Claire Perry, Conservative MP for the Devizes constituency, has been ordered to pay compensation to the friend she sacked from her office. The judge who heard the case at the Bristol Employment Tribunal also criticised Mrs Perry’s handling of the reshuffle of her office staff.
The complaint against the MP was brought by Mrs Penny Nurick who had worked for Mrs Perry since 2010 and was sacked in February this year. The case was heard before Judge Jenny Mulvaney in September – as reported by Marlborough News Online.
Mrs Perry had claimed that Mrs Nurick was not able to cover a new role in her office that covered both policy and constituency-surgery roles. In her evidence to the tribunal she had admitted that the dismissal by reason of redundancy was unfair – and the judge agreed.
Mrs Perry was ordered to pay Mrs Nurick £1,296.88. This was made up of a basic award based on age and service of £332.29, compensation of £664.59 and £300 for loss of statutory rights.
The sum was calculated to reflect the length of time Mrs Nurick’s employment would have been extended had a fair redundancy procedure been followed.
Finding in Mrs Nurick’s favour, the judge said that the sacking had taken place in an ‘absence of consultation’. There had been no discussion about the new job with Mrs Nurick.
“In addition no notice of the meeting at which she was informed of her redundancy was given and she was not informed of her right to be accompanied at that meeting.”
The new role in Mrs Perry’s office was filled by Tamara Reay. Mrs Nurick lives in Marden, near Pewsey.
Colin Brown, who rode Desert Orchid to 17 wins, councillor Andy Ross, Mike Gatting, mayor Edwina Fogg and consort councillor Nick Fogg, Sport Forum committee member councillor Guy Loosmore and partner Fiona LawsonFormer England cricket captain Mike Gatting, champion jockey Colin Brown and Olympic medal-winning equestrian Jonnelle Richards were among the big names at Marlborough Sports Forum's inaugural fundraising dinner on Thursday.
But as the forum's chairman, town councillor Andy Ross, reminded the sell-out event at Marlborough's Town Hall, the forum was about grassroots sport, as well as giving a helping hand to the stars of tomorrow.
“When I was mayor, I chose youth and sports as my theme for the year,” said Councillor Ross. “I wanted to recognise and publicise the incredible work our clubs do in introducing sport to young people.”
He said Marlborough Rugby Club was attracting 260 young players to its youth and colts teams, while Marlborough Cricket Club boasts around 80 academy members.
“The figures are astonishing,” he said. “It requires a huge commitment in time and effort to bring sport to our young people.”
Now just over a year old, one of the forum's jobs was to fight for better facilities. “Clearly lack of facilities in the town is a constant theme,” he said. “
“The junior football club were desperate for an additional pitch. The forum made a request to the Town Council to consider re-installing an old pitch on The Common.
Lambourn-based national hunt jockey Colin Brown, who rode Desert Orchid to 17 wins, with guest speaker, former England cricket captain Mike Gatting“Now, the pitch is prepared and posts are up and 120 youngsters are now training every Saturday morning using the excellent facilities of the rugby club.
“The coach tells me he is watching the youngsters playing football and rugby and switches them to where they show their greatest aptitude, so we now have some 400 young people playing football or rugby on The Common each Saturday and Sunday.
“I call this a result.”
The forum was also helping the town's sports stars of tomorrow to fulfil their potential. Cricketer Duncan Lorraine was one of the first three recipients of £1,000 grants from the Sports Forum, and updated the 160 guests on his progress and that of the others.
He told how a grant had enabled hockey player Will Seward to join the England squad on a Four Nations Cup tour to Holland, where he scored twice. Will has now been selected to play for the Wessex Leopards under 18 squad, and will be taking part in under 18 England trials.
Basketballer Pip Armitage used her grant to help with travelling costs to attend matches across the UK and to Prague, Poland, Sweden and Belgium. She is now a member of the under 16s England squad.
Duncan's grant funded a tour of Dubai. “Those nine days in the desert were probably the best experiences in my life so far,” he said. “We played four matches, and won three. As for my own performances, I kept wicket and took two catches and two stumpings.
Mike Gatting with Jonnelle Richards, the Minal-based member of New Zealand's bronze medal-winning London Olympics equestrian team “Dubai was an expense my parents had not known about or budgeted for and I am extremely grateful for the grant given to me from the Sports Forum
“This year has brought sport to the fore front of our lives and young children watching athletes excel in the Olympic and Paralympic games can only be inspired and it’s great to know that opportunities are out there for us.
“As a country we want our youth to achieve but the reality of it is our parents still have to pay and organizations like this help massively.
“I’m sure that the Sports Forum will help many other local children achieve their dreams.”
The Barge Inn Community Project (BICP) has had to call in the Insolvency Service (see Lottery-backed Barge Inn community project collapses in debt), close the pub and make the staff redundant. But the rebuilding of the nineteenth century barn that was attached to the Grade II listed pub is to continue and it will open next spring as a visual arts and performance space called ‘The Barefoot’.
The Barge’s owner, Surrey-based businessman Ian McIvor told Marlborough News Online that the barn project has not had ‘a penny’ of Lottery money. He explains that he has a personal interest in the arts: “It’s all my own money.”
click to viewThe autumn issue of the Council for British Archaeology’s newsletter features the barn as an example of a planning application on an important (if dilapidated) building that had ‘a positive outcome’. The nineteenth century wooden barn was not a listed building but, as Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Society’s John Baumber wrote: ‘the barn was “listing” in its own right’ and had become an eyesore.
These barns with their overlap boarding and ad hoc alterations done by ‘agricultural’ joiners, are becoming an endangered design in Wiltshire. Planning permission was granted on the understanding that the barn was dismantled rather than demolished, and a new structure was put up that featured the original timbers.
As John Baumber told Marlborough News Online, “One of the conditions for granting planning permission was that the new building would enhance the look of the Grade II listed pub and also provide a community facility for the village.”
Work has gone ahead. The wood frame was constructed by Green Oak Carpentry from Liss in Hampshire – and their work is finished. The architect, Howard Waters of the Devizes office of Mathewson Waters Architects, says that the structure is now “weatherproof and watertight”.
Work has started on cladding the exterior in oak – something that can only be done when the weather is damp. As Mr McIvor admitted wrily, they could have gone ahead with this work during the summer – had they known how wet the summer was going to be.
Mr McIvor describes ‘The Barefoot’ as “A nice little project” and believes it will be a good thing for the pub – attracting custom. The Barefoot’s own website will be launched later this year and an announcement will be made as to how the space will be used – whether for exhibitions or for hire for performances “that fit its ethos”.
As to The Barge, he sees the financial failure of the BICP as a “temporary setback - we’ll soon get a new tenant taking over the pub to run it professionally.”
The whole site – including The Barge, the barn and the surrounding canal-side land – was bought by Ian McIvor in March 2010. He sold a twenty year lease on the pub to the BICP who won a grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Village SOS programme.
The BICP closed the pub for a major refurbishment from February to April 2010. Its reopening was heralded by a BBC television documentary and the Honeyfest music festival – which brought Laura Marling to Honeystreet.
It is reported that Honeyfest lost the BICP over £50,000. In Mr McIvor’s view it was “A bit of a vanity project.”
The sign on the new barn structure says it will be ‘An inspirational space for the Arts – Funded by Honeystreet Ales.’ Honeystreet Ales appear to be easier to drink than to locate as an organisation or company. In fact Honeystreet Ales are brewed by Stonehenge Ales of Netheravon – it says as much on The Barge website.
Honeystreet Ales is apparently what they call in the trade a ‘phantom brewery’ and the BICP had to buy their beer from Honeystreet Ales. And Honeystreet Ales is owned by Ian McIvor. In that respect The Barge was like a ‘tied house’.
Mr McIvor has not been able to get to the bottom of where all the money has gone – “And we may never get to the bottom of it.” He reckons that the BICP has had well over £1.5 million through its books since they bought the lease just over two years ago.
It is understood that the major Big Lottery grant was £430,000 and prior to that there was a £50,000 grant for a feasibility study. BICP had a loan from the local Lloyds TSB of £25,000. They also had £25,000 from the closed Pewsey Arts Centre – though some of that may have been returned. The pub’s turnover was £480,000 in the first year of trading and £550,000 in the second year – that’s net of VAT.
Mr McIvor is quite critical of the Big Lottery as the objectives set in the grant have not all been met. These included building a village shop and a new toilet block for the camp site, proper drainage for the site and renovating the exterior of the pub and surrounding areas.
It is reported that BICP owes a six figure sum in VAT payments. Mr McIvor cannot understand why it took the BICP two years to get VAT registered: “Two million or so other firms seem to manage it.”
There was a warning that BICP’s finances were in some difficulty in June 2012 when their auditors found “the existence of a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.” This warning appears to be connected to the looming VAT crisis.
The Big Lottery Fund told Marlborough News Online: “We are sad that after so much hard work and determination, the Barge Inn Community Project has reached this point. It is an incredibly difficult time for any new business to get on its feet, not least one run by community volunteers - with exacerbating factors including wet summers, harsh winters and a difficult financial climate. BIG will continue to work with the BICP project team to ensure they are supported, and help them find the best way forward.”
“Being a distributor of Lottery funding allows BIG to make innovative investments and take the kind of calculated risks that funding from other sources may not be able to. Funding this project did present some risks, especially as the group were a newly formed organisation that had not managed a Lottery grant before. BIG felt these risks were appropriately balanced against the outcomes we were seeking to achieve: inspiring rural communities across the UK to take positive action to tackle local problems or answer local needs.”
A spokesman for the Big Lottery added: “We do monitor grants throughout their lifetime and we have worked closely with the project since the grant was awarded to help them try and overcome challenges they have faced.” Marlborough News Online has put several specific questions to the Big Lottery and awaits their reply.
An exploration by young people of the iconic white horses and chalk hill figures across Wiltshire is being boosted by a £30,100 grant from the Hertitage Lottery Fund.
The money had been awarded to Wiltshire Council for its exciting Virtual Landscapes project, due to take place in four locations – Pewsey, Ludgershall, Westbury and Tidworth.
The project, being carried out by young people aged from 11 to 25, will focus on the heritage of the white horse figures, providing an opportunity to explore their identity and significance through creative media activities, storytelling and reworking old media and archives.
The aim is to bring new life to the figures from the landscape that surrounds them, Wiltshire’s chalk hills being unique in the UK as the home of eight white horses dating from ancient to modern day.
The project looks at why they are important to young people in Wiltshire and their significance for the transitory military communities.
“It’s brilliant we have received this lottery funding to help young people from the county learn all about the heritage, history and significance of these recognisable landmarks,” Stuart Wheeler, the council’s Cabinet member for culture, told Marlborough News Online.
And commenting on the grant award, Richard Bellamy, HLF's acting head of south west, said: “Although chalk figures are found in other parts of the country, they are a characteristic feature of Wiltshire’s rural landscape.”
“The fact that so many have survived in the county and that in some instances new figures have been created, is a tribute to the motivation of local people in caring for them. We are delighted to support this project, which will stimulate the interest of a new generation in the figures, ensuring their survival into the future.”
The project will enable young people from the four areas to discover the origins of them by working with heritage professionals, visiting the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, in Chippenham, and the chalk hill figures. Professional artists will work with the young people to help them create their own interpretations using a range of creative media technologies and to share them with friends and relatives online.
Virtual Landscapes will also offer young people involved the chance to achieve an Arts Award, a nationally recognised qualification by taking part and sharing their experiences with others.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony has marked the official opening of the new tennis courts at Marlborough’s St John’s Academy, which have also been made available for community use.
Headteacher Dr Patrick Hazlewood performed the ceremony on Tuesday before staff, students and invited guests from Marlborough Town Council and Marlborough Tennis Club.
The six courts, including two with a high specification surface, are a welcome addition to the sports facilities at St John’s and mark the completion of what Dr Hazlewood described as Phase 2A in the development project.
The courts have been in use since September for netball practise, but their completion had not been officially marked until this week, Dr Hazlewood explaining how they are not only an important addition to St John’s but also to the wider community.
“Without the support of so many local donors we would not have been able to complete this project,” he said. “We are indebted to everyone who has enabled us to achieve so much. I am delighted that we are now able to make the courts available for wider community use, further increasing the range facilities we are able to offer”.
He then outlined the plans for the next phase of development, which focuses on the installation of an all-weather pitch, requiring St John’s to raise around £350,000 in additional funds.
Dr Hazlewood asked Hilda Moore, who chairs Marlborough Tennis Club and represents the Marlborough Sports Forum, which aims to promote and develop sport and sports facilities in the area, to join him in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the gates to the courts.
This was followed by an exhibition game of tennis from a group of St John’s students, who were proud to be the first students ever to play tennis on the courts.
Local tennis clubs are keen to make use of the facilities during evenings, weekends and school holidays, and St John’s is able to offer them high quality outdoor facilities as well as changing rooms and a community room for events and meetings.