The Town Council is just one part of local government in Berkshire, but is the part closest to the people and represents residents at a local community level.
We try to work in partnership with West Berkshire Council and our District Councillors, although we always maintain our independence from them and ‘fight our corner’ if there are differences in our views and decisions. West Berkshire Council is responsible mainly for strategic services such as highways, education, planning, environmental health and refuse collection.
In Hungerford, our powers and duties cover many of the things that people might take for granted – things such as the care and maintenance of many of our public areas, sport and recreation sites, rights of way and cemeteries, and in putting up the official Christmas decorations in the town. Importantly, Hungerford Town Council can set the precept, which is the Council’s demand for an amount to be included in your council tax each year to manage facilities and services for local people.
One of our most important roles though is to try to represent the views and concerns of all local residents on issues that might impact on the community, such as planning applications.
Town Council meetings are held in public – usually on the first Monday evening of each month. We are led by our Mayor and supported by the Town Clerk, whose role is to administer the Council's business and to ensure that our business is conducted within the law. The Clerk is often the first point of contact for the Council.
Members of the public may make representations, answer questions and give evidence at a Part 1 meeting which they are entitled to attend in respect of the business on the agenda, providing they do so within the 15 minutes allotted time period (limited to 3 minutes per speaker) given at the beginning of each meeting. Any questions should be submitted in advance by 2pm on the day of the meeting. Public will not be permitted to interrupt, question or participate at any other point during the meeting unless invited to do so by the Chair. Timings will be at the discretion of the Chair. Due to Covid and our wish to remain cautious it is advisable to inform Council if you wish to attend a meeting to ensure there is adequate space. We may not be able to accommodate large crowds without prior notice. We would ask if you have Covid symptoms not to attend.
Councillors are elected for four years and in this time should be taking action on many things that affect the town and the community such as:
- Advising on land which is suitable for industrial or residential development;
- Campaigning for better road safety and reducing the fear of crime;
- Providing representation at local planning enquiries;
- Raising concerns about rural transport services;
- Providing a liaison between other local authorities or official bodies.
What should also be expected of us as your Council are constructive agendas, encouragement of open debate, and constant efforts to find new ways of getting people involved.
Your councillors are a group of volunteers who work together to make decisions and produce plans for the greater community benefit. We are keen to listen to the views of others, getting broad agreement on the best way forward and being jointly responsible. We also wish to channel our enthusiasm, skills and knowledge for the benefit of the whole community of Hungerford.
We have standards to comply with, such as:
- Holding our meetings in public and publishing the agendas for those meetings;
- Having rules about our business and personal conduct;
- Looking to the future and having effective forward planning proposals;
- Working with other groups in the town.
Should my local council expect anything of me?
Local democracy is a two way affair and we hope that you will take an interest in the things that matter most. Remember – we try to be your voice at government level, and this is difficult if we don't get constructive public input and feedback. We welcome the contribution of both public and community organisations and, being active in a local group and establishing a dialogue with the Council, is a good way to put your views forward.
If you wish to become actively involved, you could consider being an elected Councillor – and joining the team.
Town Council elections take place every four years, although in between there may be elections to fill casual vacancies. No formal qualifications are needed but there are certain simple rules to satisfy if you wish to be considered. The full Hungerford Town Council meets at least ten times per year and sub-committees more frequently. Your time commitment would depend on how much participation you make in one or more of the four active sub-committees and other working groups that we currently have.
Each one of the Council’s operating committees has placed information on their specific activities in their own section of this web site . . . so please visit these pages and learn more of the detail behind their roles.
If you need any other information about us, please contact our Town Clerk.
Finance & General Purposes Committee
The Finance and General Purposes committee provides the financial control for the Town Council and ensures that our monetary resources are managed wisely with the greatest benefit to all residents and within the financial rules governing Local Authorities. It meets every other month and deals with the following issues:-
- Setting of the Precept, which is agreed at Full Council and presented to West Berkshire District Council as an annual demand. This precept will influence the level of Council tax payable by each household within the parish.
- Co-ordination of the budgets of all other spending committees
- Approval of invoices for payment, monthly
- Arranging auditing of accounts
- Distribution of grants. Applications are considered by committee and are generally paid to successful applicants in May. Grants must be of benefit to the people of Hungerford.
- Salaries, training and expenses including civic and Mayoral expenses
- Insurance and Health & Safety
- Advertising, newsletters and subscriptions
- Computers, stationery and office costs
- Utility bills, rent and room hire
The committee is made up of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Chairman and Deputy, and Chairmen of each committee.
Environment & Planning Committee
Hungerford Town Council's Environment and Planning Committee meets once a month to discuss planning applications submitted to West Berkshire Council for building, structures, alterations, and for other planning amendments that need the approval of the Downlands Planning Committee which covers a wide area of West Berkshire.
The West Berkshire planning department sends on these applications for our consideration and members of Hungerford Town Council E&P committee consider them in the context of what it considers is in the best interests of Hungerford, its residents and within the tradition of the town. There are Government and local authority guidelines to help us in these considerations. Our aim is also to deliberate on the possible effects that an application may have on the local environment, being in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and may oppose any proposal that may be of detriment to the beauty and the well-being of the town.
In many cases, we will also do our best to protect against over-development in tightly enclosed areas and monitor any changes requested to the many listed buildings throughout Hungerford. It is particularly anxious that advertising, eg shop sign illuminations, is kept to the minimum and, where it is essential, is in keeping with its surrounding area.
Occasionally a major developer may purchase building land and a presentation will be expected to indicate density and design of the proposed development. Hungerford Town Council is extremely protective of its environment and would need to be convinced that the need for the development outweighs the former use of the parcel of land.
The E&P Committee decides on around 6 submitted plans per meeting and its decisions are sent to West Berkshire Council’s Planning Department. Although the committee tries to represent the interests of the broader Hungerford community, both residential and commercial, the recommendations are just that – recommendations – the final decision rests with West Berkshire Council.
Highways & Transport Committee
The Committee meets once every two months. The main areas of responsibility and interest are:
- Christmas lights
- Dog Bins
- Hungerford In Bloom
- Public Toilets and in particular Church Street Toilets
- Salt Bins
The Town Council are, through the Highways and Transport committee, facilitators to West Berkshire Council by reporting defects and are consulted on proposed changes on the following topics:
- Bus routes and railway station
- Public Highways, Footways and Footpaths
- Street Cleaning
- Street Lighting
The public highways and footways are owned and maintained by West Berkshire Council as the Highway Authority. If you have concerns about road maintenance you should call Streetcare on 01635 551111. The website is westberks.gov.uk or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Christmas Lights are one of the main expenses under the control of this Committee. If you are interested in helping with our Christmas lights please contact the Clerk.
- Litter on the Streets
- Hungerford has a dedicated Street Cleaner employed by West Berkshire Council, but if you notice litter let us or Streetcare know and we will try and get it cleared up.
- The Town Council has urged West Berkshire Council to amend the parking tariffs to help provide more short term parking spaces.
- SIDs (Speed Indicator Devices)
- Are you aware of any areas of speeding concern in Hungerford? Training is available to use the SIDs to help reduce speed.
Recreation, Amenities & War Memorials Committee
The Committee meets once every two months. The main areas of responsibility and interest are:
- The Triangle Field Sports Ground on Priory Road which is now owned freehold by the Town Council having been purchased from West Berkshire Council in 2015. The main user of the Triangle Field is the Hungerford Rugby Club.
- The War Memorial Recreation Ground at Bulpit Lane leased to the Town Council by the Town and Manor of Hungerford in 1951. The site includes the lower playing field area adjoining the town's cricket ground, the Bulpit Lane children's playground, the skateboard park, the residential property known as Swimming Pool House and also the War Memorial Avenue and the Tragedy Memorial Garden at the entrance to this.
- St Lawrence's Churchyard in the Croft and St Saviour's cemetery just off the Wantage Road. These are statutory responsibilities and involve arrangements for burials and interments of ashes, the keeping of burial records and the repair and maintenance of both sites. St Lawrence's is a closed churchyard.
- The allotment sites at Fairfields and Marsh Lane.
- The Bridge Street War Memorial and its surrounding site, including the paved area and the adjoining trees, shrubs and garden land.
- The Croft Field Activity Centre recently acquired on a long lease from West Berkshire Council. The building has recently been repaired and improved and is hired out regularly to a wide variety of users.
- The Hungerford Youth and Community Centre in Priory Road. This is leased from the Academy Trust and managed on a day-to-day basis by a management committee which includes two Town Councillors.
- Smitham Bridge children's playground acquired in the 1980s when the adjoining site was redeveloped for new housing and the playground site was donated to the Town Council.
- Benches - There are approximately 70 benches placed around the town.
24 allotments at Fairfields are being worked, each one pole in size. A larger site at Marsh Lane provides 108 plots of varying sizes from one to four poles. For availability contact 07541 187274
The Triangle sports field is a multi-purpose sports field and is available for hire for a wide range of sports including rugby, football, keep fit, boot camps or any grass orientated sport, and also for recreation and other community leisure purposes.
Croft Field Centre
Facilities for hire include: a main room with kitchenette, a second room (North Room) with sink, toilets and showers, a large field which is used for outside activities , overnight camping, fetes etc.