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OPINION: Letters to the editor of the Newbury Weekly News

Make everything east of A34 part of Newbury

I am struggling to find the logic in Bewley Homes’ assertion that 5,000 families on Basingstoke’s housing waiting list are clamouring to travel nearly 20 miles to live in Newbury (Newbury Weekly News, September 14).

An aerial view of what Watermill Bridge will look like once completed
An aerial view of what Watermill Bridge will look like once completed

The anomaly of county borders, once defined by rivers, is that people living on one side will inevitably be dipping into the services provided by the other or, in the case of Newbury, be denied such services as recycling without further cost.

Basingstoke and Deane are right to lodge a statutory review of the decision for many good reasons, chiefly regarding flooding and the environment.

But why not solve this by including everything east of the A34 as part of Newbury, which after all, is going to bear the greatest impact?

With all they have on their plate at present, this should kick the application into the next half of the century.

Tom Brown
Gore End

Justice is finally being served over my CIL

Victory in my fight for justice over Community Infrastructure Levy Charges.

Deputy council leader Jeff Brooks delivered a statement on Thursday evening that echoed throughout the CIL community like a beacon of hope.

His words affirmed our victory in the fight for justice, as he declared plans to introduce a process for refunding and cancelling unjust charges – CIL payments, surcharges, and interest charges – imposed on householders building for their own domestic purposes due to incorrect form submissions or documentation lapses.

This announcement marks a monumental turning point in our journey. It is a testament to the unwavering dedication and relentless efforts of those who have stood by us throughout this ordeal.

I cannot overstate the gratitude we owe to individuals like councillor Brooks, whose integrity and commitment to their word have been a constant source of inspiration.

I wish to say a massive thank you to Claire Rowles, she is the most amazing person I have ever met. She has been the backbone of this campaign, despite it costing her seat on the council where she stood as a Conservative councillor at the time.

Despite facing personal sacrifices, including the loss of her seat on the council, Claire’s unwavering spirit has kept us moving forward.

It is important to acknowledge the countless individuals who have supported us, many of whom have faced political backlash for simply fulfilling their elected duties.

It is disheartening to witness the acceptance of bullying tactics by certain West Berkshire Conservative councillors, particularly when directed at those standing up for what is right.

While our journey for justice is far from over, Thursday night’s developments represent a significant stride forward.

I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has supported us along this challenging path. Together, we will continue to champion what is just and fair.

Once again, thank you to the Newbury Weekly News for providing a platform to share our triumphs and challenges with the community. Your support is appreciated.

Maria Dobson

So delighted that CIL issue will be resolved

I was delighted to see councillor Jeff Brooks announce at last week’s executive meeting that West Berkshire Council will be introducing a process to refund/cancel CIL payments, surcharges and interest charges that householders have been charged for development where there has been missing forms or forms incorrectly filled out.

I first became involved with CIL in February 2020 and I have always maintained that the council’s stance on this issue was morally and ethically wrong.

I am pleased that justice has finally been done for all the residents who have been unfairly charged due to administrative errors which was clearly not the intention or spirit of the legislation.

Thank you to all those councillors who supported this fight and stood up for what was right, in particular councillor James Cole.

I am enormously proud of Maria Dobson who has fought tirelessly to overturn the council’s position, not just for herself but for others.

I admire her integrity, selflessness and sheer determination in her long fight for justice – she is West Berkshire’s Alan Bates.

Claire Rowles
Former district councillor for Hungerford and Kintbury ward

Who saw car drive into Market Place?

I need a witness, the elderly gentleman walking through the Newbury Market Place on Monday, March 11, at 11.37 am.

I was walking past the One Stop convenience store towards Nat West when a grey Land Cruiser came in the pedestrian zone against the one-way system, something I wasn’t expecting and it really shook me up.

Can anyone help me make contact as the police require me to supply evidence?

Geoff Williams

Put some speed ramps on these sewage roads

It is with great concern that on Saturday, March 9, my partner and I were walking along Newbury Street in Lambourn, by the fire station, when a vehicle came through the water at approximately 30mph, splashing myself and my partner.

Raw sewage in Newbury Street, Lambourn
Raw sewage in Newbury Street, Lambourn

While this may seem an overreaction, but the ‘water’ is in fact raw sewage, emanating from the drains.

The next day, whilst we were waiting at the temporary lights in Newbury Street, we witnessed a young mother with a toddler also being splashed.

There are several reports on community platforms of children walking to school suffering the same fate, also the nearby houses and gardens, which beside the smell must be a horror for the owners.

Judging by the reaction on local community platforms this is a regular occurrence to pedestrians, children, horses or pets, it’s all fair game. This is an utter hazard to health.

Do we need children affected by diarrhoea and vomiting or at worse polio?

The same situation is also affecting Oxford Street, where each time a vehicle goes through it is spraying effluent into the river.

I have approached the West Berkshire road safety team to request if there was a possibility of temporary speed ramps, but was informed “it’s not that simple” (of course it’s not) and was informed I must take this to the parish council in the first instance.

Motorists do not know they are driving through anything but water, so the solution is to force them to slow down.

As residents of Lambourn parish councillors must be aware of the ongoing situation regards the sewage flowing down our streets and the affect it is having on the village and its residents, the environment and the once pristine River Lambourn.

Please can they request trafficandroadsafety@westberkshire.gov.uk look to putting some speed ramps on Newbury Street and Oxford Street as a matter of urgency.

This sewage problem is a regular occurrence over the years, with plenty of hand wringing from all concerned, but Thames Water continue to make vast profits at the expense of this village and the beautiful River Lambourn.

Lambourn and surrounding villages should put on hold any further house building until the aging sewage infrastructure is updated.

If I had an email for the chief executive officer of the disgraceful Thames Water, Chris Weston (who ironically describes his hobbies as fly fishing, and whose company is systematically destroying some of the best fly fishing rivers in the South East), I would be emailing this directly to him.

Claire Reynolds

We need investment not misinformation

February may or may not have been the wettest and warmest month on record (see last week’s letters), but there is no denying that the volume of rain over the last few months has resulted in many problems across West Berkshire.

Hopefully Thames Water will not use claims that climate change is just an ideology to justify any lack of long-term investment in our water treatment infrastructure.

More information about climate change is available on the Met Office website under ‘Climate’, the Climate Change Committee website under ‘Resources: What is climate change’, and Copernicus EU website under ‘Copernicus Service: Climate Change’.

Dr Pat Watson
East Garston Eco Group

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