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Parish Council Update, May 2020

A report from East Garston Parish Council, May 2020

East Garston Parish Council held its annual meeting on 6 May 2020 with Councillors using Zoom technology to meet 'virtually'.

The key business of this meeting was to elect a Chairman and Vice Chairman, approve the accounts for the previous year, and agree actions on the Parish Council's current priorities, which include tackling speeding on the Newbury Road and providing appropriate support for the village during the current Covid 19 pandemic.

Parish Council Chairman - Jonathan hands over the reins

Councillor Jonathan Rabbitts announced his wish to step down from the chair, and as one of the newer Parish Councillors, I was honoured to be elected as Chairman, with Sue Tulloch as Vice Chairman.

Jonathan has served on the Parish Council for many years, and has been Chairman for at least the last 5 years. I am delighted that he will continue as a Councillor. His commitment to preserving and developing - and caring for - our village and its residents is unquestionable, whether by his actions in fixing the odd fence or stile, his cynical and down to earth approach to the bureaucracy the Parish Council has to endure, and his genuine concern for individual residents. Being Chairman is a thankless task (as I am about to discover) so I wanted to publicly thank Jonathan on behalf of all residents of East Garston for the way he has carried out his Chairmanship. Thank you Jonathan, it has been greatly appreciated.

Parish Council accounts for 2019/20

These have been audited and approved and will be available on the Parish Council website shortly.

Speeding along Newbury Road

The Parish council remains concerned about the high level of speeding vehicles in both directions between Hillside cottages and Goodings Lane/Front Street junctions. We are actively pursuing the installation of a permanent speed indicator and are working closely with West Berkshire Highways and Road safety teams to get this in place. In the meantime, please remember the speed limit is no more than 30 mph - there is evidence that a number of offenders are local people!

Covid 19

We are overwhelmed by the number of volunteers who have come forward to provide support to people who are shielded or vulnerable, whether that is for collecting medicines, essential shopping or transport. The crisis has tested our arrangements as a Parish Council for coping with emergencies, and although we have managed reasonably well, there are some things we want to do to improve the 'resilience' of the village in times of emergencies. More on this to follow but in the meantime, stay safe, follow the Government advice, and if you need help, please contact Councillor Chris Tonge on 01488 648370 or christopherjtonge@gmail.com.

Thames Water and sewage

We have been in correspondence with Thames Water about the ongoing and unsatisfactory situation regarding sewage disposal in the village. Lambourn has grabbed much of the headlines on this but East Garston also has its problems, with some residents unable to use downstairs loos, sewage tankers travelling to and pumping out at the pumping station off Front Street at all hours, and concerns about the environmental impact on our river. We are seeking further action from Thames Water, and are in touch with the Environment Agency and Laura Farris, our local MP. If you are experiencing issues, please raise them in writing with Thames Water and let us know so that we build a strong case for improvement in a time of limited resources.

Parish Plan - 10 years on

To end on a more positive and forward looking note, it is 10 years since the village agreed a parish plan, a 72 page document full of information about our parish, and containing numerous actions for development over subsequent years. As I start my term as Chairman of the Parish Council, I thought it would be timely to take stock of that Plan and see what progress has been made on its ambitious ideas for our village, and to start to think about what we might want to achieve in the next 10 years. So watch this space.

David Ruse

Chairman

East Garston Parish Council

Contact details for the Parish Council below.