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Thursday January 11, 2018, £1

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Local authority says ‘le sons have been learned ’ WEST Berkshire Council this week insisted it was not made aware of safeguarding issues at a Newbury care home prior to taking over the service. Report by CHRIS ORD email twitter @chriso_nwn Council: ‘We knew nothing about care home failings’

TIME to provide Theale with a “vitally” needed new primary school is running out. West Berkshire Council has said it will abandon its plans for an £8m project for the village as it can no longer wait on “stalling tactics” from Theale Parish Council. Parents faced down parish councillors at a heated meeting on Monday, pleading with them to relinquish the land the district council needs for the school. The parish council has repeatedly raised safety concerns about the land at the North Street playing fields and has criticised the information that West Berkshire Council has provided it. The district council has lost patience with the parish and said it will reluc- tantly pull the plug on the project unless the parish council resolves to hand over the land by the end of the month. But with Theale Parish Council yet to call an extraordinary meeting as the NWN went to press, time and patience for a new school in the village are nearly out. See page 6 for more. Plan for new school may be abandoned Woman robbed on way to church AN elderly woman has reportedly been left battered and bruised after being robbed of her handbag while on her way to a church meeting in Newbury last Thursday. A crime alert sent out by Thames Valley Police only gave limited details, stating: “At 6.50pm on 04/01 an offender stole a hand bag with contents from a person in Stroud Green, Newbury.” It has been widely reported on social media that the victim was dragged along the ground, hanging on to her bag. There is a description of the offender, who was wearing a beanie hat/tight fitting top and was spotted running off in the direction of the Nightingales. The handbag stolen was a black fabric bag containing a black Nokia phone along with personal store cards. If you have any information, contact police on 101 quoting crime reference number 43180003880.

Care UK. She said: “We were not part of the inspection and we would not have had access to details around that until after the inspection was completed and that report was published and in the public domain.” Ms Forster admitted that the coun- cil’s own care quality team had visited the facility previously, but refused to divulge the findings. “I don’t want to get into the details of what they found during their visits,” she said. “That would be a separate discus- sion.” West Berkshire Council took over the running of the home last year from Care UK following the provider’s decision to reduce the number of beds. The CQC was prompted to carry out the two-day inspection at the home, which specialises in dementia care, after being tipped off about potential abuse and a number of other safety concerns. During the visits, on September 29 and October 1, inspectors said they identified “several” breaches of the Health and Social Care Act. n Continued on page 5

In December, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published a damn- ing report following an inspection at Birchwood Care Home, which detailed instances of potential abuse, including one resident being force-fed medication and another receiving an unexplained fracture to their arm – neither of which were reported to the CQC. The 60-bed care home has been placed in special measures and a new management team has also been put in place. When quizzed on the report at a meet- ing on Tuesday, the council’s head of adult social care said that “lessons had been learned” and that improvements were already being seen. Speaking at the meeting of the coun- cil’s overview and scrutiny manage- ment commission, leader of the Liberal Democrats on West Berkshire Council, Lee Dillon (Thatcham North) asked for clarification on when the council became aware of problems at the home. Head of adult social care Tandra Forster explained that the CQC inspec- tion came while West Berkshire Council was in the process of taking over the home from the contracted provider,


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UP, up and away… A number of colourful hot air balloons brightened up the skies above Newbury at the weekend. Balloonists of all ages gathered for the 46th international Icicle balloon meet. This year’s event, called Icicle Refrozen, took place on Saturday and Sunday at the Donnington Grove Country Club. See page 9 for more pictures and a full report. Sky’s the limit for balloonists

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