Community Champion Awards 2020

Many congratulations to The Hermitage Covid Support Group, Andy Murray, Sara Disson and Carolyn Purchase for their incredible success at these recent awards

Highly Commended – Hermitage Community Volunteer Group
This group was set up to provide Hermitage and the surrounding villages with a food bank and with food deliveries for those who needed them. They also collected and delivered medicine and supported vulnerable and lonely people – making a positive difference to their wellbeing. They recruited new volunteers from the Parish Council and Village Hall Committee. The panel recognised the fact that the group showed great innovation by sourcing grants to enlist the services of a professional caterer to provide hot meals for the most vulnerable in the community.

For further details see

For more details on their work and available support see Latest newsletter

PPP Guidance on Outdoor Facilities during National Lockdown

Advice on the closure of outdoor sportsgrounds and facilities
18 January 2021.
On 4 January 2021 the government announced that England was to enter a National Lockdown in response to coronavirus pandemic.
In response to this announcement The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions)
(All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2021 were amended to specify what types of
premise must close. Included in the list of locations required to close are ‘outdoor sportsgrounds and facilities, including outdoor gyms, sports courts,
swimming pools, water sports, shooting and archery venues, golf courses,
and driving ranges’
It has come to the attention of the Public Protection Partnership that across West Berkshire, Wokingham and Bracknell some skateparks, bmx pump tracks/courses, and Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) have remained open. This communication is intended to advise Town and Parish Councils who manage such facilities that they are required to close. It is requested that steps are made to close the facilities or where impractical to close them, to notify residents that they are not available for use. It may be necessary to speak with your insurance provider as to any necessary steps that they wish you to take to implement this closure.
Public Playgrounds are permitted to remain open and Covid Secure guidance exists for managing playgrounds. The guidance can be found here. Please note that whilst this Covid Secure guidance is also written to cover outdoor gyms: in the current lockdown outdoor gyms are required to close.
It is recognised the important role and benefits that outdoor facilities provide our residents and if any legislative amendments or further guidance is published regarding the reopening or partial reopening of these facilities, the PPP will endeavour to update this advice to you at the earliest opportunity.
If you have any questions or require any further advice on specific outdoor facilities in your local area, please contact PPP via the email address and an Officer will be happy to assist.

Local Vaccine Update

As you will be aware we are calling in patients for their COVID-19 vaccinations at the Newbury Racecourse.  At the same time the NHS are offering this service at the large national COVID-19 vaccination sites, some patients may receive letters asking them to travel to a national vaccination site for a COVID-19 Jab.  This can be very confusing for some patients.  Patients do not need to travel to national vaccination centre, they will all be offered a COVID-19 vaccination at the Newbury Racecourse.  The below link to our website is the latest update.

We will keep you informed of developments.

Health and Wellbeing Strategy

West Berkshire have launched a consultation with their partners on the priorities for the Berkshire West Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy. This document will set out how health and social care professionals will work together to improve the health of people living in Reading, West Berkshire and Wokingham over the next ten years.

The consultation is hosted by the Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group and closes on 29 January 2021. We’ll use your feedback to create a draft Berkshire West Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy, which we’ll consult on during spring 2021.

Garden and Food Waste Collections Temporarily Suspended

Like many other local authorities across the country, West Berkshire Council are facing a difficult January with significantly increased volumes of waste after the Christmas holiday period and a number of collection crews self-isolating. This has impacted parts of our waste collection services meaning we have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend garden and food waste collections to prioritise rubbish and recycling.

The garden waste collection service will be suspended from Monday 18 to Friday 29 January 2021. We are asking residents whose garden waste is due for collection on or after 15 January 2021 to not put their green garden waste bin out until service can be resumed again from 1 February 2021. This change will also affect food waste collections because they are collected at the same time as garden waste.

Councillor Steve Ardagh-Walter, Executive Member for the Environment at West Berkshire Council, said:

“We have received tremendous support from West Berkshire residents over the past few weeks and I want to thank everyone for their understanding during this challenging time.

“We have not taken this decision lightly to put garden and food waste collections on hold and understand that some residents may be disappointed by this service disruption.

“Our aim is that all waste collection services will be able to continue as normal once the service is reinstated by the end of January. Our contractor’s collection crews have continued to work hard throughout, keeping our waste services running and we would like to thank them for doing a great job.”

At the close of play on Tuesday 12 January, about 5,300 recycling collections (equivalent to just under 8% of households) remained outstanding. The collection of other waste types including general refuse is being completed without any significant disruptions at this time.

If your rubbish (black bin) or recycling (boxes and bags) is not collected as expected, please continue to leave it out and we will collect it as soon as possible.

We are grateful to residents for their continued patience. We are asking residents to kindly avoid calling our Customer Services colleagues, unless necessary, because they are very busy helping various residents with other urgent queries at this time.

You can find out more information on the garden waste service from Council’s website. Our household waste recycling centres are still open for essential visits but you need to book an appointment.

Newbury Town Centre Study

You may be aware that West Berkshire Council is currently undertaking a major vision and masterplanning exercise for Newbury town centre in response to challenges facing high streets and town centres. You can learn more here.

As part of this, they are running a public survey to gauge opinions about the town’s current and potential offerings. They are keen to ensure that all of the district’s parishes are given the opportunity to feed into this piece of work as Newbury is the largest service town in our district, so if you would like to take part in the survey please follow the link above.

COVID-19 Vaccination Update 7 Jan 2021

Dear All

Delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations at Newbury Racecourse is expected next week.  As only one batch of 975 vaccines will be delivered, the first patients being invited will be from Kennet and Rural PCN (6 GP Practices).  As a collective of practices (9 GP Practices) we have the capacity to undertake delivery of three batches of 975, this will allow Newbury Practices to meet the government targets.  We are very restricted by supply of this vaccine at present.

COVID-19 Vaccination clinics will be held at the Racecourse over a period of 2-3 days.  Depending on when the vaccine is received will determine the dates of the clinic, if the vaccines are received on a Friday then clinics will be on Sat, Sun & Mon etc.  We are not pre-booking appointments until we have confirmation of the delivery dates as we do not want to cancel patients appointments should no vaccines appear.

Downland Practice patients who are 80 and over and patients who are clinically at risk (the first cohort) can expect to be invited when notification next delivery of vaccine is received (not next week).  The timeline for appointment booking will be very short so we will first be booking in patients who have a mobile telephone registered on their medical records, we will be able to phone and book the appointment then send confirmation via text message.  Those patients who only have a landline registered at the practice will be called and have appointments booked for later clinic that week.  All patients will be sent letters confirming their COVID-19 Vaccination appointment time and date at the Newbury Racecourse.  The way in to the Racecourse will be well sign posted by road on all of the major routes in to Newbury, this will be sign posted as Covid-19 Vaccination Centre.  Some patients in the first cohort may not drive, now is the time to be getting in touch with family or friends to arrange transport, there may be the opportunity for volunteers to help out in taking patients to their appointment.

When COVID-19 Vaccination appointments bookings are being undertaken there will be no requirements for any of the Downland Practice staff to take down any of your bank details.  If this is asked of you then put the phone down and report to the police ASAP.

We will post up when the vaccinations clinics are due to go live.  All other Healthcare Professionals who are eligible for COVID-19 Vaccination will be also invited you will be required to produce your work identity cards at the vaccination centre.

Please do not contact the practice to book in for COVID-19 Vaccination as you may be disappointed.

In the meantime hands, face, space and stay safe.