Items of general interest to the village.

Exploring the World Heritage Site and Beyond

Back in February of 2020, Winterbourne Stoke Parish Council, as stakeholders with the Stonehenge World Heritage Site Committee, were actively involved in the Exploring the World Heritage Site and Beyond project.  This project was commissioned by the Stonehenge World Heritage Site Committee, undertaken by the consultants Arup and funded by Highways England.

The consultants, Arup, have produced a final report which is, in effect, is a set of suggestions on landscape access, sustainable tourism and sustainable transport in the WHS. that are next to be reviewed and evaluated by a working group, who will identify priority projects stemming from this report.  Although the report was completed in April 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic introduced delays into the review process as we suspect, did the delays in the decision on the A303 Stonehenge to Berwick Down scheme.

If you travel across the WHS, work in it, visit it for leisure, or have interests in the tourism industry, then we would suggest you dip into the report.  Once we have access to the appendices, we will also make those available.   You can find a copy of the report here.

Onboard and Online: Grant Shapps Approves the A303 Stonehenge Scheme

We’ve been deliberately slow to react to the news last Thursday (12/11/2020) from the Department for Transport that Secretary of State, Grant Shapps, had decided to approve the Development Consent Order for the A303 Stonehenge Scheme.  The reason for this is that we wanted to take the time to read both the Recommendation Report from the Examining Authority (EA which is akin to War and Peace) and also the Secretary of State Decision Letter approving the plan;  these can be found here at https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk/projects/south-west/a303-stonehenge/

We would suggest you take the time to read at least Chapters 7 and 10 of the EA report and all of the Shapps letter to get an idea of what has been approved.

You will have seen the furore from some quarters around the fact that whilst the EA recommended that the SofS should turn down the DCO, having taken further advice he decided in favour of it.  This is an example of having a series of checks and balances in a democratic process. If the Sof S was simply going to rubber-stamp the EAs recommendation, why send the recommendation to the Sof S at all?  It wouldn’t be necessary.  Grant Shapps has shown the DCO system works and is not just a paper exercise.

One way or another, the decision is going to have an impact on all our lives over the next five or so years and that is going to be in the full glare of the local, national and international Press.  The Parish Council has engaged with everyone from the Valley News, to ITN, the BBC and even Al Jazeera, who despatched a reporter and cameraman to our village.  Of course, it’s never over until the fat lady sings and those of us who have seen plans for a bypass for Winterbourne Stoke wither on the vine previously are a little circumspect about what happens next.  Indeed, may of you will have seen and read the threats to take the decision to Judicial Review.  Another reason to delay a response was to allow us to get a better understanding of the process before we made any comment.  We’ve now had that advice and you might find it interesting.

Basically, a Judicial Review allows those opposed to the idea to challenge the decision itself.  It is really important to understand that the merits of the scheme proposed in the DCO cannot be challenged under the Judicial Review process; that is done and dusted.  Any Judicial Review would be brought against Sof S and has to be registered by Christmas Eve.  There are only 3 allowable reasons for permitting a Judicial Review and these break down to:

  • Procedural impropriety
  • Illegality
  • Unreasonableness or irrationality

The reason for suggesting you should read the letter from Grant Shapps in its entirety is to give you a feel for the lengths that he and DfT have gone to, to undermine all those possible avenues of attack from the outset.

So, subject to the outcome of any Judicial Review, Highways England hope to be getting things underway with the advance works in late Spring next year.

They will be looking to identify local businesses who can help with the supply chain for the main contractors when work proper gets underway.  They are keen to ensure that the local economy is boosted as a priority and whether its accomodation, food or concrete, there will be opportunities to become involved.

In the meantime, in late Spring Osborne (the company responsible for the recent M27 bridge replacement and much else besides) will get to grips with the advance works.  Locally to the village, that is going to involve extending the new water main from Shrewton, eastwards to Longbarrow roundabout to supply the compund processing chalk spoil from the tunneling activities.  They are also going to start the changes to Rollestone junction that will de-emphasise the rat-run through Shrewton; this is regarded as a priority activity that must be sorted out before the scheme proper begins.  Osborne may also be involved in creating a small compound off the B3083, but it is not yet clear if that will be needed by the main contractor.  Further east, and east of Countess roundabout, Allington track will be closed off from the A303; there will be a new route through Solstice Park making the A303 a little bit safer.   Changes will also be made to an intercepting road to the north of the A303.

We hope that gives you a little flavour for what might happen next.  Highways England are also looking at ways they can bring you more information despite COVID-19.  We will let you know how things develop, but it is likely to be a Zoom meeting.

Comings and Goings

The village is going to see quite a few comings and goings over the next few months with quite a few properties changing hands.  Inevitably, we are saying good-bye to some old friends, but we are also welcoming new villagers who will hopefully wish to contribute to village life.  To help them get up to speed, members of the Village Preservation Society have helped us put together some basic information for new villagers which can be found here on the website.

Please take a look and if you can think of any other information that can be added to the two documents, or the Village Directory section of the website, please let us know.

Children’s Play Park To Reopen

We are pleased to announce that the play park will re-open from around mid-day, tomorrow, Friday 10th July 2020.  Please note that the Parish Council has still not received a response from its insurers in respect of COVID-19 issues raised with them.  There is still the possibility that they may yet respond and put a spanner in the works, but we feel that we do need to go ahead and will deal with that eventuality should it arise.

Inevitably, there are a few strings attached and warnings.  A copy of the following notice will be placed on the gates to the park and on the Parish Council noticeboard.  It will also be poset on the village Facebook Group.

Winterbourne Stoke Parish Council

The play park is to open as of midday on 10 Jul 2020.

Please be aware that the Parish Council cannot make the park COVID-19 secure. Consequently, all parents/guardians deciding to let their children use the play park accept this and assume any and all liabilities arising from use of the play park in respect of COVID-19.

No specific COVID-19 cleaning measures will be undertaken by, or on behalf of, the Parish Council. The normal, regular safety checks will be undertaken.

Entering the play park signals your assent to the above and the following conditions:

  • If anyone in your household/bubble is displaying COVID-19 symptoms, or is awaiting the result of a COVID-19 test, then go home, DO NOT enter the play park;
  • All the usual play-park rules on the adjacent signage applies;
  • Everyone and anyone using the play park is responsible for cleaning/sanitising the equipment they use BEFORE USE, to their own satisfaction;
  • Parents/guardians and children should sanitise their hands before leaving the play park and wash hands with soap and hot water for 20 seconds on return home;
  • Keep at least 1 metre social distancing (or at the current distance advised by the government);
  • No queuing outside the park for entry, or in the park for equipment;
  • No eating, drinking or smoking;
  • Please try to only have one parent, guardian or carer with each child to limit the possible spread of infection;
  • Consider using face coverings;
  • All rubbish, including disposable face coverings or gloves, should be taken home to dispose of rather than being left in the litter bin.

The areas of particular risk assessed by the PC are:

  •  The Southern Park Entrance: Due to the narrow approach to the park and restricted view both in and out, the Southern gate to the park will remain locked.
  • The North gate allows a better view in for those arriving and out for those leaving;
  • The Double Swing: Rather than removing one of the swings, only one swing should be used at any one time unless 2 children from the same household/bubble wish to use them;
  • The Climbing Frame: The Parish Council does not believe it is credibly possible to disinfect the climbing net, or the tunnel, on this apparatus. However, there are other components that are easier to clean and could be reasonably used. Rather than attempt to seal off the two elements, or close the entire Climbing Frame, the Parish Council intends to leave the apparatus open, but strongly advises parents/guardians to prevent their children from using the climbing net or tunnel.

If it comes to the Parish Council’s attention that social distancing, or other mandatory requirements, are not being observed, the play park will be closed with immediate effect.

 

75th Anniversary of VE Day

“My dear friends, this is your hour. This is not victory of a party or of any class. It’s a victory of the great British nation as a whole.”

So began Winston Churchill’s speech on the 8th May 1945 from the balcony of the Ministry of Health.  You can listen to part of the speech on the pages of the International Churchill Society.

On the 75th anniversary of VE Day we remember with gratitude and respect the brave men and women who fought for our freedoms. To those who gave so much, we thank you.
It’s with sadness that we cannot share that sense of national gratitude in a village celebration today, but we can still remember privately.  You might want to read the words of Edmund Blunden, writing about the end of the war in Europe in his poem, “V Day”, published for the first time today.  There are sentiments in the poem that still ring very true today in the face of our current challenge.

Don’t Delay Seeking Medical Help Because Of Coronavirus

People living in Wiltshire are being advised not to let worries about coronavirus stop them asking for medical help for themselves or their children if they become ill, have a serious accident or have a concern about their health.
They are also being warned that not seeking medical help for symptoms that could be the early warning signs of serious conditions such as cancer could be putting lives at risk.
The warning comes as new data shows a considerable drop in the number of people coming forward to ask their GP for help and advice during the coronavirus outbreak.
Recent statistics show that, in Bath alone, the total number of weekly referrals from GPs to the Royal United Hospital have fallen from around 2,000 at the beginning of March to 300 at the end of April.
In Swindon, the average number of patients being sent by their GP to the Great Western Hospital for further investigations into symptoms that suggest cancer each week has dropped by more than 200 to 80.
Dr Ruth Grabham, Medical Director at BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire CCG, said the statistics made for worrying reading because the drop in numbers “is not because people are not experiencing symptoms.”
“While it may seem that coronavirus has put a stop to most aspects of everyday life, the one thing it hasn’t stopped is what’s going on inside our bodies,” she says. “Now more than ever, we need to pay attention to anything that isn’t normal and seek help early on.
“For example, if you notice blood when going to the toilet, or if you’ve found a lump that wasn’t there previously, or if you’ve just noticed something odd that is causing you to worry, you need to speak to your GP.
“Should the symptom be the early warning sign of something serious like cancer, that delay in seeking help could have serious implications for how successful possible treatments may be.”
Although GP practices across the region have adopted new ways of working, such as establishing isolated clinics for potential coronavirus patients, the practices themselves are still open to offer care, treatment, advice and peace-of-mind.
The same also goes for emergency departments at the three hospitals in Bath, Swindon and Salisbury, all of which continue to be open 24 hours a day for people with a genuine and life-threatening health concern.
Additionally, all healthcare facilities in the region, as well as those elsewhere in the country, have put in place stringent infection control measures to ensure that the risk of contracting coronavirus while visiting a hospital or GP surgery remains low.
• Details of which services continue to open, as well as how to get in contact, can be found online by visiting www.bswccg.nhs.uk
• For information about local hospital services visit https://www.ruh.nhs.uk/, www.gwh.nhs.uk or www.salisbury.nhs.uk
• Further information on how to stay well throughout the coronavirus outbreak can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19.