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Local News Aug 10-17

Including charitable status for the Hungerford Library, a planning decision in Greenham, new waste charges, bus services axed in Wiltshire, Shefford knacker’s yard dispute resurfaces, good causes celebrated, roadworks, council contacts, emotional health, sewage repairs, community transport, giving offence v taking it, awareness events, wild flower spotting, pet chipping, postal scamming, sunflower measuring, tea drinking, Glen Campbell revisiting and the Cardinal-Archbishop of Lima.

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Roadworks updates. Click on the links for news regarding West Berkshire, the Wantage area, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Swindon.

• The recent announcement that £3m of extra funding has been secured to repair the rural roads in West Berkshire means that there are likely to be some delays over the next six to eight months, particularly on the B4000 and the A338 between Newtown and J14.

• Click here for information on forthcoming closures on closures, partial closures and delays on the A34; and here for the same on the M4.

Neighbourhood policing updates. For the Thames Valley Police’s ‘Your Local Area’ page generally, click here. For specific areas, click here for Hungerford and Lambourn; click here for Newbury Town Centre; click here for Newbury Outer; click here for Bucklebury and Downlands; click here for Thatcham, Aldermaston and Brimpton; click here for Wantage and Grove; click here for Wiltshire East (including Marlborough); click here for Swindon and other parts of Wiltshire; click here for Hampshire.

• A number of community minibus and car schemes provide transport services for – but not exclusively for – older and disabled people. You can click here to find more about the range of services (and volunteering opportunities) in West Berkshire. Click here for services in Wiltshire and Swindon.

District, town or parish council contacts. To view the contacts page for Hungerford TC, click here; for Newbury, click here; for Thatcham, click here. If you live in the Vale of White Horse area, click here (and here for Wantage); if you live in Wiltshire, click here (and here for Marlborough). For Swindon, click here.

• 12 to 20 August is Afternoon Tea Week. It surprised me to learn that the world’s largest consumer of tea per head of population is not the UK, nor China, but Turkey. You can see the full list here. The week will be celebrated at a number of places throughout the area, including at Blandy’s at Audley Inglewood. You can keep up to date with their events here. If you would like to improve your own teapot collection, click here to read an article by local expert Stuart Miller-Osborne on the subject.

• Other awareness days and weeks coming up are Skyscraper Appreciation Day (10 Aug), International Youth Day (12 Aug), International Left-handers Awareness Day (13 Aug), National Allotment Week (from 14 Aug), Vinyl Record Day (15 Aug), Rum Day (16 Aug), Black Cat Appreciation Day (17 Aug) and International Bow Tie Day (19 Aug). If you were looking forward to International Melon Day, you’ve missed it (9 Aug). I wonder when Awareness Day Awareness Day takes place?

• From 4 September, new charges will apply at the Padworth and Newtown Road recycling centres. Click here for details.

• Please click here for the latest news from Hungerford Town Council.

• You can click here to read the latest Penny Post Hungerford, published on 1 Aug with the usual wide range of news stories and articles.

• Due to an IT issue, the outreach Post Office service in Hungerford is currently closed. It’s hoped that the supply of a new router will resolve this and that the service will be operational again from Tuesday 15 August. Thanks to Penny Post reader Andrew Lo who helped identify the problem. Click here for more on this service and on the longer-term solution offered by the arrival of WHS.

• Congratulations to all those involved in the campaign to save the Hungerford Library, including to Keith Knight, Helen Simpson, Claire Barnes and all those at the Friends of Hungerford Library and West Berkshire Council. An important hurdle was crossed this week with the news from the Charity Commission that The Hungerford Library and Community Trust has been officially registered as a charity. This should enable the remainder of the plans to be put in place fairly quickly.

• Work continues in East Garston after the main sewage pipe running through the top of the village burst twice last month. Humphreys Lane will be closed until next week and the Millennium Field will be closed.

• Still in East Garston, the results of the Queens Arms Tallest Sunflower competition were announced on Wednesday evening. In a nail-biting, near photo-finish, Campbell Ross’s plant was declared the winner by a short leaf (that’s 6cm to those of you unfamiliar with the latest sunflower-measuring parlance).

• The matter of the proposed Great Shefford knacker’s yard has resurfaced with a number of objections to the revised application (comments on which closed last week). Many of these concerned the risk of contaminating the groundwater. You can read more in this week’s Newbury Weekly News.

• Please click here for the latest news from Newbury Town Council: and here to see NTC’s archive of monthly newsletters.

• Despite various objections, on 9 August West Berkshire Council approved plans for 157 homes in the so-called ‘Greenham Gap.’

• Please click here for the latest news from Marlborough Town Council.

• Bad news for bus users in and around Marlborough with the confirmation of the expected announcement that several services will be cut or curtailed as Wiltshire Council tries to find £50,000pa of savings. Click here for the new timetables from the Town Council’s website. The X20 from Marlborough to Newbury via Hungerford will now run on Fridays rather than Tuesdays. Click here for the  new timetable.

• Please click here for updates on changes to waste and recycling arrangements in Wiltshire following the result of a legal challenge to the Council.

• Have a look at The Ocelot by clicking here for information about theatre, music and art in the area.

• Please click here for the latest news from Thatcham Town Council.

• The Sceretary of State has dismissed an appeal by two local developers, finding in favour of West Berkshire Council with regard to a proposed development in Thatcham.

• Also from West Berkshire Council, news here about the local Children and Family Services.

• Details of buses serving Lambourn can be found here.

• Please click here for the latest news from Wantage Town Council.

• A story here about the importance of having pets chipped (which we should have done with our tabby who vanished last month).

• Scam alert, reported in Swindon but could be happening anywhere, involving fake Royal Mail delivery cards. Click here for more details.

• I came across an article here by the Newbury MP Richard Benyon. I agree with many of his points. In particular, there has always seemed to me to a huge difference between giving offence and choosing to take it. As well as outright abuse, the former now also includes numerous instances of casual racism and sexism, some of which are more serious than others. Social media has a lot to do with this as an ill-considered remark can result in immediate and widespread reaction. Often, as in the case of  Ain’t No Cinderella  in India this week, this leads to good results (the challenging of an idiotic and dinosaur-like pronouncement by a local politician). In other cases, the condemnation can be out of all proportion to the nature of the original statement. Some remarks are, by any rational standard, offensive: already, though, one gets into deep water almost at once, for something that might be perfectly acceptable in Saudi Arabia would not be in Shoreditch (and vice versa); while a remark that could seem merely old-fashioned from a 75-year-old might seem shocking if uttered by a teenager. Beyond a certain point, though, the issue becomes less about what is said than the reaction to it. If you said something to me that I chose to be offended by then that may well be my problem, not yours. I would hope I would take Voltaire’s approach: I disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it. As to where this line lies between actively giving offence and choosing to take it, it changes every day and depends on so many factors. We’ll never always get it right. Far better, though, to risk this than to pussy-foot around the language in search of platitudes like the conversational equivalent of a nervous health and safety officer inspecting an adventure playground.

• All this has reminded me of a story of another case of public shaming of a politician that deserves a fresh airing. Back in the ’60s, the ever-thirsty then Foreign Secretary George Brown was at a diplomatic function in Peru. The evening wore on; further drinks were taken; eventually, as the band struck up a particularly stirring tune, the befuddled minister could no longer resist going over to a person dramatically attired in what appeared to be a flowing purple dress and asking for the pleasure of a dance. “I will not dance with you,” the person replied, “for three reasons. Firstly, this is not a ball but a state banquet. Secondly, this is not a waltz but the Peruvian National Anthem. Thirdly, I am not a woman but the Cardinal-Archbishop of Lima.”

• It’s increasingly recognised that developing closer links with nature is good for us. We don’t have mangrove swamps, rolling deserts or tropical rainforests in this country but we do have an abundance of wild flowers. Click here for more on how you and your family can enjoy and experience this particularly British pleasure.

• A number of good causes have received valuable support recently, including: Awstin (sic) Lewis (thanks to the 24-hour football match at Park House); Harry’s Garden project (thanks to local volunteers in Marlborough); The Buddy Bags Foundation (thanks to volunteers in Thatcham); Macmillan Cancer Support (thanks to pupils at The Kennet School); several good causes (thanks to Thatcham Tiwn Council and Greenham Common Trust); the RNLI (thanks to round-Britain rower Lesley Foden)

• And so it’s time once again to switch on the Song of the Week. Glen Campbell died a few days ago. I can’t pretend to know a great deal about him but have listened to a few songs since. I didn’t realise what a great guitarist he was. The song that really grabbed me was Wichita Lineman (not written by him but by Jimmy Webb). This version is from a wonderful performance by Glen Campbell on Later with Jools Holland in 2008. The article gives some interesting background about the song.

• And so we come to the Quiz Question of the Week. This week, like last, I refer you to our two current quizzes: our regular monthly quiz with the prize as a meal for two at the newly-renovated Three Swans in Hungerford; and a special railway quiz which could earn you a family ticket to see the Flying Scotsman at Didcot Railway Centre.  If you want a bit of trivia, you can tell me which country in the world drinks the most tea per capita. The answer is in this post, so the question is really just to check that you’ve been paying attention…

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Brian Quinn

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