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Will Wiltshire Council take action on new primary school’s crossing?


Claire Perry MP wants Wiltshire Council to take 'urgent action' on the traffic and parking issues at the new Marlborough St Mary's primary school.

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Spate of thefts of caravans in Wiltshire - including the Marlborough area - brings police warning

15-12-2017 Crime Correspondent

    On Thursday (December 14), Wiltshire Police issued this notice:  "We are urging caravan owners to be vigilant and take steps to improve security following a number of thefts across the county.""Between 3 and 4 November, two caravans were stolen from a storage yard in Marlborough Road in Swindon after the...

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The best kind of early Christmas present! Friday is unwrapping day for the new look Marlborough Community and Youth Centre…


Friday (December 15) is the big day - the unwrapping of the refurbished and newly equipped Marlborough Community and Youth Centre.  And it has all been done in just less than six months.

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Claire Perry draws the winners for Pewsey Vale's Small Business Saturday prizes


Claire Perry MP pulled the winning names out of the Santa sack for the Free Prize Draw run by the Pewsey Vale Tourism Partnership which celebrates Small Business Saturday.

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Witness to historical facts

13-12-2017 David Sherratt

Sirs,With reference to a recent obituary read on it become established fact and some antiquarian or historian of 2097 refers to as their source of information on Marlborough's twentieth century, could I mention that no copy King John's 1204 is currently known to exist and so it could...

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No excuse for the Postman: New street to be named after Marlborough hero commemorated on a special WW1 stamp


One of the ten names have selected by the Town Council for the new street names within the Salisbury Road development is of WW1 nursing hero, Elsie Knocker, who has been commemorated along with fellow nurse, Mairi Chisholm by the Royal Mail on one of their First World War –...

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Savernake Death Crash: Ramsbury man sentenced to six years for causing death by dangerous driving

11-12-2017 Court Reporter

  A Wiltshire man has been jailed for six years for killing a female pedestrian while speeding on the A4 out of Marlborough.

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Tony Skittrall: Marlborough Town Clerk between 1983 and 1998

11-12-2017 Nigel Kerton

Marlborough is mourning the death of former Town Clerk Tony Skittrall who died peacefully at his George Lane home on Monday 4 December, surrounded by his family.

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As Home-Start Kennet celebrates its thirtieth birthday - there's a call for new trustees


Local charities like Home-Start Kennet cannot exist without a strong and committed board of trustees.  After thirty years helping families in the area, they have extended their reach and need new trustees to help support this work.  

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Marlborough Hockey Club - weather wins


None of the Marlborough Hockey Club's six adult teams were able to play on Saturday (December 9).

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Spirit is latest victim of Marlborough's sky-high rents

Claire Rumbold Debbie Hartley of SpiritClaire Rumbold Debbie Hartley of SpiritFashion retailer Spirit may be the latest victim of Marlborough's sky-high shop rents, said to be among the highest in the UK outside of London.

But despite To Let signs going up outside her three-storey High Street shop, proprietor Rose Webster has vowed to do all she can to stay in Marlborough, where she has built a loyal customer base of funky thirty to fifty-somethings.

This week, Rose – why opened Spirt at 112 High Street seven years ago – said rents in the town were “astronomical”.

“I'm paying £31,500 a year to be here,” she said. “My shop in Bradford on Avon has the same floor space, and the turnover is about the same, but I'm only paying £12,000 a year.

“I have a friend in Bath who has a lovely boutique, and she's paying less rent than I am.

“People look at Marlborough, they see the grand High Street and the College and they assume there are millions of shoppers.

“There aren't; and the economic downturn since 2008 has had a serious knock on profits.”

SpiritSpiritSpirit, which employs five part-time members of staff, replaced the clothes shop Pavilion in 2005. Rose's builder husband, Roy, fitted oak floors and an oak staircase.”We've created a lovely, inviting retail space here,” said Rose.

In an attempt to manage the spiralling costs of running a boutique, Rose is now looking for a complimentary business to join her at 112 High Street.

“It could be another fashion retailer or something else, like a beautician,” she said. “I'm prepared to share ground floor window display space, and the first floor room – which I'd like to sub-let – has three big sash windows.”

Rose, who owns Spirit outlets in Devizes and Bradford on Avon and, until recently Frome said she had looked at other retail premises in Marlborough, but had found nothing suitable.

“If we don't find another business to share our lovely space, we will have no option other than to relocate,” she said. 

  • High business rents has been a concern for some time, and is even highlighted in the Marlborough Area Plan 2012 to 2017, which reads: “The high cost of business premises and the need to support new and small enterprises in the face of business closures and job loses is... a cause for concern.”

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TV chef discovers magic of mushrooms in Marlborough

Marlborough Mushrooms proprietor Dewi Williams (left) with restaurateur and chef Antonio Carluccio on The Great British Food Revival Marlborough Mushrooms proprietor Dewi Williams (left) with restaurateur and chef Antonio Carluccio on The Great British Food Revival Exotic fungi business Marlborough Mushrooms took a starring role in an episode of BBC2 series The Great British Food Revival on Tuesday.

During the series ten of the BBC's best known chefs and cooks go on a mission to popularise traditional British food.

And it took an Italian – Antonio Carluccio – to show us how to cook and eat mushrooms, and urge British cooks to move away from the traditional white mushroom.

“You've all become lazy,” he told viewers. “You buy just one kind of mushroom. Between sixty and seventy varieties grow in the British countryside. British shoppers spent £360 million a year on mushrooms, and two thirds are the white variety.

“Come on Britain, be courageous! Mushrooms are not just something to have with your fry-up.”

The restaurateur and chef, who was awarded an OBE in 2007, visited Marlborough Mushrooms, which specialises in the growing of shiitake and oyster mushrooms.

When proprietor Dewi Williams showed the chef the incubation rooms, where mushrooms are growing on rotting logs and harvested by hand, Antonio exclaimed: “My goodness gracious me! Look at this. It's fantastic; spectacular.”

Dewi – a regular at Marlborough Communities Market - spent five minutes of screen time talking to Antonio about shiitakes, which he admitted suffered from their name, because people assumed they could only be used in Asian cooking.

Antonio agreed that the mushrooms were versatile, and popping an uncooked mushroom into his mouth he said “these are small and they taste wonderful.”

“We have to overcome our fear of the unfamiliar and keep British growers like these in business,” he urged viewers.

The chef then headed back to the kitchen, where he used exotic mushrooms to create a Trio of Mushrooms Antipasto.

This week Dewi's wife and business partner Kathryn told Marlborough News Online: “We were so chuffed that Antonio was impressed with our golden oysters. 

“Antonio is an absolute guru on our favourite subject and a really lovely man. He and his film crew spent two and a half hours with us, talking to Dewi about mushrooms.

“We then sent two kilogrammes of mushrooms up to London to be used in the cooking element of the show.”

The episode can be viewed on the BBC's iPlayer here

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Five men and a woman line up to become Wiltshire’s first police and crime commissioner

They say it’s the election nobody wants or knows about, the election nobody will bother to vote in because they have so lost trust in the political system.  

But six candidates have now been nominated to stand – on November 15 – for the right to become the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire, known to be one of the safest counties in the country where crime is at a low level.  

But none of the candidates have direct links with Marlborough and only one has so far organised a public meeting within striking distance – at Devizes Town Hall on Thursday (November 1) when Labour candidate Clare Moody will set out her stall and answer questions.  

Meanwhile, one of the two independent candidates, Colin Skelton has been threatened with libel action by Conservative candidate Angus MacPherson about a statement he made on his campaign website.  

As a result that Mr Skelton has apologised and re-written the statement, which wrongly suggested Mr MacPherson would sack 200 police officers.

“I had been inarticulate in what I had meant to say,” Mr Skelton told Marlborough News Online. “The point I was trying to make was about Conservative Party policy.”

The cut-backs government policy has enforced has not only upset many of the 41 separate police forces across the country but brought forth criticism that electing Crime Commissioners will politicise policing, former Metropolitan police chief Lord Blair controversially telling the public not to vote.

“We have got ourselves into a terrible tangle,” one retired officer told Marlborough News Online. “It is not as if those standing to become commissioners have any serious experience of the complex task of policing, but how one man or women in a huge county can represent the public as a whole is hardly credible.”

“If justice is to be done in this country, then it is those who caused the economic disaster who ought to be seen to be paying for their greed, let alone fraudulent activities. Making the banks pay enormous fines simply reduces their powers to lend money for much needed investment and mortgages.”

“As yet, not a single banker has gone to prison. While that kind of inequality exists, then voters will unfortunately continue to have no faith in our politicians –or the police for that matter.”

The Wiltshire six are:

Conservative – accountant Angus Macpherson, a former councillor in Swindon and a member of the Wiltshire police authority. His election pledges are to help reduce crime, re-offending and to improve police efficiency.

Liberal-Democrat – Warminster bike shop businessman Paul Batchelor, a former town, district and county councillor. He currently chairs the Warminster Neighbourhood Police Tasking Group.

Labour – Unite trade union official Clare Moody, who stood as the parliamentary candidate in Salisbury at the 2005 general election. “It is not the job of the Commissioner to be an alternative Chief Constable,” she declares.

UK Independence Party – John Short, a former deputy chief executive of Swindon Borough Council, where e managed a work force of more than 3,500 and helped control a budget of over £65 million.

Independent – Liam Silcocks, currently employed in IT/Telecoms who has experience working with the Citizens Advice Bureau and is a known anti-police corruption campaigner and wants to set up a commission to review historical complaints.

Independent – Colin Skelton, who has spent 20 years in counter terrorism research as a civil servant and now works to help protect soldiers in Afghanistan. He wants to put 300 new officers on the beat.

Colin Skelton - IndepenentColin Skelton - IndepenentClare Moody - LabourClare Moody - LabourAngus Macpherson - ConservativeAngus Macpherson - ConservativePaul Batchelor - LibDemPaul Batchelor - LibDemLiam Silcocks - IndLiam Silcocks - IndJohn Short - UKIPJohn Short - UKIPWhat will the new £70,000 a year commissioner be responsible for?

1. Appointing the Chief Constable and holding them to account for the running of their force.

 2. Setting out a five-year police and crime plan based on local priorities, to be developed in consultation with the Chief Constable, local communities and others.

3. Setting the annual local precept and annual force budget.

 4. Making grants to organisations aside from the police, including but not limited to community safety partnerships.

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Caffe Nero’s planning inquiry arguments rejected as “spurious” and having “no foundation” by CPRE

Caffe Nero’s arguments for its right to trade in Marlborough High Street after opening its new café without planning consent have been swept away in a devastating attack from the Kennet branch of CPRE.

John Kirkman, the district group’s chairman, has labelled them as “spurious”, having “no foundation” and also as “rather grandiose” in a comprehensive report he has prepared for the planning inquiry due in January.

He demolishes in particular the claim that Caffe Nero’s takeover of the former Dash fashion store in April has caused “no harm” to the town as not a “highly relevant” planning issue in Marlborough’s case.

And he has damned the survey evidence the company has produced which insisted it has boosted trade and the vitality of the shopping centre.

“If localism is to mean anything, the wish of the local community to preserve the balance (of trade) in favour of A1 retail activity by independents should be given overriding weight in this case,” he declares.

Objectors to Caffe Nero’s appeal against the refusal of Wiltshire’s eastern area planning committee to give its change of use retrospective planning consent have only until the end of October to submit their protests to the Planning Inspectorate based in Bristol.

What is significant is that Dr Kirkman refuses to accept the results of a similar planning inquiry in Stockton – one of 16 out of 17 Caffe Nero has won across the country – as relevant precedent affecting Marlborough.

The district policy involved there made no mention at all of harm or good being caused by the takeover of retail premises.

“In the Marlborough case, absence of harm is not an appropriate measure, since the policy calls for evidence of positive good,” he says. “Absence of harm – or a negative contribution – does not automatically imply presence of good or a positive contribution.”

“There is a neutral position, which is maintenance of the status quo – in this case, the filling of the gap left by the departure of Dash with a store that neither adds to nor detracts from the level of vitality and viability that existed in Marlborough town centre while Dash was present.”

The he adds: “To support their contention that the Caffe Nero shop makes a positive contribution to the vitality and viability of Marlborough town centre, the appellants rely principally on evidence of numbers of visitors, or footfall in the area.  “Agents for Caffe Nero counted the customers visiting shops neighbouring 21–22 High Street on Thursday–Saturday, 14–16 June.   They counted visitors to five shops to the north of 21-22 High Street (Hamptons estate agents, Marlborough Jewellers, Robin’s Travel Agency, Marlborough Tile Factory Shop, and Maythers gifts and cards), and two shops to the south (Haine & Smith opticians and Dorothy Perkins).

“They claim that their results show that ‘Caffe Nero adds to the vitality and viability of the town centre and generates additional visitors’.   We refute those claims.” 

“The counting of customers visiting neighbouring shops was notably selective, extending c.63 metres north of 21–22 but only c.25 metres south of 21–22, and not at all down Hillyers Yard.”   

“The agents carefully leapfrogged Waitrose, which has a well-patronised coffee shop, and stopped short of The Polly Tearooms, probably the most famous source of morning coffee and afternoon tea in Wiltshire.  They ignored Hillyers Yard, which has two more outlets offering coffee.”

“From their counts, they derive an average number of customers visiting the shops ‘in the vicinity’ over a three-day period;  then, they base their claim that ‘Caffe Nero adds to the vitality and viability of the town centre and generates additional visitors’ on the strength of the fact that the number of visitors to Caffe Nero ‘significantly exceeded the average’.”  

“That is spurious ‘argument’, setting up an artificial criterion for assessment in order to be able to claim a favourable judgement.”  

“The fact that their shop attracted more visitors than those counted is not surprising or relevant.  The different retail offers in the other shops amply explain the different numbers visiting those shops.”

“It is reasonable to accept that a coffee shop will have a higher throughput of visitors than, for example, an optician’s or an estate agency.”

Mr Kirkman further points out:  “The appellants have not even shown that any of the visitors to their store on the days surveyed were ‘additional’ in the sense that they would otherwise not have visited Marlborough town centre on that day if the Caffe Nero shop had not existed.”  

“303 customers were interviewed over four days -- Sunday added -- about their purpose in visiting Marlborough town centre.   Of those, 153 (51 per cent) said they specifically planned to visit Caffe Nero during their visit to the town centre;  150 (49 per cent) said they visited Caffe Nero because they were just passing and decided to enter.

“To use the planning statement’s own expression, Caffe Nero was ‘parasitic on existing pedestrian flows passing the premises’.”

“Only 52 (17 per cent) cited ‘to visit Caffe Nero’ as the main purpose of their visit to the centre: but that is not the same as saying they would not otherwise have visited the centre, or that there was no other motivation for their visit.”   

“The appellants’ claim that ‘It (Caffe Nero) attracts additional visitors to the town centre and generates additional footfall’ has no foundation.”  

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Stop the BBC media firestorm and help the Jimmy Savile victims says Claire Perry

Claire Perry on Question TimeClaire Perry on Question TimeCaring for the victims of the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal is the most important aspect of the claims now being made, not the media firestorm over who knew what when at the BBC.  

Viewers to BBC Question Time were told that last night (Thursday) by outspoken local Tory MP Claire Perry, who was applauded for her views when a questioner asked: Has the BBC been fatally damaged in the public’s mind as a result of the Jimmy Saville scandal?  

Mrs Perry replied: “The more that comes out the more disgusting and distressing actually the situation becomes.  This is a man who was obviously a predatory paedophile who plied his trade for 40 years and defied successive BBC director generals.  

“I don’t think it is particularly helpful now to have a firestorm over who knew what when on the Newsnight programme.  The thing I find most worrying – and I think it is the same in the Rochdale grooming cases – is that the voices of the victims have been completely ignored.”

“I am sick to death of young women coming forward years later for whatever reason feeling they could not be believed or listened to.  That I think is the real tragedy.  And I want to focus on that and make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

“Frankly I think the BBC is doing too much navel gazing over who knew what when.”

But Mrs Perry frequently clashed with other members of the panel, in particularly on whether the latest economic figures showing the UK coming out of double-dip recession are the first green shoots of growth.

“We are coming out of the biggest recession we have had in Britain in peacetime and we are starting to see real growth,” she said.  “It might be choppy going forward but it is real growth.”

However, she then asked the audience: “Who actually will go home tonight and talk about the growth figures and the deficit?  We won’t.”

“We will go home tonight and talk about the cost of living which is still tough, it's 60 shopping days till Christmas, people are going to have to start paying utility bills because we have a cold snap coming.”

“What we have to keep doing is relentlessly focusing on the cost of living because in my constituency we don’t talk about the deficit and borrowing we talk about what’s coming into our households and what’s going out.”

“And that’s why freezing the council tax, freezing fuel duty, these are the real things that actually make a difference in people’s pockets.”

There were further clashes on child benefit and the suggestion by welfare minister Ian Duncan Smith that it should be paid only to the first two children in a family.

“Child benefit has already been restructured and it is not going to be paid to the richest 15 per cent of families in the country,” said Mrs Perry.

“The average income of families in my constituency is £25,000 and I don’t think it fair to tax those people compared to MPs like Emily (Labour panellist Emily Thornberry) and myself.  I don’t think that’s right.”

“It’s a question of fairness.  I don’t think it’s fair that families on benefit – and I don’t what to stigmatise people in a certain way – that the decisions they make are different to those people in work have to make.”

“Many people here think very hard about the cost of bringing up a child, the cost of moving house, what it would cost to provide the next bedroom.  What IDS (Ian Duncan Smith) is saying that people on benefits should be making those same sorts of decisions.”

It was essential that families were not trapped on benefits for a lifetime, she pointed out, and she added: “IDS is 100 per cent committed to resolving the very tough problems we have in that we have an incredibly complex, badly structured welfare system.”

“The most popular thing we have done is to introduce a welfare cap which means those in benefit can’t earn more than those in work.  And Emily voted against that.  It’s shocking.”

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Elinor Goodman finds a fantastic gig in Pewsey: The Moscow Drug Club

A concert in a village hall on a wet Friday night doesn’t sound much of a ticket.

But my ticket for Pewsey’s Bouverie Hall last Friday (October 19) turned out to be the best six pounds I’d spent for years. The quality of the band was as good as anything you would find at Ronnie Scott’s in London’s Soho – thanks to a grant from Rural Arts Wiltshire which helps top musicians to play in rural locations.

The evening gig was arranged by Music Live Pewsey.

The concert opened with a performance by the Pewsey Belles, a group of about 20 women from around Pewsey who sang a melody of popular songs with some lovely harmonies, There were some really strong voices and their joy in what they were doing was infectious.

The Moscow Drug ClubThe Moscow Drug ClubThey were the curtain raiser for the main act which was a five piece band with the unlikely name of the Moscow Drug Club It’s not, of course, because they are junkies, it’s the title of a song they have made their own.  They sang a fusion of jazz and folk and other songs which defied categorisation.

The lead singer, Katya Gorrie, has a wonderfully smokey sultry voice, straight out of a German cabaret in the l930s. Alongside her was a superb trumpeter whose drooping eyes made him look as if he was completely out of it, but when he played a riff, he came to life.

The guitarist, Denny Ilett, had magic fingers too. Each musician took their turn to elaborate on the melody and disappear into their own musical world, before Katya took up the tune again.Katya Gorrie Katya Gorrie

I imagine they usually play in clubs where people dance rather than sit in rows, but they seemed to genuinely enjoy coming to Pewsey. They may well come back to the area because in the audience were talent spotters for both the Devizes festival and the Marlborough jazz festival. But it was good that Pewsey got there first.

In fact Pewsey has a very lively music scene of its own. As well as the Pewsey Belles: there is the male voice choir; Mothers’ Jam a sextet of women who sing a cappella; and a thirty strong University of the Third Age group for those who don’t read music but want some fun.

And of course there are the live bands that come to the Coopers and Pewsey’s summer Music Festival. Marlborough has its community choir as well as the choral society, but for a village its size, Pewsey has a lot to sing about.

Elinor Goodman was Channel 4 News’ Political Editor and has more recently been working in radio.  She lives in Wilton.

Music Live Pewsey’s next gig in the Bouverie Hall is on November 3 – see our What’s On calendar.

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Claire Perry criticised by judge and must pay compensation to former employee

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.

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Stars of past, present and future support Sports Forum

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 LawsonColin 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 GattingLambourn-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 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.”

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Honeystreet’s Barge pub has closed – The Barefoot barn will live on

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 viewclick 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.

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Heritage lottery fund backs exploration of Wiltshire’s iconic white horses with £30,000 grant

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.

Anyone seeking more information about the project, or know someone who would like to be involved should email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. WYAP can be followed on twitter @WyapArts.

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St John’s new tennis courts to become a smash hit in the Marlborough community

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.

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Business urged to make their views known on CCTV

CCTVCCTVBusiness leaders are being urged to make their views known over the a Town Council-funded CCTV scheme in Marlborough High Street.

Town councillors will be discussing the issue on Monday (November 5) at the Town Hall, and Marlborough Chamber of Commerce this week wrote to businesses to jolt them into action.

In a letter to business leaders on Wednesday, Chamber president Paul Shimell wrote: “The Town Council meeting will review the option for having CCTV in Marlborough High Street, where the proposal is for this to be funded by the Town Council.

“You are invited to attend the meeting and the CCTV debate is the first item on the agenda. This is your opportunity to make your views heard, and it is important that if you support, or do not support, the idea that you attend the meeting so that a decision can be made which reflects the majority opinions of the local business community.

Marlborough is the only town on the M4 corridor between London and Bristol without CCTV. Police have said gangs of criminals see the town as a "soft target". 

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Flying start for new petrol station

The Worship Mayor of Marlborough, councillor Edwina Fogg, cuts the ribbon to officially open the new Fraser's Budgens of Marlborough convenience store and forecourt. Also pictured are company director Hugh Fraser with his wife Diana, the mayor's consort, councillor Nick Fogg, and company director Robert Fraser with his wife Liz. The Worship Mayor of Marlborough, councillor Edwina Fogg, cuts the ribbon to officially open the new Fraser's Budgens of Marlborough convenience store and forecourt. Also pictured are company director Hugh Fraser with his wife Diana, the mayor's consort, councillor Nick Fogg, and company director Robert Fraser with his wife Liz. The first week's trading at Marlborough's new petrol forecourt and convenience store at exceeded expectations, bosses said at the official opening on Friday.

And after years of a fuel monopoly by controversial trader Zubair Dean – whose pump prices were at times the highest in the UK, and who was convicted in 2005 of short selling fuel to the tune of around 2p a litre – Marlborough motorists seem delighted to be offered an alternative.

Franks Stevens, manager of the £2m Fraser's Budgens of Marlborough development, said: “The fuel has been flying out. We had queues at the eight pumps on Saturday [October 20, the first weekend of trading] and people have been telling us they couldn't wait for us to open.”

The Subway food outlet has also proved immensely popular, especially with students from St John's Academy.

Last week Marlborough News Online reported that pupils were queueing six abreast to buy filled sandwiches; and by the day of the official launch a new queueing system had been put into operation, so that other customers could easily access the store at busy times.

There was also praise for the store's Community Giveaway initiative, which saw three £1,000 cheques being donated to local good causes in a competition that ran on Facebook and culminated in a fun Dragon's Den style event – with good causes pitching their ideas to a voting audience – at the end of September.

A further £3,000 will be given away during the next three months of opening via a customer token drop scheme. “We want to give something back to the community,” said Frank, “and people really appreciate that.”

Mark Wilson, group operations manager with the family-run Fraser's business – added: “A week in we're already ahead of the plan with Subway and the carwash, and the fuel and retail offering have proved very popular.

“It's a terrific start, and this will just grow and grow.”

The store was opened by Marlborough's mayor, Edwina Fogg, who cut the first turf at the site back in July, and helped present prizes at the Community Giveaway in September.  

  • Bridge Garage has been owned, run and managed by Mr Dean's son, Alex, since November last year as a completely new company in his sole ownership. He told Marlborough News Online this week that, working in conjunction with Wiltshire Trading Standards, he upgraded the pumps to ensure the correct amount of fuel is delivered. "I have spent tens of thousands of pounds, and the reaction of customers has been very positive," he said. 

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Richard Pitts misses out at the final fence for top industry quality award

He bought a new tuxedo and hoped he would be shaking hands with Princess Anne at the British Quality Foundation Awards held last night (Thursday) at the InterContinental Hotel in London’s Park Lane. 

But 55-year-old Marlborough town councillor Richard Pitts, battling on behalf of his international company, Oracle against Marks & Spencer as finalists for the Sustainable Future Award, walked away empty handed.

“Yes, I was very disappointed,” he told Marlborough News Online. “But M&S had a team of 20 working on their entry.  And I lost out, which is a shame.”

“Winning would have given the public an idea of what Oracle is doing in the world, which is very important when energy has become such a vital subject.”

Mr Pitts, who lives in Manton, is a trained biologist who went into IT software development when he was 28 and has since become a global specialist for mapping products with Oracle, where he has worked for the past 15 years.

He revealed his potential triumph at Wednesday’s annual meeting of the now thriving Transition Marlborough organisation, the community sustainability group he helped set up in the town and now runs the monthly Communities market.

And it is through that experience has been able to devote spare time at Oracle creating an energy reduction and sustainability programme given to all 5,000 Oracle employees in the UK.

“All my experiences in Transition Marlborough and my community work with the town council has helped me shape how we deal with sustainability in business,” Mr Pitts told Transition members.

“So I have a big thank you to say tonight to everyone responsible in creating and working with Transition Marlborough because it has helped me save energy within a huge multinational company that works in 164 countries.”

The winner of the Sustainable Future Award needed to demonstrate an outstanding environmental or social contribution to achieving a more sustainable world.

He/she also had to provide evidence of the positive impact on society such as energy saving, waste reduction, lower carbon emissions, community involvement and supply chain involvement.

Available at the AGM were copies of the booklet Mr Pitts wrote, entitled Sustainable Living and Working, that has been distributed to all Oracle employees in the UK with the aim of instilling a low energy, sustainable approach to home-working.

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Wind farms will be banned in Wiltshire unless YOU take urgent action now

Wind farms will be non-existent in Wiltshire and other parts of the country unless a last minute amendment made by the county to its planning core strategy is overturned by a massive public response.  

This was the urgent message given to members of Transition Marlborough at their annual general meeting on Wednesday by ffnlo Costain, joint organiser of the Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance and chair of the Pewsey Environmental Action Team.  

He revealed how Wiltshire Council, after years of discussion and consultation, had produced a core planning strategy in June for vitally needed renewable forms of energy but then emasculated it with a last minute amendment on health and safety.  

“It virtually banned wind turbines,” declared Mr Costain. “They claimed it was due to safety issues, that there was a possibility that suddenly one of turbines would leap off, as they have never done anywhere in the world ever, and hit someone walking by.”

The claim was made despite the fact that the strategy allowed for no wind farms to be created within three kilometres of residential homes.

But a planning inspector subsequently ordered the Conservative-controlled council to carry out another consultation exercise to discover public reaction to its proposals, an exercise due to end next week.

And the serious danger was that those against renewable energy won the day  – a wind farm proposed for the village of West Ashton has produced major opposition – then it would set a precedent copied elsewhere in the country.

“I am here because this amendment puts prejudice at the heart of planning policy,” declared Mr Costain.  “Planning policy is supposed to be fair.  Every scheme that comes before a council is supposed to be judged on its merits.”

“The consultation is not about being in favour or against wind.  It is about renewable energy in general.  We need to say to the council, stop being prejudicial, there are already so many opportunities, if want to oppose wind farms, within the statutory planning process.”

“This is really important.  Because if this amendment goes through it just won’t be Wiltshire that doesn’t have wind energy.  There are several other councils across England who are looking at this as a test case.”

A show of hands by the audience in Marlborough Town Hall showed a good number had already opposed the Wiltshire amendment but at least 25 to 30 of them had not.

Mr Costain distributed copies of the suggested email they send, as set out below, to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

You need to include your postal address on the email for your response to be considered valid, but you don’t need to be a Wiltshire resident.

You should also email copies to your local Wiltshire councillor, Nick Fogg(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)  and MP, Claire Perry This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

You could copy and paste the text below, however it is better to use your own words:  

I am writing to comment on the amended Wiltshire Core Strategy Policy 42 (standalone renewable energy installations).   I believe this policy is unsound; it has not been positively prepared, it is not justified and is not consistent with national policy.  

1.  The policy takes a negative stance towards large-scale wind power, going against Wiltshire Council’s own findings that “Positive policies are needed to maximise the delivery of large scale, standalone renewable energy technologies in Wiltshire to help ensure national and local targets can be met”.  

2.  The Government has affirmed that “The approach to wind turbine development in the UK is to assess the potential impacts of proposals on a case by case basis”.  Wiltshire council has offered no reasoned justification as to why arbitrary separation distances should be set in the core strategy.   

3.  The policy as amended is contrary to the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF): that planning should help in “securing radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” (NPPF paragraph 93); and that Local Authorities should “design their policies to maximise renewable and low carbon energy development while ensuring that adverse impacts are addressed”, and “consider identifying suitable areas for renewable and low carbon energy sources” (NPPF paragraph 97).

Anyone wishing to contact Mr Costain can do so at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Marlborough prepares to rock for Prospect

Nick Harper pictured at the Avebury Rocks festival in July 2012Nick Harper pictured at the Avebury Rocks festival in July 2012Marlborough is preparing to rock for charity as top singer-songwriter Nick Harper plays a hometown gig in aid of Prospect Hospice.

Nick, who is internationally renowned for his music, will headline a night of music at Marlborough Town Hall in aid of the Mayor's Charity for the year. 

‘Nick Harper and Friends’ will perform from 7.30pm on Friday, November 2. Nick will be supported by a number of local bands.

Tickets are £10 each and are available from Sound Knowledge in Hughenden Yard, Marlborough.

Mayor Edwina Fogg has nominated Prospect Hospice as the Mayor’s Charity for her 2012/2013 term in memory of Mike Bracey who died of pancreatic cancer in April this year. 

Mike lived in Marlborough with his partner Susie Fisher, former chairman of Marlborough Jazz Festival, and was just 60 when he died. 

Mike was cared for at Prospect Hospice in Wroughton, which provides end of life hospice care for the Swindon and Marlborough areas.

The hospice is a registered charity and relies on donations for 70 percent of its operating costs.

Ms Fisher said: ‘I am delighted that the mayor has nominated Prospect Hospice as her charity in memory of Mike.

"Working with the terminally ill is not an easy task and yet all the staff and volunteers at Prospect are always cheerful and friendly. We lost Mike to pancreatic cancer in April 2012 and while this is a devastating disease when it takes hold, the Prospect Nurses were always available for a home visit or telephone call, adjusting medication as necessary and providing much needed support and advice.

"When he was admitted to the hospice, he was comforted by their extremely efficient medical staff and the beautiful, peaceful surroundings. It is an incredible place which deserves our support."

The charity also holds special meaning for Nick, son of the legendary folk musician Roy Harper. His mother, Monica Weston – well known locally as head teacher of St Peters Junior school in Marlborough – spent her last days at the hospice. 

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