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Fun Day in memory of inspirational Shane Hartop at Marlborough Town's Elcot Lane ground on 12 May

26-04-2018

    On Saturday 12 May the life of Shane Hartop, an inspiration to all whose lives he touched will be celebrated at Marlborough Town Football Club's ground in Elcot Lane, with a fund-raising Fun Day featuring a football match, charity auction, Northern Soul Ska disco and many other activities, all aimed...

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Bumble Bees attracted to Stonebridge Meadow by a rare feast of Snake's Head Fritillary

25-04-2018 Sue Round

Stonebridge Wild River Reserve has many Snake’s Head Fritillary flowers in bloom.  According to the Wildlife Trusts the flower is vulnerable and on the red data list.  It is thanks to a community planting  project that so many of these delicate flowers can now be seen in the reserve. 

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Marlborough LitFest 2018: major contributors William Boyd, Kate Mosse & Katie Hickman are announced

25-04-2018

  More names have been revealed for this year’s ninth Marlborough LitFest (28-30 September.)  They include acclaimed novelist William Boyd, bestselling author Kate Mosse, historical fiction author Katie Hickman.   

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The Gambia's recovery from dictatorship - and the Commonwealth

25-04-2018 Nick Maurice

  [EDITORS' NOTE:  Last week Dr Nick Maurice was present in London for meetings of the Commonwealth People’s Forum and the launch of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting or CHOGM.  There he learnt more about the problems The Gambia has as it recovers from 22 years of dictatorship.It was the first CHOGM...

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Manager - Sunny Days Children’s Nursery, Lyneham

25-04-2018

  Manager   Sunny Days Children’s Nursery, Lyneham     Do you love working with children?  Would you like a new challenge?  The role of Manager at Sunny Days Children’s Nursery in Lyneham could be just for you.We are looking for a manager who is enthusiastic, forward thinking and ready for a challenge.  The Pre-school is...

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Annual town meeting hears questions about Oxenwood closure & debates introducing 20mph restrictions

24-04-2018

This was probably Marlborough's best attended Annual Meeting of the Town Council (April 23) for years and the brisk review of the Council's year, the public questions and a debate on the introduction of 20mph restrictions should ensure a similar turnout in years to come.  

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Kelham Gardens land: Wiltshire Council will negotiate over its use as a car park - at what price?

24-04-2018

At a meeting of Wiltshire Council's cabinet (Tuesday morning, April 24) re-considered their plan to sell the piece of land they own in Kelham Gardens.   Due to contamination and its shape, the land is almost certainly unsuitable for housing and the cabinet were in favour of negotiating with Marlborough Town...

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The Now Vauxhall dealership in George Lane has closed

23-04-2018

Further to our report today about the state of Marlborough High Street, we have since learned that the Now Vauxhall dealership, service and MOT workshops in George Lane has closed.

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They say footfall has fallen in Marlborough High Street - will it improve now the road works have gone?

23-04-2018

The airwaves, the digital this-es and thats and the newspapers have been full this past week of the current woes of High Street Britain.  Mothercare is shrinking and Debenhams has seen a huge drop in profits.  

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Watch morning telly this Saturday for a taste of Marlborough – with a Marlborough wine?

Saturday Kitchen visits Marlborough's TescoSaturday Kitchen visits Marlborough's TescoSaturday latest: see below for the two wines Susie chose in Marlborough.

A team from BBC Television’s popular weekend morning show Saturday Kitchen was in Marlborough on Wednesday (April 10) to shoot an insert for this week’s programme. With them was one of the regular presenters, Master of Wine Susie Barrie selecting wines to go with the studio dishes – and available in Marlborough’s Tesco and Waitrose stores.

Marlborough News Online caught up with them at Tesco after they’d climbed to the top of St Peter’s Church to get those vital high angle shots of the High Street.  They were certainly not put off by a little bit of early morning mist hovering over the town.

The opening sequence was to be shot at Marlborough College – more wine selected from Waitrose’s shelves – and then the team visited the High Street market.

The programme has been produced for the BBC by the independent production company Cactus Television since 2006.  Cactus Television was founded by Simon Ross (brother of Jonathan Ross) with his wife Amanda and makes a number of entertainment and cooking television programmes.

Saturday Kitchen visits Marlborough's WaitroseSaturday Kitchen visits Marlborough's WaitroseSaturday Kitchen, presented by chef James Martin, has an audience each week of between two-and-a-half and three million – which is considered a very significant audience for that time of day. This Saturday (April 13) James will be joined at 10.00 am on BBC One by chefs Clare Smyth and Paul Ainsworth – with appearances by Rick Stein and Raymond Blanc.

Their crew in Marlborough was producer Andy Clarke, cameraman Mike Maddams and runner Hannah Wilson.

They often choose a town for a taped insert into the live programmes.  Why had they come to Marlborough?  Andy is from Bristol and has had his eye on Marlborough for a while: “What a lovely town, what a pretty High Street, what good shops – it’s good to showcase a place where mums and dads can come for tea – and some shopping.”

 

Susie Barrie at Marlborough's TescoSusie Barrie at Marlborough's TescoBoth Susie Barrie and her husband, Peter Richards (also a Master of Wine), are regular wine experts on Saturday Kitchen and together they run the Winchester Wine School and a wine club.  

Susie has ‘good memories’ of Marlborough – she brought her very young son Thomas to be photographed by Pete Davies at Marlborough Photo Services: “What a beautiful photo he produced – it brings tears to my eyes.”

How’s the day been? “It’s been”, Susie says, “a lovely day in Marlborough – everyone’s so helpful. And we even had a little bit of sunshine.”

And the wines?  You had better check the programme.  Not wanting to spoil the surprise, we’ll add them to this report after the programme has gone out.  What are the odds that one of them is from Marlborough, New Zealand?

Now it can be told: the two wines Susie chose in Marlborough were:

At Tesco - suprise, surprise - a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand: the Ara Pathway 2012 - £6.49 from Tesco.  This was to go with the programme's monkfish recipe.

And to go with the smoked haddock Scotch eggs, she chose another white wine - the Laurent Miquel Vendanges Nocturnes Viognier 2012 - £8.49 at Waitrose.

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At St John’s Question Time women outnumbered men – and that’s counting Lady Thatcher

St John's Question Time panelists, L to R, Deborah Rees, Chris Watts, Fiona Hornsby, Adam Pratchett (chair), Claire Perry and St John's teacher Peter Baldrey who organised the eveningSt John's Question Time panelists, L to R, Deborah Rees, Chris Watts, Fiona Hornsby, Adam Pratchett (chair), Claire Perry and St John's teacher Peter Baldrey who organised the eveningDevizes MP Claire Perry told the Question Time audience at St John’s Academy on Thursday evening (April 11) she had doubts about the timing of the government’s decision to cut the top rate of income tax from 50p in the pound to 45p.  Taking into account the ‘we’re all in it together’ mantra, she said: “If I were Chancellor I’d have said this is something we aspire to – but not now – but, hey, I’m just a back bencher.”

Also on the panel were Fiona Hornby who has stood twice as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Devizes, activist Chris Watts from South Swindon Labour Party and local businesswomen Deborah Rees who co-founded ‘Innecto Reward Consulting’ in 2002 and is their director of consulting.

About 120 people attended the session which was chaired by Adam Pratchett – head boy of St John’s Academy.

Picking up on the top rate tax cut, Fiona Hornby’s view was that “It doesn’t look fair – and like many things in life, it’s not enough to do the right thing - it has to look right.”  Chris Watts said he simply did not understand the government’s argument that it had not raised enough revenue.

Fiona Hornby had a simple response to the question “Do the panel think the UK should leave the EU?” – “No”.  She emphasised the wider, non-economic advantages of membership – especially being part of a bloc of nations that is listened to across the world.

There was near unanimity on the need for Britain to remain in the European Union. Chris Watts was worried that the long wait for the referendum would put off inward investment and was sure that if Britain left the EU, inward investment like Honda’s at Swindon simply would not happen.  

Mrs Perry wanted to keep the market and lose other connections with Europe.  But she thought a democratic decision on membership was overdue – and didn’t think ‘the clapped out politicians’ of UKIP would influence many people.

Two questions relating to the legacy of Margaret Thatcher dominated part of the evening and the one which sparked the most debate was whether she had helped women enter and flourish in Britain’s politics.

Mrs Perry dismissed the notion of ‘all women’ candidate lists. But Deborah Rees said the situation was so dire “I think women short lists are required.  Doing it for one election is not enough.  Let’s just try and see if it makes a difference.”

Fiona Hornby widened the question to include the public’s general lack of interest in politics.  In part she blamed the weekly Prime Minister’s Question session in the Commons which she said sounded like “children squabbling in a playground”.  

To which Mrs Perry retorted: “It’s fun though – you’d think it was fun if you were there.”

Chris Watts took up the theme: “I don’t think politicians have moved on from the soundbite”.  But with so many new sources of information people can check soundbites out and see whether politicians are telling the truth or not.

On the more general issue of Lady Thatcher’s legacy, Claire Perry declared: “I was no Thatcherite in my younger years”.  She praised Thatcher as someone who ‘absolutely stood up for Britain’.  

But Mrs Perry did admit Lady Thatcher had made mistakes – like selling social housing and not replacing it:  “Some things were done with less humanity than we would do now.”

Chris Watts explained some of Lady Thatcher’s mistakes: “Changes were made too far and too fast – what happened to the coal industry was a mistake.”  Deborah Rees thought that many people’s response to Lady Thatcher was more ‘a gut feeling’ than a thought out response.

Finally the panel tackled the government’s changes to the benefits system. Fiona Hornby welcomed the universal benefit – provided it really worked in practice.  She called some of the government’s other changes ‘just plain barmy.’

Deborah Rees admired Iain Duncan Smith for spending ten years working out how to change the system.  However, “He shoots himself massively in the foot when he says things like he can live on £53 a week – that undermines how I feel about his changes. No one can possibly live on that amount of money.”

Chris Watts criticised the ‘demonising of people on welfare’: “I find that quite offensive.” And he attacked the ‘bedroom tax’ to be paid by people in social housing with a spare room.

Mrs Perry defended this policy saying it was a ‘fair’ change.  She said she was ‘sorry’ if people had to move and the extra room will only cost £14 a week – with the rest of their home still paid by housing benefit.

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Customers grounded as Go Ballooning goes pop

Go Ballooning publicity shotGo Ballooning publicity shotPewsey-based hot air balloon operator Cameron Flights (Southern) Ltd has gone into administration, leaving hundreds of pre-paid customers grounded, and around 30 people out of a job.

The company traded from Woodborough under the name Go Ballooning. It has previously traded as Horizon Ballooning and High Adventure Balloons. 

Its website was taken down last week, and was today today replaced by a message which reads: “The Company is deeply saddened to advise that after successfully trading for over 25 years and flying many tens of thousands of customers we have had to take the very difficult decision to cease trading.

“The company has been and will continue to work with the liquidator to attempt to formulate a solution for customers.” It advised customers to log back on from Tuesday, April 9.

In a statement, The British Association of Balloon Operators (BABO), the UK trade body for commercial hot air balloon operators, of which Cameron Flights (Southern) Ltd was not a member, said: “For some considerable time, the BABO committee has been of the opinion that Cameron Flights (Southern) Ltd’s business model was seriously flawed, and drew to the directors’ attention as far back as November 2010 the unacceptably high number of passenger complaints BABO was receiving with regard to their operation.

“Furthermore, since mid-July 2011 BABO have had several conversations and correspondence with Wiltshire Trading Standards regarding concerns over the level of customer complaints pertaining to Cameron Flights (Southern) Ltd. However Wiltshire Trading Standards felt there was no further action required on their behalf.

“We deeply regret the distress and financial penalty suffered by customers, staff and suppliers who may have lost money with Cameron Flights (Southern) Ltd, but can only emphasise that this company was not a member of our association and therefore operated outside of our trade body’s control. 

“We would always urge members of the public to ensure that they only book a balloon flight with companies who are members of BABO.”

It is understood that the company had been cancelling booked flights for some time.

As early as June last year customers had set up a Facebook Page called I Didn't Go Ballooning (www.facebook.com/ididntgoballooning). 

Customer Simon Walsh wrote: “We were bought tickets for a go ballooning flight at the end of 2011 for my wife 50th birthday present, it was cancelled 5 times last year due to 'the weather'", while Keith Balbi said: “I purchased two tickets from go ballooning two years ago and still have not flown yet coz everytime i try it gets cancelled. I paid 230 pounds and they will only offer me 25 percent refund. Not happy.”

And today angry customers took to Twitter to vent their frustration. Chris Brown write “Flight tomorrow (paid for) no update until the 9th? Hotel paid, what do we do? Been trying to go for 2 years!” while an anonymous balloon pilot wrote: “I was one of there crew until yesterday. There's no hope. Don't expect answers to calls/emails. Lots now out of work,” and “all us who did the flying in a big hole”.

Cameron Balloon Flights (Southern) have no connection with Bristol-based balloon manufacturers Cameron Balloons Ltd.

* UPDATE: On Tuesday (April 9) the Go Ballooning website was ammended to display the following message: 

CAMERON FLIGHTS SOUTHERN LIMITED formerly trading as ‘Go Ballooning’

The above named company ceased trading on 4 April 2013 for reasons of insolvency.  The directors have approached Mr Joe Sadler (licensed Insolvency Practitioner) of Elwell Watchorn & Saxton LLP to convene meetings of members and creditors for 24 April 2013 with a view to placing the company into creditors voluntary liquidation.

The directors are currently assisting in preparing a statement of company affairs to be presented to the meetings and no further detailed information is available at the present time. However, all creditors are encouraged to monitor the ‘Go Ballooning’ website at http://www.goballooning.co.uk/ where current information will continue to be posted.

Any creditor who has made payment by credit card or similar is advised to contact their issuing cardholder in the first instance to establish whether payment may be refunded under the ‘chargeback’ scheme.  Further details of the scheme may be obtained by typing ‘how do I use chargeback’ into your search engine and following the link to the ‘Which?’ Consumer Rights website.

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GWH misses A&E waiting times target as pressures on hospitals grow

Great Western Hospital at Swindon has told Marlborough News Online that it has not been meeting the four hour target for waiting time in its A&E department during the winter period. This follows the release this week of Government figures showing that across England in hospitals with major A&E capability 93.3 per cent of patients were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours against the target of 95 per cent.

Although waiting times normally increase in winter, it is said that this winter’s figures showing the target was missed for the last nine weeks (up to March 24) is ‘slightly worse than previous winters’.  

Alf Troughton, Medical Director at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have seen unprecedented increases in activity, with over 3,500 more people seen in our Emergency units compared with the same period last year. We have also seen around ten per cent more emergency admissions to our hospitals over this period.”

He added: “Our staff have been working incredibly hard over the busy winter to ensure patients are receiving safe, high quality care, despite the pressures faced and we are very grateful for their dedication.”

The Medical Director said that up to the winter period GWH had been meeting the target waiting time: “…but GWH, like many other hospitals, has fallen short of this target over the winter period. Currently we are working on plans to improve our performance and ensure we are working at maximum efficiency within the Trust.”

Since GWH opened in 2002 the number of people each year who attend its emergency department has gone up by about fourteen thousand to stand at 70,731 in 2012.

One of the aims of the Government’s decision to replace NHS Direct with the new NHS 111 non-emergency helpline is to reduce attendances at A&E departments. The delay in rolling out this service across England and the number of inappropriate referrals to A&E made by NHS 111 is not helping hospitals cope with this winter’s A&E surge.

It is reported that the Department of Health has set aside £8.4 million to pay NHS Direct to continue providing its helpline service in areas – such as Wiltshire – where it has not been safe to switch over to NHS 111. This money will cover the old service until June 30.

However, NHS Direct has itself won contracts to provide the new NHS 111 service for more than thirty per cent of the population. The contract for Wiltshire’s service is held by the private provider Harmoni, now part of Care UK.

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Now four Waitrose partners from Marlborough sing together to lift the austerity gloom

Marlborough's singing quartet, left to right Rose Bennett, Jane Rowland, Ann Young and Ian DavisMarlborough's singing quartet, left to right Rose Bennett, Jane Rowland, Ann Young and Ian DavisThey are not only partners in Waitrose serving the people of Marlborough, but now four members of staff have joined a newly formed choir called, naturally, Partners Aloud.

It is but one of 11 such choirs from an original 30 within the John Lewis Partnership who are to compete in an internal competition taking place at the company’s conference centre in Odney, near Cookham, in Berkshire.

But more than that singing together has helped lift the gloom of today’s austerity gloom.

“We’re very much a scratch choir,” Ian Davis, a Waitrose delivery driver for nearly six years, told Marlborough News Online. “It’s all about working together.

“And singing together definitely lifts the spirits in these difficult times and makes you feel good.”

He and three female members of the local Waitrose staff have joined 16 members of Partners Aloud drawn from John Lewis at Home Swindon and John Lewis Outlet Swindon to take part in the competition on April 14.

They are Jane Rowland, on the staff of Waitrose for 15 years, Rose Bennett and checkout staff member Ann Young, who have been there more than five years.

The idea of forming the choirs was revealed in February by Manvinder Rattan, musical director of the John Lewis Partnership, who was one of the judges on the BBC’s Singing in the Workplace initiative.

The Swindon/Marlborough choir, now being tutored by Lisa Williams, musical director of the Occasions Choir from Royal Wootton Bassett, will be singing Somewhere Only We Know composed by the alternative rock band Keane, a must for all the competing choirs.

“We’ll be singing that in three-part harmony like a barber shop performance,” explained Ian. “We’re also singing an old hymn called All Through the Night and probably Sing a Song of Sixpence.

He has a tenor voice and believes it comes from his Welsh background – his family dropped the E in their name Davies – while his three female compatriots are all altos.

“My great grandfather came from Wrexham and my great grandmother was quite musical,” he said. “I did some singing when I was a very young choirboy and also in a big choir at Marlborough College’s annual summer school.

“A few members of the choir can read music and play a musical instrument, but most of them are first timers. We’re all enjoying it thoroughly, especially as Lisa Williams, who is teaching us, is a real find, a great motivator.

“And that makes it all fun.”

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Workshops at Marlborough’s White Horse bookshop have become a mecca for the creative arts

Edwina PearceEdwina PearceA town isn’t a town without a bookshop.  And the more so if there is a 10 per cent discount on hardbacks in these hard times.  But Marlborough’s White Horse Bookshop, founded 60 years ago, is more than that.

It has become a mecca over the years as a centre for one day art workshops – now creative writing adventures too – which have proved an attraction to the retired, young mothers and students too who want to develop their talents.

“We’ve also got a knitting workshop going too,” says Edwina Pearce (pictured), who has been organising the workshops for almost 13 years, as well as running the White Horse’s professional artists’ materials department.

“So I’m always looked outside the box for new people who can offer something different.  It’s a job I enjoy.  So my heart goes into it.  And it works wonderfully, up to eight people meeting in warm and comfortable surroundings to develop their talents.

“It’s almost like a club, a miniature version of Marlborough’s Summer School, with people coming back year after year.  I love to see them again.  They send me emails telling me what they’re doing.  It’s great, like being part of a big family.”

It’s a family too with foreign members.  Penny Dedman, who lives in Luxembourg, arranges visits to her daughter to coincide with workshop classes, Ann Summers comes from Spain to meet up with old friends, and Ann Meale travels from the Isle of Wight to attend workshops with her daughter.

The renown of the tutors working in an upstairs studio with windows on three sides in the 17th century bookshop building adds to the value of the workshops.

Bill Mather, whose workshop this Saturday is on Wiltshire landscapes in three colour acrylics, is but one of them, along with Susanna Bailey and Kim Vines, all professional artists with their own websites where you can see their work for yourself.

The relaxed, friendly atmosphere is one of the workshops’ virtues, which is recognised by Debby Guest, a member of the bookselling staff.

“What we offer is a comfortable, non-pressurised environment for people to come in and do something they always fancied trying their hand at and never knew quite where to start,” Debby explains.

“Everybody can have a say, have a go.  Nobody is going to get left out and neither is anybody going to be pushed to the front.

“If you’ve not tried pastels, there’s a tutor there who will set a project, show you techniques, give you ideas and you can go out at the end of the day with a finished piece of work.” she explains.

“The classes are incredibly popular.  We have people who come back time after time.”

Many will welcome novelist Debby Holt and short story writer Alison Clink are now giving workshops in creative writing.

“They enable people to kick-start something they have always wanted to do, to write their own life story, a short story or a novel,” adds Debby Guest. “They may have always wanted to write a novel but never really knew how to get going.

“The first rule in writing is bum on seat and this is it, for a whole day you can get on with it.”

The workshops, which take place on a weekly basis until June 10, cost £27 with a £15 deposit required when booking.

For full details see White Horse website – www.whitehorsebooks.co.uk

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Record Store Day will be celebrated with film and, of course, music

Graham Jones, author of Last Shop StandingGraham Jones, author of Last Shop StandingThe rise, fall and rebirth of the independent record shop will be charted during a screening of the film Last Shop Standing next week.

There were 2200 independent record shops in the 1980s, by 2009 there were only 269 left.

Last Shop Standing features the likes of Johnny Marr, Paul Weller and Fatboy Slim as it attempts to find out why so many shops have closed – and how those last remaining stores are managing to survive in the age of the digital download.

The documentary – the official film of Record Store Day 2013 – will be shown at Marlborough Town Hall on Wednesday, April 17 as part of wider celebrations by record store Sound Knowledge to mark the occasion.

And meeting music fans to sign copies of the book and DVD, and to answer questions about the documentary, will be Graham Jones, the Chippenham-based Liverpudlian music fan who wrote the 2009 book that inspired the film.

Doors open at 7pm and tickets cost £5 from Sound Knowledge, which is located in Hughenden Yard, Marlborough.

Roger Mortimer, owner of Sound Knowledge in his shopRoger Mortimer, owner of Sound Knowledge in his shopSound Knowledge will be opening from 8am on Saturday, April 20 to sate the appetite of vinyl fans – a selection of limited edition records have been pressed to promote the day.

And on Sunday, April 21, from midday, a festival atmosphere will come to Hughenden Yard, with live performances from Nick Harper, Port Erin, Tallulah Rendall, The Suburbians, and Peter & the Mountain. Attendance is free. 

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Local Tories pay tribute to Thatcher, the 'Marmite' prime minister

Margaret ThatcherMargaret ThatcherBaroness Thatcher, the former Conservative Prime Minister who has died at 87, was a Marmite leader – the voters either loved or hated her.

That is a view of John Thomson, Tory-controlled Wiltshire Council’s deputy leader, who has declared: “I think she was rather like Marmite: you either loved her or hated her, but you can’t help but admire her strength of conviction.

“She was a politician who you really knew what she thought and what she believed in, even though you may not agree with it.

“You may not have liked what she was saying, but at least you knew what she was thinking. We don’t have that clarity in our politicians at the moment.”

Offering his tribute to Lady Thatcher, he adds: “It’s history now, the world has moved on. She was probably right for her time, but the world has changed a lot since those days.

“Her legacy is we still have the Falkland Islands, and she did enable a huge amount of people to become property owners.

“She may not necessarily have got it right on her industrial base, moving us more towards a service economy, but we are working now to correct that.

“She changed the laws with unions, and handed more power back to individuals rather than the union barons.”

Jane Scott, Wiltshire Council’s leader, points out that her death is not only a sad day but the end of an era, declaring: “Margaret Thatcher was a great inspiration and has changed the perception of women in politics and what they can achieve.”

Conservative MP for North Wiltshire James Gray, who worked for a short time as her special adviser, says he was inspired to become a politician by her leadership of the party.

“I owe my entry to politics to her, she inspired me in the 1970s,” he reveals. “The nation owes her a great debt. She made an enormous mark on Britain, which was the sick man of Europe at the time.

“Britain was bankrupt and she turned it around to the benefit of all. Many people are in their houses thanks to her. The Falklands remained Britain thanks to her.

“There are a lot of freedoms and prosperities we enjoy thanks to the bold, brave and tough things she did. Though controversial, she was nevertheless a truly great leader.”

And Stewart Dobson, branch chairman of Marlborough Conservative Association, said: "I was very saddened to learn of the death of Baroness Thatcher. She became Prime Minister at a critical time in our country's history and showed tremendous vision and leadership in those difficult times.

"What ever one may think of some of her more controversial decisions, I believe that no one can ever doubt her patriotism and sincere belief in trying to make Britain great.

"Her lasting legacy must be that she proved once and for all that women could and should be able to achieve the highest office in whatever career they chose."

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Lord of the Flies to make its debut as a major musical at the Oxford Playhouse in July

Sir William GoldingSir William GoldingThe Lord of the Flies, the first novel by Nobel prize-winning author Sir William Golding, who grew up in Marlborough, is to become a major musical due to be given its premiere at the Oxford Playhouse in July.

It is a significant and exciting event for admirers of Golding, a pupil at Marlborough Grammar School, where his father was a teacher, since it has immaculate talent behind the Playhouse initiative.

The musical, which calls in students from Magdalen College School in Oxford to play the roles of the boys stranded on an island, is being directed by Adrian Noble, former chief executive of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the winner of numerous theatrical awards, receiving some 20 nominations for Olivier awards during his career.

He has also worked for the noted Peter Hall Company, The Manhatten Theatre Club, Kent Opera and directed a productions of Giovanni in a Paris circus tent.

And the music for the production, co-directed by Joanne Pearce, is by the award-winning Irish composer Shaun Davey, who has composed for the concert hall, the stage and TV, his work performed round the world.

His compositions have included the theatre scores for The Lion, The Witch And the Wardrobe, and the TV and film scores for Ballykissangle, The Tailor of Panama, David Copperfield and Trevor Nunn’s Twelfth Night.

He received the People of the Year award for his contribution to Irish culture, an Ivor Novello Award for his score for The Hanging Gale, and this year was nominated for a Tony award for his music for the hit Broadway version of James Joyce’s The Dead.

The Oxford Playhouse production of Lord of the Flies – the novel about a group of British boys stuck on an uninhabited island who try to govern themselves with disastrous results was a flop when it was published in 1954 – will run from July 5 to 7.

The novel subsequently twice adapted as a film, in 1963 and 1990, and became an international best seller, chosen by The Times newspaper as third in the list of the greatest British authors since 1945.

And Golding, who lived on The Green, in Marlborough, in his early days – there is a commemorative plaque on his home there – went on to win the Booker Prize for Rites of Passage in 1980, was made a Nobel laureate for literature in 1983 and knighted in 1988.

He died in 1993, aged 81.

The Lord of the Flies musical Oxford Playhouse tryout could become a significant West End and international production if it proves a major success.

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Major roadworks mean long diversions for A4 drivers

Major roadworks on the A4 between Beckhampton and West Kennet will mean overnight road closures and long detours for night time commuters, Wiltshire Council has confirmed.

Contractors are due to start work on the road on Tuesday, May 7 and a road closure will be put in place to allow workmen to resurface the carriageway, instal new road markings, and adjust surface ironwork.

The road closure will be in place until Wednesday, May 22, and are scheduled to last from 7pm until 6am, although commuters are warned that a delay in competition may be experienced due to unforeseen circumstances, such as late delivery of materials.

The main diversion route for all ‘through’ traffic whilst works are undertaken will be via A4 Beckhampton Roundabout, north on A4361 to B4005 (Wroughton), east on B4005 to A346 (Chiseldon), south on A346 to A4 (Marlborough) & vice versa.

A council spokesman confirmed: “The contractor will endeavour to maintain vehicular access for the duration of the works; although due to the nature of the works minor disruption is inevitable.

“It is essential that the road remains un-trafficked until the new material has set, as early trafficking could lead to premature failure. 

“Dedicated traffic management operatives at the extent of the works will monitor access and give motorists assistance.

“Signing will be in place advising that local businesses will be open as usual.”

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Hats off to bonnet winners as families go for a duck in Aldbourne

Ervin Ura, winner of the Easter bonnet competition (under fives)Ervin Ura, winner of the Easter bonnet competition (under fives)Families went out for a duck this Easter in the local village where the human residents are named after the Little Grebe.

Dozens of 'dabchicks' – an historic nickname bestowed on the inhabitants by the residents of neighbouring Ramsbury – turned out for the Aldbourne duck race, to cheer as rubber ducks bobbed along the Winterbourne.

Elsewhere, the Easter bunny helped children hunt for eggs and judged the Easter bonnet competition. The under fives category was won by three-year-old Ervin Ura, who was balancing a hat almost as tall as he was, while out-of-towner Oscar Greig (5) – on a visit to his grandmother's – came up from Wichester to clinch the crown in the over-fives category.

All proceeds from the event, which was held on Easter Saturday, will go towards supporting the Memorial Hall.

Oscar Greig, winner of the Easter bonnet competition (over fives)Oscar Greig, winner of the Easter bonnet competition (over fives)

Splash down! The start of the first duck race of the daySplash down! The start of the first duck race of the day

Spectators line the banks of the Winterbourne for the duck raceSpectators line the banks of the Winterbourne for the duck race

Milo Davison (6) meets the Easter bunnyMilo Davison (6) meets the Easter bunny

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Major London art exhibition to be shown on Marlborough cinema screen

Le Chemin de Fer (The Railroad) by Édouard ManetLe Chemin de Fer (The Railroad) by Édouard ManetArt lovers can see the work of the 19th century painter Édouard Manet – considered the founding father of modern art­ – in Marlborough this month, thanks to the magic of the Town Hall's versatile silver screen. 

The first-ever major show of Manet's work at the Royal Academy of Arts, Portraying Life, opened at the end of January and, due to demand, has been extended until midnight on April 14.

But for fans not lucky enough to get a ticket, there's an opportunity to see the artist's work at Marlborough Town Hall, as the exhibition is brought to the big screen by the Kennet Valey Arts Trust.

The High Definition film of the exhibition, which will be shown on Tuesday, April 11 from 6.30pm and again on Tuesday, April 16 from 1pm, also includes exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the show’s preparation, interwoven with a superbly crafted biography of Manet and 19th-century Paris.

Tickets cost £13 in advance from www.kvat.co.uk, Sound Knowledge or White Horse Bookshop, Marlborough. 

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Call goes out for volunteer ‘Champions’ to join the campaign for digital literacy

It was through Marlborough News Online that Gerry Young first found out about Wiltshire Council’s Digital Literacy scheme.  Last October we reported that the scheme was coming soon to the Marlborough area.

Gerry has now been appointed by Wiltshire Online as the scheme’s volunteer coordinator for the Marlborough area – and he is on the look-out for volunteer Digital Champions.  

With the Wiltshire Online team, he is seeking five Digital Champions to start supporting residents in the practicalities of using internet connected computers. You do not have to have a degree in IT, but you do need to know your way around computers and the internet.

Gerry told Marlborough News Online: “The idea is to cover problems such as setting up email for the first time, using office packages such as Microsoft Office or the freely available alternatives such as LibreOffice or OpenOffice.”

“Typically people have issues with setting up their wireless networks for the first time, shopping online, or setting up a Skype account to make intercontinental video calls to family and friends.”

Gerry hopes to find five Digital Champions for this area – the poster calling for volunteer Champions is below.  Anyone interested in helping with this scheme can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone 01225 793349.

The service is totally free, but there are limitations to what these Digital Champions can do. They will not be involved in adding memory or changing disks, or installing new operating systems or hardware. Problems beyond the scope of the Digital Literacy teams are filtered out by Wiltshire Online. Instead callers will be given the names of some appropriate professional computer support organisations.

Gerry Young lives at the heart of the area – near the High Street.  He trained as an engineer and has spent the last ten years in technical sales.  He now teaches three days a week at Wiltshire College – and will be coordinating the work of the Champions.

The great thing about the scheme is that assistance can be given at a time that is convenient to both the volunteer and the learner.  It generally involves one-to-one sessions either at a library, wi-fi enabled café or in people’s homes.

In addition, St John’s Academy is seeing whether use could be made of their IT suites – out of school hours.

Wiltshire Online has made a commitment to help at least 6,000 adults across Wiltshire get on line by March 2016.  And as more and more government and council services rely on online access, it is becoming crucial for people whatever their age to get connected to the internet.

Wiltshire Online insists that you must not be afraid to suggest to an elderly relative that they should use the Digital Champions to help them.  Just listen to 86 year-old grandmother Betty. She needed a bit of help - given at a speed she could cope with - to get herself proficient with the internet.  And listen to the end or you’ll miss how she became a member of the digital age.

To enlarge click on image To enlarge click on image

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Murder at Wilton Windmill

Windmill MurderWindmill MurderWilton Windmill is to be the setting for a murder mystery event, written especially for the venue by professional actors.

The “seriously scary” immersive event is being staged by Smoke & Mirrors, a company of actors trained at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and the Central School of Speech and Drama, who specialise in bringing murder mysteries to interesting and historic buildings.

Alex Rain, from Smoke & Mirrors, told Marlborough News Online: “The plot features a television producer filming a programme - live on the night - about the supernatural.

“The producer is at Wilton, having been invited by a local psychic medium who has a great revelation that she wants witnessed by our audience and the TV cameras

“But the medium is in cahoots with an immoral and unscrupulous historian, who's hoping to cash in on the deal.”

Mr Rain promised the audience “some of our most spectacular set-pieces to date, as well as the most ambitious murder we've ever attempted.”

And he revealed that the cast would include an actor familiar to fans of the TV hospital drama Holby City. 

Murder at the Mill will take place on Saturday, June 8 from 7.30pm with tickets costing £20. For full booking details, visit www.wiltonwindmill.co.uk/2013/04/02/murder-mystery-at-wilton-windmill/

For a creepy video of the Smoke & Mirrors team in action, go to http://hauntedmysteryweekend.co.uk/about-smoke-and-mirrors.html

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Police seek witnesses to pick axe attack

Wiltshire Police are appealing for witnesses following an assault in West Grafton, during which a man was attacked with a pick axe handle.



The incident took place this morning (Wednesday, April 3) shortly after 9am at a layby on the A338 at West Grafton close to the roadside cafe. 

Police say that shortly after the male victim parked his lorry in the layby, he was approached by two men.

One of the men they started to attack the victim using a pick axe handle, before the two men fled the scene in a blue Suzuki 4X4.



The victim has been left with serious arm injuries, believed to include a suspected broken arm. 



The first suspect is described as being a white male, in his 50s, short in height with a stocky build, bald head and a tattoo on his neck. He was wearing blue jeans and a grey hooded top. 



The second suspect is described as a white male, approximately 6ft 1-2ins, in his mid-20’s, short brown hair wearing a black jumper and jeans. 





Anyone in this area between 8.30am and 9.30am this morning is asked to contact Wiltshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, where information can be left anonymously.

Library picture courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

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NHS shake-up: Wiltshire’s GP-led commissioners take to the driving seat

After several months running the commissioning of Wiltshire’s NHS services as a ‘shadow’ organisation, Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group held its inaugural meeting on Tuesday (April 2) two days after the demise of NHS Wiltshire – the Primary Care Trust (PCT.)

“It is”, said Dr Stephen Rowlands, the Trowbridge GP who chairs the CCG, ”our first day actually sitting in the driving seat.”

This was a formal meeting attended by most of the GP board members [see photo below.]  They were signing off the transfer of the PCT’s assets and the CCG’s 183-page constitution.  

The transfer of assets is not quite complete – waiting for a few corrections by the Department of Health.  But it includes some interesting items: the CCG will be responsible for 959 computer workstations in the county’s surgeries and other healthcare centres, as well as another 92 computer workstations at its headquarters in Devizes.

It has been a very complex dividing up of assets – rather like a divorce settlement.  But there was probably little dispute over the “seven coat hangers” that are moving from the PCT to NHS Property Services Ltd.

Much more seriously, the constitution has undergone some additions since the draft version Marlborough News Online reported on in January

As Dr Rowlands noted, there has been a great deal of press coverage of the possible conflicts of interest that may arise when GPs are buying treatment and care services from their own surgeries or from companies in which they have an interest.

The constitution has an added paragraph: “Where all or most CCG decision makers have or may have a material interest in the decision, the decision may be referred to the CCG governing body. The [Wiltshire Council run] Health and Wellbeing Board or another CCG may also be invited to review the proposal.”

This first meeting of the CCG was told that a new register of interests for all those involved in the CCG was being drawn up and would be published before the Governing Body’s next  meeting later in April.

The constitution also confirms how the CCG’s three ‘locality groups’ will operate.  They are Sarum for the south of the county, WWKYD for the west, and NEW (North and East Wiltshire) which includes our area.

Two members of the public, June and Walter Nelson from Chippenham, came to the meeting to ask about the poor level of dementia treatment in Wiltshire. They had come to the right place as quicker and better diagnosis and treatment of dementia has been the CCG’s first major initiative.

Dr Celia Grummitt from the Sarum locality of the CCG, explained how the pilot she had run had included GPs working on diagnosis and prescribing – as well as taking back into their care more stable patients. Funding was now available and training for GPs would be rolled out across the county in the next two months.

Dr Grummitt said: “We are really hopeful that in the next six months you will see a dramatic change.”

NHS 111: the new non-emergency NHS helpline that is replacing NHS Direct is now live in half of the contract areas across England – though some of these still have NHS Direct running in tandem as back-up.  The countywide service was supposed to go live by Monday, April 1 – some areas will not now go live until June.

The decision as to whether the Wiltshire service should be allowed to go live has been delayed until later this month.  However, minutes of the Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Committee’s meeting on March 19 show how seriously the state of the local NHS 111 contract with the private company Harmoni is being considered:

“The members expressed their deep concern about the provider’s capability and capacity to continue to deliver the contract going forward, particularly with a Bank Holiday weekend ahead, and discussed alternative plans for the next course of action based on the least risk.”

Left to right: John Goodall (Wiltshire Council, Public Health standing in for Maggie Rae, Director of Public Health and Protection), Dr Debbie Beale (WWKYD), Dr Jonathan Rayner (GP Vice-Chair, NEW), Dr Mark Smithies (Secondary Care Doctor – who has to be from outside the CCG’s area), Dr Stephen Rowlands (Chairman), Deborah Fielding (Accountable Officer), Christine Reid (Lay Member), David Noyes (Director of Planning, Performance and Corporate Services), Dr Celia Grummitt (GP Vice-Chair, Sarum), Peter Lucas (Lay Member & CCG Vice Chairman), Mike Relph (Group Director, WWKYD), Mark Harris (Group Director, Sarum), Dr Toby Davies (GP Chairman, Sarum), Simon Truelove (Chief Financial Officer.)Left to right: John Goodall (Wiltshire Council, Public Health standing in for Maggie Rae, Director of Public Health and Protection), Dr Debbie Beale (WWKYD), Dr Jonathan Rayner (GP Vice-Chair, NEW), Dr Mark Smithies (Secondary Care Doctor – who has to be from outside the CCG’s area), Dr Stephen Rowlands (Chairman), Deborah Fielding (Accountable Officer), Christine Reid (Lay Member), David Noyes (Director of Planning, Performance and Corporate Services), Dr Celia Grummitt (GP Vice-Chair, Sarum), Peter Lucas (Lay Member & CCG Vice Chairman), Mike Relph (Group Director, WWKYD), Mark Harris (Group Director, Sarum), Dr Toby Davies (GP Chairman, Sarum), Simon Truelove (Chief Financial Officer.)

Click to enlarge.

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