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Campaign revived for safer A4 west of the College and more cycle-ways


Accusations of people driving at excessive speed - sometimes with the result shown above - and evidence of poor safety provision for pedestrians along the Bath Road/A4 west of the College, were discussed by the Town Council's Planning Committee of Monday (January 15).  

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Nursery Administrator - Little Saints Nursery, St Francis School


  Nursery Administrator   Part Time (15hrs per week), Annual (52 week) contractRequired February 2018   Little Saints Nursery, at St Francis School, is currently recruiting a Nursery Administrator to join our caring, passionate and professional team.  The successful candidate will work with the Nursery Manager, taking responsibility for the financial and administration aspects of...

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Hockey: Marlborough men's first team back on form - a clean sheet & eight goals

16-01-2018 Matt Way

Marlborough started the second half of the season - with their home game against Bristol UWE (January 13) - knowing they needed to get back into the rhythm that saw them win their six opening games.   And reassuringly that was exactly what happened. 

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Town Council's plea to Wiltshire Council as decision on sale of Rabley Wood View open space nears


The controversy over the sale for a housing development of the well-used and safe open space and amenity land off Rabley Wood View, is about to move to County Hall, Trowbridge.  The deadline is approaching for the final decision by Wiltshire Council's cabinet on their plan to sell the land.

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George Lane and London Road to be re-surfaced in April


Now for some welcome news:  Members of Marlborough Town Council's Planning Committee were told on Monday (January 14) that Wiltshire Council is to re-surface George Lane and London Road in April - the first month of the new financial year.

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Popular Friendship and Mobility Group receives grant from Friends of Savernake

16-01-2018 Sue Round

Great Bedwyn Friendship and Mobility Group has received a £1,000 grant from the Friends of Savernake Hospital and the Community, which will make a substantial contribution towards operating costs. 

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Nursery Assistant (maternity cover) - Lower Nursery (2-3 year olds) - Stepping Stones Nursery


Nursery Assistant (maternity cover) - Lower Nursery (2-3 year olds)   Stepping Stones Nursery (Froxfield) is a private day nursery based in a beautiful rural location between Hungerford and Marlborough.  We are currently seeking a Nursery Assistant (maternity cover) for our Lower Nursery (2-3 year olds).  Candidates should ideally have a minimum level...

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General Assistant: Catering - Marlborough College


General Assistant - Catering   We are looking for a reliable and enthusiastic person to join the catering team at Cotton Boarding House.   Applicants will be required to assist the House Chef with the service of food and all aspects of the kitchen operation, including the cleaning duties to ensure a high...

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Great Western Hospital's supplier of meals and services - Carillion - has gone into liquidation


The construction and services company Carillion has gone into compulsory liquidation - leaving thousands of jobs at risks and vital srvices to be maintained. 

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Tottenham House could become a family residence again - with £3million annual upkeep costs


A planning application lodged with Wiltshire Council at the end of last month, reveals how the owners want to restore Tottenham House and its Estate and turn it into a very, very up-market and very large residence for a single family - and their entourage.  The House has 240 rooms.

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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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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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Government awards academy status at last to Marlborough’s acclaimed St John’s school

St John’s School, Marlborough, has finally been granted academy status by the government , a move that will give it significant independence and a boost in the school’s annual budget of £8 million.

Headmaster Dr Patrick Hazlewood has told parents: “This represents a very important step for the school and secures a considerable higher level of funding that will directly benefit our students.”

Education Secretary Michael Gove has announced that St John’s will operate on this basis as from September 1 this year – and the internationally acclaimed school already it has changed the school’s logo to announce the fact.

The decision comes some 20 months after a school deputation headed by Dr Hazlewood met Lord Hill, the then Parliamentary Under Secretary for Education, in London, together with the school’s governors, who include local Tory MP Claire Perry.

It was then reported that academy status will give the school extra government funding of about £450,000 and allow St John’s to return to being an independent state school able to control its own curriculum for its 11—18 year old students.

A statement on the school’s website recalls that between 1993 and 1998 St John’s was a grant maintained school and during these years was directly funded by central government, making it independent of local authority control.

Since 1998 the school has had foundation school status, which gave it independence in most respects other than funding.

And it adds: “The academy status will allow St John’s to return to an independent state school status and will bring significant benefits.  A letter from Dr Hazlewood has gone to parents to explain the new status.”

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Excellent finish to a tough season for Marlborough Cricket Club

Marlborough ended their season with a comfortable victory over Marshfield, a victory which means the Savernake Forest side finish 5th in the final league standings.  

Winning the toss and batting first in the game kindly sponsored by OJB Plumbing Services Marlborough got off to a bright start with openers Nick Crabbe 25 and Tom Norris 38 sharing an opening stand of 62.

Youngster James Richardson (61) and John Carroll (29) built on this solid start as Marlborough reached 204-6 off their 50 overs.

In reply Marshfeild crumbled to just 102 all out with Marlborough star all rounder Ben Head taking 4-14 with the ball. 

Marlborough skipper Nick Crabbe was delighted with the win and pleased with his sides end of season form" it was a great way to finish the season, it was a solid batting performance and it was great to see James Richardson score 61.  Ben bowled superbly again and it's been a good effort to win the last 4 games and finish 5th"

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Never mind Andrew Lansley’s demotion, Wiltshire’s GP commissioners are taking over

However humiliating the Cabinet reshuffle was for Andrew Lansley, the coalition government’s major re-configuration of the NHS is moving forward in Wiltshire.  October 1 will be an important day for the GP’s of Wiltshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG):  in all but name, they will be taking over commissioning responsibilities from the Primary Care Trust (PCT) which will be abolished at the end of March 2013.Deborah FieldingDeborah Fielding

As Deborah Fielding, the CCG’s Accountable Officer or chief executive, told Marlborough News Online, the GPs are ready for the challenge. But as yet it’s not all cut and dried.

When they get “operational responsibility” for commissioning Wiltshire health care, they will still have the guidance of the PCT – like those dual-control cars the driving schools used to have with the second ‘driver’ only using his controls in emergencies. And although the PCT will retain “statutory responsibility” until the end of March 2013, the new and mammoth quango, the NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB) will be taking over from some  PCT’s officers.

This, in turn, is so that senior people in the PCTs can themselves be freed to join the NHSCB and its local offices. Complicated? Riding roughshod over people’s careers?  Perhaps that’s partly why the Prime Minister has moved Mr Lansley from the Department of Health. His timetable for the changes has come a bit unstuck.

Deborah Fielding: “Some things are out of sync producing some difficulties for us.  But I feel comfortable with the progress in Wiltshire. We are being well supported by the PCT.”  She has worked at senior levels in the NHS, knows a great deal about neighbourhood health services and is especially experienced at integrating teams and organisations.

The timing is tight. The CCG will not be “authorised” until January and has to submit its application on November 1.  This will include its three-year plan which is at present in draft form. The plan will take into account the broader perspectives from the shadow Health and Wellbeing Board run by Wiltshire Council, and the views of a wide range of “stakeholders” – including those involved at every health care level in the NHS and the voluntary sectors.

The GPs’ main aim is to ‘Bring care closer to home in Wiltshire’.  They want to see more specialist services in the neighbourhood teams and to strengthen community services and help people manage and improve their own health.  They have already launched some pilots to put these ambitions into effect.

The GPs’ ambition is to keep people out of hospital.  As Deborah puts it, “If there are hospital beds free, you can guarantee they’ll be filled.” Will this hurt the finances of Great Western Hospital?  It need not as they run the county’s community health services which will be prioritised and get new investment under the CCG’s policies.

Above all they want to be fleet of foot in making changes to commissioning and to the pathways through treatments that patients are sent on.  Going through all the consultations and governance rules, it can take a year to change commissioning priorities: “They want”, says Deborah Fielding, “to be able to change services quite quickly and make them better for their patients.”

And how are the GPs organising themselves? At the CCG Board level it “is very much a similar governance arrangement as the PCT – but with members taking shared responsibility.”  They will have the same committee structure as the PCT: Finance, Quality and Clinical Governance, Remuneration and Audit and Assurance. The clinicians on the CCG board will have a nine-to-four majority over the non-clinicians.

Southgate House, DevizesSouthgate House, DevizesThe CCG will be based in the PCT’s headquarters – Southgate House in Devizes – but their team of about seventy people won’t fill it.  For some of its back-office services the CCG will use one of the Clinical Support Services that are being formed around England.  But that’s still being negotiated. The CCG will receive from the government about £11,380,000 for its administration and salaries.

Some CCGs are saying they won’t manage on the notional £25 per head of their populations they get for administration costs.  Deborah Fielding judges that “We won’t have much to spare.” This means that they will be more costly to run than the PCT and will not have such a wide area of commissioning – their total budget will be about £150million less than the PCT’s.

Below board level the CCG looks very unlike the PCT indeed.  When the government first published its ideas for changing the NHS, GPs in Wiltshire wanted to have three CCGs for the county. They were told this would not be sustainable and so had to merge into one CCG. But they are determined to continue with much more local arrangements.

Wiltshire CCG has the seventeenth largest population of all the 212 CCGs in England. The GPs have decided to divide the CCG into three “localities” each with its own board, GP chairman and its own director. Some “localities” will split even further into “more local groups”.

Our area will be covered by NEW (for North and East Wiltshire) chaired by Corsham GP, Dr Simon Burrell. This is putting a new layer into the system and it’s not yet fully finalised.

It remains to be seen whether the governance for these localities and their relationship with the main board will be robust enough to gain the necessary “authorisation” by April 2013. Deborah Fielding says that these localities will be subject to Freedom of Information requests, but it is not clear whether they will hold open, public meetings.

Deborah Fielding still has no news on the future ownership of Savernake Hospital – now owned and its PFI charges paid for by the PCT.  And the minor injuries unit?  “I don’t see a minor injuries unit back there any time soon.” But with more emphasis on local and community care, there will undoubtedly be opportunities to keep Savernake Hospital very busy.

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Brit award winner plays Sound Knowledge gig

Ethan JohnsEthan JohnsWith a reputation for showcasing up-and-coming bands, Marlborough record shop Sound Knowledge will be playing host to a far more established artist in November.

Ethan Johns is a Brit Award-winning record producer, engineer, mixer, musician, and songwriter who has worked with such artists such as Ryan Adams, Kings of Leon, Ray LaMontagne,The Vaccines, Laura Marling, Tom Jones and Crosby, Stills & Nash to name but a few.

Having worked alongside some of the biggest names in music, Ethan has been drawing inspiration and decided to put out an album in his own right.

Twenty years in the making and produced by his legendary producer father Glyn Johns – who has worked with Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan – the album is keenly anticipated in the music business.

Ethan will be performing songs live in Azuza and signing copies of his album in Sound Knowledge on Friday, November 16 from 6.30pm.

Lucy RoseLucy RoseMeanwhile, Lucy Rose – a regular guest vocalist with Bombay Bicycle Club – will be playing a live show and signing copies of her new album, Like I Used To, on Friday, September 28 from 6.30pm.

Vogue magazine has described Rose as “One of indie music’s breakout stars for 2012”.

Attendance to both gigs is free by registering on the Sound Knowledge Facebook Page

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Town councillor issues public apology for delay in creating memorial seat to wartime hero

Jim SherrittJim SherrittThe chairman of one of Marlborough town council’s main committees has apologised unreservedly over the four month delay in the council providing permission for a memorial bench to go up on The Green in tribute to the late Jim Sherritt. 

Donations totally £526 have been made to an appeal launched by two of his close friends, Chris Sparkes and Lisa Bartlett, who wanted a permanent tribute to one of Marlborough’s wartime heroes.  

They expressed their considerable dismay at Monday’s meeting of the council’s Amenities and Open Spaces Committee over the council’s lack of action since they had first sought its support in April. 

Now Councillor Richard Pitts, the committee’s chairman, has accepted their criticism, promising that Remembrance Day on November 11 is now the targeted date for the bench to be in place.

And at the same time refurbish the damaged wrought iron seats that already exist on The Green.

“I apologize unreservedly over the way this has been handled by the town council,” said Councillor Pitts. “I do not expect it to take it as long as it did from the committee deciding to ask you about the current iron benches.”

Councillor Richard Pitts, chairman of the Amenities and Open Spaces Committee Councillor Richard Pitts, chairman of the Amenities and Open Spaces Committee “I am deeply sorry for the justifiable upset caused and will ensure that the final decision on location and style will be completed with all possible speed.”

“I do not see why this can’t be done in a very small space of time, in place to enjoy some autumn sunshine and perhaps with a formal dedication during the  Remembrance Sunday.”

And he added: “I stood for council to serve and provide leadership to make a difference for the improvement of the community and its environs.  That starts with accommodating the wishes of a group people where possible, exactly as you have requested.”

“With that in mind I see there is no better way to do this in remembering someone such as Mr Sherritt who fought to keep the British way of life safe and later to become a respected member of our community.”

Mr Sparkes had emailed the town council last week providing details of Mr Sherritt’s career and the fact that collection boxes at six points in the community, including Marlborough Conservative Club, home of the local branch of the British Legion, plus four public houses had raised £526 to pay for a memorial bench, any sum left over being given to Marlborough British Legion.

Mr Sherritt, born in Enniskillen in 1923, served in the Royal Irish Horse Regiment.  Shortly after the start of the World War II he became a tank driver and saw action in North Africa and Italy, where he also worked with the War Graves Commission before returning home to Marlborough.

His earlier career was in the construction industry before retirement at 65.  He then spent 18 years in the armoury at Marlborough College.  He died in February, aged 88.

Mr Sparkes later praised Councillor Pitts for his public apology over the delay and told Marlborough News Online: “We feel it is a magnanimous gesture on his part.”

“But it should not have been necessary if members of the council had fully appreciated how well Jim was liked and respected in Marlborough -- and done what we felt was in the best interests of the community at an earlier stage.”

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Marlborough College music scholars to perform at Wiltshire Music Centre

Friday, September 28 will be a big night for Marlborough College’s music scholars - they’re giving a special concert at the Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford on Avon. It promises to be a taxing programme of music from the ancient to the very modern – and they’ll only have been back at College for just over three weeks.

The concert will precede the scholars’ annual charity concert at the Royal Overseas League in London which raises money for the charity Future Talent which finds, funds and monitors gifted young musicians whose financial circumstances prevent them fulfilling their potential.

Similarly, all proceeds from the College scholars’ Bradford on Avon concert will go to Wiltshire Music Centre’s work with young musicians.  The concert will be introduced and compered by the College’s Artistic Director, Philip Dukes.Philip DukesPhilip Dukes

Marlborough College has about forty music scholars and a significant number of them go on to read music or become choral scholars at university – and some go on to study at the conservatoires. Philip Dukes told Marlborough News Online that giving such a high profile concert so early in the school year is difficult: “It’s dangerous, but it sets the bar high and gets the students going.”

Philip Dukes conducts Marlborough College Symphony OrchestraPhilip Dukes conducts Marlborough College Symphony OrchestraThe scholars have the advantage of some thirty visiting music teachers – many from the country’s leading orchestras. And, unique to the College, they have an annual visit from the Southbank Sinfonia of London who give a series of concerts and one-to-one lessons – culminating in a side-by-side orchestral gala with the Marlborough College Symphony Orchestra.

Their concert at the Wiltshire Music Centre is a great opportunity to see some exciting young musical talent in action. The programme includes a brass quintet playing an arrangement of music by the seventeenth century English composer Giles Farnaby; the College’s saxophone quartet play Andante et Scherzo by the French composer Eugène Bozza; and there’s a clarinet quintet by Mozart.

Seventeen year-old virtuoso double bassist and principal double bass of the National Youth Orchestra, Henry Williams, plays a solo piece B B Wolf by the American bassist and composer Jon Deak.  Bulgarian student Zhivka Ivanova, who Philip Dukes describes as an outstanding pianist with a wonderful personality, plays a Beethoven sonata.

To round the evening off there’s what Dukes calls the “razzle dazzle finale”.  The College’s renowned eighteen piece Big Band will play an arrangement of the Coldplay number God put a smile on your face and Birdland the 1977 jazz-fusion instrumental composition by Josef Zawinul of the American group Weather Report.  Stand by for a roof raising performance under the  direction of Alex Arkwright, the College’s head of woodwind and brass.Marlborough College Big Band at full throttleMarlborough College Big Band at full throttle

Philip Dukes admits that it is difficult to find time in the busy school timetable and with curriculum pressure for practice and rehearsal time. Dukes, who is an eminent international viola soloist and conductor, has to find time to make sure all the music scholars are on top form for the concert: “It’s challenging, but it’s good to blood them with a live concert.”

He is just back from a tour of Germany.  Before Christmas and besides his College duties, he has concerts at London’s Wigmore Hall with the Nash Ensemble; he is recording a new Brahms CD for Chandos with English mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly; and he conducts the London Mozart Players with Robert Powell as narrator, in one of the Marlborough College Concert Series performances (that’s on November 4.)

In the last five years the Marlborough College music scholarship programme has relied on a much more rigorous programme aiming to “monitor, mentor and provide specialist coaching.”  The result has been the level of musicianship has gone up:  “We have a greater quantity of quality. And these pillars of quality pull the others up – they are inspired by them.”

If the applicants are not of a high enough standard, not all the scholarships are awarded each year. For this year’s Shell entry five were awarded out of the eight available; and for the lower sixth entry four were awarded out of the eight available.

It’s tough being a young musician.  But it’s glorious to hear new young talent playing for an audience.

Tickets £14 with under-18s £7 – call 01225 860100 or
By car,  Bradford on Avon is just over an hour from Marlborough.
The concert starts at 7.30 pm and tickets include a pre-concert talk by Philip Dukes at 6.30pm.

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No promotion after all for outspoken Tory MP Claire Perry in government reshuffle

Claire PerryClaire PerrySpeculation that Marlborough’s outspoken Tory MP Claire Perry, a former banker and protégé of Chancellor George Osborne, was about to be given a boost to her career in David Cameron’s government reshuffle has proved false. 

It arose in her Devizes constituency following the revelation that her employment tribunal hearing, due at Bristol last month, has now been withdrawn from the list of pending cases, the presumption being that the claim for wrongful dismissal by Mrs Penelope Nurick has been settled.

Mrs Nurick, who seconded 48-year-old Mrs Perry’s bid to replace Tory grandee Michael Ancram as constituency MP at the 2010 general election, has been described as a best friend who worked for the MP in her Devizes office.

But while Tory women MPs Maria Miller, Helen Grant, Esther McVey, Liz Truss and Anna Soubry have all been promoted by the Prime Minister, Mrs Perry remains Parliamentary Private Secretary to Defence Minister Philip Hammond.

A Marlborough News Online request for a statement from Mrs Perry has so far gone unanswered.

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Town council buys super locks to keep Marlborough Common secure from travellers

Super locks are to be bought by Marlborough Town Council for use on the barriers on Marlborough Common following the arrival there of three travellers’ caravans last month. 

It was thought that the travellers’ used bolt cutters to gain access to the site after security staff stopped them entering the sports field at Marlborough College when it was invaded by a dozen travellers’ vehicles. 

But it now transpires that Marlborough Rugby Club failed to lock a barrier on the Commons when they held a social event and this allowed the travellers to drive through, the council’s Amenities and Open Spaces Committee was told on Monday. 

“We had a very near miss with the travellers,” said chairman Councillor Richard Pitts. “We were very fortunate that Councillor Val Compton went up there after being alerted by a member of the public and she informed the police.”

“It could have been very expensive for the town council if we had to go to law to remove the travellers.”

The council is to investigate ways of improving security on two “weak sites” on the Common, where travellers might gain access, but meanwhile is urging the rugby club to ensure that barriers are appropriately kept secure, new super locks being provided to protect the Common.

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Protestors seeking to oust Caffe Nero outraged by further planning appeal date delay

Caffe Nero, which has been trading in Marlborough since April without planning permission for change of use for its former fashion store premises in the High Street, still has until September 19 to appeal. 

Wiltshire Council’s area planning committee rejected the international chain’s retrospective application with only one vote against on July 19 against the advice of its chief development planning officer Mike Wilmott. 

This was partly because of Caffe Nero’s record of winning 16 out of the 17 planning inquiry appeals for sites all over the country, its action in blatantly ignoring accepted planning rules by trading without consent is not an illegal act in itself.

Now Mr Wilmott, answering questions raised by Marlborough News Online, has revealed that Wiltshire Council is obliged to go through a detailed planning process, which has allowed Caffe Nero to continue trading.

“As I think I pointed out at the outset, the necessary legal searches have to be undertaken to ascertain all those with an interest in the land,” he explained.

“The notices have to be drafted and the wording checked by legal officers to ensure that they are correct. The law then requires a minimum number of days between service and taking effect, which is a minimum of 28 days from receipt. “Allowing for the vagaries of postal delivery, we normally give six weeks to ensure that we don't get tripped up over the time period.”

The delay has infuriated Marlborough town councillors and objectors who point out the that government itself is now seeking to speed up the planning process by doing away with red tape procedures.

Councillor Richard PittsCouncillor Richard Pitts“I’m extremely disappointed with the situation,” protested Councillor Richard Pitts. “It appears to be typical Wiltshire Council reaction, faffing around not wanting to upset the status quo and not following the planning committee’s overwhelming decision to reject Caffe Nero’s retrospective change of use application.

“And it is happening at a time when the government is urging changes in the planning process to do away with all the delays and having a faster reaction to planning problems like this. I shall raise questions on this at our new Planning Committee meeting.”

John Yates, one of the party of 14 objectors who attended the Wiltshire planning meeting in July, posed the question: “Would it be fair to set up a fish stall in the middle of Caffe Nero and sell haddock there while your application to do so was considered?”

He told Marlborough News Online: “Caffe Nero are considered to be planning cheats.  If you want to change use, you make a planning application and wait for committee approval.  If you get it, you change use then start trading.  

“Caffe Nero applied, changed use, started trading and insisted on retrospective permission.  They didn't get it, but they're still trading.”  

“Having leased a prominent location, they're taking a lot of Marlborough's coffee shop trade.  This must be a threat to other coffee shops.  A chain driving out independents.”

“Surely the planning committee isn't just a rubber stamp.  It has a right to debate community issues like this.”   

Newly-co-opted town councillor Val Compton, who was at the same meeting, declared: “Normally in this country, when you are quite openly breaking the rules there is a means to stop you.”

“However, Nero know exactly what they are doing and what cannot be done to them.  They are flagrantly carrying on trading regardless of any rules – I wonder what sort of example this sets to community?”  

“It’s no wonder that people receiving a parking ticket when they are five minutes late get really mad, when the powerful get away with so much – that is not natural justice.”

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Anti-online porn petition signed by 115,000 handed in at 10 Downing Street by Claire Perry

Claire Perry handing in the anti-online porn petition at No10Claire Perry handing in the anti-online porn petition at No10Backed by five other cross-party MPs, Claire Perry knocked on the door of No 10 Downing Street yesterday (Thursday) and handed in a petition signed by more than 115,000 people demanding action to block children watching internet pornography. 

The petition, organised by the online safety campaigning group SafetyNet, calls for the government to mandate that internet service providers introduce a default Opt-In filter system for adult content on the internet. 

It was presented yesterday to coincide with the ending of the government’s 10-week consultation on internet parental controls, which has resulted in more than 2,000 responses being sent to the Department of Education. 

Claire told Marlborough News Online: “The voices of over 110,000 ‘ordinary people’ are being heard loudly and clearly at the heart of government and they are asking for a simple solution to the problem of keeping our children safe online – an Opt In system for adult material.

Parents are too complacent warns Claire Perry

Claire Perry took part last night (Thursday) in a Newsnight TV debate on the dangers of paedophiles grooming children --often by giving them a mobile phone whose existence they keep secret -- and the question of filtering internet pornography.

The programme stressed the need to make children aware of the dangers through talks in primary schools, children’s homes and youth clubs.

“Parents are frequently incredibly complacent,” said Mrs Perry. “Only four out of 10 families use new technology to protect their children from harmful effects of internet pornography.

“Now with the new smart phone they are accessible all the time. I’ve got three children. I ask myself why don’t I feel confident at looking at their phone messages. We have given our children this unprecedented access. You feel you have the right to do that. We have given them this private bubble we didn’t have. But we don’t.”

She disdained government legislation to control the internet but added: “Lots of people should be getting involved, specifically the internet service providers of which just six provide 95 per cent access in the home in Britain. They make about £3.5 billion a year.

“The internet is the only form of media where there is no control. On television we have a watershed, films we have ratings, why should the internet be different? I’d like to have a bit more protection, a bit more filtering of some of the adult content.”

“This is one of the recommendations made by our independent parliamentary inquiry into online child protection and we were delighted that the government listened to us and set up an official consultation on this important issue.”

“With that process coming to an end, it is crucial to make sure that the views of parents across the country are heard.”

More than 60 cross-party MPs and peers supported the parliamentary inquiry, chaired by Mrs Perry, who has three children, which reported in April.

The petition, contained in seven plastic boxes, will now be handed over to newly-appointed Culture Secretary of State Maria Miller, who is responsible for internet policy.

And in a letter to Mrs Miller, also mother of three children, SafetyNet pointed out that one in three children aged 10 have watched pornography online, the largest group of internet pornography consumers to be in the 12 to 17 age group.

“Our petition shows that there is a massive groundswell of opinion at all levels that the government and internet service providers must act urgently,” said SafetyNet spokeswoman Miranda Suit.

“An opt-in network level filter with the default setting of porn off will provide the best protection.”

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Future of capitalism is up for grabs at a high powered debate chaired by the Bishop of Salisbury

Bishop Nick HolthamBishop Nick HolthamMajor issues facing the world – even the fate of capitalism itself – are to be debated at St John’s Academy, Marlborough later this month with the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev Nick Holtam in the chair.

A high powered panel will be present to discuss the way the behaviour of banks and leading bankers is scandalising the world, the countries of the Euro Zone facing ever increasing debt mountains, high unemployment and austerity and the growing gap between the richest and the poorest societies.

Also on the agenda will be the very future of the planet, which is threatened by climatic changes bringing flood, or drought and famine plus the way anti-capitalist demonstrators have been challenging the principles of capitalism in the heart of the City of London and Wall Street.

And the really big question will be whether the time has come to fix – or even replace -- the capitalist system that has driven the growth of our economies and ever improving standards of living since the Industrial Revolution?

Indeed, has the short-term imperative of ever increasing growth that drives economic policy, made our way of life unsustainable? Is Capitalism broken and is it time for urgent public discussion of the way forward?

Marlborough’s rector, Canon Andrew Studdert-Kennedy, who last year spent months talking to bankers in the City,  has revealed details of the event, which is to be held at St John’s at 7pm on Wednesday, September 19.

“The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt. Rev. Nicholas Holtam, is to preside over what promises to be a lively and topical debate about the most urgent issue of our time – can Capitalism be made good?,” he told Marlborough News On Line.

Taking part in the debate will be:

Hugh Pym – chief economics correspondent for the BBC, who was educated at Marlborough College. Pym was a BBC radio journalist from 1986 to 1987, then producer of Business Daily at Channel 4, 1987–1988.  He was a BBC special correspondent covering economics until 2008, became acting economics editor and then the BBC's chief economics correspondent.

The Rev Will Morris – global tax policy director for General Electric, chair of the CBI’s tax committee and associate priest at St Martin’s in the Fields, where the Bishop of Salisbury was vicar before his latest appointment.  A former US Treasury official, he recently wrote a paper entitled “Not just “how” but “why”: a personal reflection on business ethics and the crisis.”

Stewart Wallis – executive director of the New Economics Foundation since 2003 and an advocate for transition to a new economic system.  He worked for Oxfam from 1992 to 2002, for which he was awarded an OBE.  The New Economics Foundation is a British think tank founded in 1986 with the aim of working for a "new model of wealth creation, based on equality, diversity and economic stability".

Symon Hill –  Christian activist, journalist and associate director of the Ekklesia think tank.  He has written The No-Nonsense Guide to Religion.  His new book, Digital Revolutions: Activism in the age of the Internet, is due to be published in the spring.

Last February, he was dragged by police from the steps of St Paul's Cathedral as he prayed during the eviction of Occupy London Stock Exchange. He previously worked for the Campaign Against Arms Trade and was involved in taking the government to court over Saudi arms deals.

Further information from Rosemary Cook This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 01672 810129.

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2,322 people visit Communities Market

Amanda Fearon of the 2012 Taste of the West medal-winning Ramsbury TeaAmanda Fearon of the 2012 Taste of the West medal-winning Ramsbury TeaTwo thousand, three hundred and twenty two. That's officially the number of people who visited Marlborough's popular Communities Market yesterday (Sunday). 

That precise figure comes courtesy of volunteers from Transition Marlborough who, armed with clickers, used scientifically-approved methods to count the footfall of visitors as they browsed stalls. 

For lovers of statists, here are a few more: 

  • 39 – the number of stalls at the biggest market so far. The food section in Marlborough High Street boasted 28 stalls, while the inaugural arts and crafts market inside the Town Hall had 11.

  • 98 – the percentage of stallholders who came from the SN postcode area, in keeping with the organisers' hyper-local ethos. A fair proportion were from Marlborough's SN8 postcode area.

  • 11,000 – that's (roughly) how many miles at least one of the visitors – a New Zealander – was from home. Other visitors came from Japan and Bermuda, and from within the UK there were shoppers from London and Cardiff.

  • 4 – the number of cars left in Marlborough High Street overnight, despite the presence of No Parking signs. The problem led to the marquee being placed some distance away from the Town Hall – the organisers' preference was to have the two abutting.

Dewi Williams of Marlborough Mushrooms, winner of the Local Hero Award in the 2012 Good Housekeeping Food AwardsDewi Williams of Marlborough Mushrooms, winner of the Local Hero Award in the 2012 Good Housekeeping Food Awards“Overall it was a really, really good day,” say Ellie Gill from Marlborough Communities Market. Trade was slightly slower than at previous markets, and we suppose the rain may have put some people off.

“Many traders sold all their stock although, thankfully, not until the end of the day. Our regular stallholders are better able to gauge the event, rather than selling out in the morning, and there was a constant flow of customers all day.”

Organisers are promising even more stalls in October. “We have more interest from traders than we have space to accommodate them,” said Ellie. “New to the market next month will be the The Cotswold Curer, a producer of free range British salami, and Paul's Poultry, an award-winning pie maker.”

The Cotswold Cooks will also be back in October, selling teas, cakes and savouries from their 1950s themed beach hut.

Amy Ball and Scarlett Camm of Shyroom, a new business which sells 'up-cycled' jewellery Amy Ball and Scarlett Camm of Shyroom, a new business which sells 'up-cycled' jewellery As the nights draw in, the market will be operating winter hours. From Sunday, October 7 the hours of trading will be 11am to 3pm. November's market will be held on the 4th, with a special Christmas Lights market on Thursday, November 29 – the night the town's Christmas Lights are switched on – replacing the December 2 event.

A Christmas market will be held on Sunday, December 16. For details log on to

  • Click images for a larger version


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Transition Marlborough wades into turbines row

Marlborough environmentalists have waded into a controversy that will effectively stop commercial wind turbines being erected in the county. 

At the end of June, Wiltshire Council adopted a last-minute amendment to its core strategy, imposing a minimum distance between wind turbines and residential properties.

The motion passed by Wiltshire council would ban the erection of turbines within three kilometres of a home for turbines taller than 150m and two kilometres for those over 100m. Swindon is considering a similar amendment to its core strategy. 

In response, concerned environmentalists – including Transition Marlborough, whose mission is to aims to protect the town and the surrounding area from the rising costs of food, energy and transport which are being driven by the global challenges of depleting fossil fuel resources, climate change, and the resultant environmental impacts – have formed the Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance to challenge the amendment.

The WCEA has protested to the Planning Inspector, who in turn has told Wiltshire Council that the public should be consulted over the proposed change.

Richard Pitts, a committee member of Transition Marlborough and a town councillor told Marlborough News Online: “Historically, the electricity needed by Wiltshire homes and businesses has been generated in industrial areas. The visual blight and pollution caused by coal-powered generators has not been our problem.

“What has motivated this late change to the core strategy? My personal view is that it is driven by the same issues of coal electrical generation – NIMBYism. Conservative Councillors fear a backlash of voters who don't want the turbines spoiling their view 

“Personally, I think the local generation of sustainable energy – by wind and solar power – is a great thing. Power is not wasted as it is transmitted across great distances, and sustainable energy projects generate not just clean energy, but also wealth.”

A Wiltshire Council spokesman confirmed: “The last formal consultation on the Strategy resulted in representations from more than 430 different organisations and individuals. Collectively, more than 1,700 separate comments were made on different parts of the plan.

“In response to comments received, a number of changes to the draft core strategy were proposed and agreed at June´s Full Council meeting.

“These changes include updating the strategy to improve consistency with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and a motion which gives interim guidance on how far wind turbines should be from homes.

“As expected, the inspector has now asked the council to consult on these changes.”

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Tory MP Claire Perry career boost speculation rises as she settles her staff dismissal row

Claire PerryClaire PerrySpeculation is rising that Claire Perry, Marlborough’s outspoken Tory MP and supporter of Chancellor George Osborne, is about to be given a boost to her career in the imminent government reshuffle.

It follows the fact that her employment tribunal hearing, due at Bristol last month, has now been withdrawn from the list of pending cases, the presumption being that the claim for wrongful dismissal by Mrs Penelope Nurick has been settled.

Mrs Nurick, who seconded 48-year-old Mrs Perry’s bid to become MP for Devizes at the 2010 general election, has been described as a best friend who worked for the MP in her Devizes office.

In an exclusive interview with Mrs Perry  a fortnight ago, Marlborough News Online suggested that she had been advised to settle the case as any public hearing would prove to be bad publicity for the party.

Mrs Perry said the tribunal hearing had been “postponed” and added: “I’m afraid I can’t comment on that as it is a legal matter but one that is of great regret to me because it is very difficult when you work with somebody whom you like and respect.”

She dismissed the bad publicity possibility by adding: “Oh, it’s in the public domain. It’s been in the national and local press. I think most people understand that it is a private employment dispute and it is always unfortunate when things like that can’t be resolved without getting into the legal domain. It is what it is.”

However, one admirer of former New York banker Mrs Perry, a protégé of George Osborne, believes the settlement of the employment dispute was inevitable if Mrs Perry is to be given a post in David Cameron’s reshuffle.

She is currently Parliamentary Private Secretary to Defence Minister Philip Hammond – there are five armed forces camps in her constituency -- and has won public acclaim for her cross-party campaign to clamp down on internet pornography being available to children.

Marlborough News Online requested a statement from Mrs Perry and/or her political adviser Jack Withrington when the Commons  returned from the summer recess today (Monday), and followed it up with a phone call when Mr Withrington was said to have “just left the office”.

No statement has yet been forthcoming.

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