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Great Bedwyn: another community in need of affordable homes - but what about its social housing?

19-11-2017

  The only additional homes to be built in Great Bedwyn ought to be "small 'affordable' ones".

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Marlborough St Mary's Primary School and the new crossing point over George Lane: "An accident waiting to happen"

18-11-2017

  The opening of Marlborough St Mary's Primary school has - as was expected -  brought changed patterns of movement as parents and children walk to school.

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Bikes stolen from a shed in Wootton Rivers - Police appeal for information

16-11-2017

Police are appealing for information following a burglary in Wootton Rivers, near Marlborough which took plae between 12 and 13 September.  Several items were stolen including:  X1 Fondriest bike X1 Colnago road bike Raleigh pedal bike Two sets of bike wheels Garmin 810 In addition several items of bike equipment including a tyre pump and bike lock were...

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Marlborough Hockey Club achieve Clubmark accreditation

16-11-2017 Sarah Kendall

With England Hockey Clubfirst accreditation held since 2006, Marlborough Hockey Club are now one of the first clubs in the west of England to have been awarded England Hockey’s Clubmark accreditation.

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Hockey: Marlborough Ladies First team have an important win - but tables are turned for the Seconds as goals…

16-11-2017 Vicky Moxham

  City of Bath Ladies Firsts       0  Marlborough Ladies Firsts       4       Following two draws in the last two games, Marlborough travelled to bottom of the league City of Bath looking for three points.   A minute of silence for the fallen was observed and then it was time for Marlborough to get...

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Handyperson - Marlborough College

16-11-2017

  Handyperson     A vacancy has arisen for a Handyperson to work within Turner House (a boys’ boarding house).   You should enjoy and have a good knowledge of DIY and be able to undertake a range of general maintenance tasks including repairs and painting. Some heavy-duty cleaning tasks may also be required.  Relevant...

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Domestic Cleaner & Facilities Support - Marlborough College

16-11-2017

  Domestic Cleaner & Facilities Support     We are looking for a reliable and enthusiastic person to join our team in General Services.  Reporting to the Domestic Services Manager, you will provide roaming assistance (as required for all areas) including: cleaning services around the College campus as well as driving for deliveries and...

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Gardener (Full Time) - Sheepdrove Organic Farm & Eco Conference Centre

16-11-2017

  Gardener (Full Time)   Sheepdrove Organic Farm & Eco Conference Centre     Sheepdrove is a 2,500 acre working organic farm based in Lambourn.  It is home to our award winning Eco Conference Centre, guest accommodation and woodland burial site and Education Centre. The farm produces pasture-fed organic meat for the family Butcher’s shop in London and...

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Children and Families’ Worker - St Mary’s Church, Marlborough

16-11-2017

  Children and Families’ Worker   St Mary’s Church, Marlborough      We are looking for someone who will help develop the work being done amongst children, families and young people in our parish, and who will contribute to our main aim “to make Jesus known” amongst the people of Marlborough.  Some experience in working...

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Hockey: defeats for Marlborough's first & second men's teams - but thirds win again and go top of the table

15-11-2017 Richard Holman

  Marlborough     0       West Wilts      4After their first loss of the season last week, Marlborough Men's Firsts needed to bounce back in their home fixture against league leaders West Wilts (November 11.)

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One women among four candidates being short-listed as Wiltshire’s new chief constable

Patrick Geenty, Wiltshire's temporary Chief ConstablePatrick Geenty, Wiltshire's temporary Chief ConstableShort-listing takes place tomorrow (Friday) in the selection process to appoint Wiltshire’s new Chief Constable by a panel of five people set up by the newly-elected Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson.

Only four people have applied for the fixed, five-year post, which has an initial salary of £133,068, with Patrick Geenty, the county’s temporary Chief Constable for the past year, consider the front runner.

He is the only candidate from within the Wiltshire constabulary, the county in fact being the first nationally to establish its own police force under the County Police Act of 1839, the three others including one woman seeking the prestigious post.

The candidates will face an interview panel of five people headed by 59-year-old accountant and former local councillor Mr Macpherson, who was the first person nationally to be elected PCC last month on a poll of just 15.8 per cent under the controversial new legislation.

Joining him will be Jane Scott, Tory leader of Wiltshire Council, Mike Strathdee, manager of Drug and Housing Initiative Services in Swindon, Geoff Pears, independent human relations expert, and David Renard, deputy leader of Swindon borough council.

“The panel have been selected in order to make the appointment process clear and transparent,” a PCC spokeswoman told Marlborough News Online.

And the same panel will play the role again when the new Chief Constable is appointed on January 7.

In the appointment procedure documents, Mr Macpherson declares: “We are proud to have the oldest county force.  Coincidentally, it (Wiltshire) was the first to return an elected Police and Crime Commissioner.  In common with the Constabulary motto, I also want it to be the best.”

“There are now 2,045 employees, comprising 1,062 police officers and 839 police staff.  The annual budget is £104 million, made up of £64 million central grant and £40 million precept.”

And he adds: “Policing Wiltshire is a challenge. Wiltshire people, and those who represent them, demand high standards of effectiveness and value for money.  The Commissioner and Chief Constable will work extremely closely to met, and where possible to exceed, these high expectations.”

“We must share an understanding that change in working practices across the organisation is needed to adapt to current conditions and to anticipate future demands.”

“Structural changes have already been made that will enable us to better serve the people of Wiltshire by protecting them from harm.  I see strategic alliance and with local partners, particularly the two local authorities, as the key area for development.”

“I need a Chief to drive change at pace. Together we need a team who bring new ideas and innovation, and who will implement the Crime and Policing Plan effectively.”

Mr Geenty is seen as the leading contender to become Chief Constable, based in Devizes, though no details are yet available of the other candidates and their experience at a time when police morale is a low level.

He joined the police service in 1983 and served in Gloucestershire and Humberside before joining Wiltshire as assistant Chief Constable in April, 2009, and was left in command when Chief Constable Brian Moore was seconded to the troubled Border Agency after making Wiltshire one of the safest counties in the country.

Mr Moore, holder of the Queen’s Police Medal, then announced that he would not be returning to Wiltshire after serving as Chief Constable for four years.

Mr Geenty had been temporary Deputy Chief Constable since the death of David Ainsworth, the previous deputy, in March this year before being put into temporary control.

A spokeswoman later announced that all four candidates have been short-listed for selection but said it was "inappropriate" to identify them.

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No OneFest in 2013, organisers confirm

OneFest, the Marlborough-based music festival which last year positioned itself as the first big date in the gig-goers calendar, will not be back in 2013.

Instead, organisers told followers on Facebook and Twitter this week, the festival was 'taking a break', and would be returning in 2014.

The inaugural HoneyFest was organised in 2011 in support of the Barge Inn community project at Honeystreet, near Pewsey.

When the festival and pub went their separate ways in 2012, the festival – which was held on a cold and wet Saturday in April at Rockley – dropped the H and Y and was renamed OneFest to avoid confusion with any future festivals at the pub.

The festival attracted a unique outdoor performance of the opera Dr Dee by Damon Albarn, the maestro behind Britpop champions Blur, cartoon band Gorillaz and more leftfield works like 2007's Oriental pop-opera Monkey, Journey to the West, and received attention from the national music press.

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Christmas congratulations for Claire Perry on her efforts to extend mainline train electrification

Support for Claire Perry’s bid to extend electrification on the vital mainline trains services to London came from Marlborough town council last night (Tuesday) with a motion of Christmas congratulations.

The efforts of the local Tory MP to persuade the government to add another 80 miles of electrification to Westbury were praised by Councillor Richard Pitts, who told colleagues: “It is very important that we support Claire, who has been working very hard with Pewsey and ourselves in trying to get the electrification pushed forward.”

Moving his motion, he asked: "Would this council join with me in congratulating Claire Perry MP on her success in persuading the Department of Transport to look into the benefits of electrification of the railway line between Newbury, Bedwyn and Westbury?”

“We as a council recognise electrification as vital in the promotion of our town as a commuter, tourism, business and trading centre and as an important way of reducing road congestion and carbon emissions.”

“Would we agree to support Transition Marlborough's travel group and Bedwyn Transport Passenger Group's efforts to co-ordinate bus services between Marlborough and the three stations in the area -- Bedwyn, Pewsey and Swindon-- as this will increase job opportunities for people without cars?”

“And call upon Wiltshire Council to reduce the proposed cut to the Bedwyn bus and instead implement the alternative timetable for the Marlborough – Bedwyn -- Hungerford service, that incorporates seven minute waiting times at Bedwyn and Hungerford stations, to increase the likelihood that passengers will meet their connections?”

Councillor Pitts referred to positive answers in the House of Commons Mrs Perry had obtained from Transport minister Simon Burns on a review taking place that would also include freight as well as passenger trains on the line to and from Paddington.

“May I reassure her that we place great importance on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the rail network?” Mr Burns replied.

“I can confirm that freight is included in the review that I have asked for on the Newbury to Westbury line.  I do not want to hang around on this matter, because it will get bogged down in bureaucracy.  I hope that officials and Network Rail will report to me by February 2013.”

Councillor Val Compton called for the serious parking problems in Great Bedwyn, where elderly and disabled people were being “locked into their own homes” by cars blocking their drives, to be part of the issues being raised.

She was supported by Councillors Caroline Jackson and Gordon Francis, the latter pointing out that it was the Great Bedwyn situation that highlighted the issue in the first place.

“The notion of the Department of Transport to electrify the line only to Newbury was very ill conceived in the first place,” he added.  “I rather suspect that someone in Whitehall looked at the map and thought Newbury is the biggest station we can stop electrification there.”

“We know because we are local that that is a nonsense in itself.  So it makes tremendous sense to push the electrification to Westbury.”

Councillors Pitts and Compton are now to prepare a letter setting out the town council’s case to go to Wiltshire Council to seek its support for the campaign.

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Horseracing: a local training ground for a future trainers

Laura Thomas with Our JoeLaura Thomas with Our JoeThe Marlborough area is becoming more and more of a home to horseracing’s trainers. At the last count of British Horseracing Authority licensed trainers there were twelve in the SN8 and SN4 postcodes.

All of which begs the question ‘Where do trainers come from?’ – you can’t take a degree in being a trainer and there’s certainly no ‘A Level’ in training.  Answering the question is Laura Thomas – she is starting out training point-to-point horses and hopes to make a career as a licensed trainer of race horses.

She began three years ago when her farming father downsized and moved to Hackpen Farm just over the downs from Barbury.  Its 250 acres now include a mile long gallop, a five furlong gallop, what looks like miles of fencing, schooling fences, a horse-walker and seventeen horses.

Half the horses belong to her father the other half to owners - all hoping to find a potential race horse among the point-to-pointers. A couple of wins in point-to-points can add a couple of noughts to a horse’s value.

Just as it is in a licensed yard, Laura’s training is a 24/7 responsibility with daily exercise and health checks and balancing the horses’ feed. She has two permanent staff members – Gemma Crosbie Dawson and James Seivwright , who wants to become a jockey.

Nico de BoinvilleNico de BoinvilleShe also has part-time use of Nico de Boinville who works for Nicky Henderson at Lambourn and is one of the Henderson yard’s amateur jockeys.  In his spare time, so to speak, he looks after the French seven year-old Long Run - one of Henderson’s most successful horses with thirteen wins under rules, including the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup.  (And, by the way, it's worth a small bet this Boxing Day when Long Run tries for a second King George VI at Kempton.)

Laura enjoys starting from scratch with horses – breaking in the youngsters and then getting them ready to race. And she loves the racing – the point-to-point season runs from November till the end of May.

Laura grew up with horses and hunting. She has ridden since she was three years old and lots of hours in the saddle later went on to do some eventing. James SeivwrightJames Seivwright

She started work in an office – not her environment of choice. She worked in the race sponsorship and public relations side of the Blue Square bookmakers.

Training is where she wants to be: “I love the way of life”.  And she dreams to ‘train under rules’ – joining the big names and training racehorses for hurdles and steeple chases.

Soon she would like to start an owners’ syndicate – with the emphasis on the ‘fun and friendliness’ of horse racing.
Just over the hill from Laura’s yard is the yard of Alan King at Barbury.  She’s very grateful for the advice he gives her – and also for the occasional use of his Sharpridge all-weather gallop.

So how’s it going?  She had four winners last season and two winners the season before. The start of this season was delayed by the rain.  
This training business is not always a simple ride. Not everything went to plan at the delayed opening point-to-point of the season – the South Devon meeting.  Driftwood Pride came in fifth having taken a strong dislike to the very wet ground.

And then Laura’s real hope, Our Joe, who stands 17.1 hands, took exception to the whole outing and refused to race.  Now that’s sorted out Laura is very excited that she can get all her horses out and racing in the clutch of point-to-points held after Christmas – on December 28 and 30,  and on January 6.  

She hopes they’ll bring the yard a good end to 2012 and a good start to 2013.

Laura likes to treat horses as individuals.  So there will be a bit ‘ironing out’ to do with Our Joe: “The endgame is about winners – but you have got to be happy if you have trained a horse to its full potential.”

[Click on photo to enlarge image.]

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Seven students from St John’s jump to success at school’s trampolining south west finals

Seven students from St John’s Academy, Marlborough, leaped to success when they took part in the South West Schools Trampolining Zonal Finals at the Bristol Academy competing against schools from five counties.

The highest placed pair from Marlborough were 15-year-old Rosie Mulholland, who took fifth place in the Under 19 Girls Novice class, and Bethany Martin, 16, who came ninth in the Under 19 Girls Elite class.

All the students are coached at Marlborough Leisure Centre by Juanita Davenport and Laura Davenport, both teaching assistants at St John’s.  Laura Davenport and St John’s student Rosie Mulholland have now qualified as British Trampoline judges and acted as competition judges at the event.

Laura Davenport told Marlborough News Online: “The students did amazingly well, particularly because they competed against students who train at trampoline clubs several times a week, whilst our students train only once a week at a recreational level.

“All our students showed exceptional team work, support and encouragement to each other and displayed true sportsmanship to fellow competitors.  We are very grateful to the support and encouragement shown by Dan Webb, manager of the Marlborough Leisure Centre.”

The seven St John’s students, who ranged in age from 11 to 17, all trained in close partnership with seven younger students from Rushall, Preshute and Great Bedwyn Primary Schools, and Great Bedwyn School was successful in reaching the Southern Zonal Finals which take place in January 2013.

The results were as follows:

  • Under 11 Girls Novice: Sophie Bolland (12th), Charlotte Kelstrom-Page (13th), Freya Wharton (15th), Zoe Bolland (17th), Sara Kelstrom-Page (27th), Niamh Bailey (29th), Natalie Davidson (37th)
  • Under 13 Girls Novice: Jess Lamb (15th), Freja Langham (31st)
  • Under 15 Girls Novice: Caitlin Thompson (10th), Mia Oliver-Tyson (24th)
  • Under 19 Girls Novice: Rosie Mulholland (5th)
  • Under 19 Girls Elite: Bethany Martin (9th), Hannah Slater (13th)

 

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Those little green Waitrose tokens take on a real community difference for Christmas

Janice Kingstone, Waitrose's community matters organiser, hands over cheque to Carole Walker of the Jubilee CentreJanice Kingstone, Waitrose's community matters organiser, hands over cheque to Carole Walker of the Jubilee CentreThose little green tokens Waitrose hand out to customers at the till  have taken on a new significance in the run-up to Christmas – because the supermarket has boosted the support it gives to charities in the community.

And with a rising 26,000 customers a week pouring into the Marlborough store, they can personally make a real difference by deciding which of the charities they want to support the most.

Waitrose normally shares out £1,000 a month throughout the year as part of its good causes Community Matters enterprise helping 36 charities, but last month and again this month the sum has been raised to £3,000.

This is as a result of Waitrose nationally giving an extra £1 million by cutting back on the production costs of its “Giving more this Christmas” TV advert featuring Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal.

The first three charities chosen for November have been handed their share of the Christmas booty -- £1,296 by way of food and gift vouchers going to the Over 60’s Christmas Lunch event held at Marlborough town hall, £828 to Marlborough’s Jubilee Centre and £876 to the New Road Centre disability charity.

Janice presents Waitrose tokens to Nigel Kearton, organiser of the Over 60's Christmas lunch eventJanice presents Waitrose tokens to Nigel Kearton, organiser of the Over 60's Christmas lunch event

And now customers have their chance to decide how divide the £3,000 December fund between Starlight, which provides Christmas treats for children spending the holiday in the Great Western Hospital, the Marlborough-based Kennet Home Start charity that supports parents and young children, and Doorway, a charity helping the homeless in Chippenham.

“How the little green tokens flow is for the customers to decide, the money being shared out according the number of tokens put in the individual charity slots,” Waitrose manager Andy Davies (pictured) told Marlborough News Online.  “We are simply delighted to be working with the charities. We feel it’s important that we do even more this Christmas to help those in need.”

“The reaction has been really good.  The customers like the idea.  They are suddenly seeing there is a significant amount of money available and it is a great opportunity for the 26,000 people who come through here every week to put a green token in the slot and directly make a difference.  So we’re pleased with that.”

The share-out for the £3,000 on offer for December will be made in January.

Meanwhile, the supermarket has also helped out the Trussell Trust food bank branch based in Devizes, thanks to customers donating three quarters of a ton of food to be distributed to those in need in the run up to Christmas.

“Customers did that in just one day and last Saturday staff from the Trussell Trust came here to Marlborough to collect it with local MP Claire Perry on hand to support it,” added Mr Davies.

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European market comes to Marlborough High Street

Catalan sausages and meatsCatalan sausages and meatsA taste of European cuisine will be coming to Marlborough High Street on Sunday (December 23) as a continental market pitches up in town.

Traders from France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Holland, Poland and many more countries will be wearing traditional costumes, selling high quality products including Brittany biscuits, olives, Italian nougat, delectable cheeses, sausages, tartiflette, charcuterie, fresh bread, croissants and more.

The touring market runs from 9am to 5pm. For details log on to www.traditionalmarket.co.uk

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Andy Davies offers a true taste of Harrods-style Waitrose as customers pour into Marlborough

Andy Davies, manager of Waitrose MarlboroughAndy Davies, manager of Waitrose MarlboroughShoppers at at Waitrose in Marlborough have been enjoying  a new experience – being offered something different and tasty to eat or a new wine to try as they wander the aisles looking for Christmas delights.

And the man greeting them with goodies is none other than Waitrose’s ebullient manager Andy Davies, back on duty again after a six months spell on a special Waitrose/John Lewis assignment in London.

That gave him the opportunity to see for himself exactly how the capital’s big stores are operating with innovative ideas to tempt customers in tough economic times, and see for himself how people are both trading up – and down too.

“When I came back here to Marlborough I wanted to share with my senior team the kind of experience I had and seen operating in London,” Andy told Marlborough News Online.

“So with my assistant Steve Tuddenham we did Harrods and other stories in the banking area at Canary Wharf to look at different ways we could do things, introduce different products and be more innovative.”

“So you saw me today offering customers a taste of Italian Pan Forte, and I’ve been more impromptu by suddenly opening a bottle of wine and giving customers a taste, just to get them to try something different.”

“It’s all part of some really interesting and unusual things we can do at Christmas and it’s a great time of the year to showcase something different when people do traditionally trade up at this time of the year, irrespective of the kind of financial year they’ve had.”

It’s something too you are unlikely to find happening in other supermarkets.”

While Andy is confident that Waitrose Marlborough will break last year’s record takings, what worries him is that it depends on the weather.

“More people are coming into Marlborough to do their shopping than last year and to take advantage of our special officers,” he pointed out. “And we’ve certainly seen top end products selling extremely well.”

“The tricky thing is the weather, it’s a key issue for us.  If we have snow then you can’t get sprouts out of the ground and you can’t transport them down the M4.  So we do need to have the weather on our side.”

Fashionable changes already obvious is that while artisan cheeses took off last year one unexpected focus this year has been the increasing sale of specialised bottles of high quality gin – and English sparkling wines too as well as cut-price champagne.

Saturday’s sales figures boosted Waitrose’s staff and it moved into the biggest week of the year.  “We expect to serve 32,000 customers this week more than any other week of the year,” said Andy. “We will manage 1,300 customer orders for turkeys and Waitrose entertaining lines on Saturday/Sunday and Monday.”

“Every part of our business is at full capacity ensuring products are successfully moved from the field to the Christmas plate of our customers.  All of the partners work extremely hard planning, serving and re stocking 24 hours a day.”

Waitrose is also benefiting from its John Lewis partnership connection which allows customers to buy anything they wish online through the click and collect online connection, which sees goods delivered for pick up within 24 hours.

“It all fits into the statistics which show that the UK has the biggest online buying audience in the world,” said Steve.  “We had 280 orders alone last week across a whole range of goods, though they don’t tend to be divan beds, more reasonably sized parcels that can be carried by courier.”

“Customers really like the system, their reaction is very positive and, of course, it all helps to promote the John Lewis partnership brand.”

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UKIP is to fight all the Wiltshire Council seats – and take on Claire Perry too

Neil HamiltonNeil HamiltonUKIP is to fight all the Wiltshire Council seats – and take on Claire Perry too.

The UK Independence Party, buoyant after its best ever by-election results last month, is to contest all the Wiltshire Council seats next May and put up a candidate against Tory MP Claire Perry at the next general election.

Neil Hamilton, the party’s Wiltshire chairman and also a member of UKIP’s executive, has poured scorn on Prime Minister David Cameron and revealed that membership has jumped five per cent in just one month.

“David Cameron treats traditional Tory voters as doormats to wipe his feet on,” 63-year-old Mr Hamilton told Marlborough News Online.  “He takes them for granted and delights in upsetting them.”

“What else explains his obsession with forcing through gay marriage and his fanatical commitment to EU membership?”

“I say ‘Don't let the old parties take you for granted. Fed up with the Lib/Lab/Con?”  

“UKIP gives you a fresh choice.  UKIP is the only mainstream party against open-door immigration, against wasting £53 million  a day on EU membership, against political correctness and the Nanny State, against taxpayer-subsidised wind farms.”

“UKIP also stands for less government and lower taxes.’”

Mr Hamilton, the former barrister turned Tory MP who lost his Tatton seat in the 1997 'cash for questions scandal', only returned to politics last year when he was invited by Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader, to stand for election to the party’s executive.

As chairman of Wiltshire UKIP – he and his “celebrity” wife Christine live in a village near Malmesbury – he is calling a meeting of all the Wiltshire UKIP branches in January to select candidates for next May’s sole unitary authority elections for Wiltshire Council.

The contest in the Marlborough area has already been hit by the resignation from the Conservative Party of Aldbourne Councillor Chris Humphries, who plans to stand as an Independent candidate along with former chosen Tory candidate Nigel Kerton, who has announced he is also seeking election as an Independent.

There is an outside possibility too that Councillor Peggy Dow, one of Marlborough’s two Wiltshire councillors, will stand as an Independent following her decision last month to quit the Lib-Dem Party and join Wiltshire Council’s independent group.

 “UKIP aims to fight every Wiltshire county council seat next May and will oppose every Wiltshire MP in the next general election,” said Mr Hamilton.  

“David Cameron is not a Conservative.  He is a radical social democrat and treats traditional Tories with lofty contempt.  That is why he is forcing through gay marriage and always buckles on the EU and the Human Rights Court.”

“Claire Perry is Cameron's clone in Wiltshire not Devizes' voice in Westminster.  Tory MPs in the 1922 Committee jeered her for her brown-nosing support for anti-Tory Dave.”

“They see her naked personal ambition as a joke.  But every cloud has a silver lining -- UKIP membership is up five per cent in the last month alone.”

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Devizes MP’s campaign to protect children from internet porn fails

Mrs Perry hands in anti-porn petition at No10Mrs Perry hands in anti-porn petition at No10Claire Perry’s campaign for a block to protect children from internet porn has been rebuffed by government ministers after a public consultation. The Devizes MP had called for an automatic block on access to internet pornography on all computers – meaning internet users would have to opt in to receive porn sites.

The government has said Mrs Perry’s solution to the problem was not widely supported. The public consultation found thirty-five per cent of parents wanted an automatic block while fifteen per cent wanted some content filtered, and an option to block other material.

In its response to the ten week consultation, the government called on internet providers to encourage parents to switch on parental controls.

Mrs Perry, who led the campaign and took a petition with over 115,000 signatories to Downing Street, said she was "disappointed": “However, the all-important issue of getting internet service providers to do more to verify the age of the person setting up any form of filter or control has clearly been highlighted.”

Mrs Perry said she was ‘really pleased’ that the UK Council for Child Internet Safety had been told to sort out age verification procedures, working with the ISPs: “I would now like to challenge Ministers and ISPs to get a move on and implement the changes.”

UKCCIS is a voluntary organisation chaired by ministers from the Department for Education and the Home Office.

The NSPCC said parents' voices were not being heard and that the figures showed half of the parents who took part in the consultation wanted some sort of automatic block on online pornography.

Some of those opposed to the block said it would not protect children from all ‘unsuitable’ material and so would give parents a ‘false sense of security’. Others called it nothing but censorship. But the report on the consultation also said that the kind of block proposed would not help combat internet “bullying, personal abuse, grooming or sexual exploitation.”

In a later comment Mrs Perry tweeted: "Encouraging Active Choice Plus+ Age Verification+ cleanfeed public WiFi = Govt doing more than any other in history to protect kids."

 

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High fees are a threat to the future health of Marlborough College warns its former Master

A dire warning of “threats to the future health” of Marlborough College, where the Duchess of Cambridge was among many high profile students, has come from the independent school’s former master Nicholas Sampson.

“These range from the political to the economic – the historic rise in fee levels cannot be maintained if Marlborough is to continue to cherish its founding purpose,” he declares.

And he claims: “Some parents do not uphold our ethos, regarding an education as an expensively-purchased service rather than an alliance, based upon shared values, designed to develop and encourage scholarship, good citizenship and a sense of community.”

The warning comes in “The Master’s Review” he has written in the latest edition of the Marlburian Club magazine, which carries on its cover a portrait of 54-year-old Mr Sampson painted by Susannah Fiennes, herself a former Marlborough student.

However, Mr Sampson adds: “The strengths of Marlborough will, however, overcome these challenges.  Just as we ask young Marlburians to prepare themselves for a world of rapid change by being both flexible in their application and acquisition of skills and constant in their values, so Marlborough holds true to its central purpose whilst embracing judicious and appropriate change.”

“The beauty of our setting is inspirational, but so is the sense of humane possibility the College has fostered for so long and continues to uphold.  It has been a privilege to serve this great place.”

 Mr Sampson, who left last summer after eight years, is now headmaster of Cranbrook, Sydney, after previously serving as principal of Geelong Grammar, in Victoria, before returning to England from Australia to join Marlborough College, originally founded for the sons of clergy in 1843.

Its fees for some 870 pupils, aged from 13 to 18, rose this year to an unprecedented £31,350 a year for boarders, who make up 98 per cent of the students, and £26,640 for day students.

The current term ends tomorrow (Friday).

Referring to his final term at Marlborough, Mr Sampson writes: “Young Marlburians remain true to their heritage: they offer delightful company and, as the recent Inspection Report put it, they display ‘confidence without arrogance’ and are genuinely interested in the views and lives of others.”

“We know, and acknowledge regularly, that ours is a high privileged community: we expect our pupils to recognise their duty to make the most of their head start by developing their own  talents but also by acting on behalf of others.”

“They do so here, and they have placed a growing emphasis upon service-related work and charitable activity.  They will continue to do so, as so many old Marlburians commit themselves to public service, charitable work or philanthropy.”

And he continues: “Much of the College’s current strength springs from a perhaps archaic source.  In an age when young people are all too often isolated and cocooned by technology and starved of humane interaction, boarders are asked to live and work, play and create, alongside each other…”

The benefits are a  great liberal education based upon disciplined preparation, not to be confused with either self-indulgent laxity or the modern fixation upon performance, however strong or weak it is.

“As the tides of fashion wash around and political currents change, schools such as Marlborough must lead by example – and with confidence, not arrogance.”

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Prayer for Newtown children adds poignancy to nativity play

Neve Anderson as Maurice the mule in Away In A MangerNeve Anderson as Maurice the mule in Away In A MangerPrayers for the victims of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, and for those who survived the tragedy, brought an opportunity for reflection to an otherwise joyous nativity play at the St Katharine's Church, in the Savernake Forest, on Tuesday.

Aged between four and 10, the performers of St Katharine's Primary School are the same age as the children caught up in the massacre across the Atlantic. 

And if Marlborough's children were only vaguely aware of the events of last weekend, the brief prayer – led by the Reverend Michael McHugh - added a moment of poignancy for the parents and grandparents of the 90 or so performers.

In a quirky telling of the Christmas story, the children performed Away in a Manger, in which Maurice the mule (Neve Anderson) chased away a hen, a mouse, a bird and a spider from the manger from which he wanted to munch his hay.

But when a baby was laid in his manger, the stable suddenly became much, much busier.

 

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Marlborough’s flashmob community choir surprises the Christmas shoppers yet again

Community Choir in WaitroseCommunity Choir in WaitroseThey call it the Marlborough Community Choir flashmob.  That’s when members arrive inconspicuously at a venue and suddenly join up and burst into traditional Christmas song.

And it happened for the third time on Saturday when the choir has surprised shoppers in Waitrose with more than 20 members, after mingling with the Christmas shoppers, dramatically started singing around the deli counter.

“It may have surprised some of the staff at the Marlborough store but the management had agreed it helps start Christmas off with a rousing chorus of Ding Dong Bells,” said choir leader Vanessa LaFaye.

Community Choir performing in Merlin CourtCommunity Choir performing in Merlin CourtThe choir, founded just over two years ago, has been awarded a prestigious Waits Badge in recognition ofits services to community music.  The Waits awards have been traditionally given to bands of minstrels who entertained at court since the time of Elizabeth I.  

Saturday’s Waitrose event was the continuation of the choir’s Christmas programme, which started with the illumination of the Christmas lights last month.  After they left Waitrose they then sang at Merlin Court, Marlborough Lodge, and finally at Savernake Hospital.  

The last stop was an emotional event as one of the choir’s regulars, Doug Middlemiss, who was recovering on the ward and joined in the songs and carols -- all without the benefit of rehearsal.

The Choir is singing at Christmasfest tomorrow (Tuesday) at Marlborough town hall, supporting Home-Start Kennet and the Jubilee Centre, and will be back at Waitrose at 1pm next Saturday, to entertain the shoppers with an hour-long concert of carols and festive songs.

Becs and Julie in WaitroseBecs and Julie in WaitroseThe season will finally close on January 5 with a wassailing event for the community orchard.  Leader Vanessa Lafaye said, “This is what community singing is all about, bringing music -- and sometimes surprises -- to the local people,” explained Vanessa.

For more information on the Community Choir go to marlboroughcommunitychoir.org

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Honeystreet’s Barge Inn reopens with new tenants and happy drinkers

New Landlords Derren Heath and Amanda Swindell New Landlords Derren Heath and Amanda Swindell Following the insolvency of the Barge Inn Community Project and the pub’s temporary closure, Honeystreet’s famous ‘croppie’ pub reopened on Friday evening (December 14.)

New tenants Derren Heath and Amanda Swindell were welcomed by a good crowd pleased to see their pub back in business.

Ian McIvor, a director of Honeystreet Ales, the pub’s owners, was there with his wife Julia to give the new-look bar some final tweaks.  He has signed a five year tenancy with Derren and Amanda and they will still be serving the popular beers from Honeystreet Ales and have kept on the pub’s chef.

The pub has a striking new re-fit in rich and earthy tones appropriate to the pub’s heritage and listed building status.  Original features have been uncovered and restored and walls are now decorated in artwork created by Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones.

Derren and Amanda are delighted to be taking over as tenants of this iconic pub: “We fell under the Barge’s spell ten years ago and have been camping here every summer since. We have always wanted to run the pub and jumped at the opportunity to take it on. It’s an amazing place with very loyal customers and is a much loved institution.”

Asked about the new design, Ian McIvor explained: “Regulars have been complaining to me for the last two years that they didn’t like the last makeover, carried out by the previous community group tenants.  To be honest, it was uninspiring and bland, more care home chic than rock ’n‘ roll.”

Sitting right on the bank of the Kennet and Avon canal, The Barge is renowned as a meeting place for people interested in crop circles and UFO’s.  Visitors from all over the world converge on the pub in summer, with many staying at the pub’s campsite.

Some of the pub’s regulars live on narrow-boats along the canal and groups of them have been working on the pub’s re-fit.  To mark the reopening, they’ve put a Sarsen standing stone in the newly landscaped canal-side beer garden.

There to drink the health of the reopening were Cynthia and Ted Basford who, after some ill-health, sold their Dorset home and now live on a narrow-boat.  Their new open-air life obviously suits them and they may well be celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary next year at The Barge.

Also there was Terry who’s been living in the area for thirteen years.  He’s a ‘rural graffiti artist’ and hopes the pub will get back to being a place where artists, musicians and writers can come together to discuss their work.

Lots of art adorns the walls - this a display by local photographer 'Mad Pete'Lots of art adorns the walls - this a display by local photographer 'Mad Pete'Honeystreet Ales are continuing work on the oak barn they are funding. It is being built next to the pub using some timbers from the Victorian barn that was attached to the pub.

Officially known as ‘The Barefoot’, but affectionately dubbed ‘The Shed’, it will open next summer as an ‘inspirational space for the arts’.

The Barge Inn has its own unique range of beers and ciders with names such as Croppie, ‘Alien Abduction’, Area 51 and Away with the Fairies.

As one of those glad to be back in the pub told Marlborough News Online, it has been suggested the pub should be renamed “The Circle Makers’ Arms.”

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Employment: very mixed signals from December’s figures for Devizes constituency

Nationally December’s unemployment figures show the number of people in employment increased last quarter (August-October) by 499,000 to 29,600,000 – an all-time high.  The government would doubtless like the media to rename them the ‘employment figures.’

The number of people aged eighteen or over claiming Job Seekers Allowance [JSA] fell by 3,000 between October and November to 1,580,000. And the overall count of those out of work fell by 86,000 to 2,510,000 over the August-October quarter.

Unemployment in the Devizes constituency is not moving down at all quickly. The number of JSA claimants went up between October and November – albeit from 994 to 1,018 people.

Although nationally youth unemployment (those aged sixteen to twenty-four) fell during August-October by seventy-two thousand, there was a very slight rise in youth unemployment in the Devizes constituency between October and November.

The number of long-term unemployed in the constituency – those claiming JSA for more than twelve months – continues its steady, marginal rise.  In November it stood at 190 claimants.

Nationally the level of employment stood in November at 71.2 per cent – the figure for the Devizes constituency was 72 per cent.  That’s the same as it was in October.  This should be seen against the 79.9 per cent employment figure for the constituency in October 2011.

Brighter news may lie just over the horizon as Job Centre Plus vacancies in the constituency shot up in November to 470 against a paltry 285 in October.

Devizes’ MP Claire Perry tweeted: “The latest unemployment figures are excellent news and confirms we are making steady progress.”  She was answered by busy tweeter Richard McCarthy: “And so good is the progress that unemployment still stands at the same level as it did in May 2010 – 2.51 million.  Bravo.”

In the wider context the latest economic figures paint a slightly less rosy view of the national economy.  Average earnings (excluding bonuses) are rising at an annual rate of 1.7 per cent  against an inflation rate of 2.7 per cent.

Little wonder that EU figures show the United Kingdom has moved down Europe’s league table of living standards – dropping two places to sixth place.  The UK has been overtaken by Germany and Austria.

And ahead there are the cumulative effects of 2012’s continually rising figures for home-grown food prices due to the wet weather and price hikes in imported grains and raw materials.

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Patients placed on the Liverpool Care Pathway are given every consideration at Great Western Hospital

An assurance that individual patients, their relatives or carer are consulted before anyone is placed on the Liverpool Care Pathway has been given by the Swindon-based Great Western Hospital, which covers and caters for the Marlborough area.

Concern has been expressed in national newspaper reports that patients and their families are in some cases not told that the LCP protocol has been instituted.

The Great Western had earlier reported that “up to 1,000” patients had been placed on LCP since it was introduced locally in 2010 and that no separate instances had been recorded of specific complaints from families claiming they had not been informed in advance of the procedure.

Answering questions raised by Marlborough News Online, Julie Marshman, the senior matron for diagnostics and outpatients, has issued a statement setting out the position at Great Western Hospital.

“Communication is crucial to all aspects of care and can make the difference between a good and a bad experience for patients,” she said.  

“As part of the Liverpool Care Pathway process, we aim for close communication with the individual patient and their relative or carer.  Prior to being placed on the LCP, the guidance we follow includes a discussion with the patient where their condition allows this to explain the plan of care.  There is also discussion with the family. We recognise this is a very difficult time for many people and the Liverpool Care Pathway process includes the provision of written information.”

She added: “It is worth emphasising that life saving treatment is not withdrawn.  The pathway is only appropriate if the patient has been diagnosed as dying.  This involves a multi--disciplinary assessment and senior clinical expertise.”  

“There will be occasions when someone who is thought to be dying lives longer than expected and vice versa.  In these circumstances, a clinical review takes place as the needs of the patient may have changed.”

“The key to all of this is good communication to support patients in a dignified way at the end of life and, working with the Prospect Hospice, this is something we take seriously and aim to improve all the time.”

Concerns too have been expressed on the number of beds hospitals have available and Great Western has revealed that it is now working on a “more efficient and flexible way” of meeting demand in winter.

A spokesman told Marlborough News Online: “The GWH, like the rest of the NHS, is managing increased demand for services at a time when finances are getting tighter.  The NHS as a whole is moving to providing more care in the local community.”  

“Over time, this shift will see fewer beds needed in large acute hospitals like the GWH with care being provided closer to home.  The important thing for any hospital is to be able to manage the increase in demand so that during winter months for example, we have the capacity to be able to open additional beds should they be required.”

 The spokesman pointed out: “Working in a more flexible and efficient way means we free up resources for other aspects of patient care.”

On the issue of failings in care by nursing staff expressed in a national survey report, the spokesman added: “Every year there are around 1.5 million patient contacts within our Trust and independent patient surveys tell us that the vast majority of patients we see and treat rate their care highly.”  

“We consider patient safety and quality to be our top priorities and we are always looking at ways we can improve the standard of care.”  

And he added: “Later this month we will be launching a new nursing strategy for the Trust designed to strengthen the role of nurses on the ward to help maintain and improve high standards for all of our patients.”

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