Newbury Weekly News

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U K W e e k l y N e w s p a p e r o f t h e Y e a r

Thursday October 17, 2019, £1

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Join SAS Auctions in Bargain Hunt-style contest See page 46

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Local feature guide See pages 43-45

AA highlights danger of removing hard shoulder THE president of the AA fears there will be more fatal crashes like the one that killed three members of staff at Prior’s Court school unless safety improvements are made to the M4. The school minibus was hit by a lorry when it suddenly lost power between Junctions 14 for Hungerford and 13 for Chieveley in October last year. lorry driver did not have time to stop. It is absolutely terrifying. “Unfortunately that kind of incident will be repeated unless improvements are made.” are ‘smart’ motorways? Report by DAN COOPER AND JOHN HERRING email twitter @danc_nwn M4 deaths: How safe

Schools warning of ‘stab night’ fight rumours at Michaelmas Fair SCHOOLS have warned parents that youngsters may be plotting knife violence during a “stab night” at the Michaelmas Fair in Newbury. And police have confirmed they are taking the reports seriously. One letter states: “Dear parents and carers; I am writing to you in order to share information I have recently received from another school, whose parents are concerned about some of the things they have been told by their chil- dren about the [Michaelmas] fair taking place in Newbury between October 16 and 19. “Although the majority of teenagers going to the fair do so to have fun, it seems that some young people are plan- ning to have what they call a ‘stab night’, when students from around West Berk- shire plan to confront other groups of students in order to initiate fights.” It adds: “I have no reason to believe that any students from [our school] are intending to take part in this extremely concerning event, and indeed have no certain evidence that the event is actu- ally going to happen in reality. “However, I wanted to make you aware in order to inform your decisions about whether or not to allow your children to visit the fair.” The letters have been sent out to a number of schools, including The Downs in Compton and John O’Gaunt in Hungerford. West Berkshire Local Policing Area commander Supt Nick John told the Newbury Weekly New s: “Following engagement with local schools, partners and parents, we are aware of the rumours circulating regarding fights at the Michaelmas Fair. “We are taking these threats seriously and officers are continuing to make a number of enquiries into the credibility of these rumours. “As a large local event, a policing pres- ence was always planned for the Michaelmas Fair.” He added: “The local community should be reassured rather than alarmed by the police presence. n Continued on page 5

Flaming fantastic AMAZING fire displays lit up the streets of Newbury town centre at the weekend. Thousands of visitors braved the rain to witness the spectacle from Friday to Sunday. Fire Garden , by French company Carabosse, marked 10 years of outdoor events organised by the Corn Exchange. For more pictures, see pages 6 and 7

An inquest heard last week that the hard shoulder on that section of the road was closed at the time so Highways England could carry out barrier repairs, meaning the vehicle was unable to pull over. Work is currently under way to convert the M4 between Junction 12 at Theale and London into a smart motor- way – a scheme which involves remov- ing the hard shoulder altogether. AA president Edmund King told the Newbury Weekly News that doing so will lead to more people’s lives being lost. He said: “The M4 is going to be a sub- standard road where safety is going to be compromised. “While the section of the M4 where the Prior’s Court crash took place is not going to become a smart motorway, the principle is exactly the same. “Frankly, the minibus had nowhere to go. In this absolutely tragic case, the

Highways England claims that converting the hard shoulder into a running lane will help improve capacity on the road and says it is more cost effective than widening it. To mitigate the loss of the hard shoul- der, it will install ‘emergency refuge areas’ every mile-and-a-half. However, Mr King said: “Our concern is, if you remove the hard shoulder, you need more laybys or refuge areas to pull into.” Meanwhile senior coroner for Berk- shire Heidi Connor has requested a review into hard shoulder closures following the Prior’s Court deaths. Mrs Connor said at the inquest: “We have heard this barrier was only installed the day before this incident and if the hard shoulder had been avail- able it may have offered the minibus an opportunity to move out of harm’s way.” n Prior’s Court inquest, pages 2 and 3

Visit Parkway’s

28 th Oct - 2 nd Nov

Put your wizardry skills to the test in our half term potions classes! Book your space via the contact us page at State date / time & number of children attending and we will get back to you Walk in area for FREE face-painting & arts & crafts

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