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Fun Day in memory of inspirational Shane Hartop at Marlborough Town's Elcot Lane ground on 12 May

26-04-2018

    On Saturday 12 May the life of Shane Hartop, an inspiration to all whose lives he touched will be celebrated at Marlborough Town Football Club's ground in Elcot Lane, with a fund-raising Fun Day featuring a football match, charity auction, Northern Soul Ska disco and many other activities, all aimed...

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Bumble Bees attracted to Stonebridge Meadow by a rare feast of Snake's Head Fritillary

25-04-2018 Sue Round

Stonebridge Wild River Reserve has many Snake’s Head Fritillary flowers in bloom.  According to the Wildlife Trusts the flower is vulnerable and on the red data list.  It is thanks to a community planting  project that so many of these delicate flowers can now be seen in the reserve. 

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Marlborough LitFest 2018: major contributors William Boyd, Kate Mosse & Katie Hickman are announced

25-04-2018

  More names have been revealed for this year’s ninth Marlborough LitFest (28-30 September.)  They include acclaimed novelist William Boyd, bestselling author Kate Mosse, historical fiction author Katie Hickman.   

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The Gambia's recovery from dictatorship - and the Commonwealth

25-04-2018 Nick Maurice

  [EDITORS' NOTE:  Last week Dr Nick Maurice was present in London for meetings of the Commonwealth People’s Forum and the launch of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting or CHOGM.  There he learnt more about the problems The Gambia has as it recovers from 22 years of dictatorship.It was the first CHOGM...

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Manager - Sunny Days Children’s Nursery, Lyneham

25-04-2018

  Manager   Sunny Days Children’s Nursery, Lyneham     Do you love working with children?  Would you like a new challenge?  The role of Manager at Sunny Days Children’s Nursery in Lyneham could be just for you.We are looking for a manager who is enthusiastic, forward thinking and ready for a challenge.  The Pre-school is...

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Annual town meeting hears questions about Oxenwood closure & debates introducing 20mph restrictions

24-04-2018

This was probably Marlborough's best attended Annual Meeting of the Town Council (April 23) for years and the brisk review of the Council's year, the public questions and a debate on the introduction of 20mph restrictions should ensure a similar turnout in years to come.  

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Kelham Gardens land: Wiltshire Council will negotiate over its use as a car park - at what price?

24-04-2018

At a meeting of Wiltshire Council's cabinet (Tuesday morning, April 24) re-considered their plan to sell the piece of land they own in Kelham Gardens.   Due to contamination and its shape, the land is almost certainly unsuitable for housing and the cabinet were in favour of negotiating with Marlborough Town...

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The Now Vauxhall dealership in George Lane has closed

23-04-2018

Further to our report today about the state of Marlborough High Street, we have since learned that the Now Vauxhall dealership, service and MOT workshops in George Lane has closed.

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They say footfall has fallen in Marlborough High Street - will it improve now the road works have gone?

23-04-2018

The airwaves, the digital this-es and thats and the newspapers have been full this past week of the current woes of High Street Britain.  Mothercare is shrinking and Debenhams has seen a huge drop in profits.  

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A seat on Marlborough’s Green unveiled in tribute to legendary war hero gentleman Jim

Mayor Edwina, helped by ceremonial officer unveils Jim's benchMayor Edwina, helped by ceremonial officer unveils Jim's benchHe never regarded himself as a hero.  Yet indomitable Jim Sherritt, who died in February, aged 88, twice survived when the tanks he was driving took direct hits killing the crews during World War II. 

When it ended, he worked for the War Graves Commission burying the dead, who had paid the supreme sacrifice fighting for freedom against Nazi Germany. 

But, on his return home to Marlborough, gentleman Jim, as he became known, hardly ever talked about his exploits to family and friends. 

And it was only on Remembrance Sunday, when a bench in his honour was unveiled on Marlborough’s Green, was it revealed how Jim did in fact talk about his remarkable wartime experiences  to young Army cadets at Marlborough College.

It was there that Jim, born in Enniskillen, where he joined the Royal Irish Horse Regiment, worked for 18 years in the Armoury, where a room in his honour is now to be named the Jim Sherritt Room.

Former College teacher Martin Evans, secretary of the College’s Malburian Club, told onlookers: “I only came to know Jim when he came to work in the Armoury.  He was much loved, as you can imagine, by officers and cadets and many of them regarded him quite rightly as a legend.”

“Jim, as we all know, was an old fashioned gentleman, a great character, and his stories of daring do as a tank driver during World War II in North Africa and Italy held the young pupils spellbound.”

“And he was rumoured to have lied about his age in order to join the Army early -- and to have driven the first tank into Turin, all recounted with modest gusto and frequent puffs on his famous pipe.”

“Some years ago, I introduced him to a young Malburian cadet, who is now serving with the Scots Guards in Afghanistan, and who happened to be the great grandson of Sir Winston Churchill.”

“Jim looked the young man up and down, nodded thoughtfully before a few profound words followed.  ‘If you do as well as him lad, we can all sleep peacefully’, he said.”

And Mr Evans continued: “Jim always expected high standards from the cadets and was not short of a terse word when necessary.”

“He joined them in military exercises in all weathers and the students loved him for doing so.  One of them made a special mug for him which is on show in the Armoury and I am glad to say they are going to name a room in the Armoury the Jim Sherritt Room.”

“How lovely for the Mayor to unveil this bench in his honour in a prime place on the Green.  How fitting it is Remembrance Sunday too,” adding poignantly:  My father was killed in action on a destroyer in the war.  I never knew him.”  

“So this day has always been very special to me, as it was to Jim and those others who knew him.”

“I think the act of gathering together here on Nov 11, 2012 to honour him is something he would so have loved.”

The bench was made possible by two friends of Jim, Chris Sparkes and his partner Lisa Barlett, who launched an appeal that raised £526 to pay for it.

At Sunday’s unveiling by Marlborough’s mayor, Edwina Fogg, Chris told the gathering:  “Following the end of the war Jim worked for the War Graves Commission recovering and burying bodies of those who had fallen.”  

“Like many service personnel of his generation, Jim was reluctant to talk about his war years and would never have considered himself a hero.  He was just doing something that was expected of him.”

“We all have our individual memories of Jim.  On occasions he could be stubborn, self-facing, humorous, ebullient, but always a gentleman and a person of integrity.”

“Hopefully this bench will be a permanent reminder of the well loved and respected person Jim was in the Marlborough community.”

Then the Mayor, following a prayer of dedication by Marlborough’s rector, the Rev Andrew Stoddart-Kennedy, unveiled the bench from behind a huge Union Jack flag and was the first to sit on it alongside Jim’s daughter Kathleen.”

She was there with Jim’s granddaughter and two of his great children, plus Maisie her greyhound.

“We got Maisie when Jim was ill and used to take her in to see him,” explained Kathleen, who was presented with the Union Jack as a memento of the occasion.

“He loved her.  So I think it’s appropriate that she’s here today with us.”

And the moving ceremony ended with guests invited to take a tot of Jim’s favourite Irish whisky in tribute to him, the Mayor declaring: I think it will be wonderful, as people pass this spot every day, to think of Jim and what he gave to all of us and his country.”

Lisa Bartlett and Chris SparkesLisa Bartlett and Chris SparkesMayor first to sit on Jim bench with his daughter Kathleen alongside greyhound MaisieMayor first to sit on Jim bench with his daughter Kathleen alongside greyhound MaisieMayor presents Kathleen with Union Jack as a mementoMayor presents Kathleen with Union Jack as a memento

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Chance to win a Ferrari ride, as highway heroes throw fundraising dinner

Swift by name, Swift by nature: the medics are offering the chance to win a ride in a 193mph Ferrari CaliforniaSwift by name, Swift by nature: the medics are offering the chance to win a ride in a 193mph Ferrari CaliforniaThe unsung heroes of Wiltshire’s highways are throwing a fundraising dinner – and offering the chance to win a ride in a Ferrari – to help finance their life-saving services.

Marlborough-based charity Swift Medics provides emergency care at the scene of serious road traffic accidents and other life threatening medical emergencies including falls from a height, serious burns and incidents where casualties are unconscious or trapped.

Often the first on the scene of a medical emergency, the doctors work on a voluntary basis using their own vehicles, and administer life-saving treatment that paramedics are not qualified to provide during the 'golden hour' – the vital first hour following an incident.

Swift Medics – who last year attended over 300 medical emergencies saved a life or prevented permanent, life-changing disabilities on around one in six occasions – are also trained and experienced in management of the medical aspects of major incidents.

Marlborough GP and Swift Medic Jonathan GloverMarlborough GP and Swift Medic Jonathan GloverBut despite their vital role in saving lives, Swift Medics receive no funding from local or central government or the NHS. It costs £10,000 to train and equip a new member of the team, and costs a further £3,000 per team member, per year in training, equipment and insurance.

Now the charity are throwing a fundraising dinner at Bowood Hotel with a two-course meal, live music, and the chance to win a ride in a 193mph Ferrari California, courtesy of Swindon supercar dealership Dick Lovett.

The auction winner will also receive a VIP tour of Dick Lovett's dealership, getting the chance to see a host of supercars – including the Ferrari 458 Italia, the Maserati GranCabrio and Michael Schumacher's F1 Ferrari F2003-GA – up close.

Other prizes in the auction include a Watlings bracelet, a Pia fresh water pearl necklace, a photo shoot with Hallmark Photographers, drum lessons, and paint balling.

Tickets for the dinner, which runs from 7.30pm until midnight on Saturday, November 24 , cost £25 each, and can be purchased by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To find out more about the work of Swift Medics, log on to www.swiftmedics.net or find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SWIFTMedics

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Use your memories of war for good not evil is the message at Sunday’s Marlborough civic service

St Marys ChurchSt Marys ChurchThe important purpose of Remembrance Sunday is to pass on to posterity the costly lessons of what led up to war, the causes, why they were fought, and how such terrible catastrophes may be avoided in the future. 

Our memories must be used for good, never for evil.  

That was the message to the congregation from the Rev Sue Armitage when she gave the sermon at Sunday’s civic service at St Mary’s, Marlborough, attended by the Mayor, Edwina Fogg, town councillors and Military Intelligence officers just back from Afghanistan.

A retired member of the Marlborough Ministry team, she stressed that our memories must be used for good, never for evil, pointing out: “And if we don’t share our memories of ‘why war was waged’ and ‘for what cause so many died’, who will?  

“History is always far more interesting and meaningful when it comes from personal stories, family histories, and visual contact and experiences.”

“Some have said that wars are best forgotten and that to harp back to the past does nothing but keep open the wounds -- they see little value in history and would close the book on the pain and suffering of past wars.”  

“Peacetime they say is the time to heal for the killing is over.”

But while some held different opinions, she added: “Each age and generation has its special way of remembering.”  

“In the years after the silencing of the guns in 1918 at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month complete silence was observed throughout the nation – everyone and everything stopped for two minutes and in many places it still does.  “However some 90 years on Remembrance Day is now held on the Sunday nearest to the 11th, a holy day and memories have become even more sacred for being recalled on the day of worship.”  

“Each of us has memories, which are special to us.  All of us, ex-service men and women alike, have many brave deeds in our minds this day, and we each have our own way of commemorating the past.”

“Our memory is a God-given faculty, one that we are born with and which develops to a point in our lives and then sadly with age often begins to decline.”  

“Of course the memory is a very complex faculty and how it works is often a reflection of our personality, the educational system in which we grew up and of course our age plays an enormous role in the process.”  

“As with all our God given gifts, the memory can be used for good and for bad.  We can use it to recall, to share, to heal, to restore and to make good.”

“But it can also be used to store up memories for revenge or reprisal, or for waiting for the opportunity to settle old scores.”

“If we are the optimistic kind of people who see life as a cup which is half full, (our memories of the past are more likely to reflect that), while we acknowledge the sad loss of those we knew, we share with others the positive side of the experience, the camaraderie, the community spirit, friends made and kept, sunny days which punctuated life and stories of great escape.”

“If we are the kind of pessimistic people who see life as a cup which is half empty, our memories of the past are more likely to reflect that.”

“While we acknowledge the camaraderie and community spirit, the stories that we are likely to share with others are those of hardship and sadness, the smell of the trenches, the devastation of town and city and decimation of peoples, that of grey days and incarceration.”

But, the Rev Armitage pointed out: “Both are equally valid, for they reflect not only who we are but also they enable a balanced story to be told, one that will ultimately reflect the whole.”

“However, we need to be sure that the God given gift of our remembering is used for good, and never for evil.”

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Chamber of Commerce’s public meeting plea to discuss CCTV issues is given positive reply

Marlborough’s mayor, Edwina Fogg (pictured), has now sent her own personal reply to the plea from Chamber of Commerce president Paul Shimell for a public meeting to be held to discuss the introduction of CCTV in the High Street.  

She revealed that she had been unaware of the confusion that has been caused by an e-mail sent independently by her councillor husband, Nick Fogg, telling Mr Shimell that he thought such a meeting would be counter-productive.  

And she offered the town’s traders free use of the town hall to organise their own meeting at which its members – and the public too – could discuss all the issues following Monday’s controversial town council meeting.  

Up to 20 members of the Chamber and the public who attended it walked out when they were prevented from taking part in a debate on a CCTV motion, which was defeated by nine votes to five (see CCTV launch project ends up in smoke).

“I completely understand the frustration of the traders, rather like being in the Visitor's Gallery when the Prime Minister  and Ed Milliband clash,” says the Mayor in her email to Mr Shimell.

“In future, a sheet will be produced which will explain our procedures and can be handed out with agendas to members of the public.”

“I hope that on your part, you will understand the sense of frustration that the majority of councillors have also felt in waiting two years for a detailed and balanced report on the issue by the CCTV working party, only to find an inaccurate and inadequate document, which is supposed to be the basis for a discussion of the issue.”

“As I said on Monday, our late Town Clerk, Derek Wolfe, realised the importance of the report being informed and statistically accurate.”

“I am sure you would approve a careful and responsible approach when considering the allocation of ratepayers' money.  When we have an evidenced based report, the proper discussion can begin.”

She added: “We would entirely welcome input from both traders and people living in the vicinity of the High Street and need information not addressed in the report.  Such information may very well be in the notes of meetings you had with Councillors Hannaford-Dobson and Barrett-Morton, documentation of which was not passed on to the Town Clerk.

“Suggested points to consider:

  • What are traders looking for in a CCTV system -- deterrence or detection? Which areas would they want to cover? The Town Hall is a listed building and in some cases planning permission has been refused for it to be used for the installation of cameras. The High Street or beyond? Is their main concern shoplifting?
  • Where is crime or anti-social behaviour taking place and at what times?  This will possibly dictate the number of cameras required.
  • Which stores have CCTV?  Details on any actions and their effectiveness, eg Shop Watch, which businesses might be taking to deal with problems would be useful.
  • Are shop-lifting incidents always reported?  Would there be a discrepancy here between Police figures and those of the traders?  How do they compare with the other local towns that possess CCTV?

“The town council would be pleased to allow the use of the Town Hall for a meeting arranged by the Chamber of Commerce to discuss the points included above and others that may arise as more information comes in.”

She further points out:  “You make the assumption that the town council is immune from 'these tough times of austerity', we are not, indeed, more calls are being made on our resources eg Christmas lights.”  

“We have a responsibility, as I have previously said, to provide the best possible facility for our citizens.  I am happy to meet with you to discuss these matters if it would help.”

Mr Shimell told Marlborough News Online: “I welcome the Mayor’s personal response and regret the further confusion that has been caused by what appeared to be the rejection of the Chamber’s call for a public meeting.

“Our executive will now consider the situation and decide what action to take on organising a public meeting.”

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Obama-style plea for public meeting on CCTV town council deadlock is rejected

A President Obama-style new initiative to end the deadlock over the introduction of CCTV in Marlborough’s famous High Street has been made by Paul Shimell, president of Marlborough Chamber of Chamber.   

Councillors clashed on Monday in an embarrassing debate over a much criticised – and defeated -- working party report which called for £20,000 to be earmarked for a four-camera system backed only by five Tory councillors.

The decision shocked traders urged to attending the meeting but unable to take part in the debate, who stormed out of the town hall before a second motion was carried.

This called for a new evidence-based factual report to be prepared and put before an open public forum meeting to consider all the for and against issues, including the fact that Marlborough has an historically low crime rate.

Now Mr Shimell has e-mailed Marlborough’s Mayor Edwina Fogg referring to President Obama’s election victory speech in which he declared that political differences must not be allowed to halt the vital solutions needed to solve America’s economic problems.

And he called on Marlborough town council to organise the public debate as soon as possible to find a positive way forward following protests he has received from frustrated Chamber members who were unable to voice their views.

But to his surprise, Mr Shimell, who owns the SpecSavers franchise in Marlborough, has received a reply not from the Mayor but from her husband, Councillor Nick Fogg, who declares a public meeting now would be counter-productive (see panel piece).

Mr Shimell told Marlborough News Online: “I am seriously disappointed that the Mayor, our first citizen, has passed my plea to her husband, who was part of the political problem on Monday night, according to your report.”

“Why can’t we have two public meetings, one now so that all the councillors understand exactly what the town, its retailers and residents, think, and then a second one once the town council has formulated its precise plans for CCTV?”

“As it is, I am told it takes only a handful of residents to petition the council for a public meeting to be held.  So that may now be our way ahead.”

Mr Shimell's e-mail to the Mayor said: “I now have a better understanding of Monday night’s events at the town council meeting regarding the introduction of CCTV.”

“The Marlborough News Online report reveals that such a meeting is not a place where the public in general or Chamber of Commerce members can take part in debates and provide the council with their views on CCTV or any other subject, the more so if it is an agenda item in the form of a motion.”

“Nevertheless, you will be aware that the council as a whole has hardly helped itself in the contentious manner in which it considered introducing a four-camera system in the High Street, which has been the subject of meetings the Chamber has had with Marlborough Police and also with your own councillors.”

Then he added: “We need to find a solution, a positive way ahead, just as President Obama announced in his victory speech earlier today, politics has to be pushed aside for the benefit the nation but, in our case, for the viability and future of the local community.”

“Councillor Richard Pitts has suggested an open forum meeting at the town hall, to be held as soon as possible, and I am writing to urge you to organise such a meeting in the coming weeks so that the whole town, not just the traders, can get to grips with all the issues involved.”

“I very much hope that such a meeting will enable the town council to take on the question of funding in these tough times of austerity and come up with a sustainable plan that can be put into action.”

“The economic viability of Marlborough does, as you know, depend very much on its ability to attract people to its High Street shops and other facilities, and for that reason alone I ask you to accept this way forward.”

Mr Shimell had earlier sent an e-mail to the Mayor pointing out that Chamber members were outraged by the fact that her councillor husband, Nick Fogg, had claimed police statistics revealed that there had been only ONE robbery in Marlborough.

“This has really stirred up a hornets nest, as many traders have had £100 to £-1,000 worth of stock stolen,” he pointed out and added:  “I have asked ALL the traders to supply me with their own data on theft from their premises, not from staff but from passing visitors.  This will give a true picture of the level of theft which is taking place here in Marlborough.”

In fact Mr Fogg was unaware that shoplifting comes under 'Other Crimes' in the police statistics, robbery being a much more serious crime.  The latest reported cases totalling 30.  But councillors are also critical of the fact that retailers do not report thefts because of the fear that ongoing losses will increase the insurance on their premises, thus distorting the true picture of the level of crime.

A CCTV public meeting now would be counter-productive

Here in full is Councillor Nick Fogg’s reply to the Chamber of Commerce’s plea for a public meeting to discuss CCTV.

He says:

“I think it's important to realise the facts.  Two years ago, Marian Hannaford-Dobson offered to produce a report on CCTV.  Nothing was forthcoming until a few days ago when a completely inadequate document was produced - if I were still a schoolmaster I would have put a line through it.

It goes without saying that it did not address a single practical issue or set the project in context of information or research.

What the council is being asked to do is to support a proposal with no content.  Its proponents do not appear to have realised that a number plate recognition system, which they constantly refer to, is entirely different from what they are proposing.

 I would regard a further public meeting before the necessary research has taken place as being counter-productive with the same old mantras being hauled out -- and the end result of such a lack of information being the kind of unworkable and expensive system that so many places have fallen for.

We have waited for two years and there is still nothing effective on the table. We need a working party to address the issues -- this could hopefully produce a result by January -- which is a faster time than will be achieved if the current approach, which has brought us no nearer a satisfactory solution after two years of waiting, can possibly achieve.

I am happy to start this process off by writing a paper on the issues that need to be covered.  We can then, in a calm way, proceed to the solution that is fittest for purpose.

 I would agree with your last point about attracting people to Marlborough.  A clear way to do this is to stress the fact that this is the safest town in Wiltshire, situated in an area which is the third-most crime-free in the nation.

The impression given in that absurd report is that criminal gangs roam our streets day and night.  I would regard this as the height of irresponsibility.  I just hope, for all our sakes, that the insurance companies don't get to hear of it.”

 

 

 




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CCTV launch project ends up in smoke at bonfire night of political vanities

David DudleyDavid DudleyA clash of personalities created a bonfire of political vanities when Marlborough town councillors debated introducing CCTV cameras to protect the High Street on Guy Fawkes’ night.   

Up to 20 traders who helped pack the town hall’s Court Room stormed out in disgust after an angry debate during  which councillors launched verbal rockets at each other and ended up defeating a motion to create a £20,000 budget to pay for an initial four-camera system.   

“It was like a comic opera, totally farcical,” upmarket jeweller David Dudley, one of the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce members present, told Marlborough News Online.   “There were more fireworks inside the town hall than outside.”   

“We stood on the pavement at the end amazed at what we had seen – it was unbelievable.  All we wanted was a simple agreement in principle to consider introducing CCTV, but it was not to be.  Now we face more delay.”

And while the retailers had applauded whenever a positive statement in favour of CCTV was mentioned, they looked aghast as Mayor Edwina Fogg continually banged her gavel to halt the political brawl, even telling her husband, Councillor Nick Fogg, to stop a shouting match over points of order and demands for apologies.

But Councillor Fogg was insistent on decrying the CCTV report on the agenda.

“The second part of this report reads like a commercial blurb,” he protested. “It says we have CCTV wherever we go.  In the banks, yes we’ve got banks.  In the post office, yes we’ve got a post office.  The railway station – where’s that in Marlborough.  The airport, even better, where’s Marlborough airport.”

“We need to ask very serious questions before we go ahead with CCTV. We need a proper report.”

The Mayor had in fact revealed at the start of the meeting that the town hall’s historic cells had been inspected to ensure there were no barrels of gunpowder present.  As it turned out it was more like invective.

Inspector Matthew Armstrong, newly-appointed to Marlborough was there with Sergeant Vincent Logue to tell councillors that, while Marlborough had a significantly low crime rate, CCTV was an useful tool in helping them.

Claims that Marlborough was invaded by outside gangs from London and Manchester because it was the only town on the M4 corridor without CCTV were untrue, Sgt Logue told Marlborough News Online.

“But even four CCTV cameras are better than none,” he said, adding that Marlborough police station had no facilities to monitor what they showed, their value being in identifying criminals after events.

What the visitors didn’t understand was that the council was witnessing yet another conflict between the five-strong Tory group led by Stewart Dobson and his wife Marion Hannaford-Dobson and the combined independent/Lib-Dem councillors, the deputy mayor, Guy Loosmore, missing on holiday.

This particular battle began with the by-election victory of Councillor Noel Barrett-Morton in October last year.  He had promised the introduction of CCTV in his election address.

He told the meeting:  “I have spoken to most of the traders in the town.  With one or two exceptions our traders are now united in wanting a suitable system and find it incredible that we as councillors have prevaricated for so long in providing one.”

Subsequently Mrs, Hannaford-Dobson announced the setting up of a working party to report to the council, but continuous delays caused annoyance, the report only now been published, and a time of austerity when council spending is under the cosh.  It formed the basis of a motion last night to take £20,000 from the council’s reserves to pay for a four-camera system.

Mrs Hannaford-Dobson, who moved the motion, revealed that funding was also available from unused Marlborough Area Board funds, it being vital that an application be made before January.  Her motion was defeated by nine votes to five.

But Councillor Richard Pitts, an IT specialist and also a member of the working party, believes much more research is required, both on finding a sustainable technical system, and in allowing the subject to be debated on a wider basis with a town forum meeting in the coming month.

He also believes there is a need for a new approach as to funding a suitable and sensible CCTV system since the council tax bill already includes 10 per cent policing costs.

“That means the police won’t turn down a CCTV system if they don’t have to pay for it,” he told Marlborough News Online.  “If the council is going to spend further council tax money on public safety, it should be money carefully and wisely spent.

“The police crime figures are what we have to deal with and they really don’t make any justification for £20,000 four-camera system.”

And he agrees with Councillor Andrew Ross, an accountant who chairs the council’s Finance Committee, that businesses too need to make an on-going contribution to sustaining any CCTV system.

“All that needs very careful consideration and I hope we can do that at an open town forum meeting to be held as soon as possible,” he added.

His counter-motion, which called for an evidence-based, balanced report following community consultation, was carried by nine votes to four.

And he also claimed that the Tory-backed demand for installing CCTV now was an “election ploy” mounted in time for next May’s council elections, a charge denied by Councillor Dobson.

Councillor Dobson hit back:  “Why don’t you say Yes we want it, no we don’t?  It is not fair to the public.  It’s not transparent.  It just keeps the prevarication going.”

“No, it’s not electioneering.  I take great offence to that remark.  To me it is such a shame that we as a council can’t grasp the fact that the people in Marlborough by and large do want a CCTV system.

“It certainly isn’t going to make crime worse.  That’s an absolute no-brainer.  But there’s certainly a good chance it is going to make the situation better.”

Meanwhile, David Dudley regrets that councillors are playing politics on an issue where CCTV, which has much wider uses than catching shoplifters, might save someone’s life following an assault or traffic accident.

“Doesn’t a camera system justify one life?”  he demanded to know.  “Isn’t it worth saving someone from suffering?  Why this continued delay?

“I had so much info I wanted to tell councillors – and so did others – but we were not allowed to speak at the council meeting.  I hope an open forum meeting can be held and that we can decide as a town exactly what we want.”

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Marlborough’s mayor extols the town’s Remembrance Day parade as the most momentous ever

Wreath covered memorialWreath covered memorialA proud and poignant moment, as always, a time of sadness combined with celebration in recognition of the men and women who fought and died for their country.  

But yesterday’s Remembrance Day parade in Marlborough – it was significantly the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – was probably the most impressive event of its kind in the town’s history.   

The event was organised on a far grander scale than ever before with up to 1,000 men, women and children taking part, campaign medals sparkling in the autumn sunshine as, headed by red-coated Phoenix Brass Band led the march to the Marlborough’s war memorial.  

Autumn sunshine sparkled on the medals of solders just returned from Afghanistan and British Legion veterans alike with representatives a dozen organisations laying their red poppy wreaths on the roundabout memorial after the two minutes silence and the sounding of the Last Post.

And Marlborough’s elegant Mayor Edwina Fogg revealed: “It was a radical change from previous years thanks to our ceremonial officer David Sherratt and the co-operation of our adopted Army regiment.”

“For me, Remembrance Day is the biggest and most important event of the year and I was nervous because there were so many elements involved and so much that could go wrong.”

“But it went like clockwork and it was just wonderful and lovely to sell all sections of the community there at an important time.  It pulls the town together.”

“And it was just great to see even the tiny tots in the youth organisations carrying their standards and taking part.  I’ve lived in Marlborough since 1978 and attended many times.  “But this, to me, was a momentous day.”

Edward Fogg wearing his grandfather's medals from the second warEdward Fogg wearing his grandfather's medals from the second warAnd a personally significant one too.  For standing with the veterans behind the smart ranks of the 4Military Intelligence Battalion was her 41-year-old son Edward -- wearing the campaign medals of his grandfather.

Edwin White joined the Royal Navy at 17, trained on HMS Ganges, then served on destroyers.  After long service, he was recalled at the outbreak of World War II and braved the waves on minesweepers, winning three medals plus the Atlantic Star.

He became a docker at Tilbury after being invalided out of the Navy and died in 1950 when he was only 46.

“This is the first time I’ve worn my grandfather’s medals and it’s a great privilege to recognise the contribution he made,” Edward told Marlborough News Online.  “I’m very proud to do that and it’s very nice for mum as well to be able to keep up the Remembrance Day tradition.”

“I didn’t know him, though I’ve heard stories about my grandparents, both of whom died when I was very young.  But you are still connected to relatives even if you didn’t know them and recognise the sacrifice they made that helped to make us what we are today.”

Edward, who runs a care home for disabled and mentally disturbed people with his wife Michelle near Southampton, is the eldest son of the six Fogg offspring, and has two children of their own, Elliot, four, and Florence, two.

“It’s a really good feeling to be here today to keep the family link alive,” he said.

The Mayor gave a reception at the town hall for the officers and men of 4MI Battalion following the wreath-laying ceremony, where even the skirl of Scottish pipes was introduced for the first time by students from Marlborough Academy.

And she told her guests: “Yesterday I visited our war memorial and was in thought about today’s ceremony.  As I stood there, a young woman came up, and having joined her cross to the others, touched one of the names from the World War II.”

“Her simple gesture was very moving and captured for me the essence of today -- a humble and quiet recognition of those who have given their lives in conflict.”

“How apt it is on this day for us to welcome and honour our adopted army unit, most of whose soldiers have now returned from current operations in Afghanistan.”

“A very warm welcome too for your families.  It is lovely to see you here. You are already proud of them but must have been delighted with their smart appearance and marching proficiency.

“The people of Marlborough are immensely proud of our association with 4MI Battalion and we look forward to our continuing links with you, not least at the civic dinner at the end of this month.”

Mayor Edwina lays first wreathMayor Edwina lays first wreathMarching soldiers and British Legion veteransMarching soldiers and British Legion veteransCadets from Marlborough detachment of the Wiltshire Army Cadet ForceCadets from Marlborough detachment of the Wiltshire Army Cadet ForcePhoenix Brass BandPhoenix Brass Band

 

Company Commander Simon PuxleyCompany Commander Simon PuxleyMilitary intelligence brigade has lost 29 on its tours of Afghanistan, reveals commander

Twenty-nine members of the Army’s Military Intelligence Brigade have lost their lives during service in Afghanistan, company commander Simon Puxley revealed at Sunday’s Remembrance Day parade in Marlborough.

But none were lost on the Wiltshire-based battalion’s last tour, although there are still 30 officers on active duty in Afghanistan who will be rapidly replaced when they return before the end of the month.

The intelligence and language specialists, made up of officers and NCOs only, women included, were a significant part of Sunday’s impressive war memorial parade organised by the town council, which last year granted the battalion the Freedom of Marlborough.

Asked about fatalities, Commander Puxley told Marlborough News Online: “Touch wood, so far so good on that front.  A couple have suffered minor injuries one way or another out patrolling with the infantry and the armoured troops.  So that’s no surprise.

“As a Brigade we have lost 29 soldiers and officers during the whole tour.  The first six were casualties on March 6 and there have been a number of incidents over our time in Afghanistan.

“But that is from the whole Brigade, thankfully not us.  We have had a spectacularly good tour.  It has got to a state now where our guys can slot in straight away when they arrive.  They know exactly what they will be doing and get straight to work, which is perfect.”

Commander Puxley revealed too that although insider insurgent attacks by members of the Afghan security forces always hit the headlines, there was tremendous support from the Afghans themselves for the British Army presence, especially in the protective communities that have been built up.

“What you see in there is Afghans doing the security, Afghans delivering the policing, Afghans delivering the health care and that is really what we’re after,” he explained. “We then operate as a British force or coalition force outside of that.

“Our reaction to the green on blue incidents – that is the term we use for these cases -- is always to stand strong and close to our Afghan partners because that’s what they want and that’s what we want.

“They, interestingly, are as horrified by these incidents, just as we are, and certainly within our Brigade – and we suffered a number of casualties like that, albeit a small proportion – they are always the most painful to bear, as you would expect.

“What we find though is that the incidents we had were absolutely isolated.  Individuals who were working and then took a decision to do something that was out of character for themselves were completely out of character for their own unit.

“There was one incident where two soldiers were killed by some Afghan national policemen, the Afghan policemen in that location shot and killed one of those and chased the other.  While that was going on the other Afghan policemen were providing first aid cover for our troops.

“What we see is terrible hard to bear and we have to be aware that the Afghans have their own insider traps.  There are occasions where Afghan police and Afghan soldiers are trying to kill each other.  That is also going on.

“And that casualty toll on the Afghans is quite significant.  It is very difficult for us all.  So whenever we have one of these incidents the first thing we do is double check what we’re doing, our techniques and procedures, the things we do, the manpower we have.  The equipment we have is now exceptional.

“And on each occasion when we look back on these incidents we do it very forensically and carefully go back to inspect.  What we find is that every part of our procedures are right.  We’re doing the right thing sticking there, it’s the right thing to do.”

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Super fast broadband for Wiltshire takes another step forward

broadbandbroadbandBritish Telecom has been chosen as the preferred bidder to provide super fast broadband across Wiltshire next year in a partnership deal with South Gloucestershire Council.  

In an announcement embargoed until today (Monday), John Thomson, Wiltshire Council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “I am delighted we have been able to work with our partner to select our preferred bidder to deliver this much needed service.”   

"Providing faster broadband access across the county will transform the lives of many residents and businesses who struggle to make full use of the internet and online services.”   

 “This project is vital to our economy.  Having high speed internet connectivity will be critical to the success of businesses already based in the county, and will also be a huge attraction to those looking to move in.”

The two councils launched a procurement process in June inviting businesses in the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) national procurement framework, to bid for the contract and demonstrate why they would provide the best value for money and highest level of service.

The contract will be awarded once European State Aid consent is granted to the UK by the European Commission.  The roll out of the broadband improvements will be completed in 2015.

The programme is being led by Wiltshire Council with an investment of £15.5 million with an additional £4.66 million government funding.

South Gloucestershire Council is investing £2.2 million in the district’s broadband provision, alongside £710,000 of government funding.

Further details will be made known once the contract is signed next month.

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Question of Caffe Nero being a tax dodger raised in radio debate over its Marlborough outlet

The possibility that Caffe Nero, embroiled in a planning inquiry due in January over the opening of its Marlborough High Street branch, is a foreign-based firm escaping full UK taxes, was raised on radio today (Thursday).

It happened when BBC Radio Wiltshire interviewed Marlborough Transition member Richard Pitts, also a Marlborough town councillor, in a feature on the coffee shop, which opened in April without change of use planning consent.

After clashing with retail analyst Neil Saunders, also part of the debate, Mr Pitts told interviewer Mark O’Donnell: “You might want to ask Caffe Nero how much corporation tax they pay into the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

“Costa Coffee for example pay their full allocation.  In terms of their community commitment they have more points in their favour than Nero do.”

O’Donnell: “Should they accept our invitation to come onto the programme and talk about this, which so far they have declined, then we will certainly ask them that question.”

“You can’t stop people buying coffee from where they want to.  What is the next move then from the independent retailers in Marlborough?”

Pitts: “We must ensure that we make people aware of what they are supporting.  In buying their coffee in an independent shop they are supporting a local business not a chain.  And that is really important.”

“There was a survey done a few years back which showed that of every £1 spent in a local shop, 25 per cent of that pound remained in the local community.  Whereas if you spend that £1 in a chain that drops to about 14 per cent.

“So by supporting your independent local retailers you are really ensuring the vibrancy of the local community and ensuring that that money stays in the area, which I think is equally important.”

He pointed out that Caffe Nero was in a prime location in the High Street, where its shopfitters moved into the premises of the clothes retailer Dash before it had even closed.

“This is a prime location on the High Street while our independent traders actually drawer people to other parts of the High Street,” he added.

“And we do actually have Costa Coffee in Marlborough.  They followed the rules.  They put in all their planning applications.  It was done properly.”

“And the beautiful thing about their location in Marlborough is that they are in one of the more difficult shopping areas.  Their sign, I’m sure, attracts people to the other shops at that end of the High Street which otherwise might not get the full attention of the shopping community.”

Later, he told Marlborough News Online that he would raise the corporation tax question with Marlborough’s MP, Claire Perry, a close friend of Chancellor George Osborne, who with other EU countries has vowed to clamp down on major companies escaping their full tax liabilities.

“The question does hit a raw nerve and we need to know the answer,” he said.

With more than 470 branches in the UK, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, Caffe Nero is considered the third largest coffee bar chain in the country alongside Starbucks and Costa Coffee.  It does claim to be British-based, but the company has not disclosed its tax payments.

An interview in This is Money last December with Caffe Nero’s entrepreneur founder Gerry Ford, who spent his childhood in California’s Silicon Valley, revealed that earnings before interest, tax and amortisation in the year to the end of May, 2011, were £30.1 million.

This was a rise from £28.7 million for the previous 12 months, with sales up by 7.7 per cent to £165.6 million, earnings having grown for 57 consecutive quarters.

Chris McHugh, a partner in Marlborough’s famed Polly Tea Rooms, who also took part in the radio programme, spoke of his anger of Caffe Nero opening a few doors away without seeking planning consent and going through the customary consultation, an attitude he called upon the company to change.

That seems unlikely since Caffe Nero has been challenged before over its retrospective planning applications and has won 16 of the 17 planning inquiries it has faced.

“It’s just the sheer arrogance of some of these big companies who feel they can just steamroller a perfectly reasonable system that works for everybody else,” protested Me McHugh.

Caffe Nero plans to submit a petition signed by 300 customers supporting its Marlborough presence at the planning inquiry, due to be held at Marlborough town hall on January 14.

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Caffe Nero planning appeal to be heard in January

Caffe NeroCaffe NeroA planning inspector will decide whether the doors of Caffe Nero can stay open at a hearing in January. 

Caffe Nero's appeal against the refusal of planning permission for its Marlborough High Street coffee shop will be held in the town on Tuesday, January 15.

A planning inspector will hear evidence from the planning authority and representatives of Nero Holdings Ltd at Marlborough Town Hall from 10am.

Protestors and supporters are being advised that they may only take part in the discussion at the discretion of the inspector.

The chain caused anger in April when it moved into the former Dash clothing store and opened without planning permission for change of use.

Members of the town council, the Chamber of Commerce and independent traders were among those condemning the move, although the outlet has proved popular with customers.

At a meeting in July, elected councillors had been advised by Wiltshire Council planning officers to accept an application for change of use. Instead, they turned it down.

The council subsequently issued an enforcement notice against the chain, ordering it to stop trading – an order which became void as soon as the company appealed against the decision. There was no disruption to trade.

Caffe Nero has won 16 of its 17 recent planning appeals up and down the country; a fact the company was happy to bring to the attention of councillors at the July planning meeting.

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Your guide to local fireworks displays

Enjoy bonfire night in safety at a professionally organised eventEnjoy bonfire night in safety at a professionally organised eventRemember, remember the fifth of November... or the 9th, or 10th. Whenever you decide to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night, do it affordably and safely at a professionally organised event. Here are some of the events in our area.

Friday, November 9

Marlborough Town Football Club bonfire (7pm) and fireworks display (8pm). Hot food, adult bar. Tickets Adult £3, child £2, under 4 free. Limited parking available at the Elcot Lane clubhouse. In the case of bad weather the event will be rescehduled to Sunday, November 11.

6pm, St Katharine's Primary School, Savernake. Professional firework display, bonfire, licensed bar, hot food. Tickets £10 per car in advance (from the school), £15 on the night. SOLD OUT

The bonfire will be lit at Woodborough School at 6.15pm with fireworks going up an hour later. Attractions include hot soup, mulled wine and a barbecue. Parking is at the Woodborough Social Centre (in nearby Smithy Lane) and the Woodborough Garden Centre, where a minibus will be available to transport guests to (between 6.30pm & 7pm) and from the event.

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Triple marathon running cops to do final leg backwards

Adam Leakey and Jon HewlettAdam Leakey and Jon HewlettA pair of policemen running an incredible three marathons in three days in aid of Children in Need will be doing the final leg backwards, they announced this week.

But they don't intend to make their challenge even more gruelling by running 26 miles back-to-front.

Rather, their planned final leg around London has been replaced by a mirror of their first leg, and they'll wind up were they started – on the steps of Marlborough Town Hall.

As reported by Marlborough News Online in October, at 10am tomorrow (Wednesday) Jon Hewlett (35) from Marlborough and Adam Leakey (29) from Swindon will be setting off from Marlborough, following the M4 to Woolhampton, between Thatcham and Reading.

And on Thursday, the runners – who are supported by Swindon-based physio Danny Clayton, former sports masseur to Swindon rugby club and the Cardiff Blues, and Run Swindon, in Old Town, who have donated a pair of running shoes to each constable – will be running from Reading to Slough.

Friday's leg – on Children in Need day – was originally going to be a final marathon from the Hammersmith Apollo to BBC Television Centre.

But the promise of guaranteed airtime on BBC Points West has persuaded the runners to drastically change their route. So on Friday they'll set off from Woolhampton, arriving to cheers and cameras in Marlborough at about 4pm.

Adam told Marlborough News Online this week: “Due to the level of local media interest, the final marathon has now changed to maximise the event's promotion and hopefully generate more donations in turn.

“It will start at Woolhampton and will end in Marlborough, ie the first marathon in reverse.”

The policemen, colleagues from the burglary and robbery unit based at Gablecross police station in Swindon, have already raised more than £5,000. To sponsor the runners, log on to their Just Giving page.  

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Tory MP Claire Perry joins influential Commons group calling for limited press regulation

Claire Perry, who has herself clashed with the media, is one of 42 Conservative MPs and two peers calling for a limited form of statutory press regulation as a result of the scandals revealed by the Leveson inquiry.  

Mrs Perry, whose Devizes constituency takes in Marlborough, fears that industry proposals for a more powerful independent Press Complaints Commission “risk being an unstable model destined to fail.”  

She has signed a letter to the Guardian newspaper along with former Times journalist Lord Fowler, former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, former Cabinet minister Caroline Spelman, Zac Goldsmith and vociferous Tory MP Nicholas Soames.

This has caused conflict on the Tory benches, where Education Secretary Michael Gove and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles have been outspoken against statutory controls being introduced by the government.

Lord Leveson is due to report his recommendations to No 10 Downing Street by the end of the month following his exposure of shocking phone hacking by national newspapers, which resulted in the closure of the News of the World, alleged illegal payments to the police and politicians’ private links with offending newspapers.

Prime Minister David Cameron, whose e-mails to Fleet Street executive Rebecca Brooks was one of sensations of the Leveson inquiry, has said he wants to keep an open mind on what action government ought to take when Lord Justice Leveson reports.

But already the media industry and Tory MPs have started a propaganda war against the introduction of any form of state control over the freedom of the media, the letter to the Guardian seen as a counter-measure to show there is cross-party consensus for limited reforms to be introduced.

"No one wants our media controlled by the government but, to be credible, any new regulator must be independent of the press as well as from politicians," the letter says.

"We are concerned that the current proposal put forward by the newspaper industry would lack independence and risks being an unstable model destined to fail, like previous initiatives over the past 60 years".

But it is reported today that Tory colleagues believe their views are “disappointing and misguided,” John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport committee, declaring: “I am opposed to any kind of statutory regulation of the press, including statutory under-pinning.”

“While I understand the strength of feeling that some action needs to be taken, given the behaviour by sections of the press has been so bad, I think the new regulatory system proposed by the industry, which includes new powers that were not there before, deserves to be given a chance.”

Marlborough News Online has asked Mrs Perry for a personal statement.

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Donation made to animal rescue team

Louise Holden with PC, Jasmine Holden, Watch Manager Tom Brolan, Ryan Holden, Michelle Williamson, Lesley Williamson, Charlotte Curtis and Chloe Moreton with ShrekLouise Holden with PC, Jasmine Holden, Watch Manager Tom Brolan, Ryan Holden, Michelle Williamson, Lesley Williamson, Charlotte Curtis and Chloe Moreton with ShrekStaff and friends of White Horse Liveries in Alton Barnes have made a £100 donation to Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service’s animal rescue team, following a family fun day in September.

The gift follows two horse rescues, one at the stables in December 2010 and one in the summer involving a horse box.

Watch Manager Tom Brolan, rural safety officer with Wiltshire FRS, received the cheque from the fund-raising committee and nine-year-old Ryan Holden, who raised over £20 by selling homemade cookies and brownies. His aunt, Louise, works at White Horse Liveries.

Michelle Williamson, who manages the yard, explained: “We had a horse, PC, who fell in his stable and the fire service did a brilliant job in getting to him and getting him up on his feet.

“Then, in the summer, I was with Chloe Moreton when her horse Shrek got over the partition in his horse box and badly injured himself.

“Again, the fire service’s animal rescue team turned out and they were amazing – we honestly didn’t think Shrek would be OK, but he’s now fully recovered and competing again.”

She added: “We were already planning a fun horse and dog show to raise some money for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance, so we decided we would also make a donation to the animal rescue team as a way of saying ‘thank you’.”

White Horse Liveries is a relatively small yard, with about 25 horses, owned by Michelle Draisey, and it had fantastic support for its fundraising efforts – thanks go to sponsors including Wessex Equine Vets, Wadworths and Equilibrium.

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Local charity’s report reveals shocking state of dementia diagnosis in Wiltshire

The local independent charity Alzheimers’ Support has compiled a telling report on the current state of diagnosing dementia in Wiltshire.  Barriers to Dementia Diagnosis in Wiltshire – a survey report highlights ‘the shockingly long’ waiting times for appointments with memory services in the county.

Last year Wiltshire was ranked 161 out 169 Primary Care Trusts for dementia diagnosis. It is estimated that there are some 6,300 people with dementia living in Wiltshire – and only one third of them have a medical diagnosis.

Alzheimers’ Support based their research on three exclusive surveys carried out with a grant from Comic Relief.  Their report underlines how, within the medical profession and the NHS, diagnosis and support for dementia has been a ‘Cinderella’ service – something the government is now taking some steps to counter.

Dementia is not a simple or straightforward condition.  It includes a varied spectrum of conditions and the conditions themselves can develop at very varying speeds.

One of the report’s main findings is the delay by patients themselves in choosing to come forward to seek help – with some people waiting sixteen months before taking concerns to their doctor. The biggest single cause of delay was patients’ belief that ‘getting forgetful is a normal part of ageing.’

While some of those surveyed reported that GPs had not taken their condition seriously, GPs said they were unwilling to make referrals to specialist clinics when the waiting times were so long.  GPs described the current service as ‘disgraceful’, ‘woeful’, ‘unacceptable’ and ‘dreadful’.

When asked how matters could be improved, GPs who took part in the survey were split between those calling for more funding for the existing service, and those who wanted to explore new ways they could diagnose and prescribe rather than relying on consultants and specialist clinics.

As Marlborough News Online has reported, one part of the new Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for Wiltshire has already started a pilot scheme which allows doctors to prescribe drugs that have previously only been prescribed by consultants at the end of very long waits for appointments.  This scheme, it is hoped, could be rolled out across the whole county – if it’s a proven success.

Alzheimers’ Support has uncovered some distressing examples which give personal backing to the problems the report uncovers.

David and Kay Hyde of Marden spent two years pushing their GPs to take Kay’s symptoms seriously – they thought it was just depression and she was on anti-depressants for a year. Her dementia was confirmed by doctors at Salisbury hospital when she was there for other matters.

But they waited another fourteen months to be formally diagnosed and treated by Wiltshire’s memory services (which are commissioned from the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership –AWP) for vascular dementia.  

They went to AWP's Victoria Centre based at Great Western Hospital and Kay became part of a drugs trial run there by a commercil clinical tial team. Her scans had to be sent to the USA for analysis using the latest technical equipment and these showed Kay’s condition was almost certainly the result of a series of mini-strokes.   

David told Marlborough News Online that he had felt ‘isolated and neglected’: “We learnt more from attending the Victoria Centre than anywhere else, because they had a research programme.  They suggested a better prescription drug.”

He thinks part of the answer to the present situation is “More consultants taking a pro-active view.”  But in the end “It’s all down to budgetary constraints – and it shouldn’t be.”

There are at least 750,000 people with dementia living in the United Kingdom – and this figure is expected to double over the next thirty years.

The prime minister’s ‘Challenge on Dementia’ scheme aims to speed up diagnosis and a pilot scheme will involve a new centre for MRI scans, a mobile diagnosis vehicle and an App to help doctors diagnose dementia. A Downing Street spokesman said “With projects like this, we may be able to transform how diagnosis works in the UK and elsewhere.”

But the App has brought some withering criticism from GPs who describe it as ‘pie in the sky’ and a ‘gimmick’. None of these government pilots is taking place in Wiltshire.

So how can the situation in Wiltshire explored so thoroughly in the Alzheimers’ Support report be improved?

Dr Steve Rowlands Dr Steve Rowlands Dr Steve Rowlands was Medical Director of the Wiltshire Primary Care Trust (also known as NHS Wiltshire), and now chairs the CCG which, under the coalition government’s restructuring of the NHS, will take over from NHS Wiltshire in April 2013.  He gave Marlborough News Online this statement:

We are proud of the progress made to ensure services are improved for people living with dementia in Wiltshire, but we are acutely aware of the need to improve further and we are working jointly with colleagues at Wiltshire Council, AWP, the voluntary sector and local GPs to improve early intervention and diagnosis of dementia.

We have agreed an action plan with Wiltshire Council to ensure we are delivering on the National Dementia Strategy, and we are working very constructively with a specially convened group of advisors to oversee progress, to which Alzheimer’s Support plays a valuable part.

We’re in the process of changing the way services are provided, to support the needs of our patients and their carers and give them confidence that they can rely on these services. The main emphasis of our current joint work is to ensure that people are diagnosed and started on treatment by their GP with assessment from the Memory Service nurse, rather than waiting for an assessment by a consultant at hospital.

For people who are showing signs of dementia under the age of 80, and those people who during their assessment are considered to be complex, will still see a specialist.

We’re already seeing great improvements in waiting times – for instance, those people who have been treated in primary care wait four weeks for their treatment to start. With the continued support of AWP, Wiltshire Council and our hospital partners, we are confident that we will see some constructive improvements to services for people with dementia in Wiltshire.

The main recommendation from the Alzheimers’ Support report is for a campaign to increase public awareness of dementia with special effort put into schemes based in GP surgeries and sheltered housing schemes. And the charity will be taking a lead in this through their Comic Relief funded project.

The full report can be read on the Alzheimer’s Support website from Thursday, November 8.

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We Love Marlborough launches creative project to upgrade the High Street

Marlborough’s past heritage should be projected into the future to make its famous High Street more attractive to visitors, and less dominated by traffic by introducing creative changes.  

That was the message Marlborough town councillors heard last night (Monday) from Louisa Davison when she presented an exciting project inspired by the community arts and culture group We Love Marlborough.  

And to their surprise she launched into poetry at the start of a meeting packed with political argument by quoting William Henry Davies:  

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see in broad day light,
Streams full of stars, lie skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

“When I was preparing this presentation, I was inspired by this poem written by WH Davies in 1911,” said Louisa. “Compare it to Marlborough High Street.  Does it say ‘stand and stare’ or ‘full of care’?  Does it encourage us to ‘turn at Beauty’s’ heritage of the town?  Or does it encourage us to rush in, do our shopping and leave?”

“Do we want our High Street to welcome people to stay, linger, enjoy or ‘please pass through’?”

She pointed out: “More and more Marlborough people – Transition Town, town centre planning group, Chamber of Commerce, Vision Marlborough, brand Marlborough – are considering how the town can be more attractive and friendly for local shopping and a tourist trade that lasts longer than a visit to Polly Tea Rooms.

“Part of this is to lift the High Street from under the weight of cars and parking and allow our beautiful town to shine through, how to shift importance away from cars and towards pedestrians.  After all, unless traffic is simply passing through, even those people in cars need to get out and walk.”

“At the moment there are just two public places to sit.  Even a bench bought and paid for by the Community Area Transport Group and sitting in a Devizes depot has found no home.”

“Despite the record breaking width of the High Street, the pavements are too narrow in places to stand and chat.  And, apart from the library, there are no public notice boards.”

She added: “So 'We Love Marlborough' are conducting an experiment.  To create something new and exciting that will contribute to the history and heritage of the town and show what can be achieved with a little imagination and co-operation.”

“It would do the following:

Create a focal point in the middle of the High Street;

Provide a place to display community information.

Be a place where teenagers to tourists, men in flat caps to shoppers can meet up, watch the world go by, or find out what they can do at the weekend.

“This beautiful and functional piece of public art would be created by an artist chosen by a panel of local people. It would have seating and possibly a bike rack.

“We see it as sitting right in the central strip of parking, taking up two or tree spaces.  It would have a special road texture from each pavement to function both as a courtesy crossing and to help it claim its space in the road.”

All we need now is the support of the town council, local people and to raise the money…”

Marlborough’s mayor, Councillor Edwina Fogg, generously thanked Louisa for the concept but declared that the ideas needed far more detail and costings before the town council could contemplate such a leap into the future.

But Louisa insisted that while she had discussed the project with Wiltshire Council, she was in a “chicken and egg” situation whereby Wiltshire needed her to gain the support first of the town council before putting the project through its paces.

The town council agreed that talks should take place between We Love Marlborough and Councillor Richard Pitts, who chairs the council’s Amenities and Open Spaces Committee. “We are all looking forward to working with Rich Pitts,” Louisa told Marlborough News Online.

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