Coronavirus (COVID-19) is going to be a major feature of our lives for some time ahead. The situation is evolving rapidly and anything we write is likely to be out of date within a matter of days, if not hours. Consequently, the best source of advice for villagers is that which is being provided by the Government.
In the last 24 hours we have received two communications from the Environment Agency and Wiltshire Council regarding the grounwater situation across Wiltshire. Clearly, these have direct relevance for all of us living alongside the River Till.
The bottom line of both these documents is to urge town parish councils to be aware of the current situation and to adopt such measures as they can. In turn, we are now asking parishioners, particularly those of you owning/living in properties known to be susceptible to groundwater flooding, to be aware of the situation and take appropriate measures for your own properties; for instance by checking that water pumps are functioning and that other measures you have adopted in the past, sandbags, moving furniture and carpets to higher parts of the property, etc., can be initiated at short notice and carried out quickly.
The Current Regional Situation
“We have noticed the recharge (the aquifer starts to refill) season started earlier this year due to the wetter autumn that we have experienced, in fact bore hole levels across Dorset and Wiltshire are recording levels considerably above average for this time of year.
Below is a graph of the Groundwater level at Woodyates (on the Dorset / Wiltshire / Hampshire border) the dotted blue line is the mean October 31st level. This site is used as a national indicator for groundwater levels as it is fairly central and has a long period of recorded data.
As you can see, we ended the first month of the traditional re-charge period in October at around 91.0 mAOD (Ordnance datum (mAOD) is based on the mean sea level at Newlyn in Cornwall)compared to a twenty year mean of 76.0 mAOD. It is the second highest level on record after 2012 which was a bit of an anomaly as there was almost no recession that summer due to a Groundwater flooding event. As you can see we are at a level that is already higher than average for this time of year.
The Flood Alert level at this site is 98m mAOD and we would consider issuing a Flood Warning at 102 mAOD.
The Current Local Situation
As of 9:15 this morning, the water level in the Tilshead borehole stands at 90.24m mAOD. Levels have been rising for the last three weeks, but it is fair to say that the rate of increase over the last few days, with less rain, has begun to slow. The graph looks as follows:
The red arrow indicates the level this morning. We are only 4 metres below the 6-year average MAXIMUM winter level and in a credible worst-case scenario, less than two weeks/9 metres from possible groundwater flooding. If that looks scary, don’t forget that the average winter maximum is 94m. The good news is that we should have several days of dry weather over the next week and the rate of increase should fall and may even reverse. That said, the Environment Agency make the following point: “With Groundwater levels currently higher than average for this time of year, if we continue to have heavy rainfall events across Dorset and Wiltshire we anticipate issuing Groundwater Flood Alerts across Dorset and Wiltshire before Christmas”. Even then, it is far from certain we will have flooding here.
Winterbourne Stoke Parish Council will continue to monitor groundwater levels in the aquifer and publish weekly updates with the first due to appear on Sunday 8th December showing data collected for the first week. Keep an eye-out here for any interim bulletins or on the village Facebook page.
Please let the Parish Clerk (or any Councillor) know if you have concerns about specific properties, are seeking further help, or believe that a flooding event is imminent or underway.
The Environment Agency and Wiltshire Council are holding two drop in sessions to enable town and parish councils and residents an opportunity to discuss groundwater issues in your area, share flood maps that maybe helpful for you to identify areas at risk of flooding and share knowledge on what to look for in your area. We can also give you more information on the Groundwater flood warning service available for your community.
We would also like to hear about your observations and feedback If you have not made or updated your flood or emergency plan it’s not to late! If you need assistance, help or advice contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Water has been very much a theme in the village over the last few weeks. First we have had the problem with the water supply and secondly we have had a little rain. Actually, we’ve had something of a deluge; but is it important?
Well, let’s start with the water supply. As promised, Wessex Water put sensors on the water pipes on Wednesday 2nd October and left them there for just under a week before retrieving them and sending the data off for analysis.
Now how many of you noticed that on the first Wednesday evening, there was an awful lot of air coming through the cold water pipe? Our kitchen tap coughed and spluttered for well over two minutes before we got uninterrupted running water. What we noticed almost immediately was that the pulsing and water hammer was much reduced. We then had a phone call from Wessex Water to say that the data analysis was back and our fault and all the other ones you had reported on the Facebook page had been tracked back to the pressure relief valve on the Shrewton Road. They had replaced one component before starting to collect data and hence the rush of air, but there is clearly still an issue that they intend to resolve. I’ve heard that some of you who live closer to the A303 are still getting problems, so please could you let Wessex Water know if that is the case.
Now the rain! I’ve already been asked, with all the rain, if we are in danger of flooding and was I going to start the weekly flood reports early this year. In both cases, the short answer is no. Despite what feels like weeks and weeks of non-stop rain, its only in the last few days that the water has started to rise in the Tilshead aquifer. As of 5:00am this morning, the water level was 80.46 metres which is a little above the 6 year average of 79.73 metres for 1st December when my recording year starts. However, we are still a good way below the 1st of December 2014, when the first reading was 81.17 metres. So, no chance of a flood at the moment and much too early to say how the rest of Autumn and Winter will shape up. We still have leaves on the trees and autumn-planted crops growing in fields so it is quite possible that the water levels in the aquifer will start to drop again before we get to the flood season proper. That’s why we aren’t planning to collect the data any earlier than usual, but we will keep an eye on how things shape up and if needed, issue a further bulleting before December.
We’ve mentioned a number of times in the past that whilst the A303 Stonehenge to Berwick Down Scheme is primarily about the road itself, there are opportunities associated with the scheme that could provide a wide variety of legacies and benefits; not just for Winterbourne Stoke, but also in the wider corridor affectd by the road. Winterbourne Stoke takes part in a regular Community Forum, along with other Parish Councils and single interest groups, that are trying to identify those things that are the most attractive in terms of legacies and benefits. There are other fora (eg a a Landowners Forum), that run in parallel; also identifying legacies and benefits.
The following two diagrams show the types of things that are being thought about. Some ideas are very general and others highly specific.
The first diagram was started in June last year and has been refined subsequently. You will see there are 5 broad themes that the benefits and legacies ideas seek to support: Community, economy, transport, environment and heritage. A sixth, overarching theme – safety – sits across them all. Highways England are seeking ideas that impact on each of these areas. The second chart shows some of the ideas in greater detail and sometimes, but not always, which group put the idea forward. If no originating group is shown, the idea was usually seen to be of interest to more than one group.
Now whilst the parish council has and will continue to feed ideas into the Community Forum for inclusion into the scheme, including such things as improving north-south and east-west public transport links, environmental planting of new chalk downland, provision of brown signs for local businesses, business development opportunites, etc., we realise we are not the only ones with ideas that might benefit the whole community. So here is your opportunity to get involved.
Highways England have produced a short form shown below:
Download the PDF and give your idea a title and a short description. If you have any idea of likely cost, then please add that. Finally, send the form to the Clerk by email at: email@example.com
Alternatively, print out the PDF form and fill in the title and your idea in a legible script! Finally, pass it on to the Clerk or any Parish Councillor and we will consider whether we can support it and do the rest.
It’s been a really interesting and concerning week in the run up to Christmas. Sunday saw more police activity in the village than we have seen for many a long year. The forecourt of the Stonehenge Filling Station was full with police vehicles, police men and women, PCSO’s and a bunch of somewhat dodgy looking chaps in combat jackets; accompanied by a motley selection of long-dogs in need of a square meal.
Local farmers and landowners around Stapleford and Winterbourne Stoke had been reporting their concerns of illegal hare-coursing activities in the area. Following the police swoop, 9 individuals, some from as far away as South Wales, have been reported for offences under the Hunting Act. The police seized two vehicles, mobile phones and 10 dogs. Some of the dogs may have been stolen and enquiries continue. Rural crime is a growing problem and back in October, Wiltshire Police launched Operation Artemis – named after the Greek/Roman goddess of the hunt and of wild places. Op Artemis is part of a broader, national initiative to hit at poaching operations called Project Trepass, which aims to coordinate action across England and Wales through prevention, intelligence, enforcement and reassurance.
If you see any activities of this sort (the lay-by west of the village is a common gathering point), please call 101 and quote ‘Operation Artemis’. If a crime is in progress, call 999.
Late yesterday (Wed 19th December), police were called to an attack outside the Stonehenge Inn, Durrington. This has left a 20 year-old with critical injuries requiring brain surgery. After initially being taken to Salisbury District Hospital, the man was later transferred to Southampton General Hospital. Two other men were injured during the incident.
Three men, aged 25, 27 and 29, from the Port Talbot area of South Wales, have been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent and are currently in custody.
There is no suggestion that the two events are linked and as one local wag observed: “Criminals from South Wales have been causing problems in this area for years – at least since the time they started dumping blue stones here during the construction of Stonehenge.”
It will come as a relief to hear that Neighbourhood Watch have launched a new website:
Our new website is up and running and you can access it at www.wiltshirenhw.org New features on the site include links so you can contact the committee member representing your region of Neighbourhood Watch in Wiltshire and, if you know people who want to join Neighbourhood Watch, a new quick sign up form which replaces the long form on the old site.
December 1st 2018 marks the start of our 6th year of flood monitoring within Winterbourne Stoke and it will be the third year this information will appear here on the village website. As we gather more and more data, the harder it is to capture it all in a useful form, so we have made a few minor cosmetic changes to the graph to facilitate this. The first proper graph of the season will appear on the “Notices” page of this website on, or shortly after, Friday 7th December and will look like this:
The different coloured traces should be faily self-explanatory with the red trace being the current year, purple being the 6-year average. The black trace represents the last year we had groundwater flooding in the village and the green trace shows a year with little winter rain and a late Spring. Current borehole levels are around 79 metres, well below average, but rising.
We are delighted to see the return of the Bell Inn and wish Rob, Emily and the rest of the team every success in this new venture. It’s nice to have a village pub again!
We hope that the village will pull behind them and give them every support. Early feedback from those who have been to drink, eat, or both, has been entirely positive.
If you haven’t been down yet, you really should. You might also want to sign up to the Bell’s Facebook Page that can be found here. They also have a cracking website that can be found at http://www.thebellinnstonehenge.co.uk
It was good to see so many in church for this year’s Harvest Festival. The church had been beautifully decorated by Melissa, Helen, Karen, Dee and Olivia with flowers and fruit adorning all the windowsills and ledges. Melissa’s wonderful pedestal arrangement included carrots and parsnips and Ed was particularly touched that she had placed a single red rose in the centre in memory of Joy (who died a year ago on 7th October). Thank you to all those who took part in the service and congratulations to Ben for his fantastic drawing, depicting Harvest in Winterbourne Stoke.
The Parish Council is always happy to receive your questions and can, hopefully, answer them. The usual way of doing this is for you to speak with a Parish Councillor, call them on the phone, contact them by email, or by letter. You can also raise a question for the Parish Council by getting in touch with the Clerk, whose contact details are…
Mr J Carr
Clerk to Winterbourne Stoke Parish Council
1 Cleeve View
If your question is a private matter, or you don’t want it to be widely known that you have raised it, then this is the best way to do so. However, if it is a confidential matter, please speak directly to a councillor/the Clerk and make this clear, or mark your email/letter as “Confidential” and send it just to the Clerk, Chairman, or one of the Councillors.
We’ve recently had a good suggestion from a Parishioner about improving on this. Sometimes you may have a question that is better raised with the Parish Council as a whole; perhaps because it might impact on most Parishioners, or because it might be of more general interest. In an ideal world, you would come along to the next Parish Council metting and raise it, in person, during the regular “Adjournment for Residents’ Questions” session that takes place at the start of every meeting – we would certainly like to see you there!
However, we recognise that in this busy world, you might not have the time to spare to come along to a Parish Council meeting in person. If that is the case, please send your question directly to the Clerk, a minimum of 3 working days before a scheduled Parish Council Meeting, and your question will be read out on your behalf and treated as if you were asking it in person. Depending on the sort of question you ask, it may finish up as an agenda item for discussion at a subsequent Parish Council meeting.
It’s really nice, for a change, to be able to put some good news on the website. We are very pleased to announce that Scooby Sims, the Jack Russell that refused to leave the side of Richard Sims when he fell from his wheelchair on one of the hottest days of the summer last month, has been awarded a PDSA Commendation in recognition of his loyalty and devotion to Richard.
It’s fair to say that both Richard, and Sandy seen here posing with Scooby and the award, were grinning from ear to ear, when Richard received it yesterday. We’ve not seen Richard smile as much for a long time; it was wonderful to watch. Scooby wasn’t really sure what all the fuss was about, but we think the large leather bone heading in his direction will get slightly more attention.