Tue, 17 Oct 2017
FORMER town mayor Martin Crane has accused some West Berkshire councillors of being “anti-Hungerford”.
Mr Crane was speaking at a meeting of the full town council during a discussion on recent planning decisions which, he said, had flown in the face of local public opinion.
In particular, Mr Crane referred to the rejection last month, by West Berkshire Council’s western area planning committee, of proposals to regenerate the ‘gateway’ to Hungerford with a 30-home development at the railway station.
The project had been enthusiastically supported by the town council and applicant Oakes Bros said the proposals, which included a coffee shop, would have contributed towards the regeneration of the area.
It added that it would create a “high-quality residential development that will act as a gateway feature for people entering the town, providing a sense of arrival”.
Another bone of contention is the district council’s site allocation for 100 homes off Salisbury Road.
At the town council meeting Mr Crane said: “Hungerford is different to Thatcham; we have our own view as to what we want to do.
“We need to get those councillors on side. It seems to me they’re not interested.”
His comments provoked an intervention from James Podger (Con, Hungerford), who said: “It’s absolutely, grossly unfair to say West Berkshire councillors don’t support Hungerford or her residents.
“I called in this [Oakes Bros] application when it was recommended for refusal. I supported this application.”
Mr Crane said he had not meant to include Mr Podger or his district council colleague Paul Hewer (Con, Hungerford) in his criticism.
He said: “I didn’t mean that.
“I feel that, while we had the support of our two district councillors on this occasion, we need to work on some others.
“There are one or two in particular, I believe, who have an anti-Hungerford approach.”
Richard Hudson said creating and adopting a neighbourhood plan could “help build a connection with West Berkshire [council]”.
He added: “Clearly, we’re not getting on – we can’t agree on anything lately.”