Nigel Kerton, who retired todayThe end of an era was marked today (Wednesday) when Nigel Kerton, the Gazette & Herald's Marlborough reporter since articles were bashed out on typewriters, filed his final story.
Nigel - who reckons he's filled 2,000 front pages for the Gazette & Herald, along with 500 each for the Swindon Advertiser and the Western Daily Press - stumbled into journalism aged 17, when he popped into the offices of the Mercury in Weston-super-Mare to scour the jobs pages.
He was asked if he fancied a job on the paper, doing some administrative work and assisting the journalists, and told to go off and write a 500 word article on a subject of his choosing.
“It was easy,” recalls Nigel. “I came from Lyneham, where my mum and dad ran a village shop, and I was new to Weston-super-Mare with its bright lights and a theatre. They liked the story and offered me a five year indentureship.”
Nigel's first day on the Mercury – a Monday in 1964 – started at 8.30am. “At 8.45 I was given a notebook and a pencil and told to go and interview a woman whose husband had died. It was a baptism of fire.”
And while many young journalists dread the prospect of talking to relatives about the loss of a loved one, Nigel reckons it has become his favourite part of the job, and at the start of his second stint with the Gazette 15 years ago – following a ten-year sojourn at the Western Daily Press in Trowbridge – he insisted on the reinstatement of the obituaries column.
“I love listening to people about their lives, and I think I'm particularly good at empathising with people who have lost loved ones in tragic circumstances, because I've been through it: my mother, who suffered from Alzheimer's, drowned herself in the sea at Torquay in 1980.”
The journalists at the Weston Mercury taught young Nigel the craft: putting people at ease during interviews, and letting them tell their stories in their own words.
“They were gentleman reporters with copper plated shorthand,” recalls Nigel. “Journalists who would record every word at a council meeting, when reporters had the time, and newspapers had the space, to do that.”
But four years later a career move summoned Nigel back to Wiltshire: he was offered a job in the Swindon Advertiser's Marlborough office.
“I loved Marlborough,” says Nigel. “I used to cycle down from Lyneham as a kid. The Adver's editor, Fred Hazel, heard I had a girlfriend back at Lyneham, and offered me the job.
“I was one of two reporters working at this 15th century building in Kingsbury Street [the office closed by Gazette & Herald owners Newsquest in October last year]. I thought the Adver was the paper I was working for, but I also had to write for the Gazette.”
The following spring – March 1969 – Nigel and Joy were married at St Peter's Church in Clyffe Pypard. Their first home was a flat above a shop in The Parade – now occupied by More Than Pine – before moving to Poulton Hill, and then to The Mead, “Kennet's biggest cul de sac” and the Kerton family home for 19 years.
Nigel and Joy have two children – Paul and Claire – and four grandchildren, aged between 12 and 23. And between them they've acted as Nigel's unofficial news-gathering team throughout his career.
When Nigel first came to Marlborough, the journalist Bob Wise advised him to “never join anything.” The reporter promptly threw himself into community activities.
He formed the Gardening Club 35 years ago, and joined the carnival committee 25 years ago. He's been the chairman of the New Road Centre, which works with 30 special needs adults every week, for eight years. And ten years ago, he and Joy revived the Jubilee Centre Christmas lunch, which is now held in the Town Hall and caters for 60 elderly residents from the town.
In the millennium year the Rotary Club awarded Nigel the Centenary Community Award for Vocational Services to the Town – "I don't suppose anyone else will get that honour for another 100 years," laughs Nigel – and in 2007 Pewsey Parish Council gave him an award for Outstanding Services to the Community.
Recently, Nigel – who has attended local government meetings for nearly half a century, and describes himself as apolitical – has considered leaving the press bench for a seat in the council chamber, by standing as an independent candidate for Marlborough East in the next Wiltshire Council elections.
“I've been described as a socialist, but I'm only a socialist so far as every journalist is a socialist, by fighting for people's rights and championing causes,” insists Nigel.
“I had a brief courtship with the Conservative Party,” he says, “and was interested in joining the majority group on the council.
“But in the light of my colleague Chris Humphries' experience, where he was not supported by his colleagues [Cllr Humphries was suspended from the Conservative group following a reprimand for mistreating a member of the council's staff], I decided that I didn't want to be part of that group.”
“I'd like to join the town council too,” he adds, “but not until somebody provides me with a whip and a chair. At the moment I feel the body has no useful future. Good ideas are thrown out and bad ideas kept in because of the views of those on the majority group.
“Personally, I don't think party politics has a place in local councils.”
Nigel leaves the Gazette just a week before his 65th birthday. He intends to spend more time with his family, exploring southern England in his campervan, and continuing his work with community organisations in Marlborough.
“I've enjoyed my career in journalism; there's no better job in the world,” he says. “But I suspect I'll be busier than ever before. So I guess it's 'goodbye for now', rather than 'farewell for ever'.
Paula BarnesOn the run for more than 18 months and finally found in Holland, Paula Barnes, 45, of Aldbourne Road, Baydon, Marlborough, is now in custody as a result of a complex police operation that found her living abroad.
Barnes, the wife of a drug dealer jailed for 12 years for masterminding a drug smuggling ring, disappeared after a car crash in Foxhill, Baydon, in September, 2010, as a result of which teacher Dianne Wright died.
Yesterday (Thursday) she pleaded guilty at Swindon Crown Court of causing death by dangerous driving and failing to surrender bail and was described as a “callous and manipulative woman who thought she was above the law.”
In a statement to Marlborough News Online, Inspector Steve Cox head of Wiltshire Roads Policing, said: “Paula Barnes has tried to evade justice by fleeing to Holland where she hoped to remain undetected.”
“The fact she was caught, arrested, extradited and has now pleaded guilty to the charge of causing death by dangerous driving is testament to the hard work and dedication of my team.”
“ She was arrested in Holland on November 9, 2012 and we were successful at an extradition hearing which led to her being brought back to the UK today.”
“This afternoon, she appeared at Swindon Crown Court where she pleaded guilty to one count of causing death by dangerous driving and a further charge of failing to surrender.”
“Barnes was originally arrested after being released from hospital on November 4, 2010 following a two vehicle collision in Foxhill, Baydon, on September 23, 2010.”
“During this collision, the driver of the other vehicle involved, Dianne Wright, sadly died from her injuries at the scene. Barnes was then bailed to attend court on April 15, 2011 but failed to show. Nothing was seen or heard from her again.”
He added: “Barnes has proved to be a callous and manipulative woman who thought she was above the law.”
“This has been a very long and complex operation which has been led by officers in the Serious Collision Investigation Team at Wiltshire Police.”
“We hope that today, Dianne’s family can somehow feel that justice has been finally served and at last begin to put this ordeal behind them.”
Barnes has been remanded in custody and is due to appear at Swindon Crown Court on January 18, 2013 for a pre-sentence report to be prepared.
Jessica Mary York accepting trophy from Brewin Dolphin's Stephen DeplaJessica Mary York, the singer-songwriter voted Best Newcomer by visitors to this year's Marlborough Jazz Festival, has been presented with her award by the festival’s major sponsors Brewin Dolphin.
Jessica, now 21, who began playing the piano when she was only four, was an outstanding hit at the summer festival, one of the most successful ever.
Turning her back on studying for an English and film degree at Exeter University, she decided to pursue her musical dreams and last year enrolled on a year-long music course at Brighton.
Since then she and her band have been gigging extensively, wowing audiences with their infectious jazzy-pop sound.
"It's such a great pleasure to give this award to Jessica, not least because coming from West Lavington she's a local lass,” said Brewin Dolphin’s Stephen Depla at the presentation ceremony last week.
“Jessica is an amazing talent and we've no doubt that she'll go a long way."
Jessica said: “Receiving this award is an immense honour for me. The standard of the festival is so high and to be recognised in this way is truly humbling."
“I must say thank you to my band who are phenomenal musicians and thank you so much to everyone who took the time to vote."
“Thank you to Brewin Dolphin, Nick Fogg and all others involved to put on such a magical weekend of world class music, year after year. I'm proud to be a part of it.”
Jessica received her trophy at a special event hosted by Brewin Dolphin at Bath's award winning design-led department store, Rossiters.
Rev Canon Andrew Studdart-KennedyMarlborough’s rector, the Rev Canon Andrew Studdert-Kennedy, has welcomed the appointment of Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham, as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, who has heavily criticised the activities of the UK’s bankers.
“it is excellent to see a Bishop as a member of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards who is there on account of his experience and understanding of the commercial world,” he told Marlborough News Online. “Apparently his contributions have been outstanding. I like the observation that: 'The new Archbishop of Canterbury has the intellect of a financier, the acumen of a politician, the faith of an evangelical and the courage of an African peace negotiator'.”
“You can't ask for more than that!”
The rector, who spent his sabbatical earlier this year taking part in a church project talking to City bankers, added: “I have heard nothing but praise and welcome.”
“The fact that he has been a bishop for less than a year should not matter because there are plenty of others around from whom he can take advice, whilst it can be an advantage to be fresher to the institution.”
“There is quite a widespread recognition that the role and responsibilities of the Archbishop of Canterbury need to be reviewed, in order that the job become more manageable.”
Archbishop Welby is a supporter of women being allowed to become bishops in the Church of England but against gay marriage in church, which another clergyman has accused Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne of supporting for purely electoral reasons.
The Archbishop’s support for women bishops, to be tested today (Tuesday) at the church’s General Synod meeting, is also supported by the Rt Rev Nick Holtam, who was appointed Bishop of Salisbury last summer.
In a statement signed by six senior clergy, Bishop Holtam says: “We believe wholeheartedly that this is the right thing to do, and that the time is now right to do it. There are many reasons for this belief, and we highlight just some of them.”
“First, because the Bible teaches that ‘in Christ there is no male or female; but all people are equal before God. Just as the churches have repented of our historic anti-Semitism and endorsement of slavery, so we believe that we must now show clearly that we not longer believe women to be inferior to me'.”
“Secondly, Jesus treated women radically equally. He encouraged then as disciples, and chose women as the first witness of His resurrection, at a time when women’s testimony was inadmissible in law.”
“Thirdly, we have promised as clergy to ‘proclaim the faith afresh in every generation’. We fear that failing to take this step would do the opposite, proclaiming instead that the church is more interested in the past than the future.”
“The legislation to be voted represents enormous compromise from all sides. Those who wish to avoid the ministry of women will still be able legally to do so.”
Jon Hewlett and Adam Leakey share a well-earned glass of champagne with Mayor Edwina FoggA Champagne moment.....!
After completing three gruelling marathons in aid of Children in Need in just three days, Jon Hewlett and Adam Leakey arrived wearily at the Town Hall to be greeted by the Mayor Edwina Fogg and a glass of celebratory champagne, and their families, friends and crowd of wellwishers who had been following their progress over the three consecutive days.
The policemen, colleagues from the burglary and robbery unit based at Gablecross police station in Swindon, have already raised nearly £6,000 towards Children in Need, which can be increased by visiting their Just Giving page.
"An amazing achievement" declared Mayor Edwina, "beyond even the imagination of normal mortals and for such an excellent cause".
Waved off by Mayor Edwina Fogg on Day 1 (Wednesday) at 10.30 the running coppers - Jon Hewlett and Adam Leakey of the Burglary Squad in Swindon set out on the first leg to Woolhampton. They made the best of the good weather and reached the first day's finish line by mid-afternoon.
Day 2 was from Woolhampton to Slough. Conditions on Thursday were perfect for marathon running - no wind, no rain, overcast but not too cold, and after setting out from Woolhampton they were able to take full advantage of the good weather. They made good time reaching Slough in late afternoon, tired, but in good shape and ready for the home leg back from Woolhampton to Marlborough.
Day 3 (Friday) - a very grey, misty and damp start from Woolhampton (see pic). Much colder and wetter than the previous two days, they made it back to Marlborough to arrive at the Town Hall steps just before 4.30 to a rapturous welcome and champagne reception with Mayor Edwina.
See 'Triple marathon running cops to do final leg backwards'
and 'Policemen raise much-needed coppers for Pudsey in triple marathon challenge'
Jon and Adam being waved off by Mayor Edwina FoggDay 1 - Jon Hewlett and Adam Leakey with Mayor Edwina Fogg before setting offDay 1 - Jon Hewlett getting ready for the off
Day 1 - Jon and Adam pass Halfway - Halfway just outside Newbury, that is....Day 1 - arrive at WoolhamptonDay 2 - Jon and Adam on the way to Maidenhead
Day 3 - Starting off from a very grey Woolhampton on the final leg back to MarlboroughThe end in sight..... Jon and Adam approach the Town Hall finish line
Jon and Adam with their support crew, Steve Hicketts (left) and physio Danny Clayton (right)
Drivers have been warned not to drive through floodsDrivers have been warned not to drive through large bodies of standing water, as heavy rain today (Wednesday) left several drivers in the county stranded.
The Environment Agency issued a flood warning for parts of Trowbridge, Melksham, Holt, Malmesbury, Box, Sutton Benger and parts of the north west of the county.
During the worst of the rain, Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service received over 60 calls to flooding throughout the county.
And by 2pm the service had ten fire crews and two special appliances dealing with incidents involving homes, businesses and stranded cars, as well as six officers conducting inspections to prioritise their attendance.
Several roads were badly affected by surface water flooding, and the A361 between Semington and Trowbridge was closed, with a number of cars and drivers stranded.
“Road closures are there for a reason, and drivers are asked to observe them,” warned a fire service spokesperson.
“Our advice to drivers is: don't drive through standing water. As well as the water damaging your car, there may be hazards under the water you can't see.
“If you see a sign to say that the road is closed due to flooding, remember the sign is there for a reason. Don't try to drive through or you might get stuck.”
Ambitious plans were unveiled in June 2011 by MADT's then-chairman, Martin Cook, and IT consultant Geoff BrickellMore pubs and cafes need to throw their weight behind Marlborough's bid to host the first free-to-use community wi-fi project, business leaders have been told.
And to encourage business premises to get involved, Marlborough Area Development Trust – the body behind the scheme – is offering free routers to commercial partners.
The ambitious plans were unveiled in June 2011 by MADT's then-chairman, Martin Cook, and IT consultant Geoff Brickell.
And in August that year MADT, with the support of the Chamber of Commerce, called for traders to purchase a router and pay a subscription towards the upkeep of the service.
But there were no takers, with many outlets pointing out they already offered free wi-fi for customers.
Now, 15 months after the launch, MADT is offering free kit and installation to fill in significant gaps in coverage (see map).
The map showing present coverage demonstrates the significant gap, which organisers need to fillThe drive is being led by Bob Holman, proprietor of The Food Gallery and – so far – the only commercial partner of the scheme, with the Town Hall providing coverage at the other end of town.
He told members of Marlborough Chamber of Commerce: “We need just six businesses along the High Street to say yes to the idea.
“Even if you already offer your own wi-fi you'll be helping Marlborough to be the first High Street in the UK to offer free-to-use community wi-fi to both visitors and residents.
“This will attract more visitors to the town, and to your premises.
“A small router will be plugged in to the existing router of partners. When a visitor or resident selects this as their preferred router, a splash page pops up on their smart phone, tablet or laptop browser.
“And if they click 'access now' they get 20 free minutes of fast internet access.
“An annual pass will also be made available, offering unlimited web browsing for £10 a year. Every commercial partner will receive two free annual passes.”
Joanna MayThe magical relationship between humans and animals, from Disney to David Attenborough, are celebrated in a new exhibition by Wiltshire artist Joanna May.
The Iconic Animals of London Zoo will be opened at The Savoy hotel in London on Saturday (November 24) by TV wildlife presenter Michaela Strachan.
Animals residing at ZSL London Zoo, beloved to the UK public in their lifetimes, became immortalised in some of the nation's – and indeed the world's - favourite stories, such as Jumbo the elephant, who became Disney's Dumbo, and Winnipeg the bear who became A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh.
And Joanna, who had a gallery in Marlborough for eleven years and now lives and works at her gallery home in Keevil, has had exclusive permission from Disney to incorporate the images of Dumbo and Winnie-the-Pooh in this work.
Television personality, Michaela Strachan, presenter of BBC1's 2012 Autumnwatch and 2013 Winterwatch, will be introducing the paintings and talking about ZSL London Zoo's conservation and Tiger SOS campaign.
Joanna herself appeared on Springwatch 2006, sketching hares for her now renowned Zodiac Hare series.
Celebrating David Attenborough's sixty years in wildlife television is the painting Zoo Quest, named after the wildlife presenter's first major BBC TV series.
In the first episode of the 1956 series, Attenborough brought Charlie the Orangutan from Borneo to live at London Zoo to start a breeding programme.
The painting shows the inextricable link between the fame of both David Attenborough and the animals he filmed.
Winnie and Christopeher RobinThe Queen features in two paintings: Majesty the Lion and The Queen and the Penguins. Majesty demonstrates the royal iconography of the lion and also the royal endorsement of London Zoo from Queen Victoria to the present Queen. The backdrop of the Union flag taps into national pride after the Jubilee and Olympics.
The Queen and the Penguins shows a carefree Princess Elizabeth enjoying a visit with the king penguins, her destiny and future duty in the shape of her father, George VI, reflected in the enclosure's water as well as in the name of the animals themselves.
Talking about her inspiration for the project, Joanna said: “I have thought about painting the animals of London Zoo for at least 15 years from when I was a children’s wildlife book illustrator in the 1990’s.
“I was inspired by a story of someone who visited the Zoo when he was a boy. He kept an image in his mind close to his heart of the size of his tiny little hand next to a gorilla’s.
“The gorilla reached out towards him and they touched through the meshing and it stayed with him to this day as a truly magical experience. It made me think about the amazing animals that must have been kept there over the years since Victorian times and how they must have touched the hearts of children and adults alike.”
This ape was Guy the gorilla who arrived at London Zoo on Guy Fawkes Night, 1947, hence the name. He became one of the Zoo's most loved animals.
Joanna's collectable style is inspired both by wild animals and by the bold colours of contemporary interior design. The feature colour in Zoo Quest is the orangutan's distinct fur; the king penguins in The Queen and the Penguins pick up the Queen's favourite colour, vibrant yellow, as well as the art deco style in fashion at the time.
Joanna has a long-standing love of zebras, which have been the subjects of her best selling paintings: “I never get bored of the zebra stripes natural pattern and graphic effect,” she says.
Paintings of pandas Ching Ching and Chia Chia, gifted to the UK from China in 1974, are pink bubblegum cartoon bears grown up.
JumboBut the story of zoo animals are not straight forward. There are shadows of ownership and exploitation for animals in captivity.
This can be seen particularly in Jumbo, history's most famous elephant. A super star of London Zoo from 1865 to 1882, he was sold to Barnum & Bailey American Circus because the Zoo secretly could not afford to continually repair his cage after nightly 'musk' rages.
A huge public campaign to keep him ensued, but to no avail. Thousands of people saw Jumbo off on his voyage to America.
Joanna's painting – Jumbo decorated with union flag, stars and stripes, Disney's Dumbo and circus, jumbo jets and jumbo hotdog iconography - demonstrates the elephant's popularity across two continents but also that, ultimately, this naturally wild animal lived a life as both private and public property.
The Iconic Animals of London Zoo exhibits at The Savoy, London on Saturday 24 November, 11am to 11pm. For more information, visit www.joannamay.com
Sixteen year-old Mai Charissa Tran Ringrose gives the next recital in Marlborough’s new music series – a festival showcasing the next generation of virtuoso concert pianists. Playing at St Peter’s church on Sunday, December 16, she’s just the talented musician to follow the hugely popular Ashley Fripp – expectations are high.
Mai Charissa was born in Ipswich to British and Vietnamese parents – and she’s had an international upbringing. She began learning the piano in France when she was five and when the family moved to Bangkok she carried on with several inspiring teachers including the Lithuanian pianist Artas Balakauskas.
Back in France since 2008, Mai Charissa is, her father says, ‘first and foremost a regular high-schooler at a French lycee’ – the Lycee Saint-Paul in Vannes, Brittany. Her parents marvel at the way she fits in her piano practise and delivers great performances – as well as getting down to a ‘mass of homework’.
She’s got her Baccalauréat Anticipée exams next June – she explains the difference between the International Baccalaureat (IB) students take in Marlborough and the original, French version:
“The French Baccalauréat is in fact completely different from the IB. Unlike the IB or A levels, we can't just choose several subjects to specialise in. We follow one of four different streams: either in the sciences, economics/social studies, literature, or management studies. However which ever stream we choose, we have to take the [first part or] Baccalauréat Anticipée in all subjects, ranging from maths to sports to philosophy!”
Since the Marlborough recital series was announced Mai Charissa has played a concert in Hanoi and four concerts in Brittany. She’s now studying piano at the Vannes Conservatoire under the Armenian-French pianist Jean-Gabriel Ferlan.
One of Mai Charissa’s earliest musical successes was taking first prize in Thailand’s National Jazz Competition for Young Pianists – she was then nine years-old. Marlborough News Online asked her if she still plays jazz: “My current piano professor is rather conservative and is a French and Russian music specialist, so I focus more on classical music as I want to get the most out of him!”
Mai Charissa visiting SingaporeAt her Marlborough recital she will be playing works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Rachmaninov and Fauré – and among those Fauré is her favourite: “I developed a real interest and liking for French late eighteenth and nineteenth century music since we moved back to France and I got to discover more about French music. Fauré was a perfectionist, polishing his music again and again, and his works are very well written and have beautiful melodic lines. The different harmonies he uses may sound a bit strange or odd or hard to appreciate at first to someone who has never listened to Fauré's music, but it doesn't take long until one's ear gets used to the very complex harmonies.”
So the Fauré Nocturne she’ll be playing at St Peter’s will be of special interest to her audience and it’s sure to be a fine and intelligent interpretation. Asked about more modern composers, Mai Charissa comes no nearer to present day composers than Ravel: “My favourite modern composer whose music I have played is Ravel. He is from more or less from the same period as Debussy and Fauré, but Ravel's piano music is more interesting. He uses a wider range of textures and composes more contrasting pieces.”
With all the practise for recitals, her school work and her piano studies, Mai Charissa has still found time for her two other passions: ballet and competitive swimming.
But her days are now much fuller: “Unfortunately, due to the very long school days in France and an increasing amount of homework, I have had to put ballet on hold for the moment. I have been swimming for a long time now and I still swim, and will definitely swim in the future. Even though I have a heavy schedule, swimming has always been very important, for relaxing and for competitions.”
Mai Charissa’s father, Nigel Ringrose, stresses how fortunate she has been in her piano teachers from Brigitte Merer who started her off, through her teachers in Bangkok and “Finally, here in the Morbihan [a department of Britanny], we are so fortunate to have one of France's best pianists, previously attached to the Conservatoire Superieure Nationale in Paris but now resident in Vannes. The contribution each of these teachers has made to Mai Charissa's progress cannot be overestimated.”
Next year will see more hard practising, more concerts, more homework – and her Baccalauréat Anticipée exams: “I don't worry much about exams - as long as I manage my time well, I can prepare well for concerts and the Baccalauréat. However I am a bit worried about the French exam - the standard is quite high as it’s meant for students whose mother tongue is French.”Mai Charissa Tran Ringrose
The Brilliant Young Pianists series has been organised by Nick Maurice and David Du Croz with Charles Owen – the international concert pianist who has often given recitals in Marlborough and has taught most of these young players. Funds raised will go to the Marlborough Brandt Group’s work in The Gambia and to St Peter’s Trust.
Mai Charissa’s programme and information about tickets can be found at our What’s On calendar – for 16 December 2012.
The series concerts in 2013 will be: January 27 – John Paul Ekins; February 17 – Mishka Rushdie Momen; April 14 – James Kreiling; June 30 – young Suzuki piano students from London. Details of known programmes for these recitals can be found in our What’s On calendar for the appropriate dates. [NOTE: since the series leaflet was published James Kreiling and John Paul Ekins have had to exchange recital dates – they will now appear as above.]
Angus Macpherson - Conservative, the UK's first directly elected Police and Crime CommissionerWiltshire was today the first county in the country to declare the results of the election for a police and crime commissioner – Tory candidate Angus Macpherson being elected on a pathetic turnout of 15.8 per cent with three per cent spoiled votes.
This was after second preference votes were counted among the 81,477 people who voted out of a total electorate of 520,000.
Across the country there were deserted polling stations, the result, voters complained, of a lack of information about the first election of police commissioners, a government policy criticised for politicising the police. By just before the closing time of 10pm at one Polling Station, the Kennet Valley Hall in Lockeridge only 62 people had turned out to cast their vote out of an electorate of well over 800.
"People have e-mailed and contacted us saying that they didn't know enough about the candidates in order to be able to make a choice, and obviously that's something I have no control over," said Wiltshire returning officer Stephen Taylor.
"It would be good to have some analysis afterwards and see whether there are any lessons to be learned."
Mr Macpherson, the only candidate who sent out an election address, pointed out: "There are several reasons why people didn't come out to vote.
“They didn't understand what the job is, they didn't know who the candidates were and they couldn't make a judgement.”
Mr Macpherson took first place with 35, 319 votes (62.5 per cent) with Labour’s Clare Moody second with 21,157 votes (37.5 per cent) and Independent Colin Skelton third with 11,446 votes (14.5 per cent).
Mr Macpherson, who will receive a salary of £70,000, now has but 10 weeks to create a new county police budget with Wiltshire’s Chief Constable Pat Geenty.
Mr Macpherson, a 59-year-old former councillor with a small accountancy business in Wroughton, where he lives, pointed to Wiltshire police’s motto – primus et optimus -- the first and the best.
As the county’s first police and crime commissioner his aim is to doing everything possible “to make myself the best for the people of Wiltshire.”
He added: “I’m really proud to get this job. I’m really excited, it think it’s going to be a great thing for the people of Wiltshire.”
In particular he wants to launch a recruitment drive to boost the number of special constables in the county from 200 to more than 350.
Another project is to commission Wiltshire’s drug and alcohol services together, rather than in isolation, which will provide better value for money and tackle substance abuse more holistically.
And having been a magistrate in Swindon for 20 years, he plans to increase the use of restorative justice, enabling offenders who have been sent to prison agreeing to meet their victims face-to-face and offenders physically repairing any damage they have caused in return for no prosecution.
He believes people voted for him because they identified him as the candidate with the best skills, his key role now to explain to the public the significance of the post.
"It would have been better if more people had voted,” he added. "There are several reasons why people didn't come out to vote -- they didn't understand what the job is.”
“They didn't know who the candidates were and couldn't make a judgment. And then, depressingly, there were a lot of people while we were out on the street saying 'I don't (vote) for anything'.”
"Of all those that voted, more liked my skill-set than the others'. I think it is not so much a mandate, it is a large job interview. It is incumbent on all the commissioners, as we take office, to develop this job and let people know what it is”.
"I believe that I can make a real difference, using my skills and knowledge. I will provide strong leadership, but will not interfere with the day-to-day running of the police.”
“I have seven years' experience in monitoring police performance and a passion for building stronger, inclusive communities. I understand how the police work and 20 years as a magistrate give me a working knowledge of the criminal justice system and the needs of victims.”
In a statement to Marlborough News Online, Mr Geenty said:
“I wish to congratulate Angus Macpherson as the first Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon.
“Wiltshire police is an excellent force with dedicated and hard-working officers and staff and a good history of performance showing a reduction in overall crime over the last five years.
“The aim for Wiltshire police remains one of reducing crime and anti social behaviour and keeping it one of the safest counties in the country. I look forward to working alongside Angus Macpherson, when he takes up office on Thursday 22 November, to shape a programme of work to help enable him to deliver his manifesto and priorities, as we continue to protect the public.”
Even Marlborough's Wiltshire councillors refused to vote
Both Peggy Dow and Nick Fogg, Marlborough’s two Wiltshire councillors, refused to vote in the crime commissioner ballot and were not shocked to hear of the low turnout.
“The 15.8 per cent poll was point eight per cent more than I expected,” declared Councillor Fogg, who, like Mrs Dow, is also a town councillor and both are former mayors of Marlborough.
“When I passed the polling station at the town hall I couldn’t see a single person going in to vote.”
Councillor Dow told Marlborough News Online: “I did not vote. How could I? People didn’t agree with what it was all about.”
“How can we, as ordinary people, vote for a police commissioner? It’s like putting managers into the NHS and getting shot of nurses.”
“And if so many thousands failed to vote, then it means that a hell of a lot of people feel the same as me.”
Councillor Fogg, who said he did not receive a single piece of information from any of the police commissioner candidates, added: “I find this attempt to politicise our police disturbing.”
“That policy was not for me. I simply didn’t like the idea. And so I didn’t vote.”
Andy DaviesAndy Davies, the ebullient manager of Marlborough’s Waitrose supermarket, who has returned to the store after six months working on a special company project in London, is playing Santa Claus to the town this Christmas.
He has revealed that Waitrose as a business is to divert the money normally spent on its Christmas advertising to increase the funding instead of local charities in November and December.
“This will allow Marlborough to split £3,000 per month in November and and again December between three charities a month instead of the usual £1,000 a month,” he told Marlborough News Online. “I hope you agree a great story for our community.”
“The local charities Waitrose are supporting in November are all food related -- the OAPs Christmas lunch and food banks. We also have Clare Perry MP in at the store on December 1 when we run a food bank session asking customers to buy an extra tin and give it to the food bank team.”
“Next month we are supporting a homeless charity and a children's charity.”
But there is a downside, which he describes as “my challenge”, he has told Marlborough Chamber of Commerce. “We had agreed to collect for the High Street Christmas lights display as we have done for every year for at least the past 10,” he says. “We agreed to support this before the new Waitrose business wide marketing strategy was released.”
“I feel uncomfortable we are putting the lights up against these charities and have decided this year not to support the Marlborough lights.”
“I would like to look for another charity where the money will make a real difference to those who are most at need at Christmas, fulfilling our business wide marketing strategy.”
To this end, he has asked the Chamber of Commerce to recommend a local charity that will have “a big impact on making those disadvantaged at Christmas feel a bit better.”
Bishop Nick Holtham
The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev Nick Holtam, has expressed his regret following the decision of the General Synod to vote against going ahead with the ordination of women as bishops.
And the Rector of Marlborough, the Rev Canon Andrew Studdert-Kennedy, has described it as a “terrible” result.
He told Marlborough News Online: “Along with many, many others I think it is a terrible outcome. The decision makes the church look prejudiced against women and completely out of touch.”
“I share the Bishop of Salisbury's anxiety about the way that the Synod's decision is not representative of the views of the wider church. Don't forget that the principle of women bishops has been accepted, so it is baffling that it cannot be implemented.”
“Of course the issue will not go away and so we have the prospect of yet more time and yet more energy being expended on the subject.”
”In the meantime, whilst the national church is attracting such unwelcome bad publicity, at the local level parishes continue to serve their local communities as faithfully and imaginatively as they are able.”
Bishop Holtam, who spoke in the debate last night (Tuesday), was one of the speakers in the debate, which failed to meet its two-third majority by just six votes.
"Although the proposal gained the necessary two-thirds majority among bishops and clergy, it was lost in the House of Laity,” he pointed out as some women priests were reduced to tears by the decision.
"This prevents for now what the Church of England has said in 42 of its 44 Diocesan Synods with 75 per cent in favour. We should now expect a good deal of prayer and thought to try to find what God is saying to us today.”
“There will also be a searching analysis of the unrepresentative decision of General Synod."
Marlborough’s rector added: “I don't think that women priests will quit the church as a result of this.”
“I think this set back may well make them more determined to stay and serve the church which they care for even though it appears to treat them so badly.”
“I have enormous sympathy for those women who have been campaigning for this and working on it for so long. They will have to continue doing so when I am sure they would much rather be getting on with other things in their ministry.”
The Rev Sue Armitage, the retired priest who preached at St Mary’s, Marlborough, on Remembrance Sunday, said she endorsed the comments made by the Bishop of Salisbury.
And she added: “Personally, I was very surprised at the outcome of the vote and extremely disappointed. It will be of great sadness to many both in and out of the church and to the ministry of women within the church and the many whose gifts and skills would make them great bishops and enhance the leadership roles in the church.”
Councillor Richard PittsTwo national newspapers have confirmed that Caffe Nero paid no corporation tax whatsoever last year on profits of £39.9 million made on its country-wide coffee chain’s total sales of £185.2 million.
Now fighting a planning appeal to decide whether its Marlborough High Street outlet should be closed, the company has joined Starbucks, Amazon and other major businesses criticised for avoiding, albeit legally, tax demands.
Marlborough town councillor Richard Pitts described the situation as “shocking” and ought to cause public outrage with customers now boycotting the café, which opened in April without planning consent.
Caffe Nero’s American-born chairman and chief executive, Gerry Ford, who owns 60 per cent of the company, Rome Pik Holdco, has defended the business’s tax affairs.
Denying that the chain 480-strong coffee chain does not pay any tax, he told the Daily Telegraph: “We always pay our taxes. In the last few years our operational profits have been wiped out by paying UK banks interest.”
“They, in turn, pay taxes on our money that they get.”
The international company, which also has outlets in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Poland, is subject to payroll taxes paid on nearly 4,000 members of staff, as well as business rates on its UK premises.
The Sunday Times reports that Caffe Nero is the latest company to be caught side-stepping tax by using legal accounting manoeuvres by siphoning its profits to subsidiaries based in Luxembourg and on the Isle of Man, where the standard rate of “corporate income tax” is nought per cent.
“According to its accounts, its main British subsidiary, Rome Pik Holdco, owed £220 million to a sister company in Luxembourg in May last year. The repayments sent overseas can be legally used to reduce its corporation tax bill in Britain.”
Caffe Nero declined to comment when the newspaper made contact with the firm.
The possibility that Caffe Nero was among those companies who made themselves legally exempt from corporation tax was made by Councillor Pitts when he appeared on BBC radio Wiltshire last week.
He reported on the local opposition to Caffe Nero’s arrogant behaviour in ignoring planning rules when opening in a former fashion store Marlborough and only seeking change of use planning consent in retrospect.
This was refused by Wiltshire Council’s eastern area planning committee in July and the council’s enforcement notice for the café to be closed is now to be challenged at a public inquiry at Marlborough town hall on January 15.
Councillor Pitts told Marlborough News Online: “This can only add to the public outrage of major companies failing to pay their fair share of taxation in the UK and thus putting a greater burden on ordinary people to keep the country going.”
“We need a campaign now to expose Caffe Nero’s hypocrisy to local residents and make them realise that it is not the kind of company they should support if it is siphoning off its profits to the Isle of Man and Luxembourg in order to reduce its corporation tax commitments.”
“That will hopefully drastically reduce the number of people using Caffe Nero and that should totally undermine its false claim that it is adding to the vitality and viability of Marlborough.”
“That is the main plank of its appeal against Wiltshire’s refusal to grant the company retrospective planning consent when it so arrogantly opened its doors without bothering to telling any of the authorities involved.”
He pointed out that choice was a vital element in the whole question of shopping centres, but it was not a level playing field if they were dominated by three chains, Caffe Nero, Starbucks and Costa Coffee, to the detriment of independent cafes, pubs and restaurants.
It was important to note that Costa was the only one of the trio who did pay corporation tax and was not “outside of society” and, Councillor Pitts added:
“Currently this is a shocking situation that provides further evidence that we must resists Caffe Nero’s so called charms.”
Paul Shimell, president of Marlborough Chamber of Commerce, protested: “This is like throwing sand into local traders faces. First Caffe Nero ignore the planning rules that all others have to comply with, now we find that whilst we all have to pay our tax on these tough trading times Nero do not.”
“The question has to be asked, What is going on with this company? Surely we cannot continue with them in our town.”
The complex corporate structure of Caffe Nero is as follows:
- Saratoga Limited (ultimate holding company), Isle of Man
- owns Rome Holdco Sarl, Luxembourg
- owns Rome Intermediate Holdings Sarl, Luxembourg
- owns Rome Topco Limited
- owns Rome PIK Holdco Limited
- owns Rome Pikco Limited
- owns Rome Bidco Limited
- owns Caffe Nero Group Limited
- owns Nero Holdings Limited (applicant for planning consent)
According to “UK Unquote” the net effect of this structure is that Saratoga owns 60 per cent of Caffe Nero. Saratoga is described as Dr Gerry Ford’s investment vehicle.
Thirty per cent of Caffe Nero is owned by Paladin Partners, a private equity firm co-founded by Dr Ford.
Other investments held by Rome Topco Unlimited (the highest level for which accounts are available at Companies House) at 31 May 2011 were:
- Aroma Limited
- Caffe Nero Ventures Limited
- Caffe Nero Investments Limited
- Nero Coffee Roasting Limited
The group has a 50 per cent interest in Caffe Nero Gida Urunlen AS (‘Caffe Nero Turkey’)
The group also has franchises operating in the Gulf States.
Councillor Peggy DowPeggy Dow has revealed the “terrible personal turmoil” she has experienced in deciding to quit the Lib-Dem Party and join the independent groups on both Wiltshire Council and Marlborough town council.
The 64-year-old former Marlborough mayor has made the break as her party, which she joined more than 14 years ago, suffered humiliation in yesterday’s three national by-elections and also the first elections for new police crime commissioners.
Councillor Dow had originally planned to announce her decision after Christmas. “But I was pushed by the party to make a decision now,” she told Marlborough News Online. “And the more they pushed I realised I can’t do this.”
“I was in a terrible personal turmoil and decided in the end that I have to go with my conscience no matter how much it hurt.”
“I feel I can do a better job for the people of Marlborough by joining the independent group on Wiltshire Council and the independents in Marlborough than continuing to be a Liberal Democrat.”
She added that she did not oppose the Lib-Dems being part of the current coalition government. Her resignation was down to the fact that the party under Nick Clegg had failed to maintain its policies over the future of the NHS, tuition fees and its agreement to cuts in armed forces personnel.
“The party has not stood up for any of the principles that decided me to join the Lib-Dems,” she added. “They have let us all down.”
And her dramatic move has coincided with another political breakaway, long-serving Tory councillor Chris Humphries, who represents Aldbourne and Ramsbury, quitting his party to join the independents on Wiltshire Council.
His decision comes in the wake of his three-month suspension following an investigation into controversial comments he is alleged to have made to one of Wiltshire Council’s female officers.
A respected local councillor for almost 40 years at various local levels, Councillor Humphries has along with Councillor Dow now joined the Wiltshire Council independent group led by Councillor Chris Newbury, who personally invited him to cross the floor.
“I hope people understand why,” said a statement issued by Councillor Humphries. “It will not affect my dedication to represent all the inhabitants of the Aldbourne and Ramsbury division as I have done for the past 20 years.”
He has been suspended by council’s ruling Tory group as a result of a Standards Committee decision to uphold 21 allegations of improper comments made to Marlborough Area Board manager Julie Densham.
He has announced that he will contest the decision in the courts.
Meanwhile, Councillor Dow has decided to stand again as an independent in Marlborough East – she has represented the ward for 12 years – at next May’s town council elections.
But she has yet to decide whether she wants to continue after five years as a Wiltshire councillor representing Marlborough – those elections are on the same day.
“It is a lot of hard work,” she pointed out. “I have a lot of thinking to do before making an announcement.”
Dambisa MoyoShe’s been described by Time Magazine as one of the hundred most influential women in the world, and is perhaps best known as the author of Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way For Africa (2009).
Dambisa Moyo’s book is a very strong critique of Western aid policy and the damage it has done to Africa.
She has also published How the West Was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly – And the Stark Choices that Lie Ahead (2011) and Winner Take All: China's Race for Resources and What It Means for the World (June 2012).
Dambisa Moyo was born in 1969 and brought up in Lusaka, Zambia. She studied at Harvard and the American University in Washington – gaining degrees in public administration, finance and chemistry. And she has a doctorate in economics from St Antony’s College, Oxford.
She has worked for the World Bank and for Goldman Sachs. On March 14, 2011, Commonwealth Day, Moyo spoke in Westminster Abbey on “Women as Agents of Change”. Among the two thousand strong audience were the Queen and the Prime Minister.
That same month the American website The Daily Beast selected Moyo as one of the “150 Extraordinary Women who Shake the World” – along with Hilary Clinton and Madeleine Albright.
She has addressed the OECD, the World Bank and the IMF.
The 31st Marlborough Brandt Lecture will be held in the Memorial Hall, Marlborough College at 8.00 pm on Tuesday 5th March 2013. The lectures have all concerned issues surrounding international aid, development, international politics and huminitarian policies.