Items of general interest to the village.

Onboard and Online: Community Spirit

Regrettably, the Parish Council Meeting scheduled for last night (17th July) had to be abandoned as there were insufficient Councillors present for a quorum. I would normally open the meeting with a short statement and these are often time-sensitive. I’ve published what I was going to say below, rather than allow these things to be forgotten:

In opening the meeting, I’d first like to say a huge thank you to those villagers who helped out Richard Simms recently – Charlotte, Andy and Carol. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that these individuals saved a life by their actions; in fact, they saved two lives – that of both Richard and his dog. That is community spirit at its best

It made many of those I spoke to realise just how tenuous life can be and how vulnerable some members of our community are. It also struck home that when things do go wrong, we might not notice and if we do notice, we might not always know the best way of contacting other villagers; this is just a fact of modern life.

So thank you once again, on behalf of all the village, to Charlotte Andy and Carol. You represent the best of what Winterbourne Stoke has to offer.

Thanks also to the South-West Ambulance Trust and the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance without whose prompt action and professionalism we would have lost a villager. This event demonstrated the benefit of social media, in this case Facebook and we have introduced a way this could be of benefit to more villagers. Take a look at the Village website or the next edition of the Benefice magazine for details.

I’m delighted to say that Richard came home last Friday and seemed in good spirits when I spoke to him on Monday evening

I’d also like to thank William Grant for the excellent management of this years Solstice celebrations at the Stonehenge Campsite. The visitors of all ages were, quite frankly, delightful and a pleasure to meet. The one minor problem that cropped up was dealt with swiftly and without fuss by William and his staff. The music was not intrusive in the heart of the village and I received not a single complaint – actually, not true. I did hear one elderly resident complain that he hadn’t heard a thing and thought it had been cancelled.

Sadly, not everyone in the village is so public spirited. Frankly, I am appalled by the continued anti-social behaviour of a few villagers and possibly a few others from surrounding villages and further afield.   These are the selfish people who allow their dogs to foul roads, footpaths and byways around the village. If your dog has fouled on a footpath, or within a 2 metre lead-length from the edge of a footpath, it’s up to you to pick it up and take it home with you, or put it in one of the Wiltshire Council bins in Church Street or the High Street. Please don’t put it in your neighbours bin without their express permission; put it in your own.

Asking dog-owners nicely has clearly failed and so we will be meeting with the dog warden for this area, with a view to putting a stop to this selfishness once and for all.

A further Parish Meeting will be scheduled as soon as we can do so and certainly in before the next scheduled meeting in September.

Onboard and Online: Amesbury Incident – UPDATE FROM COUNTER TERRORISM DETECTIVES: Source of nerve agent contamination identified

Counter terrorism detectives investigating the contamination of two people by the nerve agent Novichok believe they have found the source of the deadly substance.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, from Durrington, died in hospital on Sunday evening (8 July) having been exposed to the nerve agent. Detectives launched a murder inquiry following her death.

A post-mortem is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, 17 July and an inquest into Dawn’s death is set to open and adjourn in Salisbury at 11:00hrs on Thursday, 19 July.

Her partner, 45-year-old Charlie Rowley, was also taken to hospital critically ill but has since regained consciousness. Charlie remains in a serious, but stable condition as hospital staff continue to work hard to provide the care that he needs.

On Wednesday, 11 July, a small bottle was recovered during searches of Charlie Rowley’s house in Amesbury. It was taken to the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down, Wiltshire, for tests.

Following those tests, scientists have now confirmed to us that the substance contained within the bottle is Novichok. Further scientific tests will be carried out to try and establish whether it is from the same batch that contaminated Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March – this remains a main line of enquiry for police.

Inquiries are under way to establish where the bottle came from and how it came to be in Charlie’s house.

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, Head of UK Counter Terrorism Policing, said: “This is clearly a significant and positive development. However, we cannot guarantee that there isn’t any more of the substance left and cordons will remain in place for some considerable time. This is to allow thorough searches to continue as a precautionary measure for public safety and to assist the investigation team.

“I also appreciate there is a lot of interest in this; however, we are not in a position to disclose any further details regarding the bottle at this stage.

“The safety of the public and our officers remains paramount and we are continuing to work closely with Wiltshire Police, scientists, health experts from Public Health England and other partners.”

Around 100 detectives from the Counter Terrorism Policing Network continue to work on this investigation, alongside colleagues from Wiltshire Police.

Officers from the investigation team have spoken to Charlie and will be speaking to him further to establish how he and Dawn came to be contaminated. This contact is being done in close consultation with the hospital and the doctors.

Anyone with information that may assist the investigation is urged to contact counter terrorism police on 0800 789 321.

The risk to the public in Salisbury and Amesbury remains low. We have not seen any further cases of illness linked to this incident. As a precaution Public Health England continues to advise the public not to pick up any strange items such as syringes, needles, cosmetics or similar objects made of materials such as metal, plastic or glass.

The advice remains “if you didn’t drop it, then don’t pick it up”.

We would like to thank the public of Amesbury and Salisbury for their tremendous support and understanding that they have shown to officers from the Counter Terrorism Policing Network.

A dedicated helpline – 0800 092 0410 – has been set up for anyone with health concerns in relation to this incident.

An advice sheet from Public Health England can be found here.   A series of FAQs are here.

A further information sheet from Wiltshire Police can be found here.

 

 

New Facebook Group For Villagers

Following a recent serious event in the village, where social media played a part in solving a pressing issue, not to mention all the other things that have been going on in the local area, Winterbourne Stoke Parish Council have set-up a Facebook Group for villagers.  It is open to anyone living within the Parish boundary who has a Facebook account (and complies with the Facebook minimum age limits!) – so adults and teenagers. We will also allow non-resident family members, who are carers for villagers, to have access to the group – particularly where there may be safe-guarding issues.
The group is purely for notification of things that are going on in and around the village and are likely to affect people’s lives.  We expect most of these will be urgent.  For example:
– problems on the A303
– events in the village
– Neighbourhood Watch – dodgy people and vehicles in the area
– a need for assistance by a villager
The group isn’t intended for general chit-chat, gossip, or advertising goods and services – just those few urgent things that might really matter.   The Parish Council may use it from time to time to alert you to meetings or notify you of other issues being published on the village website: https://winterbournestokepc.org.uk/
If you want to discuss an issue with other villagers then please use the Forum pages on the village website, or better still, come along to a Parish Council meeting and raise the issue there during the “Villagers Questions session at the start of each meeting.
The Facebook group is moderated and we will insist on a few basic rules being adhered to.  If you want to get access to the group,  just drop an email to the Clerk (clerk@winterbournestokepc.org.uk ) from the email address you use for FaceBook (that’s really important or else the invitation won’t work!), or have a word with any of the Parish Councillors who can help you sign up.   Please note that this doesn’t mean you have to be Facebook friends with anyone else in the village, you just get access to the group!  Please mention this to your neighbours.

Highways England To Consult Further On Proposed Changes To A303 Upgrade Past Stonehenge

A Press Statement from Highways England today made the following announcement about a supplementary consultation.  Please note the date of the public information events (in bold below):

Begins:

People interested in plans to upgrade the A303 past Stonehenge are urged to have their say on Highways England’s revised proposals to further protect the World Heritage site.

Taking on feedback from a consultation earlier this year Highways England has adjusted some of the design detail of the planned £1.6bn scheme which will improve journeys on the busy route and create a much-needed bypass for Winterbourne Stoke while preserving the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site.

The changes, which seek to further enhance the famous landscape and reconnect the two halves of the 6,500-acre World Heritage site (WHS), include:

• Removing the previously proposed link between Byways 11 and 12 in the Stonehenge WHS to avoid affecting the setting of the Normanton Down barrow group and tranquillity of the site in this area

• Widening the green bridge proposed near the existing Longbarrow roundabout to improve the physical and visual connection between the northern and southern parts of the WHS

• Moving the proposed modification of Rollestone crossroads to provide a more compact layout

Derek Parody, Highways England Project Director for the A303 Stonehenge scheme, said: “We had a great response to our earlier consultation and have acted on the feedback. We now want to get people’s views on our proposed changes to our original consultation.

“The further feedback we get will allow us to make sure we have got the best scheme before we make our application later this year to build the scheme.

“Meanwhile we continue to work with heritage groups including Historic England, English Heritage, the National Trust, and experts in the field, including the Stonehenge Scientific Committee – a body of leading independent archaeologists – to ensure a new route is built sensitively to the World Heritage site.”

Highways England received more than 5,000 responses to consultation on improving the A303 route past Stonehenge, between Amesbury and Berwick Down, which includes a tunnel at least 1.8 miles long, a free-flowing dual carriageway and a much-needed bypass north of Winterbourne Stoke.

Consultation will run from 17 July to 14 August, with two public information events – at The Manor Barn, High Street, Winterbourne Stoke, SP3 4SZ, on 19 July (2pm-8pm) and Antrobus House, 39 Salisbury Road, Amesbury SP4 7HH, on 31 July (2pm-8pm).

During the consultation, Highways England will also clarify its public rights of way proposals accompanying the scheme, which will help people explore and enjoy the World Heritage site and enable them to walk or cycle unobstructed between Amesbury and Winterbourne Stoke.

As part of its £15 billion road strategy – the biggest investment in roads in a generation – the Government is committed to upgrading all remaining single carriageway sections of the A303/A358 between the M3 and M5 to dual carriageway standard.

The A303 at Stonehenge, the A303 between Sparkford and Ilchester, and the A358 between the M5 Taunton and the Southfields Roundabout on the A303 are the first three schemes in that strategy.

The A303 Stonehenge upgrade will deliver major benefits to the World Heritage Site by reuniting the landscape and restoring tranquillity to the setting of one of our most famous cultural icons. At the heart of many of Highways England’s proposed refinements to the scheme is the protection of the WHS and its Outstanding Universal Value.

The scheme will also support a major boost to the South West economy, currently lagging 24% behind the national economy, by providing an effective transport link, and reducing the traffic blight on local communities.

Further details of the proposed changes will be available during the supplementary consultation and in the meantime, anyone wanting further information on the scheme or anyone who wants to respond to the consultation can go to www.highways.gov.uk/a303stonehenge

Ends

Lambs Attacked in Village

We were saddened to hear that two of the ‘village’ lambs in the field to the east of Riverside Cottage were attacked and savaged between the evening of Thursday 7th June and Friday 8th June.  These were quite large lambs, born in March this year, so fox predation may be less likely than if they were newborns; but foxes are known to take lambs up to around 10Kg in weight.  The rear ends of both lambs were attacked which again seems unlike foxes, which usually go for the throat.  There are also badgers in the area and they again have a reputation for attacking lambs; though it’s hard to get and fact and figures on this.

Regrettably, we can’t rule out sheep-worrying by dogs and it’s true to say that villagers have noticed an increase in the use of the footpath alongside the field by dog-owners from, or visiting, the village.  Certainly, that is supported by the increase in dog mess alongside, and even on, that particular footpath.   If it is a case of sheep worrying then that is a crime and it needs to be treated as such.  If you saw or heard anything that might suggest that this could have been an attack by dogs, please let Wiltshire Police know asap.

Onboard and Online: Our Defibrillator Goes Live

We are delighted to be able to report that the defibrillator, kindly provided last year by the British Heart Foundation and funded by the Department of Health, went “live” earlier this evening (Wednesday 9th May 2018), having been mounted alongside the front door of the Solstice Rest.  The defibrillator is overlooked by several houses and can be seen by every vehicle leaving the village via Church Street; a good location for a device that will be in an unlocked box.  Some villagers have expressed surprise at this, but South West Ambulance Service Founsation Trust (SWASFT) make the following point:

“Storage of defibrillators should not add barriers to access. Locks and coded storage are not supported by the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust as these can delay access. The rescuer will already be in a heightened distressed condition and may forget a code; may not correctly type in a code; or may not be able to find a key to gain access”

The defibrillator is also easily visible from the A303, in a very obvious location to which passers-by can easily be guided by SWASFT and other first responders.

Cllr Tom de Jonge doing the honours by switching on the defibrillator for the first time!

Although the defibrillator is intended for use without any instructions – it tells you what to do – we suspect that some villagers may be a little uneasy with this concept. You can get a copy of the Quick Reference Guide online from here.  If you don’t have internet access, but would like a copy to keep at home, then please contact the Clerk using the details at the bottom of this post, or speak to any of the Parish Councillors.

If you want to know more about CPR (if you know what you are doing, you can maximise someones chance of survival – even with an automatic defibrillator to hand) the Clerk has a number of CD/DVDs carrying CPR instruction information.  He even has Resusci-Annie dolls available, should anyone want to practise their CPR techniques.  Please contact him if you want to have one.  The more people who wish to receive training in CPR, the better and we will be organising a more formal training session for those of you who would like to participate.  Watch this space for further details.

Finally, the Parish Council would like to thank the tenants and owner of the Solstice Rest for allowing the defibrillator to be mounted on the pub wall and for letting us to tap into the power supply.

 

Clerk to the Parish Council

1 Cleeve View
Winterbourne Stoke
Salisbury
SP3 4SY

Phone: 07973 366762
Email: clerk@winterbournestokepc.org.uk

Onboard and Online: Highways England Community Forum (A303-Bypass)

Those of you who keep an eye on the Salisbury Journal may have picked up on Highways England’s plans to set up a Community Forum to engage with those bodies and, possibly, some specific individuals who might be able to contribute too it.   Understandably, it isn’t open to everyone, as that would have been too unwieldy and would have been a nightmare to organise.

The Parish Council will be represented on the Forum, which meets for the first time, in Amesbury, on Thursday 1st February 2018; although we have not yet received a formal confirmation of this from Highways England.  Back in September, you will recall their arrangements were equally chaotic and last minute.   More importantly, we haven’t yet see Terms of Reference for the group, or an Agenda for the forthcoming meeting.  As soon as we do, we will make you aware of as much as we can through the medium of this website, with key bits of information (such as this notice) posted on the village noticeboard.  Please be aware that there may be too much information to make it all available on the noticeboard, so please ask a Parish Councillor to help you get access to it if you don’t have your own internet connection.

We understand that one of the key things that Highways England want to use the Forum for is to understand what they term “legacy issues”.   This means the sorts of things they can do mitigate the effects of road-building and the road on the local community.   These are likely to impact on issues at all levels.  Some will affect the whole community from Amesbury to Berwick Down and a mile or two north or south,  some will affect Winterbourne Stoke and Amesbury lying on the direct path of the A303, others will affect villages further north and south of the road and others will affect those with businesses (farms, pubs, petrol stations, etc) lying on the path of the road.   The Parish Council is likely to wish to have input on most, if not all, of these (the exception might be those issues that ONLY effect those communities outside the Parish) and we wish to put forward the consensus view of the village.

When it comes to the village, based on what has happened during other roadbuilding schemes, it might be possible to get Highways England to assist with schemes that a small village like ours might otherwise be unable to afford; for instance by making use of unused or unwanted construction materials that might otherwise cost money to remove from site. The trpes of schemes we have had suggested by villagers already include:

  • A small, multi-purpose “village hall” or room (s) that could be used for meetings, small events, changing room, etc.
  • A playing field/football pitch/events area
  • Village allotments
  • A village orchard
  • A new wood
  • Narrow the A303 east of the village up to the new connection with the A360, construct a protected (ie physically separated) bridle path/cycle trail that links directly to Stonehenge without the need to cross the A303, or the A360, at grade.
  • Create green bridges (rather than conventional bridges) across the new A303 wherever Byways cross the road within the Parish and eastward to Stonehenge.  These encourage the movement of wildlife and people in the landscape.
  • Help in promoting new businesses and diversification of existing ones; if needed.

The idea being to make use of land freed up by the removal of the A303 to the west of Scotland Lodge Farm and the route to the east of the village.  We suspect that there are many other ideas out there and we want to hear them.

Please don’t add your ideas as comments to this post – they will be deleted!  Instead, pop across to the Forum (register if needed) and add your comments here:  How Can the Village Benefit From the Bypass

If you want to have a say, but don’t want to do it online, please just pass your point to the Parish Clerk, or a Parish Councillor, in writing.

Winter Has Come: Water Levels

It ‘s that time of year again.  December 1st; which for those of you who don’t necessarily revel in such things is the first day of the meteorological winter.  For the last four winters, we have been monitoring water levels in the Tilshead borehole as a means of getting an early warning of flood levels in the aquifer that might affect the village.  Today marks the start of the 2017-2018 monitoring season and there will be weekly updates appearing on the Friday, Saturday or Sunday of each week between now and the end of March 2018.  They will be published in the “Notices” section of this website.

The water level in the Tilshead borehole this morning was 79.23 metres. That’s the lowest level on 1st December since 2015, when the level was exactly the same.  This years level will be shown, as always, in red, last year’s level is shown in green, the 5-year average is shown in black.

Nobis villa in agro?

Our apologies for using a Latin title for this post, but we hope you will soon see why.  Back on the 31st of July we published a news item entitled “What Lies Beneath” having seen Wiltshire Archaeology at work in the field that runs alongside the Winterbourne Stoke to Berwick St James road, close to the boundary between two villages and close to the River Till.

What we didn’t say at the time and have resisted saying in public until now  is that we had an idea what they might have stumbled across – but little hard evidence.  Our hypothesis was based purely on the area where the ground penetrating radar was being used, the known history of the Till Valley, the clusters of springs along the route of the Till and what appeared to be “missing” from the local archaeology.

Having seen Wiltshire Archaeology at work, we turned to Google Earth to see if there was anything there that might confirm our suspicions.  In the Pro version of Google Earth, you can examine the latest images of an area, but also historical imagery.  Those images taken in winter, with low sun angles, are often very good at showing up ground features that aren’t obvious at other times of the year.  If you get really lucky, you can sometimes see ground features because of the different rate of growth of crops that overlay stone foundations.  We weren’t that lucky, but we did find an image taken on 26th January 2005 that had some possibly interesting features.

It’s quite hard to see, but at the end of the large arrow, there seems to be a large rectangular feature about 60ft by 20ft in size, which runs pretty much East-West in its longest dimension.   In other words, it has a similar footprint to St Peter’s Church.   To the East are two or three much smaller square foundations.

This had all the features of a Romano-British site, but we still didn’t want to set hares running because of a phenomenon called pareidolia.  The human brain is very prone to ‘seeing’ familiar images of shapes, people and animals when you look at a picture or view –  Donald Trump’s image on a piece of burnt toast, clouds that look like flying saucers, etc.  Although we thought it might be a Romano-British site bang on the route of the proposed southern bypass, we still weren’t sure.

So back to the title: Nobis Villa In Agro? – Do we have a villa in the field?

On Friday, following the announcement of the northern bypass preference, we asked Highways England consultants what had been found and they offered that it was “possibly a Roman-British site”.  However, that was their working hypothesis and still needs to be confirmed – they noted that the site could be much more recent than that and the truth is only likely to be uncovered through excavation.

The reason for mentioning this now, is of course its potential for developing local tourism in the future.  Mosaic floors (and that is a huge stretch of the imagination!) are very good at bringing in the tourists and boosting the local economy.

We’ve also noted the ground penetrating radar being used north of the A303 more recently, suggesting that even more interesting sites are turning up there as well.  All the archaeological work that has and is being undertaken as part of the Highway England planning will be published and we will provide links to all that directly affects our Parish.  It’s then up to us how we best exploit it.

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