealing for anyone who can spare time once a month to help upkeep the War Memorial and Garden. Next sessions are at 10am on Friday 3 September and Friday 1 October. If you can help please contact 01635 868244 or clerk@thatcham.memorial.plus.com

• Staff from the Central Family Hub, Thatcham are running free family drop-in Play in the Park sessions during August. with sports equipment, parachute, bats and balls. See here for details.

• Thatcham Station Road northbound (towards Thatcham) will be closed 9 to 27 Aug for minor civil works on approach to Station Road/Pipers Way Roundabout. The closure will be from its junction with Pipers Way roundabout to its junction with Urquhart Road roundabout  The alternative route is via Pipers Way, Bath Road (A4), The Moors, and Station Road. Residential access will be maintained throughout and the diversion will be signed on site. For more details see here or contact Blaze Construction on 07907 067 225.

The Thatcham Community Larder is open 2pm to 6pm every Weds at the Frank Hutchings Hall. See here for more details.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council took place on 28 June and you can red the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Midgham Park footpath; a presentation from West Berkshire Libraries; WBC’s winter service plan; financial matters; the resolution of a muddle about an invoice from WBC for £75 relating to expenses at the 2019 election; the Village Hall; the proposed greening campaign; planning applications and decisions; and the proposed 2,500-home development in Thatcham (to which MPC is strongly opposed).

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 14 July and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 12 July and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 6 July and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 5 July and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 22 June and you can read the minutes here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 April and you can read the minutes here. You can also see the brief minutes of the PC’s annual parish assembly by clicking here; and the Chair’s report on 18 June by clicking here.

Click here for the latest update from Hermitage PC. Items covered included: a slow return to face-to-face meetings; lights at the Co-op; improvements at the Primary School; the parish’s defibrillators; the Furze Hill meadows; the neighbourhood development plan; and the next PC meeting (Thursday 22 July).

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with the WAG and ends with Winnie-the Pooh.

Thursday 12 August 2021

• A recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council, as reported on p28 of this week’s Newbury Weekly News, has questioned the wisdom of a proposed expansion to the Colthrop Industrial Estate. This would add about 20,000sq m to the site. West Berkshire’s local plan currently envisages an expansion about 80,000sq m of new employment floor space. Thatcham has about 17% of the population of the district but, if this goes ahead, would be taking about 25% of the proposed commercial space, so perhaps leading to further accusations that the town is bearing more than its share. One concern expressed by the Council is that if the sites were for warehousing and logistics they would not offer a particular large number of local jobs compared to manufacturing and servicing. If (and it’s a big if) WBC’s plans for the 2,500 homes reach fruition then plentiful employment opportunities within a walking distance (albeit with the A4 to cross) would help reduce the number of car journeys. A distribution site, however, would probably operate 24/7, leading to an even larger number of HGVs travelling west to join the A34 or the M4.

• For up to date news on the opposition to the 2,500-home plan for north east Thatcham, please see the websites for Thatcham Town Council, Bucklebury Parish Council, Cold Ash Parish Council and Midgham Parish Council (see links at the foot of this section).

• See last week’s section below for Harris Mind and Body’s search for new premises as a result of a slightly surprising planning application at The Grange a few months ago.

• See the 29 July entry (below) for some thoughts about Thatcham’s proposed masterplan.

See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• Details of activities for those aged between 11 and 18 in Thatcham between now and the end of August can be found here. There’s a wide range of stuff from reptile handling to African drumming and from zorbing to survival skills.

• Timetables for West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for lateral-flow tests  can be found here

The Thatcham War Memorial Gardening Group is appealing for anyone who can spare time once a month to help upkeep the War Memorial and Garden. Next sessions are at 10am on Fri 6 Aug, 3 Sept and 1 Oct. If you can help please contact 01635 868244 or clerk@thatcham.memorial.plus.com

• Staff from the Central Family Hub, Thatcham are running free family drop-in Play in the Park sessions during August. with sports equipment, parachute, bats and balls. See here for details.

• Thatcham Litter Pickers would like to thank the 30 local residents who turned up to clean up the park last week. Next pick is 10am on Sunday 5 September on Kennet Heath, meeting at the car park by the Moorside Centre. Litter bag hoops and new litter pickers kindly provided by Thatcham Town Council and can be borrowed anytime by anyone who wants to pick up litter. For more info contact thatchamlitterpickers@gmail.com or follow the Thatcham Litter Pickers facebook page.

• Thatcham Station Road northbound (towards Thatcham) will be closed 9 to 27 Aug for minor civil works on approach to Station Road/Pipers Way Roundabout. The closure will be from its junction with Pipers Way roundabout to its junction with Urquhart Road roundabout  The alternative route is via Pipers Way, Bath Road (A4), The Moors, and Station Road. Residential access will be maintained throughout and the diversion will be signed on site. For more details see here or contact Blaze Construction on 07907 067 225.

The Thatcham Community Larder is open 2 to 6pm every Weds at the Frank Hutchings Hall. See here for more details.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council took place on 28 June and you can red the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 2 August and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the Midgham Park footpath; a presentation from West Berkshire Libraries; WBC’s winter service plan; financial matters; the resolution of a muddle about an invoice from WBC for £75 relating to expenses at the 2019 election; the Village Hall; the proposed greening campaign; planning applications and decisions; and the proposed 2,500-home development in Thatcham (to which MPC is strongly opposed).

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council took place on 14 July and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: the publication of The History of Frilsham by Dorcus Ward; a report from the Yattendon Estate; planning decisions from WBC (there were no applications to consider); Frilsham Labe Quarry; a report from the District Councillor; verge cutting; the play park; the Clubroom; rights of way; the Yattendon and Frilsham Sports and Social Trust; the proposed community orchard; and financial matters.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 12 July and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: Bucklebury Primary School; local health care; a proposed meeting with WBC about how it can better engage with parishes; public rights of way in the parish; BPC’s policies; parking at the junction of Roundfield and Little Lane; three planning applications; four planning decisions from WBC; an update from the working group looking at WBC’s emerging local plan and specifically the proposal to build 2,500 homes to the north east of Thatcham; three successful members’ bids; the oak trees on The Avenue; parish maintenance issues; a request to fly a model aircraft from the Hockett Field; speeding; recycling; the Chapel Row phone box; and financial matters.

Click here for the latest updates from the Bucklebury Says No group, which opposes the 2,500-homes plan.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 6 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: questions from the public; speeding; contacting councillors by email; the Queens Green Canopy project; parking issues near Brimpton Primary School; financial support for the Brimpton Arts and Crafts Exhibition; co-cold-calling zones; registering ownership of Brimpton Common Fuel Allotment; planning applications; the settlement boundary; financial matters; and a report from the District Councillor.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 5 July and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: the Club Room; the Village Field; The Village Green.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 22 June and you can read the minutes here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 April and you can read the minutes here. You can also see the brief minutes of the PC’s annual parish assembly by clicking here; and the Chair’s report on 18 June by clicking here.

Click here for the latest update from Hermitage PC. Items covered included: a slow return to face-to-face meetings; lights at the Co-op; improvements at the Primary School; the parish’s defibrillators; the Furze Hill meadows; the neighbourhood development plan; and the next PC meeting (Thursday 22 July).

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with a footpath sign and ends with Stephen King.

Thursday 5 August 2021

• Receiving notice that your landlords propose terminating your lease so that the site can be re-developed is something that would cause despair to any business owner. This was the situation faced by Harris Mind and Body (HM&B) in Thatcham when they learned – rather late in the day, it seems – that this was about to happen to them as a result of plans to create a SEN school at The Grange (see 17 June entry below). The temptation in such cases must be to wail, to throw things or to hide under the bed. HM&B has taken a more positive stance, lobbying customers, local councillors and media groups for support and putting forward a case which has ensured they will not be forced to leave before their lease expires in November 2022 (as at one time seemed possible). It has also won the active support from WBC in their quest to find a new home, as well as a recognition that the landlords had been “particularly unhelpful.” The application was passed at a recent meeting of the Eastern Area Planning Committee but HM&B appear to have accepted the delay and the compromise with good grace. Sarah Harris stressed that they weren’t opposed to the need for the school and wished it every success. You can see a statement of their website here which covers these and other points.

On 5 August, I asked Sarah Harris what was the one message she’d like to spread. “Sharing our need for a suitable venue,” she said. “There could be a landlord who has not advertised a suitable vacant property.” I understand that about 2-3,000 sq ft will be needed, all of which must be fully accessible. You can contact her through the above-mentioned link. Of course, the new place they eventually find might be better than the current one. As Mr Jagger wisely told us, you can’t always get what you want – but if you try sometimes, well, you might find, you get what you need.

• This week’s NWN devotes pretty much the whole of p24 to the consideration of the possible impact on Thatcham and the surrounding villages of the proposed 2,500-home plan which also refers to the various documents which have been cited to support the proposal or which have yet to be produced. The three most important of these are (a) the Thatcham Masterplan which, despite being referred to several times by various people including our MP, doesn’t yet exist (the procurement of the consultants won’t even take place until October so we’re looking at next year); (b) the 2020 Thatcham Strategic Growth Study which has also been called a masterplan but which, as WBC’s Planning Policy Manager Bryan Little described as “a demonstration of what is achievable”; and (c) the Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) which will define what mitigation and infrastructure will be put in place as a result of the development: this will not be published until October so, until then, any discussion about the matter will require subjunctive and conditional tenses. It’s hard to see how any masterplan exercise, if conducted in 2022 and coming after the assumption of 2,500 homes and the IDP, can do much to influence the town’s infrastructure plans.

One of the articles article also covered a bit of a knockabout between Mr Lyttle and Thatcham Town Council about the extent to which it had been consulted: “working with TTC since 2010 on exactly these issues” from Mr Lyttle and “shoved to one side” from Thatcham Mayor John Boyd. More such debates might follow as the delayed publication of the IDP will reduce or eliminate any consultation from Thatcham TC or anyone else: even WBC will have little chance to reflect on it as its appearance will shortly be followed by the submission of the entire local plan (including the IDP) to an independent planning inspector in order to have the local plan ratified. As for the masterplan, Council Leader Lynne Doherty was quoted in NWN on 22 July as saying that “there’s probably far more to do in Thatcham than there is in Newbury.” That being so, one wonders why Thatcham’s wasn’t done first. I may be being thick or unaware but all in all there’s a sense that not all of these various tasks are being done in the correct order.

The question of infrastructure is the matter to which all discussions about the plan eventually return. Councillors from all parties admit that Thatcham’s infrastructure has for decades lagged behind what the growth of the town’s population has demanded. There are fears that the IDP will do no more than mitigate the effects of the new development, and perhaps not even that. Until it’s clear what’s proposed, speculation is fruitless (though will continue).

Mr Lyttle also made the comment that the new development will, by providing 1,000 affordable homes (if it does), be of great benefit to people in Thatcham who need such properties. That may well be true but it’s hard to see how this will greatly help people elsewhere in the district. Affordable and social-rent homes are needed everywhere. Is the intention that these will be concentrated in Thatcham? I appreciate the problem that such homes are only required on developments of 10 or more homes (which may rise perhaps to 50 if the current proposals in the white paper are realised) and that therefore small developments can’t provide these. Mind you, larger developments often don’t either. There must be another way…

• Before turning this page on the NWN, there’s also a report that WBC is proposing to tighten some of the parking restrictions in the town to “improve road safety at problem locations,” including at Nidiggen Close and The Henrys/Park Avenue junction.

• As mentioned last week, WBC has agreed to spend £25-30,000 on improvements at Thatcham Library on the grounds that “Thatcham Town Council and West Berkshire Council are in agreement that the current Thatcham Library building is no longer adequate for the size of the population it serves.”

• See last week’s entry (below) for some thoughts about Thatcham’s proposed masterplan.

See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• Details of activities for those aged between 11 and 18 in Thatcham between now and the end of August can be found here. There’s a wide range of stuff from reptile handling to African drumming and from zorbing to survival skills.

• Timetables for West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for lateral-flow tests  can be found here.

• Thatcham Town Council is holding a surgery for residents this Sat 7 Aug 10am to noon in the Broadway. Please come along and meet Town Councillor David Lister and Town and District Councillor, Steve Ardagh-Walter in the Broadway to discuss any questions you may have relating to local issues. Representatives of Thames Valley Police will also be in attendance.
The Thatcham War Memorial Gardening Group is appealing for anyone who can spare time once a month to help upkeep the War Memorial and Garden. Next sessions are at 10am on Fri 6 Aug, 3 Sept and 1 Oct. If you can help please contact 01635 868244 or clerk@thatcham.memorial.plus.com

• Staff from the Central Family Hub, Thatcham are running free family drop-in Play in the Park sessions during August. with sports equipment, parachute, bats and balls. See here for details.

• Thatcham Litter Pickers would like to thank the 30 local residents who turned up to clean up the park last week. Next pick 5th September 10am on Kennet Heath, meeting at the car park by the Moorside Centre. Litter bag hoops and new litter pickers kindly provided by Thatcham Town Council and can be borrowed anytime by anyone who wants to pick up litter. For more info contact thatchamlitterpickers@gmail.com or follow the Thatcham Litter Pickers facebook page.

• Thatcham Station Road northbound (towards Thatcham) will be closed 9 to 27 Aug for minor civil works on approach to Station Road/Pipers Way Roundabout. The closure will be from its junction with Pipers Way roundabout to its junction with Urquhart Road roundabout  The alternative route is via Pipers Way, Bath Road (A4), The Moors, and Station Road. Residential access will be maintained throughout and the diversion will be signed on site. For more details see here or contact Blaze Construction on 07907 067 225.

The Thatcham Community Larder is open 2 to 6pm every Weds at the Frank Hutchings Hall. Pop along to shop and have a chat to the volunteers with a cup of tea and cake. They have now taken deliveries of sanitary products from All Yours, these are offered free of charge when shopping at The Community Larder. They also have a new book exchange facility for both adults and children where a supply of books will be on offer to take away to read and return. See here for more details.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council took place on 28 June and you can red the minutes here. Matters discussed included: “Hug Homes” at The Priory; financial matters; reports from the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor; approval of “an expenditure of up to £12,000 for independent advice by consultants on the impact of proposed developments around Thatcham on the flow of traffic within and in the vicinity of Thatcham”; a grant of £1,000 to Readibus; the Town Council’s response to the government’s call for evidence regarding remote meetings; the return to in-person meetings; the Town Centre Working Party; reports from WBC councillors; and Lady Frances Winchcombe’s Charity. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.

• As mentioned last week, the Lady Frances Winchcombe Charity exists to help young people in financial difficulties who want to progress with further education and apprenticeships. Anyone resident in Thatcham, Cold Ash and Bucklebury is welcome to apply. For more details, please email roberttayton@aol.com. No applications have been received this year but are welcomed.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council 14 July and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: the publication of The History of Frilsham by Dorcus Ward; a report from the Yattendon Estate; planning decisions from WBC (there were no applications to consider); Frilsham Labe Quarry; a report from the District Councillor; verge cutting; the play park; the Clubroom; rights of way; the Yattendon and Frilsham Sports and Social Trust; the proposed community orchard; and financial matters.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 6 July and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: questions from the public; speeding; contacting councillors by email; the Queens Green Canopy project; parking issues near Brimpton Primary School; financial support for the Brimpton Arts and Crafts Exhibition; co-cold-calling zones; registering ownership of Brimpton Common Fuel Allotment; planning applications; the settlement boundary; financial matters; and a report from the District Councillor.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 5 July and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: the Club Room; the Village Field; The Village Green

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 14 June and you can read the draft minutes here.

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

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 6 May and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 April and you can read the minutes here. You can also see the brief minutes of the PC’s annual parish assembly by clicking here; and the Chair’s report on 18 June by clicking here.

Click here for the latest update from Hermitage PC. Items covered included: a slow return to face-to-face meetings; lights at the Co-op; improvements at the Primary School; the parish’s defibrillators; the Furze Hill meadows; the neighbourhood development plan; and the next PC meeting (Thursday 22 July).

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with a bee and ends with Philip K Dick.

Thursday 29 July 2021

• As mentioned last week, WBC has agreed to spend £25-30,000 on improvements at Thatcham Library on the grounds that “Thatcham Town Council and West Berkshire Council are in agreement that the current Thatcham Library building is no longer adequate for the size of the population it serves.” These will mainly encompass an accessible toilet and some work on the entranceway. The stated “ambitious vision to redevelop the library – possibly as part of a new community hub building” remains a longer-term goal.

• See last week’s entry (below) for some thoughts about Thatcham’s proposed masterplan.

See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• Details of activities for those aged between 11 and 18 in Thatcham between now and the end of August can be found here. There’s a wide range of stuff from reptile handling to African drumming and from zorbing to survival skills.

• Timetables for West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for lateral-flow tests  can be found here.

Nature Discovery Centre’s indoor Lakeside Room and outdoor hutch spaces are available to hire. The café provides a range of catering options and guests can take a break to feed the ever-hungry ducks. Ring 01635 874381 or email ndc@bbowt.org.uk to find out more.

• And still at the Discovery Centre, wellbeing walks take place every Monday from 5pm to 6pm for people experiencing mental-health problems. Click here for details.

• Thatcham’s community larder at the Frank Hutchings Community Hall is not means-tested and is open to all and so if you’re curious about saving money and preventing food waste, why not pop along and see what it’s all about.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council took place on 28 June and you can red the minutes here. Matters discussed included: “Hug Homes” at The Priory; financial matters; reports from the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor; approval of “an expenditure of up to £12,000 for independent advice by consultants on the impact of proposed developments around Thatcham on the flow of traffic within and in the vicinity of Thatcham”; a grant of £1,000 to Readibus; the Town Council’s response to the government’s call for evidence regarding remote meetings; the return to in-person meetings; the Town Centre Working Party; reports from WBC councillors; and Lady Frances Winchcombe’s Charity. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.

• As mentioned last week, the Lady Frances Winchcombe Charity exists to help young people in financial difficulties who want to progress with further education and apprenticeships. Anyone resident in Thatcham, Cold Ash and Bucklebury is welcome to apply. For more details, please email roberttayton@aol.com. No applications have been received this year but are welcomed.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 14 June and you can read the draft minutes here.

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

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 5 July and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: the Club Room; the Village Field; The Village Green

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

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 26 May and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 6 May and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 April and you can read the minutes here. You can also see the brief minutes of the PC’s annual parish assembly by clicking here; and the Chair’s report on 18 June by clicking here.

Click here for the latest update from Hermitage PC. Items covered included: a slow return to face-to-face meetings; lights at the Co-op; improvements at the Primary School; the parish’s defibrillators; the Furze Hill meadows; the neighbourhood development plan; and the next PC meeting (Thursday 22 July).

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with mist and ends with Peter Pan.

Thursday 22 July 2021

• This week’s NWN has on p27 an article about the proposals for a masterplan for Thatcham, similar to that currently being worked on for Newbury. The article quotes WBC Leader Lynne Doherty as saying that work on this will start this summer, although I understand that an officer had recently told Thatcham Town Council that it would start in the summer of 2022. The issue seems to be, as Thatcham TC Leader David Lister pointed out, that the 2,500-home plan already seems to be a given in WBC’s mind which rather undermines what the masterplan might conclude. However, as a vast number of things still need to be decided about the 2,500-homes plan, including the details of an infrastructure delivery plan, it’s unlikely that there’ll be much more clarity by the time the masterplan starts, whether this summer or next. The proposal will thus hang over the masterplan deliberations – these will have to assume the eventual presence of something that hasn’t yet been decided (and which, given the Sandleford example, may never be built). There have been references made to a “masterplan”, including by Laura Farris, but this would seem to be in fact referring to the Thatcham Strategic Growth Study (TSGS), published in September 2020 but this isn’t a masterplan: indeed, the TSGS say on p53 that “these themes should be taken forward as core design objectives for masterplanning, to ensure that development can offer improvements for both current and new residents.”

It seems odd to me that the matters are being done in this order, with the investigation into the need for a course of action being done after it’s been decided to to proceed with it. Lynne Doherty is also quoted in the article as saying that “there’s probably far more to do in Thatcham than there is in Newbury”, a sentiment with which many local residents of the town (and all the councillors and others I’ve spoken to) would agree with. This rather raises the question of why Thatcham’s wasn’t done first. There’s also a reference in the article to the Turley Report which was completed in 2008. The stage 1 report of the TSGS in May 2019 has one reference to this, saying that “few of the recommendations on public realm and townscaping improvements have been implemented and the Town Council continues to request their completion.” The final TSGS makes no reference to the Turley report at all.  The report itself can be seen here. It would be interesting to know how much it cost, why its recommendations were so problematic and whether the general view is that Thatcham would be (a) in better shape, (b) in worse shape or (c) pretty much the same were they to have been.

• The question of infrastructure in the town also raises its head in the opening remarks of a 1 July 2021 report by West Berkshire’s Library Service into proposed improvements for the Thatcham Library: “Thatcham Town Council and West Berkshire Council are in agreement that the current Thatcham Library building is no longer adequate for the size of the population it serves.” The remark could probably equally well applied to many other facilities in the town. One of the things that Thatcham TC has been requesting is an accessible toilet in the building: both parties also appear to share “an ambitious vision to redevelop the library – possibly as part of a new community hub building [as Hungerford has done] – in the longer-term.” Three possible plans were proposed with WBC agreeing on the cheapest, costing about £25,000, which is probably a reasonable first step (though hopefully not a final one). This would “provide the toilet and new entrance. Any other necessary repairs works can be completed as they arise from the libraries’ capital budget.”

Thatcham TC’s hand has been strengthened in these discussions by the fact that it has been paying £24,000pa for the last four years as a voluntary contribution to the WBC Library Service. (About £160,000 is requested each year at a rate of £1 per person per year: since the scheme started, an average of £92,500pa has been collected in this way). TTC has recently insisted that continuing the payment be conditional on investment in the building. The total amount TTC has paid in this way in total would have pretty much covered the cost of the most ambitious proposed changes to the Library, though that’s probably too simplistic a way of looking at it. The funding has helped the Library Service survive, grow and adapt and seems to have been an imaginative solution to the problems faced by the incoming head of the Service Paul James in 2017, a time when one proposal on the table was to axe all the Libraries bar Newbury’s. Through more flexible approaches, which have differed from place to place, all have survived. He, his colleagues and all the parish and town councils, volunteers and Friends of… groups that were set up deserve a round of applause for that.

See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• The same page of the same paper reports on the recent Wildlife Allotment Garden open day in Cold Ash. Click here on the Cold Ash PC website for more on the WAG and the Community Orchard.

• Timetables for West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for lateral-flow tests  can be found here.

Nature Discovery Centre’s indoor Lakeside Room and outdoor hutch spaces are available to hire. The café provides a range of catering options and guests can take a break to feed the ever-hungry ducks. Ring 01635 874381 or email ndc@bbowt.org.uk to find out more.

• And still at the Discovery Centre, wellbeing walks take place every Monday from 5pm to 6pm for people experiencing mental-health problems. Click here for details.

• Thatcham’s community larder at the Frank Hutchings Community Hall is not means tested and is open to all and so if you’re curious about saving money and preventing food waste, why not pop along and see what it’s all about.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council took place on 28 June and you can red the minutes here. Matters discussed included: “Hug Homes” at The Priory; financial matters; reports from the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor; approval of “an expenditure of up to £12,000 for independent advice by consultants on the impact of proposed developments around Thatcham on the flow of traffic within and in the vicinity of Thatcham”; a grant of £1,000 to Readibus; the Town Council’s response to the government’s call for evidence regarding remote meetings; the return to in-person meetings; the Town Centre Working Party; reports from WBC councillors; and Lady Frances Winchcombe’s Charity. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. 

• Regarding this last point, the Lady Frances Winchcombe Charity exists to help young people in financial difficulties who want to progress with further education and apprenticeships. Anyone resident in Thatcham, Cold Ash and Bucklebury is welcome to apply. For more details, please email roberttayton@aol.com. No applications have been received this year but are welcomed.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 14 June and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: Common clearing; the planning application at the Memorial Hall; defibrillators; future meetings; members” bids; overgrown hedges; planning matters; and update from the Working Group on the Emerging Local Plan (and, specifically, the practical steps BPC and neighbouring Thatcham, Cold Ash and Midgham are taking to oppose this); the redevelopment of Paradise Way; repairs around the parish; speeding; recycling; financial matters; and a :give way” sign obstructed by vegetation.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 8 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: work done at the Wildlife Allotment Garden; maintenance costs at the recreation Ground; the removal of the goats from grazing field 3; planning matters; financial matters; tree report; the circus at St Mark’s School on 29 September; and committee reports.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council (an extraordinary one) took place on 7 June and you can read the draft minutes here.

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

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 26 May and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 6 May and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 April and you can read the minutes here. You can also see the brief minutes of the PC’s annual parish assembly by clicking here; and the Chair’s report on 18 June by clicking here.

Click here for the latest update from Hermitage PC. Items covered included: a slow return to face-to-face meetings; lights at the Co-op; improvements at the Primary School; the parish’s defibrillators; the Furze Hill meadows; the neighbourhood development plan; and the next PC meeting (Thursday 22 July).

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with a cricket team and ends with Kafka on the Shore.

Thursday 15 July 2021

Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• Last week (see below) I looked at some of the problems with the proposed 2,500-home plans for Thatcham. Other schemes, not part of the current local plan, continue to promote themselves, one being the scheme at Tull Way which can, its proposers claim, provide between 300 and 350 dwellings. The scheme was, according to the article on p26 of this week’s NWN,  not included in last year’s HELAA (Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment) as “it would erode the existing physical separation of Newbury and Thatcham.” This seems a pretty accurate description of what the 2,500-home plan will do for the separation between Thatcham and Bucklebury.

See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

• From which source, click here for a short film of photos taken at last month’s Family Fun Day.

• This week’s NWN reports on p23 that plans to convert the former pub The Travellers Friend in Crookham in to homes for people with learning difficulties have been approved by West Berkshire Council.

• The same page of the same paper reports on the recent Wildlife Allotment Garden open day in Cold Ash. Click here on the Cold Ash PC website for more on the WAG and the Community Orchard.

• Timetables for West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for lateral-flow tests  can be found here.

Newbury Today reports that a stretch of Floral Way in Thatcham will be partially closed between 9.30am and 3.30pm from Thursday 22 July to Tuesday 27 July.

• The Lady Frances Winchcombe Charity exists to help young people in financial difficulties who want to progress with further education and apprenticeships. Anyone resident in Thatcham, Cold Ash and Bucklebury is welcome to apply. For more details, please email roberttayton@aol.com.

Nature Discovery Centre’s indoor Lakeside Room and outdoor hutch spaces are available to hire. The café provides a range of catering options and guests can take a break to feed the ever-hungry ducks. Ring 01635 874381 or email ndc@bbowt.org.uk to find out more.

• And still at the Discovery Centre, wellbeing walks take place every Monday from 5pm to 6pm for people experiencing mental-health problems. Click here for details.

• Thatcham’s community larder at the Frank Hutchings Community Hall is not means tested and is open to all and so if you’re curious about saving money and preventing food waste, why not pop along and see what it’s all about.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 March and you can red the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. (That said, there have been three full council meetings since 29 March and yet none of the minutes have been published, which seems odd.)

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 8 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: work done at the Wildlife Allotment Garden; maintenance costs at the recreation Ground; the removal of the goats from grazing field 3; planning matters; financial matters; tree report; the circus at St Mark’s School on 29 September; and committee reports.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council (an extraordinary one) took place on 7 June and you can read the draft minutes here.

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

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 26 May and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 6 May and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 6 May and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 April and you can read the minutes here. You can also see the brief minutes of the PC’s annual parish assembly by clicking here; and the Chair’s report on 18 June by clicking here.

Click here for the latest update from Hermitage PC. Items covered included: a slow return to face-to-face meetings; lights at the Co-op; improvements at the Primary School; the parish’s defibrillators; the Furze Hill meadows; the neighbourhood development plan; and the next PC meeting (Thursday 22 July).

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with a WAG and ends with Arundhati Roy.

Thursday 8 July 2021

Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• The Health on the Move Bus will be offering to Covid vaccines on Mon 12 July at Thatcham’s Central Family Hub. Anyone over 18 can book a vaccine appointment with Emma on 01635 865318 or emma.halford-meakin1@westberks.gov.uk. You don’t need to be registered with a GP.

• See the earlier entries below for how the four parishes of  Thatcham, Midgham, Cold Ash and Bucklebury are joining forces to oppose the proposed NE Thatcham development. There’s also a Say No to Thatcham NE FB group which you can see herewhich includes a post about MP Laura Farris’s meeting with the Secretary of State. The debate on this continues. There seem to be three main factors in this (or, at least, those are the ones I’m briefly going to look at): traffic, education and deliverability (if that’s a word).

• This week’s NWN points out on p23 that the traffic problems were identified in the HELAA, published last year (this is document which is periodically updated to identify sites which have been proposed by developers) including extra journey times, particularly at junctions, and displacement of traffic onto rural routes. The whole proposal has also re-opened the long-standing debate about a possible bridge over the railway line, though WBC appears to have ruled this out. Many feel that the the impact of traffic on the proposed development has not been sufficiently thought through. The four affected parishes (see above) certainly feel that way and have recently secured a grant of £12,000 for a traffic survey: this shows the kind of sums that even a small part of the specialist advice can soak up on such an issue. WBC’s own costs are likely to be far higher. Whether this report will agree with WBC’s own assessment remains to be seen. Further funds may be required for this and also for other reports into matters such as flooding.

• Local politicians of all parties are in broad agreement that Thatcham’s infrastructure is inadequate for the needs of the town at present, never mind what it might become. Education provision, particularly at secondary level, is one such area. Part of the justification for one large development is that it would provide both the funds and the location for a new secondary school in the way that smaller developments would not. I wonder if other possible solutions have been looked at. Is building a 2,500-home development really the only way of providing Thatcham with a new school? Is NE Thatcham the best place for such a school to be located?

There’s also the matter of how this will be funded. The Thatcham Strategy Growth Study published in September 2020 says in clause 4.85 that “it is not proposed that the developers at NE Thatcham should pay for the full costs of building the school,” and adds in clause 5.20 that “this study proposes that capital funding for the new secondary school within North East Thatcham would be 50% funded by the developers, delivered through a Section 106 agreement on developer contributions. This is approximately commensurate with the education provision required for the development on its own.” In other words, any developer funds from the NE Thatcham scheme would make no financial contribution to the pre-existing needs of the town (though, if provided, it would of course provide the economies of scale needed to build a new school at all). How the other 50% of the money would be found is left open, though “carefully crafted S106 agreements” on other developments would be one solution. This would appear to make these smaller developers pay for more than the mitigation of their own schemes, which hardly seems fair. (I’m also immediately suspicious of any analysis which neatly divided something large and amorphous into to equal chunks: it reminds me of the old joke about 76% (or any other number) of percentages being made up on the spot.) Finally, these school places are needed asap, not according to the timetable of a developer which, as events have proved, is largely beyond the power of a planning authority to control.

• This leads to the question of timing and deliverability. Even if the development goes ahead, as matters currently stand the school will only be built when 80% of the site is occupied which it’s been suggested will not be before 2037. This means that a child born in Thatcham today will have completed their education by the time its doors open. As for the people in the 80% of the homes, where are they going to send their kids? With four developers involved (double the number than at Sandleford, where two has repeatedly proved to be one too many), there have got to be real question marks about whether the scheme will be built at all. It’s also not unheard of for developers to evade contractual responsibilities to provide infrastructure or to use this as a bargaining chip when a viability assessment suggests that fewer affordable or social-rent houses need to be built to make the scheme profitable. The later in the process the infrastructure is provided, the more likely this is to happen.

• At least three other sites in and around Thatcham, each able to provide 300 to 400 homes, have been identified and more may emerge although WBC does not appear to be looking on these favourably. These aren’t problem-free but seem to spread the load rather more effectively and may not, individually and collectively, require all the mitigation measures that NE Thatcham would seem to. On a practical level, they are also single-developer sites, so making it much more likely that something will actually get built. The problem of a new secondary school remains but it doesn’t seem that the NE Thatcham plan will be guaranteed to address this either, certainly not in the short or even medium term.

See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

• Timetables for West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for lateral-flow tests  can be found here.

• The Lady Frances Winchcombe Charity exists to help young people in financial difficulties who want to progress with further education and apprenticeships. Anyone resident in Thatcham, Cold Ash and Bucklebury is welcome to apply. For more details, please email roberttayton@aol.com.

Click here for a recent article in Newbury Today about the plans to redevelop The Grange and the effect this is likely to have on one of the businesses there.

Nature Discovery Centre’s indoor Lakeside Room and outdoor hutch spaces are available to hire. The café provides a range of catering options and guests can take a break to feed the ever-hungry ducks. Ring 01635 874381 or email ndc@bbowt.org.uk to find out more.

• Thatcham’s community larder at the Frank Hutchings Community Hall is not means tested and is open to all and so if you’re curious about saving money and preventing food waste, why not pop along and see what it’s all about.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 March and you can red the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these. (That said, there have been three full council meetings since 29 March and yet none of the minutes have been published, which seems odd.)

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 8 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: work done at the Wildlife Allotment Garden; maintenance costs at the recreation Ground; the removal of the goats from grazing field 3; planning matters; financial matters; tree report; the circus at St Mark’s School on 29 September; and committee reports.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council (an extraordinary one) took place on 7 June and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: two planning applications (both of which were objected to); governance matters; and the trees on Butcher’s Piece.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 1 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the allotments; planning enforcement at Eastbank; a councillor c0-option; the proposed no cold-calling zone; speeding; the Queen’s Green Canopy Project; financial matters; the Recreation Ground charity;

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 26 May and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 6 May and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 6 May and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 April and you can read the minutes here. You can also see the brief minutes of the PC’s annual parish assembly by clicking here; and the Chair’s report on 18 June (which I presume was the means host upon to make decisions in this awkward period between the end of remote meetings and the end of lockdown, inflicted on PCs up and down the land by the government) by clicking here.

Click here for the latest update from Hermitage PC. Items covered included: a slow return to face-to-face meetings; lights at the Co-op; improvements at the Primary School; the parish’s defibrillators; the Furze Hill meadows; the neighbourhood development plan; and the next PC meeting (Thursday 22 July).

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with a path and ends with Mark Twain.

Thursday 1 July 2021

Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• The Thatcham Family Fun Day returned last weekend and organisers claim that about 6,000 people attended. See pp22-23 of this week’s Newbury Weekly News for a report and photos.

• The Health on the Move Bus will be offering to Covid vaccines on Mon 12 July at Thatcham’s Central Family Hub. Anyone over 18 can book a vaccine appointment with Emma on 01635 865318 or emma.halford-meakin1@westberks.gov.uk. You don’t need to be registered with a GP.

Click here for an article in Newbury Today about the plans to redevelop The Grange and the effect this is likely to have on one of the businesses there.

• Congratulations to Blue Beetle Ceramics in The Courtyard on their celebrating their second anniversary after a challenging two years of adapting their business model and supplying take-away pottery painting kits for families that needed activities during lockdown.
Nature Discovery Centre’s indoor Lakeside Room and outdoor hutch spaces are available to hire. The café provides a range of catering options and guests can take a break to feed the ever-hungry ducks. Ring 01635 874381 or email ndc@bbowt.org.uk to find out more.

• Thatcham’s new community larder at the Frank Hutchings Community Hall is not means tested and is open to all and so if you’re curious about saving money and preventing food waste, why not pop along and see what it’s all about.

• See the earlier entries below for how the four parishes of  Thatcham, Midgham, Cold Ash and Bucklebury are joining forces to oppose the proposed NE Thatcham development. There’s also a Say NO to Thatcham NE FB group which you can see here which includes a post about MP Laura Farris’s meeting with the Secretary of State.

See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

• Timetables for West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for lateral-flow tests  – details can be found here.

• The Lady Frances Winchcombe Charity exists to help young people in financial difficulties who want to progress with further education and apprenticeships. Anyone resident in Thatcham, Cold Ash and Bucklebury is welcome to apply. For more details, please email roberttayton@aol.com.

• The 1st Thatcham Brownies has places for 7-10-year-old girls. Contact 1stthatchambrownies@gmail.com for details.

• The 1st Thatcham Scout Group currently has five leaders to assist 54 young people across its Beavers, Cubs and Scouts sections and is looking for more – click here for more.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 March and you can red the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 8 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: work done at the Wildlife Allotment Garden; maintenance costs at the recreation Ground; the removal of the goats from grazing field 3; planning matters; financial matters; tree report; the circus at St Mark’s School on 29 September; and committee reports.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 1 June and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the allotments; planning enforcement at Eastbank; a councillor c0-option; the proposed no cold-calling zone; speeding; the Queen’s Green Canopy Project; financial matters; the Recreation Ground charity; 

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 26 May and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 6 May and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 5 May and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 6 May and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 15 April and you can read the minutes here. You can also see the brief minutes of the PC’s annual parish assembly by clicking here.

Click here for the latest update from Hermitage PC. Items covered included: a slow return to face-to-face meetings; lights at the Co-op; improvements at the Primary School; the parish’s defibrillators; the Furze Hill meadows; the neighbourhood development plan; and the next PC meeting (Thursday 22 July).

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with some tall trees and ends with a lightning thief.

Thursday 24 June 2021

Click here for information about lateral flow tests available in West Berkshire.

• Thatcham’s community larder launched this week at the Frank Hutchings Community Hall and the Mayor and Deputy Mayor were delighted to see a sneak preview of it last week. The scheme is not means tested and is open to all and so if you’re curious about saving money and preventing food waste, why not pop along and see what it’s all about.

Thatcham Family Fun Day will take place from 11am till 4pm on Sunday June 27 2021, at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground. Click here for details.

• See the earlier entries below for how the four parishes of  Thatcham, Midgham, Cold Ash and Bucklebury are joining forces to oppose the proposed NE Thatcham development. There’s also a Say NO to Thatcham NE FB group which you can see here which includes a post about MP Laura Farris’s meeting with the Secretary of State. This included asking him “about the numbers that West Berkshire Council is required to meet when we have so many areas of outstanding natural beauty and flood plains where building is not possible.” Most people would agree that the issue is not whether West Berkshire needs more homes – few would argue that it does, particularly of the affordable kind – but whether so many of them need to be built in one place. She has expressed her concerns on this matter at parish council meetings including Bucklebury’s in February.

Another, longer letter from Laura Farris (which you can see at the foot of the post in the facebook group on 10 June) takes a different tone. It fully supports WBC’s planning process and warns against the dangers of there not being a local plan in place (though I’m not aware that anyone has advocated this). To me it reads as if she has realised, or been reminded, that she expressed too much doubt about the proposal earlier in the year and that the matter should be left to WBC to resolve. One point to which she returns several time is the question of infrastructure. “Masterplanning has identified,” she says, “that only growth of a strategic scale on this particular site could support the service provision and regeneration that Thatcham so desperately needs.” I might be wrong but I didn’t think that Thatcham’s masterplanning had started yet. That aside, this is an interesting view as it suggests that one of the reasons for selecting the site was to redress past under-investment in Thatcham’s infrastructure. However, if past developments in the town have failed to do this, why should this one be any different? The risk is that a still wider deficit will result. In any event, details of what infrastructure is proposed are currently very sketchy which makes it hard to tell whether any planned benefits will be felt by the town as a whole.

Farris also makes the point that the alternative would be “a patchwork of smaller developments across many local areas. This would likely lack the quantum of new development to attract sufficient new infrastructure in those areas and would likely add further pressure to our existing infrastructure network.” I rather doubt this. Many smaller communities would benefit considerably from having perhaps 5% more homes and many local schools, surgeries, leisure facilities and the like would be able to absorb these new arrivals – indeed, some currently have fewer pupils, patients or customers than they would wish. I appreciate that there are problems with getting affordable homes built on small developments but so there are too on larger ones, developers doing all in their power to wriggle out of obligations. Little better, perhaps, is being told that if you do want an affordable home the only place you’re likely to find one is in north east Thatcham. She adds that such pepper-potting “could also involve the erosion of some treasured strategic gaps between existing settlements.” This seems an excellent description of what the NE Thatcham plan will accomplish.

• Relating to this matter, see two articles on p28 of this week’s NWN. One looks at the other plans in and around Thatcham that are fighting for inclusion in the local plan and the other is a request by Thatcham and WBC Councillor Lee Dillon for more details on the plans for new roads if this development goes ahead.

Click here for an article in Newbury Today about the plans to redevelop The Grange and the effect this is likely to have on one of the businesses there (see also last week’s column below)

See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

• Timetables for West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for lateral-flow tests  – details can be found here.

• The Lady Frances Winchcombe Charity exists to help young people in financial difficulties who want to progress with further education and apprenticeships. Anyone resident in Thatcham, Cold Ash and Bucklebury is welcome to apply. For more details, please email roberttayton@aol.com.

• The 1st Thatcham Brownies has places for 7-10-year-old girls. Contact 1stthatchambrownies@gmail.com for details.

• The 1st Thatcham Scout Group currently has five leaders to assist 54 young people across its Beavers, Cubs and Scouts sections and is looking for more – click here for more.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 March and you can red the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 25 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included proposed big-top fundraiser for the school; the co-option of a new councillor; the ownership of the land surrounding the Acland Hall; fence funding for the pre-school; an activity day at the Wildlife Allotment Garden; the cost of a transport consultant; financial matters; and one planning application.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 26 May and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 6 May and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 5 May and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 6 May and you can read the minutes here.

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

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 15 April and you can read the minutes here. You can also see the brief minutes of the PC’s annual parish assembly by clicking here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with Pickle and Ginger and ends with seductions and challenges.

Thursday 17 June 2021

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

• This week’s Newbury Weekly News has on p22 the story of the proposed re-development of the former Grange Nursery to convert it to a SEN school. One of the casualties of this seem likely to be Harris Mind and Body which has a lease on the site until late 2022. I spoken to one of the owners, Sarah Harris, who confirmed that they had been unaware until very recently that they would need to vacate the premises and that there had been no information forthcoming from the landlords. “Finding the right premises for a business such as ours, which offers physiotherapy and pilates, isn’t quick or easy. It took 18 months to find this location and even then there was a lot of work that needed to be done to make it right for our needs. This will be even more complex as a result of the pandemic. We need to continue the fight to be able to stay here as well as prepare for the possiblity that we’ll have to move.” About 3,000 square feet would be needed which also must be fully accessible – so, if you know of such a place available for rent, get in touch with them (see link above). Sarah Harris added that they’ve been “overwhelmed” by the support of their clients since the extent of the problem became clear. Sufficient objections having been received, the matter will in due course come before the Western Area Planning Committee. As many of the buildings on the site are listed, this may pose as large an obstacle to the plans as the reaction of the clients of one of the affected properties. You can view and comment on the application by clicking here.

Two things strike me about this. The first is that as WBC no longer sends letters to neighbours concerning applications (which I imagine would also have been sent to commercial tenants) and as there’s some doubt as to who is responsible for displaying the orange notices (not they weren’t displayed in this case, though this has been an issue elsewhere) it’s not always easy to know the details of a planning application or even that one has been lodged. You can’t be visiting WBC’s planning portal every day on the off chance but at the first suggestion, ask around and do a bit of research. Your local town or parish council should also be able to help as they are statutory consultees and the matter will have been brought to their attention. The second is that landlords have perhaps a legal but certainly a moral duty to keep their tenants informed. On a PR level, a phone call or email early in the process explaining what was planned (and perhaps promising to let the tenants know if they heard of replacement premises) would not only be polite but also completely disarming and likely to lead to many fewer objections and a less adversarial atmosphere. Few things enrage people more than secretive behaviour.

MP Laura Farris is holding a surgery at Frank Hutchins Hall on the morning of Saturday 19 June. If you would like to make an appointment to see her, please contact her office on laura.farris.mp@parliament.uk or 01635 551070.

See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

• The timetables for the West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for lateral-flow tests has recently changed – details can be found here.

Thatcham Family Fun Day will take place from 11am till 4pm on Sunday June 27 2021, at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground. Click here for details. Volunteers are being sought to help with the event.

• We’re always keen to give a shout-out for a local markets, so here’s a reminder of the excellent one every Friday at The Broadway in Thatcham between 9am and 3pm. I can particularly recommend Karen and Neil’s fruit and veg stall as that also sets up at Hungerford’s Wednesday market.

• The Lady Frances Winchcombe Charity exists to help young people in financial difficulties who want to progress with further education and apprenticeships. Anyone resident in Thatcham, Cold Ash and Bucklebury is welcome to apply. For more details, please email roberttayton@aol.com.

1st Thatcham Brownies has places for 7-10-year-old girls. Contact 1stthatchambrownies@gmail.com for details.

• As previously mentioned, four local councils – Thatcham, Midgham, Cold Ash and Bucklebury – which would be directly affected by the plan to build 2,500 homes in north east Thatcham have formed an alliance to co-ordinate opposition to what they claim is a disproportionate plan in an area which already suffers from a chronic shortage of infrastructure. You can read an open letter from these four councils here. See last week’s section below for more on their aims and division of responsibilities.

• Anyone wanting to experience the singular sight of winter and summer at the same time could do worse than talk a walk out of Bucklebury towards Bradfield where, for about three-quarters of a mile, the route is lined by some venerable oak trees. These were planted in honour of a visit by Queen Elizabeth – not the current one, mind, but her 16th-century Tudor predecessor. The problem is that some very hungry caterpillars have been attacking some of them with the result that their summer foliage has fallen off. Others currently seem untroubled. Bucklebury PC and West Berkshire Council are looking into this and trying to find a solution.

• The NWN reports on the p23 that plans to convert buildings St Gabriel’s Farm in Cold Ash into homes have been turned down by WBC’s Western Area Planning Committee: this involved their going against the officers’ recommendation, something which does not always happen.

• The 1st Thatcham Scout Group currently has five leaders to assist 54 young people across its Beavers, Cubs and Scouts sections and is looking for more – click here for more.

• The new community larder in Thatcham at Frank Hutchins Hall offers food and community support at a very low cost membership fee – click here for details.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 March and you can red the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.

• The most recent meeting of Frilsham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 26 May and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: formal year-end matters; planning applications; inspections and maintenance work at the play park; the cancellation of the 2021 fête; financial matters; and the village’s power supply.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 6 May and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: formal year-end matters; the north east Thatcham development (see also above); the nature of future meetings; planning applications; the purchase of some benches; financial matters; and the sign at the playpark.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 5 May and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 6 May and you can read the minutes here.

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

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 5 May and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 15 April and you can read the minutes here. You can also see the brief minutes of the PC’s annual parish assembly by clicking here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with litter and ends with Brigham Young.

Thursday 10 June 2021

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

MP Laura Farris is holding a surgery at Frank Hutchins Hall on Sat 19 June in the morning. If you would like to make an appointment to see her, please contact her office on laura.farris.mp@parliament.uk or 01635 551070.

See here for the latest from Thatcham Town Council’s Facebook page.

• The timetables for the West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for lateral-flow tests has recently changed – details can be found here.

Thatcham Family Fun Day will take place from 11am till 4pm on Sunday June 27 2021, at Henwick Worthy Sports Ground. Click here for details. Volunteers are being sought to help with the event.

• This week’s NWN reports on p26 that Thatcham TC recently  discussed whether or not to object to BT’s proposed removal of a public phone box in The Broadway from which currently an average of only 22 calls a month were made (it’s a glass and metal one, not one of the classic red jobs). The leader, David Lister, pointed out that these calls may have been made by people without alternative means or in an emergency. It was eventually agreed to oppose the removal until more is known about the usage. So, if you or anyone you know uses this phone box and would like to see it remain, please get in touch with Thatcham Town Council (see link below).

• We’re always keen to give a shout-out for a local markets, so here’s a reminder of the excellent one every Friday at The Broadway in Thatcham between 9am and 3pm. I can particularly recommend Karen and Neil’s fruit and veg stall as that also sets up at Hungerford’s Wednesday market. If you go along, do remind them that I’m looking forward to buying some passion fruit at Hungerford next week, a fruit for which I have a, well, passion. There seems to be something of a world shortage at present.

• The Lady Frances Winchcombe Charity exists to help young people in financial difficulties who want to progress with further education and apprenticeships. Anyone resident in Thatcham, Cold Ash and Bucklebury is welcome to apply. For more details, please email roberttayton@aol.com.

• The NWN reports on p24 that plans have been submitted to convert Grange Nursery into a WEN (special educational needs) school for 60 pupils.

1st Thatcham Brownies has places for 7-10-year-old girls. Contact 1stthatchambrownies@gmail.com for details.

• The Great British Spring Clean takes place between 28 May and 13 June. Contact your local Town Councillor to see how you can get involved in a litter pick event near you. If you are organising a clean-up please pledge to pick (as an individual or as a group) here, West Berkshire Council can loan litter-picking equipment to help you carry out your event, but please give them as much notice as possible and check availability before advertising your event.

• Four local councils – Thatcham, Midgham, Cold Ash and Bucklebury – which would be directly affected by the plan to build 2,500 homes in north east Thatcham have formed an alliance to co-ordinate opposition to what they claim is a disproportionate plan in an area which already suffers from a chronic shortage of infrastructure. You can read an open letter from these four councils here.

This alliance, as I shall continue to call it, has started work. Thatcham, the largest of the four and the one most directly affected, will be looking at issues such as traffic and flooding. Bucklebury, probably the next most affected, will be concentrating on the environmental/AONB impacts, particularly with regard to Bucklebury Common. Cold Ash and Midgham, who will probably be more indirectly touched by this, will be considering the impact of traffic in their own parishes. Thatcham Town Council has agreed in principle to fund a traffic study for the project and further expert advice will be needed on other aspects of the proposal.

• Anyone wanting to experience the singular sight of winter and summer at the same time could do worse than talk a walk out of Bucklebury towards Bradfield where, for about three-quarters of a mile, the route is lined by some venerable oak trees. These were planted in honour of a visit by Queen Elizabeth – not the current one, mind but her 16th-century Tudor predecessor. The problem is that some very hungry caterpillars have been attacking some of them with the result that their summer foliage has fallen off. Others currently seem untroubled. Bucklebury PC and West Berkshire Council are looking into this and trying to find a solution.

• The 1st Thatcham Scout Group currently has five leaders to assist 54 young people across its Beavers, Cubs and Scouts sections and is looking for more – click here for more.

• A new community larder is starting up in Thatcham at Frank Hutchins Hall offering food and community support at a very low cost membership fee – click here for details.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 March and you can red the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 6 May and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: formal year-end matters; the north east Thatcham development (see also above); the nature of future meetings; planning applications; the purchase of some benches; financial matters; and the sign at the playwark.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 5 May and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 6 May and you can read the minutes here.

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

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 5 May and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 15 April and you can read the minutes here. You can also see the brief minutes of the PC’s annual parish assembly by clicking here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with a relatively steep road and ends with Einstein (do you see what I’m doing here?).

Thursday 3 June 2021

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

• The Thatcham Town Council Surgery takes place on Sat 5 June: Thatcham Town Councillor Mark Lillycrop and Town and District Councillor Owen Jeffery will be in the Broadway from 10am until noon to speak with local residents and hear their concerns and comments about the town. They will be joined by representatives from Thames Valley Police.

• The timetables for the West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for lateral-flow tests has recently changed – details can be found here.

Thatcham Level Crossing will be closed from 10pm to 5am from Mon 31 May to Fri 4 June 2021 between its junctions with Chamberhouse Mill Lane and Pipers Way. This closure is to enable Network Rail to carry out repairs to its network on behalf of West Berkshire Council.

1st Thatcham Brownies has places for 7-10-year-old girls. Contact 1stthatchambrownies@gmail.com for details.

• The Great British Spring Clean takes place between 28 May and 13 June. Contact your local Town Councillor to see how you can get involved in a litter pick event near you. If you are organising a clean-up please pledge to pick (as an individual or as a group) here, West Berkshire Council can loan litter-picking equipment to help you carry out your event, but please give them as much notice as possible and check availability before advertising your event.

• Four local councils – Thatcham, Midgham, Cold Ash and Bucklebury – which would be directly affected by the plan to build 2,500 homes in north east Thatcham have formed an alliance to co-ordinate opposition to what they claim is a disproportionate plan in an area which already suffers from a chronic shortage of infrastructure. You can read an open letter from these four councils here.

• Meanwhile, the proposers of another plan for development in Thatcham, the 950-scheme in Colthrop south of the railway line, have recently claimed that this would in many ways be preferable to the 2,500-home plan.

• The 1st Thatcham Scout Group currently has five leaders to assist 54 young people across its Beavers, Cubs and Scouts sections and is looking for more – click here for more.

• As reported on p14 of this week’s NWN, Age UK’s shop in Thatcham is looking for helpers. Call 01635 864 994 or click here if you’re interested and to book a taster volunteer session.

• A new community larder is starting up in Thatcham at Frank Hutchins Hall offering food and community support at a very low cost membership fee – click here for details.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 March and you can red the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 5 May and you can read the draft minutes here. Items covered included: speeding; planning restrictions on gates and fences; election of a chairman and vice chairman; the Club Room; the Village Field; the Village Green; planning applications; the village census; sewer flooding; financial matters; tree planting’ rights of way; and forthcoming events.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 6 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a new councillor; financial matters; and planning applications and decisions.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 4 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: an open forum at which Laura Farris MP was present (see below); the hedge at Enborne Way and Brimpton Lane; a review of policies and procedures; the no cold-calling zone; speeding; planning matters; financial matters; various year-end matters; WBC’s consultations; the need for a new councillor; parking in the village; litter, and the school bus.

Laura Farris attended the above-mentioned Brimpton PC meeting and a full report of the matters discussed with her can be seen in the minutes. These include the settlement boundary, the need for smaller houses in the area; speeding and parking in the village and fly tipping.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 5 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation by James Iles from Pro Vision about a proposed development for the Land South of Waller Drive, Newbury; the election of the Chairman and Vice Chairman; the possible need to move the basketball hoop due to safety concerns; face-to-face meetings to resume in the Acland Hall; tree works; new street names; the recreation ground; planning applications; financial matters; and various local repairs around the parish.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 15 April and you can read the minutes here. You can also see the brief minutes of the PC’s annual parish assembly by clicking here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 12 April and you can read the minutes here.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with bluebells and ends with Jung.

Thursday 27 May 2021

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

• The timetables for the West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for lateral-flow tests has recently changed – details can be found here.

Thatcham Level Crossing will be closed from 10pm to 5am from Mon 31 May to Fri 4 June 2021 between its junctions with Chamberhouse Mill Lane and Pipers Way. This closure is to enable Network Rail to carry out repairs to its network on behalf of West Berkshire Council.

Harts Hill Road will be closed from 8.30am to 4.30pm on Mon 31 May 2021 between its junction with Floral Way/Harts Hill Roundabout and its junction with Burdens Heath so SSE can carry out clearance of overhanging trees from power lines. Residential access will be maintained throughout. An alternative route is via Burdens Heath, Broad Lane, The Ridge, Cold Ash Hill, Heath Lane, Floral Way and vice versa. All enquiries to Centurion Traffic Management on 01132 775 360.

• The Great British Spring Clean takes place between 28 May and 13 June. Thatcham Litter PickersMay litter pick is this Saturday. Please meet at the corner of Lower and The Moors. If you are organising a clean-up please pledge to pick (as an individual or as a group) here, West Berkshire Council can loan litter-picking equipment to help you carry out your event, but please give them as much notice as possible and check availability before advertising your event.

• This week’s Newbury Weekly News reports on p28 about the proposals by Thatcham TC’s Town Centre Working Party to “freshen up” the town. One scheme that might help is a share of the government’s Welcome Back Fund which aims to help communities recover from the pandemic. West Berkshire Council has invited Thatcham TC to be a “delivery partner” for this although the Working Party Chairman said that “the full implications of this needed to be understood.”

• Four local councils – Thatcham, Midgham, Cold Ash and Bucklebury – which would be directly affected by the plan to build 2,500 homes in north east Thatcham have formed an alliance to co-ordinate opposition to what they claim is a disproportionate plan in an area which already suffers from a chronic shortage of infrastructure. You can read an open letter from these four councils here.

• Meanwhile, the proposers of another plan for development in Thatcham, the 950-scheme in Colthrop south of the railway line, have recently claimed that this would in many ways be preferable to the 2,500-home plan. They have suggested that the latter is not sustainable, uses Greenfield land, imposes “enormous infrastructure challenges” and does not provide a railway bridge.

• The 1st Thatcham Scout Group currently has five leaders to assist 54 young people across its Beavers, Cubs and Scouts sections and is looking for more – click here for more.

• A new community larder is starting up in Thatcham at Frank Hutchins Hall offering food and community support at a very low cost membership fee – click here for details.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 March and you can red the minutes here. Note that the Council delegates much of its work to committees. Click here for more on these.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 6 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a new councillor; financial matters; and planning applications and decisions.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 4 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: an open forum at which Laura Farris MP was present (see below); the hedge at Enborne Way and Brimpton Lane; a review of policies and procedures; the no cold-calling zone; speeding; planning matters; financial matters; various year-end matters; WBC’s consultations; the need for a new councillor; parking in the village; litter, and the school bus.

Laura Farris attended the above-mentioned Brimpton PC meeting and a full report of the matters discussed with her can be seen in the minutes. These include the settlement boundary, the need for smaller houses in the area; speeding and parking in the village and fly tipping.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 5 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a presentation by James Iles from Pro Vision about a proposed development for the Land South of Waller Drive, Newbury; the election of the Chairman and Vice Chairman; the possible need to move the basketball hoop due to safety concerns; face-to-face meetings to resume in the Acland Hall; tree works; new street names; the recreation ground; planning applications; financial matters; and various local repairs around the parish.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 15 April and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 1 March and you can read the draft minutes here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 12 April and you can read the minutes here.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with a gate and ends with Neil Gaiman.

Thursday 20 May 2021

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

• The timetables for the West Berkshire Council’s mobile community collect service for these lateral-flow tests is changing from Monday 24 May – details can be found here.

• Opposition continues to grow to West Berkshire Council’s plans to concentrate new development in the district to the north east of Thatcham where it’s proposed that 2,500 homes be built. Four local councils – Thatcham, Midgham, Cold Ash and Bucklebury – would be directly affected by this and are coming an alliance to co-ordinate opposition to what they claim is a disproportionate plan in an area which already suffers from a chronic shortage of infrastructure. You can read an open letter from these four councils here.

• Meanwhile, the proposers of another plan for development in Thatcham, the 950-scheme in Colthrop south of the railway line, claim that this would in many ways be preferable to the 2,500-home plan. They have suggested that the latter is not sustainable, uses Greenfield land, imposes “enormous infrastructure challenges” and does not provide a railway bridge. You can read more on this on p27 of this week’s NWN.

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 March and you can red the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 6 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a new councillor; financial matters; and planning applications and decisions.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 4 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: an open forum at which Laura Farris MP was present (see below); the hedge at Enborne Way and Brimpton Lane; a review of policies and procedures; the no cold-calling zone; speeding; planning matters; financial matters; various year-end matters; WBC’s consultations; the need for a new councillor; parking in the village; litter, and the school bus.

Laura Farris attended the above-mentioned Brimpton PC meeting and a full report of the matters discussed with her can be seen in the minutes. These include the settlement boundary, the need for smaller houses in the area; speeding and parking in the village and fly tipping.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 27 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the basketball hoop; goats on the grazing field; the recreation ground; digital mapping; WBC’s local plan review; the football club; and several planning applications.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 15 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning applications; financial matters; rights of way; anti-social behaviour in Pinewood Park; playground inspections; tree work; the Village Hall; and the bus shelter.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 1 March and you can read the draft minutes here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 12 April and you can read the minutes here.

• We mentioned (not the first time) about sewage in the Lambourn Valley. Residents of Bucklebury have had a different issue, not with high-pressure groundwater and sewage but low-pressure mains caused by leaks in the pipes. A recent long-standing problem was recently fixed by Thames Water; however, H2O is as cunning as a virus and soon found other weak points of the network to leak out of. Bucklebury PC and local residents are pressing TW to fix this latest problem, which provides yet another example of a utility company needing to run just to stand still. I don’t know how much money is spent on infrastructure maintenance of various kinds in the UK but I’ll bet it’s not nearly enough. Repair work is ever a Cinderella service: new, bright and shiny things are far more eye-catching.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with wild garlic and ends with John Lennon.

Thursday 13 May 2021

• See here for details of the Covid lateral flow tests that are available in Thatcham (note that the location of these has recently changed).

• This week’s Newbury weekly News reports on p28 that Thatcham Town Council recently debated how it would safely and legally conduct its meetings between 7 May (when the dispensation to hold them remotely ended) and 21 June (when the roadmap suggested that it would safe and permitted once again to hold meetings in-person without considerablymhimiting the number of attendees). As the prohibition is only on meetings which reach decisions and vote, it was eventually decided to temporarily turn its committees into working groups whose decisions would then be approved by the Clerk and one other councillor under delegated powers. other councils up and down the country will have been going through similar contortions.

• A letter in the same paper this week pores scorn on the “delightful” claims made about the development at Charlotte close in Hermitage by the western Area Planning committee (see last week’s entry, below0. The writer claims that the village has already been “vastly ever-developed.”

Yattendon may be many people’s idea of an idyllic English village but it’s also the home of the infamous Calvesley pig farm which, as was reported here and elsewhere last year, was the scene of horrifying and systemic acts of animal cruelty. This week’s NWN takes up the story on p5. If it doesn’t make you vegetarian, it certainly makes you want to question your butcher about where the meat comes from and to try buy the stuff from a retailer you trust or from a reputable supplier (easier to do in this part of the country than in a city).

• The most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council for which minutes are available took place on 29 March and you can red the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 13 April and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 6 April and you can download the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 15 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: planning applications; financial matters; rights of way; anti-social behaviour in Pinewood Park; playground inspections; tree work; the Village Hall; and the bus shelter.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 1 March and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council (also the annual meeting) took place on 6 May and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a new councillor; financial matters; and planning applications and decisions.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 12 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the proposed 2,500 homes in Thatcham (more than once); the Bucklebury Playing Field Charity and Bucklebury Recreation Ground Charity; re-arrangement of meetings following the government’s insistence that all meetings must take place in person from 7 May; litter-picking events; a confusion about the Memorial Hall planning application; cleaning the bus shelter; planning applications; improvements at Bucklebury meadows; dog mess (an item that seems to crop up at every meeting in every parish); a possible wildflower meadow at Hockett Field; playground and bike track inspections; litter; CCTV; speeding; recycling; financial matters; future meetings; and the Working group looking at WBC’s local plan, specifically the part of it the proposes that 2,500 homes be built in Thatcham.

Click here for details of Covid lateral flow tests, which are available at four sites across the district (Hungerford, Newbury, Thatcham and Burghfield), and home-testing kits.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with a sunset and ends with Plato.

Thursday 6 May 2021

• See here for details of the Covid lateral flow tests that are available in Thatcham (note that the location of these has recently changed).

• I referred last week to the proposals to redraw Thatcham’s settlement boundary in order to include the proposed 2,500 homes that WBC announced earlier this year in its emerging local plan and Thatcham TC’s reasons for objecting to this (mainly because the location of the country park needed to be established so that the settlement boundary excluded this). There’s a letter from a Lib Der Councillor on Thatcham TC which explains Thatcham’s concerns in greater detail.

• Also in this week’s NWN, on p26, is an article about what WBC’s executive member for culture, Howard Woollaston, described as “blue-sky thinking”, about the idea that the upgrading of Thatcham Library (which all agree is needed) could, rather than being done piecemeal, take advantage of the impending demolition of the Walnut Close Care Home which abuts both the Library and the medical practice next door, so allowing space for both to expand. This is likely to be a long-term plan although Thatcham TC is proposing that some things need attending to more urgently. I spoke to Paul James, WBC’s Library services Manager, who confirmed that they were trying to balance these short- and long-term objectives. He agreed that “accessible” (not “disabled”, as the article mentioned) toilets were needed and that he was looking into what the options were for this that would avoid the risk that they would need to be torn down in a few years if the larger project took shape. He said that a feasibility report was being prepared which should be ready in about a month.

• I don’t think you often get members of a planning committee outbidding each other with their praise for a new housing development but that’s what happened at Western Area last week with the plans for Charlotte Close in Hermitage (which had been called in as more than 10 people objected). The report on p27 of this week’s NWN quotes Councillor Hilary Cole as praising the “careful consideration” that has gone into the design, while Councillor Tony Vickers described it as “really well thought-through.” Councillor Cole also added that “it’s pleasing to see that we’re getting 40% affordable housing.” Indeed: as this is WBC’s policy for a greenfield site, one would imagine she wouldn’t need to say this, any more than she might praise the fact that the houses had roofs. That it did need to be said shows how often this policy is breached by developers, for whom such a stipulation is unprofitable.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 13 April and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 6 April and you can download the draft minutes here.

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

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 1 March and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 22 March and you can read the minutes here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 12 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the proposed 2,500 homes in Thatcham (more than once); the Bucklebury Playing Field Charity and Bucklebury Recreation Ground Charity; re-arrangement of meetings following the government’s insistence that all meetings must take place in person from 7 May; litter-picking events; a confusion about the Memorial Hall planning application; cleaning the bus shelter; planning applications; improvements at Bucklebury meadows; dog mess (an item that seems to crop up at every meeting in every parish); a possible wildflower meadow at Hockett Field; playground and bike track inspections; litter; CCTV; speeding; recycling; financial matters; and future meetings. Hats off also to the Clerk, Helen Pratt, who has produced a very comprehensive set of minutes that go beyond being just a bald formal record.

• One item in the above-mentioned minutes deserves quoting in full. Item P9 concerned the update from the Working Group on WBC’s local plan (which proposes that 2,500 homes be built between Thatcham and Bucklebury). “The article written for The Oaks [the village magazine] has now been published on the website and on Facebook. Links to it have been shared on Twitter and Instagram. A meeting is to be held with Thatcham Town Council and surrounding parishes to consider working together. Representatives of the Working Group are meeting with the developer putting forwards the Colthrop Village proposal. A number of parishioners are assisting with work including Julian Dobbins (Environment) and Jason Allum (Flooding). Areas being researched include crematoria and pollution. Traffic is still being considered; questions were asked about whether there could be access to the WB traffic modelling information. It has also been identified that the CIL benefits from the Colthrop Village development are far higher than from the NE Thatcham development. Discussions are ongoing with Mike Robinson, the Planning Consultant.”

(The “surrounding parishes” refer to Cold Ash and Midgham, as well as Bucklebury and Thatcham. The plan is that these pool resources and expertise and collectively instruct planning consultants and legal advisors to oppose the proposals as they stand.)

Click here for details of Covid lateral flow tests, which are available at four sites across the district (Hungerford, Newbury, Thatcham and Burghfield), and home-testing kits.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with birds and bees and ends with Chuck Palahniuk.

Thursday 29 April 2021

• See here for details of the Covid lateral flow tests that are available in Thatcham (note that the location of these has recently changed).

• There’s an article on p27 of this week’s NWN about the proposals to redraw Thatcham’s settlement boundary in order to include the proposed 2,500 homes that WBC announced earlier this year in its emerging local plan. I found this slightly hard to follow. A couple of calls and emails have revealed that it seems WBC asked Thatcham Town Council to consult on this, but the town immediately raised a problem. A settlement boundary is, according Plainview, “normally a line drawn around a settlement in the proposals map of a local plan. The local plan generally allows for development within the boundary and resists development outside.” The issue Thatcham had was that a country park is planned for the site: as its location has not been specified, the new settlement boundary could not ring-fence this to protect it from future development. WBC pointed out that it was “incorrect” to suggest that just because a site is within a settlement boundary it will inevitably be developed. That may be so, but the predisposition will be in favour. Such projects can take a long time to reach fruition: plans can change and “auld acquaintance be forgot”. WBC is then quoted as saying that “only once the development has been defined that the settlement boundary can be definitively changed,” which leaves me wondering why the question is being asked of Thatcham TC now. One might also expect the neighbouring parishes of Bucklebury, Midgham and Cold Ash to be consulted with at the same time but it seems this hasn’t happened. I’m not quite sure what the next move is on this.

• All four parishes are opposed to the 2,500-home development as it stands and are discussing what their joint response will be. As mentioned previously, this may take the form of an over-arching group to co-ordinate this and to obtain the expert planning and legal advice that will be required. More on this in due course.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 13 April and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a discussion about the record of a planning application considered at the previous meeting; no parking under the basketball hoop; the future of the goats on the grazing field; planning matters; the bridge at the wildlife allotment garden; a proposed sympathetic pollard for the twin-trunked oak tree; financial matters; funding for the traffic consultant; the annual parish meeting (on 5 May); reports from the committees; and correspondence received “regarding rifle use.”

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 6 April and you can download the draft minutes here.

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

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Council took place on 1 March and you can read the draft minutes here. One item from this that caught my eye was that WBC doesn’t have a policy on whether passing places in narrow roads – in which the area abounds – which are often churned up by cars pulling in to let other vehicles pass. This seems a particular problem in this parish but it would by no means be unique to it.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 22 March and you can read the minutes here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

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

• There was also an extraordinary Bucklebury PC meeting on 19 March, the sole purpose of which was to set up an opposition group to the plan to build 2,500 homes to the north east of Thatcham and on the edge of Bucklebury. You can read he minutes here.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with girl-guiding and ends with the diary of a girl.

Thursday 22 April 2021

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

• A letter in today’s NWN accuses WBC’s Planning Policy Manager Bryan Lyttle of spouting “incomprehensible gobbledegook” by suggesting that a bridge at Thatcham would become a rat run and increase traffic flows in the area. I must leap to his defence: the point he made seems clear enough to me and is, presumably, based on evidence from elsewhere. I’m not sure I agree with it, as the writer certainly doesn’t; but that’s a separate matter. His point was being made with regard to WBC’s current plan to build 2,500 homes to the north east of the town. If the 950 south of the tracks at Colthrop gets off the ground then a bridge would probably be necessary if the queues at the level crossing are not to get out of control. I suppose there’s a risk that all the developer contributions would go towards any bridge, so leaving nothing to support the other infrastructure improvements that everyone agrees are long overdue in the town. Elsewhere in the letters page, another reader suggests a tunnel. This would lead to exactly the same result, for good or for ill, and would probably be more expensive. Actually, I don’t know why I said that. Are bridges more expensive than tunnels? Anyone know the answer to that one?

• On p24, this week’s NWN reports on the approval by WBC of plans to “improve and repair” the old Bluecoat School building in Thatcham.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 6 April and you can download the draft minutes here. Items covered included: permitted footpaths; a proposed “no cold-calling zone”; the possible purchase of a speed indicator device; road safety; a possible cash machine in the village (not being pursued as there’s no suitable site); planning issues; the proposed solar farm at Riddings Farm; the ongoing complaint about the planning decision at Washoe Lodge; financial matters; a councillor resignation; and the next meeting (4 May) which will be attended by Laura Farris.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 18 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: the replacement of the bus shelter; planning applications; financial matters; confirmation on the guidance on the use of artificial flowers at the burial ground (silk flowers are now acceptable); playground inspections; the Hermitage Support Group (which has been given an award by the sheriff of Berkshire); progress on the transfer of hermitage Green to the PC; and the date of the annual parish assembly (Thursday 29 April, online.)

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 22 March and you can read the minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 23 March and you can read the minutes here.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

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

• There was also an extraordinary Bucklebury PC meeting on 19 March, the sole purpose of which was to set up an opposition group to the plan to build 2,500 homes to the north east of Thatcham and on the edge of Bucklebury. You can read he minutes here.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Councillor for which minutes are available took place on 18 January and you can read the draft minutes here.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with a sapling and ends with Samuel West.

Thursday 15 April 2021

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

• All the discussion about the proposed 2,500 homes in Thatcham has seemingly miffed the proposers of a 950-home development at Colthrop, just south of the railway lines. One advantage this has over the larger plan is that it would be within walking distance of Thatcham’s awkwardly-sited station, so immediately making it more sustainable. It would also certainly require a bridge (off a new roundabout in Piper’s Way). WBC doesn’t seem to like the idea of a bridge for its own north-east Thatcham plan, claiming it would be a rat run. Were 2,000-odd people to move in south of the tracks, however, the level crossing would grind to a complete halt. Perhaps the Council is also concerned that the cost of this (and then some) would use up all the developer contributions, leaving nothing over for the other infrastructure improvements that the town already badly needs. It also might be slightly spooked by the fact that a consortium is involved, rather than a singe developer and landowner, something which has caused and is causing so many problems at Sandleford. The larger north-east Thatcham site will, however, have four separate companies involved on four contiguous but separate sites. The Colthrop scheme certainly seems to be on a more human scale: perhaps more importantly, it’s quite a lot further advanced.

Newbury Today reports that the charity Heartstart Thatcham, which over the last eight years has installed over 60 defrillators across the district and trained over 2,000 people – has decided to close “following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and other issues.”

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 22 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: salt bins; Covid scams; an update on the Village Hall; financial matters; one planning application; the PC’s response to the proposed 2,500-home development in Thatcham; delays to the footpath repairs; the co-option of a new councillor; and confirmation that the 2021 Annual Parish Meeting will take place on 25 May in the Village Hall.

• The most recent meeting of Cold Ash Parish Council took place on 23 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: football on the recreation ground; rolling the cricket square; tree removal; the annual parish meeting (on 5 May); planning applications (in particular 21/00330 for the conversion to agricultural buildings to residential dwellings at Cleardene Farm, concerning which the PC had “many concerns”.

• The same meeting also referred to a possible plan to lobby for the use of the Newbury Showground near M4 J13 for housing, in preference to the sit in NE Thatcham where 2,500 homes have been propose. The meeting was told, however, that this would not be suitable due to pollution levels (a distribution centre would seem to be the preferred option). The report then appeared to go on to the suggest that a similar charge could be levied at the 2,500-home site for being close to the A4.

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 2 March and you can read the draft minutes here. The most recent meeting took place on 6 April and a video of this is available here (and will probably remain until draft minutes are published).

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 18 February and you can read the minutes here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

• The most recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council took place on 8 March and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: a possible dog-exercise field; the formation of an opposition group to the Thatcham housing plans (see also paragraph below); the PC’s anticipation of the answers to written questions from the Ask Hilary Facebook Live session last month; the change of ownership at Bucklebury Farm park; litter picking on the Common; the latest edition of the quarterly parish magazine The Oaks (which you can read here); one planning application; the settlement boundary; wildflowers at Hockett Field; socially-distanced conversations at Bucklebury meadows; repairs in the cemetery; barriers on the bike track; SID equipment; reports from the committees; financial matters; and the report that the parish has collected 74kg of bottle tops which have been sent for recycling (that’s about 37,000 of the little round, sharp, slightly jagged metal things).

• There was also an extraordinary Bucklebury PC meeting on 19 March, the sole purpose of which was to set up an opposition group to the plan to build 2,500 homes to the north east of Thatcham and on the edge of Bucklebury. You can read he minutes here. The group has been set up and given start-up funding of £1,000 by the PC (after that, I’m told, it’s on its own). The main costs for such groups is expert external consultants and it was felt that the group would in time require £10-15,000 and more if legal counsel were needed at any enquiry. To help produce some economies of scale, the plan is that the councils or opposition groups from the five affected parishes – Thatcham, Bucklebury, Woolhampton, Midgham and Cold Ash – would create one over-arching…may I use the term “super group”? That’s the idea anyway. If you would like to find out more, please contact the respective PC. Once established, this will have its own website and FB page.

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Councillor for which minutes are available took place on 18 January and you can read the draft minutes here.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with a grey horse and ends with Dorian Gray.

Thursday 8 April 2021

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

• This week’s NWN has on p26 an article which re-opens the debate about wether there should be a bridge or an underpass or something at Thatcham to replace the level crossing. Network Rail has recently claimed that it would support this plan if the proposed 950-home development at Colthrop to the south of the railway line went ahead. The article reports that the rail network still has about 6,000 level crossings, each one of which must cause sleepless night for those responsible for them. This idea is also relevant to the proposed 2,500-home development in north east Thatcham, although opinions differ as to what impact this would have on traffic wanting to cross the tracks and whether, were a bridge to be built, this would be used as a rat run to Greenham and points south.

• An extraordinary story from the Thatcham section of the same paper, a variation of the archetypical “dog bites man” scoop. A woman was savagely attacked by a German shepherd (“Alsatian” they used to be called, the new name being a PR job). A man then appeared with a dog lead, brought the animal to heel, pleaded with the victim not to call the police and then left with the dog. Laster he denied that it was his animal and that he just happened to be passing by with a dog lead (but no dog) and managed to say just the right things to bring the animal to heel (he has an Alsatian of his own). He then claimed that he didn’t care what happened to the dog as it wasn’t his and had left it when it wouldn’t follow him any further. No DNA evidence of the animal was found at his home. The biting dog has since vanished. After a three-day trial, he was acquitted of owning a dangerous animal, the court accepting his counsel’s claim that no one was lying, it was just that some of them mis-heard what he had said. “Don’t go to the police” and “that’s not my dog” don’t sound very similar to me: but, then again, I wasn’t there. I can’t get my round the fact that an Alsatian owner with a lead just happened upon the scene when he was most needed. Mind you, it does happen. For about 10 years I had a BMW. It only broke down on the road twice: and on both occasions the person in the car behind me was a qualified BMW mechanic who fixed the problem.

• On 8 March, Councillor Hilary Cole (portfolio holder for planning) and Bryan Lyttle (Planning Policy Manager) held a Facebook Live update on the proposed West Berkshire Local Plan Review with a particular focus on the North East Thatcham Strategic Site Allocation. You can see a recording of the event here.

• You might also want to click here to read what the main interested parties have to say about the proposed plans in for 2,500 homes in Thatcham.

• The long-running saga of Piggy Woods (which last year was revealed to be owned but by West Berkshire Council but by an investment company which has since been busy parcelling the land up and selling it at auction) last week took a step forward with confirmation that a number of tree preservation orders arranged by Thatcham Town Council are now in force. These should provide a powerful and permanent protection against the risk of speculative development.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 22 March and you can read the minutes here. items covered included: salt bins; Covid scams; an update on the Village Hall; financial matters; one planning application; the PC’s response to the proposed 2,500-home development in Thatcham; delays to the footpath repairs; the co-option of a new councillor; and confirmation that the 2021 Annual Parish Meeting will take place on 25 May in the Village Hall.

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

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council for which minutes are available took place on 2 March and you can read the draft minutes here. The most recent meeting took place on 6 April and a video of this is available here (and will probably remain until draft minutes are published).

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 18 February and you can read the minutes here.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

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

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Councillor for which minutes are available took place on 18 January and you can read the draft minutes here.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with a graveyard and ends with Einstein.

Thursday 1 April 2021

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

• Thus week’s NWN reports that MP Laura Farris (who expressed a number of concerns about the 2,500-home plan in Thatcham at a recent meeting of Bucklebury Parish Council) has told the most recent meeting of Thatcham Town Council she is in “an ongoing conversation [with WBC] about whether [north east Thatcham] is really the right location.” She has also questioned whether  it’s “Thatcham or nothing” and whether this number of homes are indeed required in the district. On the last point, WBC’s planners will doubtless point to the figures that have been handed down from Whitehall. As to whether Thatcham is the only site in the district, for the reasons I suggested last week, I don’t see that its necessary, beneficial or even feasible to have everything concentrated in a mega-site at all.

• On 8 March, Councillor Hilary Cole (portfolio holder for planning) and Bryan Lyttle (Planning Policy Manager) held a Facebook Live update on the proposed West Berkshire Local Plan Review with a particular focus on the North East Thatcham Strategic Site Allocation. You can see a recording of the event here.

• You might also want to click here to read what the main interested parties have to say about the proposed plans in for 2,500 homes in Thatcham.

• The long-running saga of Piggy Woods (which last year was revealed to be owned but by West Berkshire Council but by an investment company which has since been busy parcelling the land up and selling it at auction) has recently taken a step forward. I learned this week that a number of tree preservation orders arranged by Thatcham Town Council are now in force and should provide a powerful and permanent protection against the risk of speculative development.

• The most recent meeting of Midgham Parish Council took place on 22 March and you can read the minutes here. items covered included: salt bins; Covid scams; an update on the Village Hall; financial matters; one planning application; the PC’s response to the proposed 2,500-home development in Thatcham; delays to the footpath repairs; the co-option of a new councillor; and confirmation that the 2021 Annual Parish Meeting will take place on 25 May in the Village Hall.

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

• Information about the progress of Cold Ash’s neighbourhood development plan can be found here.

• The most recent meeting of Brimpton Parish Council took place on 2 March and you can read the draft minutes here.

• The most recent meeting of Hermitage Parish Council took place on 18 February and you can read the minutes here. Items covered included: various planning applications; financial matters; playground inspections; and the progress of various repairs around the parish.

• See also this page for up-to-date information about Hermitage’s neighbourhood development plan.

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

• The most recent of Stanford Dingley Parish Councillor for which minutes are available took place on 18 January and you can read the draft minutes here.

• Click here to see the latest Cold Ash Community Bulletin, which this week starts with daffodils and ends with Hemingway.

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