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.

Scam warning: Fake DPD emails and texts

Action Fraud has seen a surge in reports relating to fake emails and texts purporting to be from DPD. The messages claim that DPD was “unable to deliver your parcel today” and provide instructions on how the recipient can arrange another delivery. The links in the emails and texts lead to fake websites that are designed to steal money, as well as personal and financial information.

Victims of this scam have reported losing over £242,000 since June. For more information, please visit https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/alert/fake-dpd-messages-lead-to-over-200000-in-losses-since-june

How you can protect yourself:

  • If you’re unsure whether the email or text is genuine, then don’t use the link. Instead, visit the DPD website by entering the official web address directly into your browser’s address bar, or search for it and follow the search results.
  • Remember, your bank will never ask you to transfer money to another account, or contact you out of the blue to ask for your PIN or full password.
  • If you have received an email which you’re unsure about, you can report it by forwarding it to report@phishing.gov.uk. You can report suspicious text messages by forwarding them to 7726.

For more information about how to protect yourself from fraud and cyber crime, please visit www.actionfraud.police.uk/cybercrime

Grants to community groups in Hermitage 2021/2022

Every year Hermitage Parish Council awards grants to community groups, organisations and voluntary bodies who are working for the benefit of the residents of the parish.

Any group can apply by completing the necessary form here

This and other information about how to apply, who is eligible etc can be obtained from the Parish Clerk who can be contacted at hermitagepc@outlook.com

or by post to Penwood, Down End, Chieveley RG20 8TS

or by phone on 0782 7974767

Closing date for all applications is January 11th 2021

Successful applicants will receive their cheque at the Annual Parish Assembly in April 2021.

Help for families during half-term

Help is available for families struggling to access food this half-term.

There is no reason for any children in West Berkshire to be going hungry this half-term. West Berkshire Council is here to help families who are struggling and need assistance with food or other forms of support.

Anyone who needs help should contact the Community Support Hub on 01635 503579 or by email at westberksbct@westberks.gov.uk.

The Community Support Hub is open during office hours; call between 8.30am and 5pm Monday to Thursday, or between 8.30am and 4.30pm on Friday. As well as providing support directly, the team can also provide advice about other local groups and organisations that might be able to help. For more information and to contact the team via the website visit www.westberks.gov.uk/SupportHub

Leader of West Berkshire Council, Lynne Doherty said:

“We’re here to help anyone who is worried about being able to feed their children or access food this half-term. It’s a difficult time for families but we want them to know they are not alone and that support is available if they need it.

“We remain committed to ensuring that residents are supported during what is a very difficult time for many people. I want to reassure everyone that we have arrangements in place which means that no child needs to go hungry in West Berkshire. Throughout the pandemic we have worked proactively with local community groups, charities, West Berkshire Volunteer Centre and Greenham Common Trust to ensure that those facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus are supported. I have regularly met with these groups and I would publicly thank them for their work to date.”

Over the weekend local restaurants, pubs and shops have also come forward offering to help feed families who are struggling this half-term. Thanking them for their efforts, Cllr Doherty added:

“It’s been fantastic to see local businesses coming out and offering food to families in need. It’s a further demonstration of the passionate community spirit we’ve seen in recent months and something which is to be admired. To all those who have been willing to help I express my heartfelt gratitude, I know this can also help to make a difference.”