Newbury Weekly News

Thursday February 15, 2018, £1

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Proposed hike would be third consecutive year WEST Berkshire residents are set to see their council tax bills rise by almost six per cent from April. Report by JOHN HERRING AND FIONA TOMAS increase to your council tax bill 5.99%

75th anniversary of the bombing of Newbury MORE than 200 people packed into St John’s Church on Sunday to remember those who lost their lives when Newbury was bombed during the Second World War. Many of the congregation who attended the commemorative service were there that fateful day on February 10, 1943, and some of their incredible and moving memories were read out. Prayers were read out and hymns were sung before 15 candles were lit – one for each person killed. There was then a procession to the memorial opposite the church, where flowers were laid. The Newbury Weekly News spoke to several survivors of that fateful day and their dramatic accounts are reported inside. See pages 8 and 9 for more. Despite the 46-year-old’s numerous previous convictions, a crown court judge took mercy on the Newbury man after hearing he now had a child of his own. See page 7 for more. Council ‘wins’ £1.5m for Sterling Cables site IT offers no affordable housing and no developer’s contributions, but a scheme to build 167 flats at the former Sterling Cables site has been awarded £1.5m of government funding. The funding will be split between decontaminating the site, delivering the Kings Road link road and making the Boundary Road bridge two-way. The developer told us this week that without the government grant to West Berkshire Council the scheme would be unviable. See page 4 for more. ‘Man has been abusing drugs since age of six’ THE extraordinary story of an addict who has been taking drugs since the age of just six years has been recounted in court.

The Conservative-led district council said it had little option but to imple- ment an increase for the third succes- sive year, due to the “huge financial constraints” it was under. It added that “all options” had been considered and if the proposals to put up council tax were not taken forward, it would have to find an extra £5.4m of savings. However, the council’s Lib Dem oppo- sition leader, Lee Dillon, claimed that residents were being “punished”. Faced with a reduction in Govern- ment funding, the cash-strapped coun- cil is recommending to raise council tax by 2.99 per cent, with a further three per cent rise towards the adult social care precept on top. The two combined would generate an extra £5.4m in revenue for the council. The council’s executive member for finance, Anthony Chadley (Con, Birch Copse), said: “West Berkshire is facing huge financial constraints, as are all councils. “This means that unless changes are made to the way we deliver services and income generated from sources apart from the government grant, more services will be impacted. “Your council is adapting during the current financial challenges to help ensure that West Berkshire continues to

be a great place in which to live and work.” Mr Dillon hit back, saying: “The Tories played politics for years, offering zero percent budgets and are now in difficulty and punishing residents with bigger rises when wages are not going up at the same rate. “The short-term political gain is coming back to hurt them and, more importantly, hurting residents and local services as their own Government strips away funding.” Alongside the council tax increase, £5.2m of “savings and income genera- tion” proposals have been put forward, including a £50-a-year charge for garden waste collection. However, the proposed cut to core funding for Citizens Advice West Berk- shire (CAWB), from £120,000 to £40,000, will be reduced. After public consultation, the council has decided to reduce the charity’s core grant to £80,000. CAWB chief executive Jan Rothwell said: “We are very grateful to everyone, particularly our clients, who responded so movingly to the council’s consulta- tion on the proposed cut. “Their responses are a testament to the life-changing work of our volunteers and staff.” n Continued on page 5

THE heavens opened on Shrove Tuesday morning, which meant Newbury’s eagerly-anticipated pancake race on the Market Place cobbles was rained off. But that didn’t stop many of the town’s residents from tucking into some tasty lunchtime treats, served up by members of Soroptimist International Newbury and District at St Nicolas’ Church Hall. Despite the race cancellation, the charity managed to raise an impressive £1,020 through race entries and local sponsorship. Turn to page 5 for the full story. Pan-tastic lunch despite rain Olwyn Brian, Sylvia Galbraith and Angela Spellman at the pancake lunch at St Nico as’ ChurchHall Ref: 07-2018A

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