Thursday, 5 December 2013

Notice Anything New?

Thanks to Midgham Parish Council a new noticeboard has been provided outside the Village Hall.

The noticeboard will be regularly updated with forthcoming events and community information - including the monthly coffee mornings.

The next two will take place at 10am on Wednesday 18th December and Wednesday 29th January... maybe we'll see you there!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

'Vital Signs' and Vital Challenges in Berkshire

Berkshire Community Foundation recently published its 'Vital Signs' report.

The report 'measures the vitality and aspirations of our communities, identifies significant trends, and identifies social priorities critical to quality of life'.

This is a summary of the headlines:
  • Work and Local Economy - While earnings and productivity are high, unemployment in parts of Berkshire is a significant issue.
  • Getting Started in Berkshire - Immigration has increased across the county – especially in Slough and Reading.
  • The Gap between Rich and Poor - Berkshire’s overall affluence masks significant levels of local deprivation.
  • Housing and Homelessness - Berkshire is one of the least affordable areas in the UK in which to live.
  • Crime and Safety - Civil society organisations can play a key role in diverting young people from crime and anti-social behaviour.
  • Education - Although Berkshire performs well overall, some deprived urban areas show cause for concern.
  • Arts and Culture - Berkshire residents are very satisfied with their cultural amenities, though access for vulnerable groups is an issue.
  • Communities - Residents generally feel that Berkshire is a strong community, though isolation is an issue for some groups.
  • Environment - While Berkshire has some enviable rural countryside, its urban areas have a number of environmental issues.
  • Health and Well Being - Overall, Berkshire is a healthier place to live than most areas, though obesity and smoking remain issues of some concern.
  • Civil Society Organisations - Public spending cuts and the current economic climate are taking their toll on civil society organisations, curtailing many much needed services.
  • Young People - Many young people in isolated rural communities or pockets of urban deprivation face very challenging conditions. 
Of particular interest to Aldermaston ward residents are statistics relating to the quality of life in West Berkshire. Here some striking points are worth noting.

West Berkshire records the highest priority level for action on two counts: 'Economic change' and 'Housing affordability'. In addition the area struggles from weak scores on 'Connectivity' and 'Amenities'. On almost all social and environmental measures West Berkshire also falls below average for the county.

The report states:
"taking county wide statistics and indicators at face-value, it would be easy to conclude that Berkshire was doing well. In many instances this is true and should be celebrated. However, in other areas, county wide statistics mask strong variations in the fortunes and experiences of people in neighbouring urban and rural areas across the county."
Although Berkshire's economy is among the most vibrant nationwide, local data offers evidence of 'stark inequality', where "the level of deprivation of specific neighbourhoods in Berkshire equals, or exceeds, those in the most challenged wards in the country."

And while urban communities - such as Newbury - tend to suffer visible signs of deprivation, the degree of rural isolation resulting from 'lack of access to services, opportunities, amenities and subsequent social isolation exacerbated by poor public transport' is a major cause of economic disadvantatage in Aldermaston ward and West Berkshire, particularly for future generations.

The report concludes that economic inequality, or 'The Gap Between Rich And Poor', is a major problem in Berkshire with 'urgent cross-sector action required to reengage young people'.

You can read the full report here: [Berkshire Vital Signs 2013]

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Residents Frustrated With 'Neighbourhood' Policing In Rural Areas

As residents of West Berkshire we are lucky to live in a local authority area with relatively low levels of crime. And as residents of Aldermaston ward we are even luckier that our villages are among the safest in the district - at least, that's what we are led to believe!

While out campaigning members of your local Focus team attended several 'Have Your Say' [ref] events to meet local PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers). These 'Police surgeries' are intended to demonstrate engagement with communities and gather feedback regarding local policing priorities, yet they are often scheduled at times and places when members of the public are least likely to be able to attend and we found that they are also regularly cancelled without notice.

As a result engagement and feedback can be less than expected, and LibDems continue to receive occasional complaints that residents' concerns are overlooked. Since promises of accessibility fail to match public demands this may be leading to misidentification of local priorities by the Police authority.

In Aldermaston ward (Aldermaston, Brimpton, Midham Wasing and Woolhampton parishes) worries are compounded by the way neighbourhood policing teams are divided - after recent reorganisations Brimpton and Aldermaston villages are now included in the renamed 'Thatcham West' patrol area, while Midgham and Woolhampton are designated part of the 'Bucklebury/Downlands' area (although crime statistics are collected along different lines, see links below).

This has the consequence that Police resources become concentrated where priority reports are made - in Thatcham, and in Hermitage and Upper Bucklebury - meaning our villages fall between between two stools.

Almost 1/4 of all reported crime in Bucklebury/Downlands occurs in our ward, yet this is completely ignored in the Neighbourhood Policing Newsletter!

And since incidence of crime can quickly flare up as Police visibility falls your local LibDems are concerned that the neighbourhood policing boundaries do not reflect the needs of residents.

Aldermaston ward campaigner James Spackman commented,
"the way neighbourhood patrol areas are currently organised is failing both Police Officers and members of the public. Particularly during a time of austerity it's important to make sure we make the best use of available resources."

Check out Thames Valley Police performance figures from 2010-2013

Look the crime maps for:
Check Policing priorities for:

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Reactions to Proposed Budget Cuts

On November 5th West Berkshire Conservatives announced their proposals to cut more than £5m per year from its £120m annual budget.

Watch WBC Leader, Cllr Gordon Lundie (Lambourn), explain his reasoning here.

He stated that he would be seeking ways to save the services that people 'value most' by passing on the cost to local town and parish councils.

Speaking to Newbury Weekly News, Cllr Lundie said "there will inevitably be some redundancies" - but Liberal Democrats in West Berkshire think any blow could be softened.

LibDem Opposition leader, Cllr Jeff Brooks (Thatcham West), commented that "the council has withdrawn funding from the old and the young and will still have millions in the bank," - under the tories it's always the vulnerable who suffer most!

Cllr Brooks described the proposals as "very, very swingeing cuts," and added that Mr Lundie would be known as "the man who stole all the lollipop ladies... he will scare people".

The news has been met with dismay and shock, as recent grant funding reductions of £3m/year were managed by removing some discretionary services, including cutting transport budgets and youth services in 2010, closure of 5 youth centres in 2011, followed in 2012 by cuts to services for the elderly and disabled, victims of domestic abuse and the homeless.

However, just as the economy bounces back from the credit crunch, tories have decided that now is the time to take even more drastic action affecting the worst off in society!

This time cuts will concentrate on vulnerable adults and parenting support, health and social care services, transport and cultural services. Reading Post goes into more detail here.

But the greatest political controversy was reserved for the 50% reduction in subsidy to local theatres.

Remembering its past closure and reopening, and outreach work undertaken with schools and young people to engage and inspire their interests, director of Newbury Corn Exchange Katy Griffiths spoke out against the tory proposals, saying:
"we will be making sure that decision makers at the Council understand the far-reaching and unintended consequences that a cut this substantial would have for the local community."
Make sure you do too!

For a full list of proposed cuts and how to respond to the consultation click the links below:

Public transportLibrariesChildren's centres
Roads and verge maintenanceSchool crossing patrolsHealth related services
Car parkingTourismSupport for disabled children
Public conveniencesDuke of Edinburgh's Award ProgrammeParenting support
TheatresSupporting people in need of carePre-school Teacher Counselling
Services to vulnerable young peoplePlanning enforcementRoad safety


Sign and share West Berkshire Liberal Democrats' online petition against these unnecessary and unfair cuts!

WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, call upon West Berkshire Council to use all available resources to avoid the very severe cuts proposed by the Council on 5th November 2013 as these would disproportionally affect the disabled, vulnerable old and young people, those who live in rural areas, the safety of schoolchildren and other road users, and the already poor condition of our roads.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Signs o' the Crime

While out campaigning your local Focus team has been made aware of a particular local phenomenon - a spate of posters independently pinned to telegraph poles and noticeboards asking for information about different local crime incidents.

Here are photos of just two:

While the posters identify relatively minor incidents, they also reflect widely-expressed concerns about deprioritisation of crime levels in rural areas - such as the village parishes in Aldermaston ward.

Local campaigner James Spackman said,
"it's important to keep our eyes open for signs of crime, as the ability to share information will help pin-point local needs and prevent potential escalation in the future."

Monday, 28 October 2013

'On Track' With Local Station Manager Alison Stone

Last Saturday we were lucky enough to be able to meet with First Great Western's Alison Stone, Station Manager for Aldermaston and Midgham stations.

James Spackman with Alison Stone
It was a very useful meeting where we had the opportunity to ask a wide range of questions relating to the local rail and station services provided by FGW.

The first topic for discussion covered the redevelopment of Aldermaston station and reasons for long delays rebuilding at Midgham (see here and here).

Following this we talked about the effect of new car-parking charges at Aldermaston and the potential for their introduction at Midgham.

Then we raised issues of passenger safety, vehicle security and potential need for CCTV in local stations.

Next on the agenda was growing demand for cycle lock-up facilities.

Finally we discussed solutions for overcrowding on local trains during rush-hour, issues surrounding scheduled engineering works, rumoured reductions in service after electrification of the line and further above-inflation ticket price rises.

We noted that 5% discounts apply on Thames Valley routes because punctuality remains stubbornly low, at 89.2% for the month and 86% for the year (to 12th October) - below required targets of 92% and 89% respectively. Service reliability is on target [ref].

Alison explained she sympathises with the varied concerns of rail users, but finds many of these difficulties stem from enabling effective communication between the corporate stakeholders Network Rail and her employer rail franchisee FGW.

She said it was a very constructive session, promising to use our feedback to help inform the decision-making process and remain engaged with local residents and travellers about forthcoming developments.

In the meantime you can:
If you have an issue regarding local train services email:
If you have an issue regarding local station services call:  0800 912 0843

Saturday, 19 October 2013

When Is A Council Tax Freeze Not A Council Tax Freeze?

In 2012 the Coalition Government announced plans to remove Council Tax Benefit (for people claiming Disability Benefit or Jobseeker's Allowance etc), instructing all local authorities in England and Wales to put in place their own scheme of support by April 2013 [ref].

As an interim measure the Department of Communities and Local Government offered a one-off grant to soften the impact on parish budgets for the past financial year and give sufficient time to plan for these budgetary changes.

Within West Berkshire the decision was made not to put an alternative scheme in place, and now parishes will be expected to make up the shortfall of more than £250,000. This will mean either an increase in the Parish Precept, a reduction in expenditure, or a combination of the two.

Yet the sums currently controlled by parish councils are so small (typically less than £10,000) that few services are offered and this effectively leaves only one option - to raise the precept!

And because of the uneven distribution of people who were previously eligible for this type of support it also means that the more deprived areas within the district will be expected to shoulder a larger share of the burden.

For the five parishes in Aldermaston Ward the projected increases will be:
  • Aldermaston Parish - 6.01%
  • Brimpton Parish - 3.06%
  • Midgham Parish - 2.47%
  • Wasing Parish - 0%
  • Woolhampton Parish - 3.31%

Aldermaston Ward campaigner James Spackman said,
"Village communities are the backbone of rural West Berkshire, but this is financial sleight-of-hand and another slap in the face to ordinary people as complacent Conservatives try to pass the buck once more. Residents don't want to create an invisible pile of financial reserves by cutting basic village services back to the bone, we want action to make a fairer society!"

Monday, 7 October 2013

Talking About Sex - WBC Undertake First Young People's Sexual Health Survey

West Berkshire Council has announced it's very first Young People's Sexual Health Survey - results of which will inform future sexual health services in the local authority area.

It 'aims to gain a better understanding of their views and experience of sexual health issues and how and where they access sexual health services'.

The survey is open to all 14-24 year-olds in West Berkshire, irrespective of whether they have used these services, or are in a sexual relationship - because evidence shows that younger people have significantly higher rates of poor sexual health.

These issues can include the physical aspects of sexual health, such as the incidence of sexually transmitted infections and helping reduce unintended pregnancy, but also the mental and social aspects including making better-informed choices about having sex and the types of sex, being able to express sexuality without fear of exploitation, oppression, physical or emotional harm and having access to high quality sexual health treatment and advice that is offered in a non-judgemental, confidential manner.

Lesley Wyman, consultant in public health for West Berkshire Council said,
"I am delighted to promote this survey which is a first for Berkshire and will give us valuable information about young people's needs and their perceptions about sexual health services."
The survey is open until Friday 29th November - and can be accessed here via this link.

All responses will remain confidential and anonymous and will not be used for any other purpose. Results will be published in the New Year.

If you have any questions about this survey, please contact Fatima Ndanusa, on 01635 503437 or at:

For more information click on these links:

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Midgham Station Update

Improvement work at Midgham Station was slow to get started, but has been gradually getting moving - thanks to your local LibDem Focus team!

Here's a review of what's been happening:

At the end of June the old shelter was demolished.
During July the new ramp was removed and fencing was replaced.
Towards the end of September work began on a new information board.

Now the Newbury platform has two electronically updated boards, but still no shelter!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

New A4 Road Markings Fail Cyclists

In the last week of September West Berkshire Council finally finished repainting the eastern area A4 road markings, linking the section between Midgham and Aldermaston Wharf on the major thoroughfare between Newbury and Reading.

While highway workers and commuters alike will be relieved at the end of the job, cyclists have expressed disappointment and frustration at the lack of any designated cycle lane.

Your local Focus Team went out to look at the issue and this is what we found:

The UK is currently experiencing a cycling boom, as continuing success at professional level gives the humble two-wheeler an image boost, while new facilities make cycling safer and less of a discomfort. This is particularly noticable as commuters, leisure bikers and sportive riders increasingly frequent the direct routes, meandering backlanes and picturesque hill-climbs this part of the county.

Newbury Road Club, for example, operates two time-trial courses [10 miles, 25 miles] along the Woolhampton section of the A4, making it one of the most popular competitive cycling routes in the whole of Berkshire.

Furthermore, the gradients and sweeping corners which make the stretch of road appealing to cycle along also make it dangerous - especially considering recent accidents along the stretch and the fact that West Berkshire drivers have relatively high numbers of  penalty points on their licences.

Aldermaston Ward campaigner James Spackman commented,
"It is strange, to say the least, that only the section of the A4 in Aldermaston ward is now without a cycle lane. I compliment WBC on efforts to encourage cycling as part of environmental and health strategies, but it is an example of the lack of joined-up thinking and incompetent leadership exhibited by local tories to neglect the demands of the fastest growing segment of road users on one of the key cycle routes in the area."
Meanwhile, cycling campaign group West Berkshire Spokes reports that it is "working with the Canal Trust and Sustrans to explore opportunities for upgrading the section of the towpath to the east of Colthrop" on the the parallel route along the Kennet & Avon.

James added,
"With only one established cycle route in the area 'overgrown' and 'unsafe', by not creating a cycle lane along this part of the A4 West Berkshire Highways department have missed a glaring and simple opportunity to promote this clean and healthy means of transport."

Monday, 23 September 2013

Royal County of Berkshire Show 2013

Last weekend was the Royal County of Berkshire Show at the Chieveley Showground.

A crowd of more than 10,000 attended each day for the highlight of the Berkshire agricultural year, but it is much more than a trade display - it is truly a celebration of county life.

Together with Judith Bunting, LibDem PPC for Newbury, we spent a fun afternoon getting blisters as we traipsed across the massive site eating classic ice cream in the sun and meeting local residents.

The range of stalls and events was remarkable, encompassing entertainment and education, through to commercial and charity exhibitors.

If you've not been before we recommend it, there's something for everybody!

Check out our photo album below:


Find out more at:

Thursday, 19 September 2013

LibDem Annual Conference Report: Leader's Speech

At the LibDem annual conference in Glasgow this week, party leader Nick Clegg MP set out his ambitious strategy for the lead-up to the next general election in 2015.

Nick Clegg speaking at Conference in Glasgow
He argued that LibDems are a positive force in British politics and are now a party of government.

LibDems have successfully achieved significant reforms, fulfilling many of the LibDem manifesto pledges.

Clegg said the party has acted in the national interest as a responsible moderating influence on current coalition partners, and would act in the same manner in the event of another hung parliament after 2015 - whether with Conservatives or Labour parties.


In a letter to activists he wrote:

"Over the last few days, we’ve showcased what we’ve achieved in Coalition and we’ve demonstrated that we can make the tough decisions required in Government. But crucially, that we do so in a way that is fairer than the Conservatives would if they were governing by themselves.

And whether you were voting in the main hall or catching updates at home, there has been a fundamental shift in how our party is perceived.

We’re finally starting to get recognition for the decision we, as a party, took by going into Government. Especially at a time when the economy had suffered the biggest crash in 80 years and Labour had left us with no money to clean up the mess.

The last three years haven’t been easy, with the vitriol of our opponents and the difficult headlines.

But all those insults were worth it.

Because we’re starting to turn things around. We are seeing the first signs of economic recovery, a recovery that wouldn’t be happening without us.

There’s still a long way to go and over the next two years Liberal Democrats will focus unrelentingly on creating jobs and sustainable growth.

As I said in my speech this afternoon, we can’t trust either of the other parties to get it right by themselves. I have spent my entire life watching the other two mess it up. We cannot stand idly by and let them do it all over again.

Only the Liberal Democrats can finish the job of restoring the economy, and finish it fairly."

Read his full speech to conference here.


The full list of 16 issues which LibDems have blocked:

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Aldermaston & Wasing Show - Saturday 7th September

Come to the 71st Aldermaston & Wasing Show and celebrate your local spirit at the Old Mill, Aldermaston, from 2pm!

Attractions include 104 competitions, vintage car, craft, ferret and falconry displays, among many others... while volunteers to help out are always welcomed (see contact details above).

You can be sure of a good time, so why not come along - and maybe you'll bump into an old friend!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Doggone Bins

Imagine the scene: a picturesque pathway along by the Kennet & Avon canal at the height of a steamy summer's day.

A toddler eats an ice-cream, but doesn't want to drop any litter or spoil the countryside. He goes over to the rubbish bin to deposit the paper wrapper - only to put his hand into this:

A litter bin filled with dog litter! 

This was exactly the story told by one anxious parent to your Focus Team.

It is with remarkable regularity that dog walkers complain about insufficient bins to clear up after their pets, while tourists complain about the lack of collection points for rubbish as villagers complain about the smell.

Local LibDems recently secured a commitment to constantly monitor whether the bins are being emptied on schedule and investigate whether more are needed.

Parish Councillor Andrew Grover said,
"Local residents, businesses and visitors all need to keep our countryside and streets clean and free of litter. Fellow dog walkers need to collect and dispose of dog litter properly. The problem of those not doing so has been obvious and unpleasant for us all during the recent heatwave."

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Aldermaston Ward LibDems: Statement on the Future of Nuclear Defence

This week the coalition government published the long-awaited 'Trident Alternatives Review'.

CND march in 1958
It is a publication of huge significance to voters and campaigners alike. The issue of nucelar weapons has long caused divisions in Berkshire, while large numbers of local residents in this area live and work in the shadow of the major AWE installations nearby.

Liberal Democrats have now taken the first step to heal those long-standing and deep divisions.

The ground-breaking paper provides the most thorough review of nuclear systems and postures the UK has ever made public and examines a full range of alternatives available - a move only made possible through the insistence of LibDems in government.

The Trident Alternatives Review makes clear that Britain's national security will not be compromised by gradual reduction of the UK's Nuclear capacity as part of the reshaping of our Armed Forces to take account of the current security environment.

AWE's Orion laser
Britain no longer needs a 24 hours a day, 365 days a year continuous-at-sea patrolling service designed to meet a threat in the Soviet Union that no longer exists. Instead we should support our international allies and contribute meaningfully to the new multilateral drive to marry arms reduction to threat reduction. This will also save billions of pounds to concentrate on more pressing domestic demands.

Announcing the review, LibDem Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander MP, said,
"It is the right and sensible thing to do. And it could allow long-term savings to be made against current plans for like-for-like replacement.We can, at last, have an open and much more informed debate about what our nuclear weapons are for and how they should be deployed."
Liberal Democrats are leading this debate.

AWE Aldermaston Falcon Gate

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Battle For Paices Wood

Peaceful Paices Wood
On Saturday 6th June local LibDem activists met naturalists and conservationists from Berkshire's Wildlife Trust and Ornitological Society on a pleasant country walk around Paices Wood Country Park.

Paices Wood is a former gravel extraction site comprising extensive woodland, grassland and several lakes near Aldermaston, in the shadow of AWE.

Following exhaustion of commercial quarrying in the 1980s the site was restored and landscaped, however access became restricted due to increased security requirements through Youngs industrial estate after 2000.

A gravel pit at Paices Wood
The owners campaigned for a dedicated entrance to the park, and planning permission was eventually granted in September 2010, with funding from the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF).

The new entrance to Paices Wood was officially opened in May 2011 by Newbury's Conservative MP Richard Benyon, ironically only weeks after ALSF was scrapped by Defra Minister Richard Benyon - a move heavily criticised by the Minerals Product Association.

An undisturbed gravel site nearby
The fund was stopped despite changes which increased the total levy by £15m/year in 2011 to more than £300m/year, having being used to channel about 7% of levy income (£10.8m from 2009 to 2011) back to communities to pay for conservation, community and other sustainability projects.

Given the recent application for new gravel extraction in the area, residents will be concerned about the loss of a vital environmental fund to mitigate problems with nothing to replace it.

Meanwhile, Paices Wood is one of nine sites under consideration by West Berkshire Council to transfer management repsonsibility to BBOWT, as the ruling Conservatives seek to cut expenditure and rein in budgets.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Local News: Re-dedicating Ourselves To Their Memory

Local LibDems joined with residents to attend the rededication service for the Woolhampton War memorial  on Saturday 29th June.

The 17ft memorial bears the names of 15 men who died from 1914-18, and 5 more who died in the 1939-45 war.

It bears the inscription "They passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty and self-sacrifice."

The octagonal cross in Doulting stone had come into disrepair and required cleaning to ensure the names weren't lost, as the parish gears up for the centenary of the outbreak of war.

The service fittingly recreated the original dedication made on 16th March 1921, when Brigadier-General Phipps Hornby gave an address.

In it he exhorted attendees to remember the names made 'immortal', but not forget the heroism of survivors who must fulfil the obligation to maintain the hard-won happiness brought by peace.

Local resident Mansell Oakes gave a similarly well-recieved speech before Rev. Becky Bevan reiterated the Blessing and the ceremony was appropriately brought to a close by Beenham bugler Simon Whitcombe with the sounding of The Reveille.

Aldermaston ward campaigner James Spackman commented,
"It's only through the memory of those who served and made sacrifices that we can understand the reasons and causes of such terrible and traumatic events. We must honour them to ensure that the promise 'Never Again' is upheld."

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Local News: Controversial Gravel Extraction Application Passed

A controversial proposal to extract 200,000 tonnes of gravel per year for the next 12 years from the Kennet Valley bed between Woolhampton and Aldermaston has been given the green light despite strong local opposition.

Gravel, the pits!
173 acres of land will be dug up by aggregates giant Lafarge before being re-landscaped. Ground level will be reduced by several metres, eventually allowing for new angling lakes to be created.

The mineral itself will supply a local factory, supporting 75 jobs which would otherwise be lost when the Midgham quarryworks are exhausted.

Complaints centred around increases in lorry traffic on road access to the site described as 'inadequate', potentially harming road surfaces, damaging listed buildings located next to rural routes, as well as increasing danger for pedestrians from speeding lorries and adding to noise levels.

Meanwhile additional concerns about the potential for flooding caused by the impact on underground water flows were dismissed on the grounds that this would be mitigated by increases in surface water storage capacity.

The application has been a long time coming - it originated following consultation on the Preferred Options for the Joint Minerals and Waste Local Development Framework in September 2007 and submission of a new Core Strategy on 27th February 2009, and lapsed last year - which raises the question whether WBC is abiding by its own Statement of Community Involvement.

Local LibDem campaigner, James Spackman, commented,
"The determination of West Berkshire Council to push ahead with unpopular plans without making any concessions gives the clearest possible indication that Tories are not listening."
James added,
"The failure of West Berkshire Conservatives to agree a new minerals and waste plan means exclusion sites have lapsed and they are powerless to save protected areas. No wonder residents are angry!"

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

What LibDems Are Achieving In Coalition Government

Many people ask why LibDems decided to form a Coalition Government with our local opponents - well, there was much more to it than simply guaranteeing economic security at a time of crisis and uncertainty.

So, to explain further, it's infographic time... enjoy!

Credit where credit's due.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Lift-off At Brimpton Airshow

It was good turnout at Brimpton Airfield for the annual Airshow and Fly-in last Sunday.

Crowds gather to watch the Fly-in
More than 100 people had a lovely day watching more than 30 aeroplanes, all designed to raise awareness of the good work done by the Thames Valley & Chiltern Air Ambulance Trust.

Among attendees, LibDem Parliamentary Candidate Judith Bunting joined your local Aldermaston Ward team to enjoy the afternoon.

Judith commented, "It's not often you see nearly as many people fly-in to an event as turn up in cars - it was a really fun day!"

High visibility!
The weather was cooler than the rest of the weekend, but stayed fine. There was only one report of burns - around the barbeque - which luckily didn't require air-lifting to hospital!

High visibility, medium cloud coverage and intermittently gusty wind meant good conditions for flying, for both the vintage 'planes and the radio-controlled model display.

After circling the beautiful airfield grounds we descended on the TVCAA stall.

Judith Bunting PPC at the TVCAA stall
There we met TVCAA volunteer John S. and listened as he explained the vital types of work undertaken by the Air Ambulance service - such as airlifting traffic accident victims to specialist treatment centres.

Judith said, "I was glad to meet John S. from the Air Ambulance and to hear about the good work they do in West Berkshire and beyond. They're an impressive outfit, and I signed up to their lottery as soon as I got home."

You too can give your support to the charity by signing up at their website:

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Health Priorities in West Berkshire

Healthwatch West Berkshire have published a poll highlighting the health priorities of local residents.

40% of respondents feel elderly care is most important
20% said mental health is top priority
7% want more attention on youth issues

Among other comments, dealing with the implications of linked health and social care is a key challenge.

For more information see:

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Brimpton Airshow - Sunday 9th June 2013

In two weeks time it's the annual Brimpton Airshow, to be held at Brimpton Airfield.

It's in aid of a great cause - the Air Ambulance rescue service - so why not drop in for the Fly-In?

More information about Brimpton Airfield
More Information about Thames Valley & Chiltern Air Ambulance Trust

Monday, 20 May 2013

What's Going On...

According to the local Parish Plans published in 2007 (Aldermaston, Brimpton, Woolhampton) good communication about news and events in the ward was a key aim to ensure healthy village life and encouraging positive community engagement.

As a result it was decided a concerted effort would be made to 'improve the quality, circulation and amount of information that is available' to villagers. This included, among other things, better utilisation of the Parish websites and the provision of new Parish noticeboards, where appropriate.

Below are two of the new noticeboards...

Noticeboard at Douai Park
Noticeboard at A4 lay-by
Sadly, these noticeboards aren't exactly overflowing with notices, and several residents have passed comments to your Focus Team that it remains difficult to find out what's happening and how to get involved.

It is one of the pleasures of living here to see the high level of popular activities which are supported by the community relative to the population size, and it can often be a surprise for newcomers and less well connected residents to discover the wide variety on offer.

Among forthcoming events Woolhampton will celebrate Coronation Day on 2nd June at Douai Park (with proceeds going towards the Pavilion Restoration Fund) and Midgham will hold its annual Village Fete on 31st August.

More regular events to be found in the Parish magazines include everything from the Women's Institute meetings, Baby & Toddler's and Senior's groups, Tea Dances, Coffee Mornings and Lunch Club, various exercise groups, walking tours and indoor sports, all the way through to art classes and the monthly village markets.

LibDems support initiatives to develop vibrant local communities, and we want to see resources utilised to best effect so that everyone can be catered for.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Local News: Douai Park Pavilion Gets Go-Ahead

Outline planning permission has been granted to demolish and rebuild the sports pavilion at Douai Park recreation field.

The dilapidated 1920's structure lacks adequate facilities and is in serious need of renewal, however some concerns continue that the two-storey design may be over-ambitious - especially considering the need to raise £1/2m in voluntary donations and other funding.

The Far Pavilion
The most contentious suggestion, however, is for a 49-space car park to be build with a permanent access road across the field.

The business plan presented by Douai Park Recreation Association for the new building intends to maximise its' usage and raise fees from bookings for a range of community events beyond the current sporting purposes, and this requires improved access.

As the photo shows, however, drivers commonly park adjacent to the pavilion anyway and any change would merely formalise a current reality. Additionally a car park in that location could resolve the long-standing problem of finding a drop-off point for children being taken to Woolhampton Village Primary School.

Local LibDems have offered tentative support for the scheme, based upon the visual impact of the building and financial projections.

West Berkshire Council Announces Executive Reshuffle

West Berkshire Council has announced its' new composition at the annual ceremony.

The main roles will be filled as follows:

Chairman of Council:
Cllr Keith Chopping
Vice-Chairman of Council:
Cllr David Holtby
Leader of Council & Conservative Group Leader:
Cllr Gordon Lundie
Deputy Conservative Group Leader:
Cllr Pamela Bale
Liberal Democrat Group Leader:
Cllr Jeff Brooks
Deputy Liberal Democrat Group Leader:
Cllr Roger Hunneman

Conservatives have overall control  by 39-13 and hold the 10 Executive Portfolios, which are shadowed by 8 Opposition members.

Aldermaston Ward's Councillor Irene Neill is in charge of the Education department. She will continue to be shadowed by Cllr David Allen.

In addition to these reshuffled membership was announced for various other positions: the Health & Wellbeing Board, the Overview & Scrutiny Management Commission, the Licensing Committee, the District Panning Committee, Eastern and Western Area Planning Committees, the Governance and Audit Committee, the Personnel Committee and the Standards Committee.

Here is the full list:
EXECUTIVE (10 Members)

Leader of Council
Gordon Lundie
Highways, Transport (Operations), Emergency Planning, Newbury Vision
Pamela Bale
Children and Young People, Youth Service, Education
Irene Neill
Community Care, Insurance
Joe Mooney
Planning, Transport (Policy), Culture, Customer Services, Countryside
Hilary Cole
Finance, Economic Development, Health & Safety, Human Resources, Pensions, Property
Alan Law
Cleaner & Greener, Waste, Environmental Health, Trading Standards, Thatcham Vision
Dominic Boeck
Strategy & Performance, Housing, ICT & Corporate Support, Legal and Strategic Support
Roger Croft
Partnerships, Equality, Communities, Hungerford and Eastern Area Visions
Graham Pask
Health and Well Being, Community Safety
Graham Jones


Leader of Opposition, Finance, HR, Economic Development, Pensions, Strategy, Property, Insurance, Legal
Jeff Brooks
Community Care, ICT, The Visions
Roger Hunneman
Environment, Environmental Protection
Royce Longton
Housing, Council Plan, Health & Safety
Tony Vickers
Highways, Transport, Planning, Emergency Planning
Keith Woodhams
Health and Wellbeing, Public Health, Partnerships, Equality, Customer Services, Strategic Support, Community Safety
Gwen Mason
Children and Young People, Education, Youth Service, Culture & Leisure
David Allen


Councillor Graham Jones
Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing
Councillor Graham Pask
Portfolio Holder for Partnerships, Equality, Communities, Hungerford and Eastern Area Visions

Lise Llewellyn
Strategic Director of Public Health
Dr Catherine Kelly
North and West Reading Clinical Commissioning Group
Dr Alex Anderson
Newbury and District Clinical Commissioning Group
Rachael Wardell
Director of Community Services (role covers Children Services and Adult Social Services)
Lady Emma Stevens
Local Healthwatch representative

Leila Ferguson
Representative from the Voluntary and Community Sector


Conservative Group (9 Members)
Jeff Beck, Brian Bedwell (Chairman), Marcus Franks, David Goff, David Holtby, Mike Johnston, Tim Metcalfe, Andrew Rowles, Virginia von Celsing, Quentin Webb, Emma Webster, Laszlo Zverko
Conservative Substitutes (4 Members)
Peter Argyle, George Chandler, Carol Jackson-Doerge, Garth Simpton
Liberal Democrat Group (3 Members)
Jeff Brooks (Vice‑Chairman), Alan Macro, Gwen Mason, Tony Vickers
Liberal Democrat Substitutes
Roger Hunneman, David Rendel, Julian Swift‑Hook, Keith Woodhams

LICENSING COMMITTEE (14 Members) – no substitutes

Conservative Group (11 Members)
Peter Argyle, Jeff Beck (Chairman), Paul Bryant, Adrian Edwards, Manohar Gopal, David Holtby, Tony Linden, Andrew Rowles, Ieuan Tuck, Quentin Webb, Laszlo Zverko
Liberal Democrat Group (3 Members)
Billy Drummond, Mollie Lock (Vice‑Chairman), Geoff Mayes


Conservative Group (9 Members)
Pamela Bale, Brian Bedwell, Paul Bryant, Hilary Cole (Chairman), Alan Law, Graham Pask, Garth Simpson, Virginia von Celsing, Quentin Webb (Vice‑Chairman)
Conservative Substitutes (4 Members – 2 from the Eastern Area of the District and 2 from the Western Area of the District)
Jeff Beck, George Chandler, Richard Crumly, Tim Metcalfe
Liberal Democrat Group (3 Members)
David Allen, Royce Longton, Alan Macro
Liberal Democrat Substitutes (4 Members – 2 from the Eastern Area of the District and 2 from the Western Area of the District)
Geoff Mayes, Roger Hunneman, Julian Swift‑Hook, Keith Woodhams


Conservative Group (9)
Peter Argyle, Pamela Bale, Brian Bedwell (Vice‑ Chairman), Richard Crumly, Alan Law, Tim Metcalfe, Irene Neill, Graham Pask, Quentin Webb (Chairman)
Conservative Group Substitutes (4)
Roger Croft, Sheila Ellison, Manohar Gopal, Tony Linden
Liberal Democrat Group (3)
Royce Longton, Alan Macro, Geoff Mayes
Liberal Democrat Group Substitutes (4)
Jeff Brooks, Mollie Lock, David Rendel, Keith Woodhams


Conservative Group (9)
Jeff Beck, Paul Bryant (Chairman), George Chandler, Hilary Cole, Paul Hewer, Garth Simpson,
Anthony Stansfeld, Ieuan Tuck, Virginia von Celsing (Vice‑Chairman)
Conservative Group Substitutes (4)
Howard Bairstow, Adrian Edwards, Mike Johnston, Andrew Rowles
Liberal Democrat Group (3)
David Allen, Roger Hunneman, Julian Swift‑Hook
Liberal Democrat Group Substitutes (4)
Billy Drummond, Gwen Mason, Tony Vickers, 1 vacancy


Conservative Group (5 Members)
Jeff Beck (Chairman), Paul Bryant, David Holtby, Tony Linden, Quentin Webb
Conservative Group Substitutes (2)
Peter Argyle, Brian Bedwell
Liberal Democrat Group (2 Members)
Julian Swift‑Hook (Vice‑Chairman), Geoff Mayes
Liberal Democrat Group Substitutes (2)
Gwen Mason, Tony Vickers


Conservative Group (4 Members)
Peter Argyle, Tony Linden, Andrew Rowles, Quentin Webb (Chairman)
Conservative Group Substitutes (2)
Jeff Beck, Adrian Edwards
Liberal Democrat Group (1 Member)
Mollie Lock (Vice‑Chairman)
Liberal Democrat Group Substitutes (2)
David Allen, Jeff Brooks

STANDARDS COMMITTEE (6 Members) (There are no substitutes on this Committee and these Members cannot form part of the Standards Committee’s Advisory Panel)

Conservative Group (4 Members)
Peter Argyle (Chairman), Adrian Edwards, Garth Simpson, Virginia von Celsing
Liberal Democrat Group (2 Members)
Mollie Lock, Gwen Mason (Vice-Chairman)
Co-optees (2)
Chris Bridges, Mauline Akins