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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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Michael Frayn reveals the hidden trauma behind the laughter as he heads for Marlborough

Michael FraynMichael FraynMisfortune, not fame, is the spur to success – and being a joker is one of the key elements in overcoming the emotional disasters life serves up that leave you gasping. 

That, at least, is the roll call for Michael Frayn, now, at 78, a remarkable prize-winning novelist, funny and serious playwright, screenwriter, biographer, and admired translator of Chekov, who arrives in Marlborough at the end of the month -- to make us laugh. 

His latest comic novel, Skios, virtually a farce of mistaken identities with bed-hopping delights and hilarious high powered conference confrontations, all set on a mythical Greek island, has failed to make it from the long to the short-list for next month’s £50,000 Booker Prize. 

His novel, Headlong, did reach that stage in 1999, but since he has collected almost 20 major prizes in the past, he can shrug his forever charming shoulders to tell me: “I didn’t honestly expect to be on the short list.  It’s nice to win literary prizes, not so nice if you don’t.”

He legitimately points out that the Booker concentrates on serious rather than comic novels, hence his lack of expectation.  And given that Howard Jacobson, also due at the Marlborough Literary Festival, won last year with his comic novel, The Finkler Question, a second coming for comedy was most unlikely.

He is surprised to discover that Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, took Skios, now doing nicely in the charts, on holiday with him last month.  “Oh good, I hope he enjoyed it,” he adds with his typical light touch.

But where did his comic gene come from?  That’s what I want to know – only to discover that comedy, as always, is created out of tragedy, ferments in fraught emotions, grows as a panacea to defeat the nightmares moments that haunt you.”

In Frayn’s case it was his early years, his literary-minded father, Tom, suffering from serious hereditary deafness that didn’t exactly help him in his job as an asbestos tiles salesman.

“It was not a good combination,” admits Frayn, who revealed the past in a moving family memoir, My Father’s Fortune, published three years ago.  “He used to keep the conversation initiative by telling jokes, by being funny.”

“That’s because either people laugh or don’t laugh, and you don’t have to listen too closely to their replies.  So I too was a joker growing up.”

“In my early adolescence I had a rather difficult time because my mother had died when I was 12.  And having done reasonably well at school, I then sank to the bottom of the class because I discovered I could amuse the class by mocking the teacher.”

“I’m afraid I chose that easy and somewhat cowardly option for some years before I started to work again.  I had been moved a great deal from one class to another and I found it difficult to keep fitting in with a new group of people.”

“I discovered this was the way to do it – by making them laugh.”

He underplays his emotion stress since his father offered no displays of affection, in fact refusing to allow Frayn and his sister to attend the funeral of their talented violinist mother Violet, who had dramatically dropped dead from a heart attack, aged 41.

Post-war national service provided one escape for Frayn because he was trained as a Russian interpreter/translator, as were thousands in all three services, Frayn taking a course at Cambridge, where he spent a year on the fringe of the university, where he later returned to read  moral sciences and philosophy at Emmanuel.

That ability to speak Russian came in practical use on the only occasion he visited Marlborough in the past, working as a volunteer, appropriately as the entertainments officer, at a camp set up for refugees from the Hungarian revolution crushed by Soviet tanks in 1956.

“It was quite difficult because I didn’t speak any Hungarian and none of them spoke English,” he recalls. “The only thing that saved me was that their natural leader, who they all respected, had spent the war in a Soviet prison camp and spoke fluent Russian.  So we were able after all to communicate.”

It is these insights into Frayn’s past that reveal the reasons for his past novels and plays dealing with subjects such as spies and nuclear weapons, not to mention democracy itself, though he disdains the offer to pronounce on our current economic chasm and its reverberations.

His days, too, as a soft-hearted journalist on the Manchester Guardian, which produced his brilliant satirical novel Towards The End Of The Morning, often compared with Evelyn Waugh’s unforgettable Scoop, have sealed his success.

“There are tough options in journalism, but working on the Guardian was an easier one,” he admits.  “I remember once being sent to cover a murder, so ghastly a murder that the news editor said to me, ‘Now Michael please go and look at the outside of the house where it happened, then to the police press conference’.”

“ ‘And then come straight back to the office.  Don’t try to steal anyone’s wedding photographs.’

“So I had it very easy and enjoyed it very much.”

That understanding of the harsh world enables him to lift us out of the gloom and in his own disarming way is enjoying a round of literary events promoting Skios.

“Most audiences come to literary festivals because they want to hear the talks and want to enjoy it,” he insists.  “So they tend to be frightfully rewarding audience for authors.  And it’s great sometimes to get out of one’s study and meet the people.”

As for those who head for Marlborough town hall on September 29, they might a heed a line I found amid the fun and fornication in Skios: “There was a suggestion of gold in the air.”

 Hope so.

pic courtesy of Faber & Faber

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Charismatic founder helps 4N celebrate five years

Brad Burton, founder of 4NetworkingBrad Burton, founder of 4NetworkingThe charismatic founder and MD of the UK's largest business network was in Marlborough this week to help the local 4Networking chapter celebrate its fifth anniversary.

Brad Burton's jeans and t-shirt approach to networking was grasped as an antidote to the regimented approaches of associations like the BNI, while his Meet, Know, Like, Trust philosophy to networking and referrals has struck a chord with so many small businesses that the organisation now boasts 50,000 members across 300 groups 

The Marlborough branch was established by Brad and Karen Thurley, of RED Virtual Office, in 2007 at the Ogbourne Downs Golf Club, which has been the home of the 4Networking branch for five years 

Every other Tuesday around 20 small business owners meet for a 40-second introduction to talk about their own business, three ten minute one-to-one appointments with other members, and to listen to an industry expert give a '4sight' talk.

And Tuesday's meeting attracted almost 30 members, from as far afield as Oxford, Newbury and Bristol.

“One of the great things about 4Networking,” explained group leader Gail Lummis “is that you join the entire network, not just your local group. You could spend five mornings a week networking if you wanted to.”

Guests celebrate the 10th anniversary of 4Networking MarlboroughGuests celebrate the 10th anniversary of 4Networking MarlboroughThe proximity of the golf club from the M4 makes the club attractive to members from Swindon and further afield. Gail works from Calne, while Karen – who still attends Marlborough meetings – is based in Highworth.

“You meet so many great contacts at 4Networking,” said Gail. “And the relaxed atmosphere makes it easier for some people to get into the networking habit. It really gives you confidence.”

The next meetings of Marlborough 4Networking will be held on October 4, 16 and 30 from 8am to 10am. Attendance costs £12. For more information contact Gail on 01249 818758 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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There’s only democracy for the rich and the retired in Wiltshire claims Lib-Dem leader

Wiltshire Councillor Jon HubbardWiltshire Councillor Jon HubbardDemocracy in Tory-controlled Wiltshire is only available to the rich and the retired, the council’s Lib-Dem opposition leader Jon Hubbard claimed today (Thursday).   
He declared that the unitary authority needs to reform how and when they hold their meetings to make them more accessible to “real people with real jobs”.   

The council holds most of its meetings during the day making it hard for people with full time jobs to find the time to fulfil the role.  This is why Wiltshire Council is dependant on employers giving councillors time of for civic duties.  

The council has passed new rules which would effect make it impossible for an employee of Wiltshire Council to have enough time off to do the job.  

"Wiltshire's democracy is only available to the rich or retired,” protested Councillor Jon Hubbard.  "I understand that our own employees are not eligible to stand for the council, but I think it is telling that as an organisation we are not prepared to set an example of what we expect of other organisations.”

"Of course the argument is that in these difficult financial times it is not viable to allow staff so much time off during the day.  Well what's different between Wiltshire Council and all of the other employers in the county.”

"Wiltshire Council needs to reform to allow all members of our society to fully participate in the democratic process."

Local Liberal Democrats have called on the council to hold more meetings in the evenings, allowing more accessibility of Wiltshire council to the general public.

Councillor Hubbard also attacked the shock move by the council’s Scrutiny Management Committee to effectively strip 39 of Wiltshire's Councillors from being able to object to bad decisions made by members of the Cabinet.

At present a group of any three of these councillors can “call in” a decision if they have enough evidence to believe the decisions were inappropriate.

After this week not even such evidence will be enough to hold the council to account, as only those councillors on the main Scrutiny Management Committee will be able to call in bad decisions.

"This is the Conservative commitment to democracy in Wiltshire, trying to stifle criticism of bad decision-making,” said Councillor Hubbard.

“Wiltshire Council pays £13,000 per year to councillors, but has removed their power to hold the Cabinet to account for what they are doing.  What do they expect these councillors to do now?”

Councillor Hubbard is currently seeking legal opinion on whether the move is lawful.

All the Liberal Democrat councillors asked that their objection to the plan be recorded, including committee chair Trevor Carbin, but the anti-democratic plan was forced through by the Conservative majority.

Marlborough’s former mayor Nicholas Fogg, who is one of the town’s two Wiltshire councillors, told Marlborough News Online:  “I have great sympathy with what Jon Hubbard is proposing.”

“Ways should be examined of making the democratic processes more available to more people.  In fairness, the current council leader Jane Scott has maintained a commitment to the Planning Committees meeting in the evenings to give more people access.  This should be regarded as a precedent rather than a ‘one-off’.”

 He added: “I would regard accountability as benefiting most those who are held responsible. Would the current economic crisis have occurred if bankers had been more accountable to shareholders and the public-at-large?”

“Accountability can save people from the worst consequences of their own actions. Every councillor has been given a duty of care over those he/she represents. How can this care be exercised fully if the right to hold decision-makers responsible is denied?”

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Jane Scott to speak on volunteering at Marlborough Area Board’s September meeting

Jane Scott, the leader of Wiltshire Council, will be among speakers at the meeting of the Marlborough Area Board being held in the Town Hall on Tuesday, September 25.  The meeting will concentrate on volunteering and will showcase many of the area’s voluntary groups.

Wiltshire Council have announced they are forming a ‘legacy’ group to support towns planning community events like those surrounding the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the Olympics. According to Council estimates, those events in Wiltshire attracted 225,000 people and provided a considerable boost to local economies.

The new group will bring together experts from sports groups, NHS Wiltshire, arts and heritage organisations and community organisations.  It will be pro-active in searching out events which it could support. Wiltshire Council spent £290,000 helping this summer’s events.

At the meeting, Councillor Scott will be looking back at the summer’s events and their lessons, and looking forward to show how the legacy of the those events can be carried on into 2013 and beyond.

The Area Board meeting will include a ‘market place’ with a number of small stands at the Town Hall for local groups to show the work they do and advertise their needs.  The ‘market place’ will be open from 6 p.m. and the meeting itself will start at 7.00 p.m.  Among those who have already booked space at the ‘market place’ are:

•    Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service     
•    GROW - providing support for the voluntary sector
•    Home-Start Kennet – training volunteers to help vulnerable families in their homes    
•    Wiltshire Global Education Group (a partner of the Marlborough Brandt Group)
•    The Friends of The Ridgeway
•    Marlborough & District Embroiderers’ Guild
•    Marlborough and District Dyslexia Association
•    The Jubilee Centre
•    Richmond Fellowship - offering help to people with mental health issues to find voluntary work, training and employment
•    IT Can Help - providing free computer help for disabled people in their own homes
•    Charities Information Bureau
•    We Love Marlborough
•    Ramsbury & Aldbourne Bowls Club
•    Marlborough Brandt Group
•    Marlborough: Our Community Matters Blogsite - new community area-wide blogsites for the community run by Wiltshire Council
•    Victim Support Wiltshire
•    Spice Time Credits – a new way of rewarding volunteers.

Joining Councillor Jane Scott at the meeting will be Councillor Stuart Wheeler, cabinet member for campus development and culture (a brief which includes leisure, sport and libraries) – on the value of volunteering within the library Service.

Sandie Lewis, head of Wiltshire Council’s Voluntary and Community Services Support Unit, and Simone Lord of the Wiltshire Volunteer Centre – will tell the meeting about the supports available to the county’s voluntary sector.

Elly Townsend of the organisation Spice will explain ‘Time Credits: a new way of rewarding volunteers’.

Sarah Cosentino of On-line Wiltshire will speak about the scheme for digital literacy champions.

Emma Cooper of Community Partnerships will speak about the Wiltshire Community Bank and credit unions.

And Andrew Jack, the Community Area Manager for the Marlborough  area, will explain the ins and outs of the community area grants scheme.

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Nine good causes to slug it out for jackpot

Good causes and charities will do battle in Marlborough later this month for a slice of a £6,000 jackpot.

The nine community organisations won a place in the final of the Budgens of Marlborough Community Giveaway after their supporters voted for them in a contest run on Facebook.

Nineteen groups faced each other in three categories – Education and Young People, Health, Wellbeing and Social, and Community & The Arts.

Now the finalists will find themselves in the spotlight as representatives from each community group are invited to pitch their ideas to a voting audience at The Theatre on the Hill, St John's School, Marlborough on Thursday, September 27 from 7pm.

The community group from each category that receives the most votes on the night will walk away with £1,000.

And all of the nine finalists will get a share of another £1,000 over the first three months of the new forecourt opening.

Customers will be given a token each time they shop, to vote for one of three organisations per month. Each of these three organisations will get a share of £1,000, proportional to the amount of tokens they receive in-store.

Anyone can apply for a ticket, which will give them a vote to support their favourite community organisation. Tickets, which are free, can be booked through the Facebook page at or at

The Community Giveaway is being staged by Budgens of Marlborough, which is opening a petrol station, convenience store and Subway outlet at Marlborough Business Park in October. Work on the £2 million development, which will create 50 new jobs, started in July.

The finalists, and their projects, are:

Education and Young People:

St John's School
Having completed the new school building without the help of any national government funding, and moved in late 2009, the school is now working hard to raise the money needed to complete the external sports facilities at the new school. The All-Weather Pitch will not only benefit the students, but will also be available for evening, weekend and school holiday use by the wider local community.

Marlborough Brandt Group
To enable six students studying for the international baccalaureate from St John's School in Marlborough to travel on a study visit to The Gambia with a teacher and an education worker from MBG, to enhance their learning about development in an African community.

Savernake Forest Scout Group
Savernake Forest Scout Group requires new lightweight tents so that the 60 young members of the scout troop can go on camping adventures and develop key life skills through adventurous physical activity.

Health, Wellbeing and Social:

Wiltshire Air Ambulance
To support the running costs of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance, the only emergency helicopter in the UK to fly with a pilot, paramedic and police observer at all times. Each day the Wiltshire Air Ambulance is called out an average of three times. Since 2009 the Wiltshire Air Ambulance has attended 41 emergency incidents in Marlborough and Pewsey alone. It costs almost £2,000 per day to keep the Wiltshire Air Ambulance flying and saving lives.

Splitz - KidzPace
Working with children aged 11-17 who have witnessed or been exposed to domestic abuse in Marlborough and Pewsey. Splitz provides a mix of one to one support and group work to build children's confidence and self-esteem.

Carer Support Wiltshire
To support the work of the Wiltshire-wide charity that gives free and confidential emotional support, information, advice and breaks to unpaid carers living in the county.

Community & The Arts:

Phoenix Brass Band
To purchase two tenor horns to enlarge the horn section of the training band, which exists to introduce any person, young or old, to the joys of music and brass banding.

Marlborough Communities Market
To support the ongoing success of the monthly Marlborough Communities Market, a not-for-profit enterprise working in collaboration with Transition Marlborough and Marlborough Town Council and incorporating a farmers' market and local crafts and produce.

We Love Marlborough
To bring Christmas cheer to Marlborough families, We Love Marlborough would like Father Christmas to be free to visit in the town hall this year, and have an free top-quality artist-led Christmas crafts-making session culminating in a procession at the lights switch on at 7pm. The Christmas Lights Switch On Activities will take place on 29 November 2012.

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Large crowd sees David Hemery light Marlborough’s Jubilee Beacon at Barbury Racecourse

Click on pics to enlarge

David Hemery with Edwina and torchDavid Hemery with Edwina and torchAbout six hundred people were at Barbury Racecourse on Monday evening (June 4) to see the former Olympic hurdle star David Hemery light Marlborough’s Jubilee Beacon. David Hemery brought with him the Olympic torch he had carried through Royal Wootton Bassett and signed many autographs.

The rain held off and, as the beacon began to burn, the clouds parted to give a wonderful view of the full moon.

The event was organised by the Marlborough Brandt Group with the help of the Barbury Estate and of Chris Musgrave and his team who built a huge bonfire which blazed into the night sky – helped by some very large bales of old linseed straw.

After the hog roast, pay bar and fish and chips and a charity auction of Coronation and Jubilee memorabilia, many people took the steep, torch-lit route up to the beacon – some very young and less young were taken up by tractor and trailer.

Several families took advantage of the wonderful site with its views across the downs, to camp overnight – while the beacon blazed away above them.

David Hemery lights the BeaconDavid Hemery lights the BeaconThe only disappointment was that the young rowers from Marlborough, New Zealand who had rowed in the previous day’s Thames Pageant, never made it down to Marlborough, Wiltshire. They were held up in London to attend an unscheduled presentation and to fix some problems in getting their boat shipped back to New Zealand.

Mayor Edwina Fogg was very disappointed as not only were they to have been honoured guests at the beacon celebration, but were also to be presented at the Town Hall on Tuesday (June 5.)

One young person at the Beacon was especially saddened that the lads from Marlborough, New Zealand didn’t make it - her cousin was one of the rowers and she was looking forward to meeting him for the first time.

“It was a most wonderful occasion and the culmination of months of planning and organisation by a large number of people,” Brandt Group founder Nick Maurice told Marlborough News Online.

“At least 30 people were involved in one way or another and almost exclusively in a voluntary capacity.

“The beacon was built over three days by the staff of the Barbury Estate who were quite magnificent in everything they did to make sure the lighting of the beacon went smoothly.

“It was such a privilege to have an Olympic Gold Medallist in David Hemery to light the beacon in the London Olympic year in front of 600 residents of Marlborough -- and to have Edwina Fogg our Mayor to encourage us all to raise our glasses to Her Majesty The Queen.”

And he added: “Then two special moments occurred when the blaze was at its height, huge sparks were rising into the heavens and the clouds cleared and the full moon appeared.

“My mobile rang and it was friends in Marlborough's link community of Gunjur in The Gambia announcing that they had just lit their beacon and were wishing Her Majesty long life and happiness!”

Below are more photos of the Marlborough Beacon event - including a shot showing the full moon and a 'morning after' shot of the pile of still burning ashes:

Reuben & Lucas Arkwright and Courtney Goodwin  with David Hemery's Olympic torchReuben & Lucas Arkwright and Courtney Goodwin with David Hemery's Olympic torch    Mayor Edwina Fogg with loudhailer addressing the crowdMayor Edwina Fogg with loudhailer addressing the crowdDavid Hemery with lit BeaconDavid Hemery with lit Beacon
The morning after.....The morning after.....    BEACON-MOON.800pxBEACON-MOON.800pxCrowd wind their way up to the beaconCrowd wind their way up to the beacon

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'Strictly' magic to alight on the Theatre on the Hill tonight

Anton De Beke in rehearsalAnton De Beke in rehearsalWhilst Anton Du Beke will be demonstrating quick feet, elegance, and the full extent of his long-suffering nature in attempting to transform a celebrity into a dancer on 'Strictly Come Dancing', his first foray in contemporary dance choreography will be premiered at The Theatre on the Hill at St John's Academy this evening (Saturday 22nd September) at 7.30pm. 

The Yorke Dance Project, under the discerning artistic direction of Yolande Yorke-Edgell will be bringing its new programme, 'Words Worth' to Marlborough and Anton's first work for the company, 'Easy to Love', will be one several works featured.   He brings his wit, charm and exceptional talent to a series of duets and double duets inspired by the glamour of old-school Hollywood.  Expect a touch of Fred and Ginger…

Words-worth-gallery-5Words-worth-gallery-5Words Worth is coming to The Theatre on the Hill  directly after it’s World Premier at the ICA in Bath and before the shows at Sadler’s Wells, London.  

The Yorke Dance Project is building a reputation for ambitious and diverse work and Words Worth also features premieres by  John Pennington, Alessio Barbarossa and Yorke-Edgell herself.

Two members of the Company, along with the show’s producer, will be at the school on Friday 21 afternoon running workshops for St John's Dance Students.

Tickets £12.50 concessions £10 available from The Pound Box Office 01249 701 628 or online

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Strict bank regulation – not more borrowing – will solve our economic problems claims Claire Perry

The government’s decision to hand over tough new banking regulation controls to the Bank of England will help solve the economic crisis, Marlborough’s Tory MP and former banker Claire Perry  has declared. 

Taking part last night (Thursday) in a TV Newsnight debate on the fifth anniversary of the collapse of Northern Rock, she insisted that this was the right policy being enacted with new legislation by Chancellor George Osborne. 

And she rejected calls for a major change in Government policy in borrowing more to boost the economy out of the present double-dip recession, which has created divisions in the Tory party. 

Financial Times economist Martin Wolf, with whom Mrs Perry clashed, interjected:  “The government can now borrow at the least interest rates in the entire history of the United Kingdom…and you’re telling me that it can’t borrow. That’s completely mad.” 

Asked by presenter Emily Maitlis whether the government recognised now that the next generation will be worse off, Mrs Perry replied:  “These are all important policy choices we have to make.”  

“To go back to the Northern Rock thing again, where was the common sense in government, in the regulators when mortgages of 125 per cent of someone’s assets (were being offered), where did the policies fit, where was the reality?

“Again, you had Mr Darling (the former Labour chancellor, also on the programme) talking about wouldn’t it be lovely if we could be spending more money on fiscal stimulus…where does that money come from?”

“Is it right – and I think Martin (Wolf) is going to disagree with me, as he always does – to burden the next generation with this generation’s debt?”

“It would have been lovely to have money in the bank to do something when a financial crisis hit them but because of the policy decisions of Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown there was nothing left in the coffers, the coffers were bare.”

“So what are the policy choices now?”

“The choices are to make sure the banking industry is safe and well regulated and taxed and that people who have mis-sold pensions or fiddled the LIBOR (lending) rate are prosecuted, which they can be under the present system.  And to make sure that that utility works for the benefit of all of us.”

Mrs Perry, who worked for George Osborne before being elected MP for Devizes, ignored the fact that the Tories opposed bank regulation when it was original proposed by the last Labour government.

Asked if the Conservatives had 'completely missed what was happening when she was an advisor to Mr Osborne when Northern Rock collapsed', Mrs Perry said the regulatory system set up by Labour failed to spot what was happening.

“This was a commonsense failing,” she added. “Northern Rock was too good to be true.  It was a very small institution that grew very rapidly and  had a business model that should have been flagged up as risky.”

“When the crisis hit five years ago everybody went like that (she waved her hands), nobody knew who was going to be in charge and there has been a lot of criticism of that.”

“One of the things we have done is say banking is an important thing, there is this huge need for banking services across the world, it is a very important institution for Britain.  It has to be regulated better.”

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Two schools on the Kennet celebrate water saving success in ARK competition

Ramsbury School Save Water PosterRamsbury School Save Water PosterPupils at Aldbourne and Ramsbury schools are celebrating their water-saving success with a cheque for £750 each to kick start the new term.  

The two schools jointly won the Care for the Kennet Water Saving Competition run by Action for the River Kennet and Thames Water. 

Aldbourne School saved the most water per family with a total 1822 litres per day saved.  This equates to an impressive 19 litres/day per family. 

Sue Smith, head of St Michael’s School, Aldbourne, told Marlborough News Online: ‘’I am delighted that St Michael’s have won.  The children, through our School Council, worked really hard to promote this campaign and deserve their success.

“The School Council will discuss with the children how we should spend the money, which we hope will go towards our activities to promote outdoor learning”.

Ramsbury School’s efforts to encourage the local community to save water have resulted in 2094 litres saved every day – over a year that’s over 6000 bath tubs, the judges also being impressed with Ramsbury School’s water saving march around the village.

A total of 12 schools took part in the competition to encourage their local communities to save water by hosting events, designing posters and writing letters.  The water saving was measured by Thames Water, who funded the project and the prize money.

Ramsbury school children on their village marchRamsbury school children on their village marchCharlotte Hitchmough, ARK’s director, said: “Through this competition families have signed up for free water saving makeovers and gadgets, which mean they can save water without any effort or cost.”

“The Care for the Kennet project has allowed ARK to work with school pupils to show them the amazing wildlife which lives in the Kennet and to appreciate that every drop of water we save is more water left in the river.  It’s good for the river, and good for everyone’s water bills.”

The competition is part of ARK’s ongoing work to raise awareness and understanding of the water in the environment.

Anyone can still sign up for a free water saving makeover by calling 0800 358 6665.

Ramsbury School SOS posterRamsbury School SOS poster

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Could you lend Olympic medalist Shelley a pooch?

Shelley RudmanShelley RudmanWinter Olympics hero Shelley Rudman is appealing for help to complete her latest challenge – a sponsored walk through Marlborough's Savernake Forest.

The world cup champion and winter 2006 Olympic silver-winning skeleton bobsleigher is hoping someone will lend her a canine companion for the Best Paw Forward walk in aid of Cancer Research UK. 

Shelley’s commitment to her sport makes it impossible for her to own a dog so she’s looking for a temporary canine companion.

“I don’t have a dog of my own at the moment, but would love to take part in such a great fundraising event if someone has a dog I can borrow...I promise I will give it back!” said Shelley. 

“Growing up in Pewsey, we had four beautiful dogs and I would love to have one, but sadly my training schedule and competing in North America doesn’t allow me the time.”

The sponsored dog walk is the first regional event outside of London organised by Cancer Research UK.

Organisers are hoping to attract hundreds of dog walkers to the Savernake Forest on Sunday, September 23 between 11 am and 4pm to raise much needed funds for Cancer Research UK. Entry is £10 per dog and is open to walkers of all ages.

To sign up for the event log on to

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Members of Gambia’s Paralympic squad visit Marlborough

London 2012 saw Gambia’s first ever participation in Paralympic Games with two wheelchair athletes competing.  The day after the closing ceremony, athlete Isatou Nyang, coach Faye Basirou and the Chef de Mission, Sulayman Colley visited Marlborough.

Isatou Nyang, Chris & Caroline Loveday and Sulayman ColleyIsatou Nyang, Chris & Caroline Loveday and Sulayman ColleyThey were guests at a lunch given by Caroline and Chris Loveday whose daughter Lilli lives and works in the Gambia.  She’s married to Gunjurian Kebba Jatta who has been working with the Gambian Paralympic Committee.

Travelling with the Gambians were three of those wonderful volunteers – the Games-Makers – still in theireye-catching official uniforms.  Also present at the lunch were Marlborough Mayor Edwina Fogg and Nicholas Fogg.

Isatou Nyang, who is twenty-eight years old and was born with deformed legs, took part in the women's T54 100 and 800 metre events.  The other competitor was Demba Jarju, aged twenty-three. He is wheelchair-bound through polio and took part in the men's T54 100 and 800 metre events.Isatou Nyang at the opening ceremony   photo by Sulayman ColleyIsatou Nyang at the opening ceremony photo by Sulayman Colley

Neither of them advanced from the first round. But Demba was in the same 800 metre heat as gold medallist David Weir and Sulayman Colley says Demba is very proud of that.

Also on the visit to Marlborough was Gambian journalist Fatoumata Saho.  She has been covering the Paralympics for Gambia’s Today newspaper and the radio station City Limits.  However, as she was the only Gambian journalist at London 2012, her reports have been used in many other newspapers.Fatoumata SahoFatoumata Saho

LOCOG (the London 2012 organising committee) paid for the air fares and accommodation for the six member Gambian delegation.  And the two athletes were only able to compete after their competition wheelchairs were donated by the Swiss Paralympic Committee.

The President of Gambia’s Paralympic Committee, Sulayman Colley, says they get nothing in the way of funding from the Gambia government to support para sports. They struggle to get the proper equipment – and secondhand equipment is gratefully received.

Sulayman ColleySulayman ColleySulayman Colley, who is also wheelchair-bound, told Marlborough News Online that the great challenge facing them when they get home is that lack of funding.  The private sector in Gambia is small and raising money is never easy, so they try to interest people outside the Gambia. Sulayman Colley  can be contacted at

Sulayman’s committee now have four basketball teams in great Banjul.  Isatou, who’s better known as Ida, plays for one of the teams – she’s its only woman player.

The committee have organised para sports clubs in each of the country’s seven regions – and they been able to send ten wheelchairs to each region.  The problem now is keeping them properly maintained.

Ida has really enjoyed being in London for the Paralympics and hopes very much to have improved enough to come back in 2014 for the para sport events at Glasgow’s 2014  Commonwealth Games.  And beyond that, of course, there’s Rio 2016’s Paralympics.

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Alan King’s hopeful horses for the coming jump season

It was nippy up on the downs at the Sharpridge gallops and trainer Alan King wished he’d brought a jacket.  It’s just the kind of weather, a chilly wind and still sunny, that heralds the intense exercise regime ahead of the new National Hunt season – also known as the ‘jump season’.

Alan King has one hundred and fifteen racehorses in training at his main Barbury yard and the nearby Sharpridge yard and they’re mostly hurdle and jump horses. Collectively it’s known as Barbury Castle and is one of the country’s top training establishments.

Alan started at Barbury in 2000, a year after he took out his training licence. In the last five seasons he’s notched up 220 winners over hurdles and 120 winners over the jumps – winning total prize money for his owners of £4,609,575.

Barbury stables have rear windows for fresh air & a good viewBarbury stables have rear windows for fresh air & a good viewHe employs about fifty people – a substantial employer in the area. The horses are ridden out everyday in three batches: 0700, 0900 and 1100. They do some circuits of the paddock – walking and trotting to “make sure everything’s working and to get warmed up.” Then it’s up to the all-weather gallops.

It takes about three months after their summer break to get horses fit to race again – “turning the fat into muscle.” And they’re not cheap to feed – on top of the grass, there’s a daily supplement of fourteen pounds of hard feed.

Keeping a horse in training is expensive – about £20,000 a year. Alan welcomes the partnerships and syndicates among the owners for whom he trains. It means more people can experience the glorious ups (and sometimes the downs) of owning a race horse.

He’s sanguine about the future of Britain’s racing industry. The main problem, he told Marlborough News Online, is that “the prize money in Britain has plummeted. The big races apart, you’re sometimes racing for as little as £1,500 whereas in France it starts at about £10,000.”Young horses gallop in pairs to get them used to racingYoung horses gallop in pairs to get them used to racing

Alan heard recently of an agent who bought nine horses at the French sales for British owners and seven have stayed to be trained in France.  Alan says it is this sort of development that has given rise to the saying in racing circles “You race in Britain for the glory. You race abroad for the money.”

At least two regional racecourses - Hereford and Folkestone - have been marked down for imminent closure by their owners. He’s backing the campaign to save Hereford – “It’s a smashing track” – and is optimistic it will succeed.

The yard has three regular jockeys: Robert ‘Choc’ Thornton and Wayne Hutchinson. The third, Gerard Tumelty is a conditional jockey – that’s equivalent to flat racing’s ‘apprentice jockey’.  There are three more conditional jockeys on the books: Charlie Huxley, Peter Hatton and Ciaran Mckee.

West End Rocker & Hot WhiskeyWest End Rocker & Hot WhiskeyWhat about the new jump season which starts in earnest in late October? Among the stars at Barbury are: West End Rocker which won the Becher Chase at Aintree but fell at the second in last year’s Grand National. Alan says he’ll never be going back to Aintree but will stick to the courses he likes – flat and left-handed, like Newbury and Warwick.

Earlier this month, the five-year-old chestnut Henry San won at Stratford.  Hold On Julio may well get a run in Newbury’s Hennessy Gold Cup after a successful switch from hurdle to steeplechase races.MedermitMedermit

Then there’s the grey Medermit who did well first at the Cheltenham Festival and then at Aintree, coming fourth in the Betfred Bowl Chase.Alan King & Head Lad Paul Duggan keep a careful eye on horses and ridersAlan King & Head Lad Paul Duggan keep a careful eye on horses and riders

Quite a lot is riding on another grey, Smad Place who in March came third in Cheltenham’s World Hurdle – behind Big Buck’s and Voler La Vedette: “He’ll get a crack at Big Buck’s - an amazing horse but who’s getting on a bit. Someone has to take him on.” Big Buck’s became the only horse to win the long distance World Hurdle four times running.

Walk On won well at Exeter last December and during the season was placed twice at Newbury, did well at Cheltenham, but was pulled up in the Scottish Grand National in April.

Among the new horses at the yard is the Irish horse Hot Whiskey (note the ‘e’ for Irish whiskey.) He’s a chestnut gelding bought by Alan for the football manager Harry Rednapp after Rednapp’s horse Bygones In Brid was killed in a fall at Taunton in March.

Katchit (left) and GrumetiKatchit (left) and GrumetiGrumeti won January’s Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham and two months later came third in the Triumph.  He’s the yard’s big hope for the year at Aintree.  Katchit won the Triumph Hurdle in 2007 and the Champion Hurdle in 2008 – becoming the first five-year-old to win it since 1985 and the first winner of the Triumph to take the Champion Hurdle crown since 1968.

Or you can keep your money in your pocket.  But that’s not anything like as much fun as going to the races and having a flutter.

Alternatively if you want to see the horses up-close there are Stable Tours at Barbury Castle and Sharpridge yards on certain days – and they like the yard’s normal days, start early.  They do include a full English breakfast:  To contact,  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the website here

Click on pictures to enlarge or see slideshow

The first string head for homeThe first string head for home

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Nick Clegg gets a sharp reminder that his grassroots supporters are not happy

When the Lib Dems meet in Brighton this weekend for their autumn conference, the party leadership is likely to get a few reminders that their supporters are not very pleased with them.  One such reminder came this month from two local Lib Dem supporters Terry and Neville Cooper.

They got an e-mail from Nick Clegg (via party headquarters) that opened: “As you may have seen on the news, I’ve announced an ambitious package  to get growth and housing (sic) building going…When Jo Swinson asked for input from you on growth, house building was one of the top responses. Today’s announcement shows the kind of impact Liberal Democrats are having in the Coalition Government, thanks to our members, on this key issue.”

Terry and Neville CooperTerry and Neville CooperThat did not go down at all well with veteran Lib Dem supporters Terry and Neville Cooper of Bottlesford. So they wrote a stiff rejoinder to Clegg – copying it to David Cameron and Claire Perry.

Their letter was headed “Good news for growth? We think NOT” and began: “Dear Nick, Sorry, but I cannot agree with you LESS.” They argued that the new package would lead to stagnation in the housing market – “allowing the property ‘ladder’ to clog up. As individual families grow they will just ‘extend’ instead of moving up.” And this they said will in turn undermine the government’s pledges to make things easier for first time buyers.

They cited a nearby house which had already been extended to twice its size and had recently sold for twice its previous price – at £400,000 “Well outside any younger family’s pocket.”

The Coopers were also concerned that the new ‘growth’ package Nick Clegg was lauding would lead to “the wonderful rural ‘Street Scene’ being ruined for many generations to come, if control is removed on this type of ad hoc development. You and your Conservative colleagues never seem to consider the very long term consequences of your actions anymore.”

Neville retired from the R.A.F. many years ago – he was one of the last pilots to fly operational Lancasters and was a pilot with the R.A.F.’s long range transport.  Having served overseas for many years, they settled in Cornwall where Neville used his computer expertise to help Lib Dems in their successful election campaigns – especially those of North Cornwall MP Paul Tyler, now the Lib Dem peer Lord Tyler.

Neville thinks the coalition was wrong to try to pay off the deficit within one Parliament: “It was asking for trouble.” And he’s worried also about the restructuring of the NHS. First it seems to promote fragmentation rather than integration.  And secondly:

“I worry that if a GP who’s controlling the budget is faced with two people needing expensive surgery he’ll say ‘Am I really going to allocate the money for a 79 year-old when the other person is thirty-five or forty years old?’”

Neville is also very cross about Nick Clegg's handling of the alternative vote referendum: “I’m mainly a Lib Dem supporter because I don’t believe in the first past the post system. How can we say we live in a democracy if we have first past the post? These Lib Dems made such a botch of the referendum – they were completely overshadowed by the Conservatives. They lost the opportunity of a lifetime to change the system. First past the post is a ridiculous system.”

Terry Cooper first supported the Lib Dems when Mrs Thatcher’s policies destroyed so many industries and businesses.  She doesn’t know who she’ll vote for at the next election – it certainly will not be the sitting MP.

Neville says he doesn’t really believe in tactical voting, but he might vote tactically next time and vote Labour. “Vote Lib Dem and you’re wasting your vote."

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Town council provides vital funding to help Marlborough’s austerity-hit families

A suggestion that Marlborough town council should reduce its £1,000 grant to Home-Start Kennet, which helps families in trouble, met with an angry response at Monday’s meeting of the Finance and Policy Committee. 

Councillor Stewart DobsonCouncillor Stewart DobsonCouncillor Stewart Dobson, leader of the council’s Tory group, appeared unaware that Wiltshire Council has cut off all funding to the charity, which is based in Silverless Street, Marlborough. 

“The work Home-Start does with families who can’t cope is so important,” protested Councillor Richard Pitts.  “This is money well spent.  If we had the funds we should give them substantially more.” 

Marlborough’s mayor, Councillor Edwina Fogg, agreed.  “Home-Start helps young families near the poverty line,” she told the committee.  It is vital that we support them.”

“Marlborough is seen as an upmarket town with designer shops in the High Street, but there are other people who need all the help they can get.”

And deputy mayor Councillor Guy Loosmore joined in, pointing out that Wiltshire’s austerity measures was putting increasing pressure on the town council to provide help wherever possible.

“And the situation will get worse,” he warned.  “We need to come up with a new policy so that we can manage the funding we have.”

Some concern was expressed that Home-Start Kennet also aided the families of the armed forces based at Tidworth and Councillor Dobson asked for the £1,000 grant to be ring-fenced so that it was used only for helping Marlborough families.

Wiltshire Council originally gave Home-Start Kennet a grant of £49,000 but halved this in 2011-12 and then abolished it altogether in the current financial year.

A spokeswoman for Home-Start told Marlborough News Online: “Our position is that the £1,000 from Marlborough town council covered support to two families, for six months, in Marlborough.  However, £1,000 in a year, does not cover all of the work we do in Marlborough.”

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Town councillors may rebel against Cameron’s home extensions planning free for all

Marlborough town councillors may rebel against the government’s latest plans to relax planning rules and allow people to build extensions to their homes without seeking planning consent.

They fear it will lead to a war between neighbours and result in local councillors facing the flack from residents opposed to new extensions.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s aim is to get planning officers "off people's backs" and the government intends to carry out a consultation exercise before allowing a three-year period during which extensions up to eight metres long can be built on detached properties.

There are also proposed relaxed rules on shops and offices looking to expand, and similarly on developments having to include affordable housing as ministers seek to boost the economy.

The issue was raised  by Councillor Peggy Dow, who is also a Wiltshire councillor, at the Planning Committee meeting of Marlborough town council last night (Monday).

Councillor Margaret Rose, the Tory committee chair, responded: “I personally feel we ought to send a letter expressing our objections to this.”

She referred to a radio programme on the subject and added: “This is bound to lead to a war between neighbours and we will be left in the middle to take all the flak.  I shall put it on the agenda for our next meeting.”

Town Clerk Derek Wolfe pointed out that that at the moment this was only a government proposal and no changes had yet been made to ease the planning regulations.

But Councillor Nick Fogg, also a member of Wiltshire Council, fears that it is a misguided policy.

“You can’t have a planning free for all,” he told Marlborough News Online.  “There may be cases where minor alterations shouldn’t be subject to planning but I’m against people being allowed to build extensions all over the place without regard to the nature of the property and its effect on their neighbours.”

“I can’t quite believe that the government would allow that but obviously there is a mood abroad to try and boost the economy by getting more buildings works carried out, which I find bizarre.”

“I tend to believe that house buildings reflects the state of the economy rather than stimulates it.  It is a misunderstood issue in economic terms.”

What might be the reaction of Tory-controlled Wiltshire Council?

“I know the planning committee in the eastern area, which covers Marlborough, and I believe those good people and true would not be happy with this,” added Councillor Fogg. “ Can’t speak for them but can speak from my knowledge of their reaction to certain issues.”

“They are an objective and unpolitical group.  And they wouldn’t like this.”

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Wiltshire raised £6.876m selling off school playing fields – but where has the money gone?

Councillor Nick FoggCouncillor Nick FoggWiltshire Council has sold off four school playing fields and raised £6.875 million in the process but has so far failed to reveal what has happened to the money. 

The Tory-controlled authority was asked by Marlborough News Online to provide this information, as there are fears that it has not been added to the council’s budget for educational purposes. 

And also because of growing demands, following the success of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, that the sale of sports facilities must be legally stopped. 

Former Tory minister Lord Moynihan, about to step down as the British Olympics Association chairman, has called for the first ever Government audit of the number of leisure and sports facilities in the UK amid evidence of an alarming decline.

He wants the government to introduce legislation forcing councils to protect their leisure and sports facilities.

“I wasn’t’ aware of Wiltshire selling off playing fields,” Councillor Nick Fogg, who represents Marlborough on Wiltshire Council, told Marlborough News Online.  “I know this selling off of playing fields is a bit of a scandal nationwide.  And I find that regrettable.”

A Wiltshire Council senior press officer told us: “It appears there are only four.  And these mainly relate to school playing fields for schools which have amalgamated or moved.”

“I am unable to give to individual amounts as we understand some are the subject of confidentiality agreements.  The public details are available through the land registry.”

“Wiltshire Council received somewhere in the region of £6.875m for their sales.”

The specific sales were as follows:

*   Wilton former Middle School Site - Thistledown. 04/06/2010. Thistledown Educational Trust.  Wiltshire Council received 50 per cent of price, rest paid to the diocese.

*   Wootton Bassett Rylands Stoneover Lane Land. 10/10/2011.  Rugby pitch replaced with new club facilities.

*   Melksham Queensway Site  -  Sold to Sarsen Housing for social housing - December 2011.  Playing field provision no longer required as sale arose from merger of two schools.

*   Salisbury Fisherton Manor site  -  to Taylor Wimpey - February 2012.

This site is at least 80 per cent building or tarmac playground, being the former Highbury First and Fisherton Manor Middle School buildings.  Field retained as site of Manor Fields Primary School.

“There may be a reason for the sales in some cases,” added Councillor Fogg. “But the general process is to be regretted particular given our wonderful performances in the Olympic Games.”

“Obviously it is quite crucial to the health and welfare of the nation that playing fields are available to all schools.”

The Daily Telegraph has launched a campaign called 'Keep The Flame Alive' to boost school sport after the Olympics’ success and to encourage more volunteering.

“When we see facilities being cut back then those who have been inspired by the Games don't get the opportunity to really engage in sport,” Lord Moynihan protested. “We should be looking at changing the law to make provision of sport and recreation opportunity a statutory requirement.

“At the moment in England it’s discretionary and once it’s discretionary it’s inevitable that councillors will be looking for discretionary cutbacks first.”

Sports provision is currently a legal requirement in Scotland and Northern Ireland but not in England and Wales.  However despite this, a survey found that councils across the UK had cut back on sports facilities.

Out of the 369 councils that took part in a survey, 126 – some 36 per cent – admitted they had reduced sports provision for local people. They included 70 authorities which said they had closed one or more facilities, and 82 councils which had cut hours at on or more of its centres.

Just 33 councils had added new sports facilities or increased opening hours.

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