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Bedwyn Bus Cuts - affecting more than just Marlborough residents

20-07-2018 Jo Carroll

  Sirs,   Following on from Dr Sam Page’s letter regarding the cuts to buses with links to Bedwyn, I’d like to point out that this doesn’t only affect residents of Marlborough.   I lived in Marlborough for many years before moving to Newbury last summer.  I have no car, and rely on public transport...

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Ready for the rain – when it comes... Ramsbury Primary School’s new rain garden

20-07-2018 Sue Round

Action for the River Kennet’s rainscapes project to improve storm water management in towns and villages along the River Kennet has now spread to Ramsbury. Ramsbury Primary School has an innovative new rain garden. So when the downpours finally arrive not a drop of water will be wasted.

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Oare burglary - Police appeal for witnesses

20-07-2018

Burglars broke in to a house in Oare, just off the Marlborough - Pewsey road (A345) between 3pm on Wednesday 18 July and 9am the next morning and made off with a large amount of high value items.    

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Brexit watch....and listen carefully to the words

20-07-2018

  After two years Brexit is still just a matter of words.  We can take our pick - we can even cherry-pick:  Chaotic?  Confused?  Treacherous? ( Trump-style) treason?  Constructive conversations?  The EU's 'founding principles'?  Or the famous 'Brexit means Brexit'.'Brexit means Brexit' is not the kind of definition you will find in Dr Samuel Johnson's great...

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Mayor Lisa leads from the from the front at the annual Mayor's XI v Marlborough Cricket Club match at Savernake

20-07-2018

There is no such thing as 'RBW', or 'Robes Before Wicket' so Mayor Lisa Farrell was probably quite safe from getting bowled out in the warm-up to Wednesday's annual Mayor's XI v. Marlborough Cricket Club match at the beautiful setting of the Cricket Club's Savernake ground.

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Users get a say in the design and layout of the upgraded Cooper's Meadow Play Area

20-07-2018

Coopers Meadow play area will be improved and upgraded, turned into a contemporary place for children to play in safety that is in the heart of the Town. 

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Administration Assistant: Reception - Marlborough College

20-07-2018

Administration Assistant: Reception       We are looking for an Administration Assistant, to provide a professional and welcoming first point of contact to visitors to the College, both in person through Reception and on the telephone.  You should have excellent interpersonal, communication, IT, administrative and organisational skills.  The ability to work under pressure, with...

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Recreational cyclist sets out to ride the 'Ride London' 100 miles challenge for Alzheimer's around the 2012 Olympic course.

19-07-2018

Self confessed 'not particularly fit person', 47 year old Mark Waring-Jones will take on the 100 mile challenge on Sunday week - 29 July - in aid of Alzheimer's Society.

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'Bigger & better' trains but a cut & worse bus service: can that be sensible?

19-07-2018 Dr Sam Page

Sirs,  In January 2019, Great Western Railways will be introducing new, five-car, bi-mode, Intercity Express Trains (IETs) running between Bedwyn station and London Paddington. These new trains, capable of running on both diesel and electric, will mean that GWR is able to continue to operate direct services to Bedwyn, Hungerford and...

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Special school holidays event: Swindon Museum & Art Gallery's free family archaeology day

19-07-2018 A Correspondent

If you thought Swindon only started with the railway age, think again!  The town's Museum and Art Gallery holds a rich collection of archaeological finds made in the area from the Stone Age onwards.

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Psychotherapists get on board with Air Ambulance

Helen Payne and Geoff Miles of See for MilesHelen Payne and Geoff Miles of See for MilesA Marlborough firm of psychotherapists has got on board with Wiltshire Air Ambulance, supporting people whom the charity has helped in coming to terms with their accident, or the loss of a loved one.

Every year, hundreds of people who have experienced the services of the air ambulance first hand, or are related to those who have been flown to hospital, visit the airbase - at Police Headquarters in Devizes - to thank paramedics and pilots.

This can be an emotional experience, especially in the case of families who may well have lost a loved one in an accident where, despite their best efforts, the clinical staff were unable to save a life.

Air Ambulance chief executive David Philpott said: "Over the past few months we have been working with See for Miles in an informal capacity, and have been very impressed with their skill in helping people through the effects of trauma, forced lifestyle changes, bereavement and stress.

"Their many years’ experience in assisting members of the armed forces suffering Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome means that they are uniquely equipped to meet the challenges that a serious accident throws up."

Geoff Miles, principal psychologist at See for Miles said, which is based at Hughenden Yard in Marlborough, said: "We are very aware of the emotional and psychological effects that an incident can impact on a patient and their family, friends and colleagues and realise that if these effects are dealt with and tackled early on, it can minimise impact later. We are proud to support Wiltshire Air Ambulance in this way."

Last year, See for Miles provided two days of training for Wiltshire Air Ambulance medics who attended a critical care paramedic course organised in conjunction with Cambridge University Hospitals Trust.

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Pedestrian killed on A4

Scene of Monday evening's accident at FyfieldScene of Monday evening's accident at FyfieldA pedestrian was killed after being struck by a car on the A4 near Fyfield last night (Monday).

Emergency services – including the air ambulance and doctors from the Marlborough-based charity SWIFT Medics – were called to the scene at 7.20pm.

Police say the 34-year-old man was walking along an unlit section of the A4 when he was hit by a Jaguar car being driven by a 59-year-old local man, who was travelling in the direction of Marlborough.

There is no footpath on the side of the road on which the casualty was walking. 

The man – named locally as Mark Staddon, from Fyfield – was pronounced dead at the scene. The A4 was closed for three-and-a-half hours to allow police to carry out a crash investigation.

By coincidence, the first passersby to arrive at the scene were Marlborough GP Richard Hook and Simon Routh-Jones, Wiltshire's chief fire officer, both of whom were off-duty.

They found the injured pedestrian to be in cardiac arrest, and co-operated to administer 'bystander CPR' while the emergency services arrived.

Dr Jonathan Glover of SWIFT MedicsDr Jonathan Glover of SWIFT MedicsDr Hook requested that the ambulance service call SWIFT Medics, the group of volunteer doctors who attend serious medical emergencies throughout Wiltshire.

Three members of the team – Doctors Jonathan Glover, James Mapstone and Dan Bawden – were holding a committee meeting in Marlborough, and were on the scene within less than 10 minutes of the collision.

“The pedestrian received the very best medical care – he had the benefit of a full hospital-style resuscitation including the Wiltshire Air Ambulance team,” said Dr Jonathan Glover, of SWIFT Medics.

“Sadly, his injuries were catastrophic.”

The SWIFT Medics lead team administered CPR for more than 25 minutes, but the pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene at around 8pm.

Marlborough News Online understands that the A4 through Fyfield has been designated a 50mph zone, but that the speed restriction has not yet been implemented. 

Witnesses to the accident are asked to contact PC Bob Ecclestone on the non-emergency number, 101.  

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Parents must police their children’s explicit text messages and email contacts declares Claire Perry

Devizes MP, Claire PerryDevizes MP, Claire PerryChildren don’t have any right to keep secret their text messages, social media contacts and internet emails, Marlborough’s Tory MP Claire Perry has insisted.

The  48-year-old mother of three was appointed last month  by David Cameron as his adviser on childhood following the government’s refusal to legislate to control computer pornography.

In her first interview – in today’s Daily Mail – Mrs Perry points out that in a world where young people are surrounded by online dangers, parents should challenge the “bizarre” idea that their children have the right to keep their messages private away from any form of policing.

She declared that society as a whole has been “complicit” in allowing a culture where youngsters can make inappropriate contact with strangers at all hours of the day and night.

Parents should feel more empowered to challenge their children over their phone and internet usage and read their messages because “sexting” – where children send each other explicit images of themselves – went on in “pretty much every school in the country”.

Parents had to take clearer responsibility for internet access on their children’s laptops and mobile phones.

“So many people say “I have got children on their laptop at 2am – what do I do?” Well, turn the router off when you go to bed,’ insisted Mrs Perry.”

Today's Daily MailToday's Daily MailShe has set out a range of proposals on the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood, which include a better, well-advertised system for parents and children to report inappropriate behaviour online, a crackdown on raunchy music videos and children’s access to ‘lads’ mags, and a shake-up of the school curriculum so that internet safety is taught in IT classes.

“We’ve given our children all these opportunities to communicate in private, but we’ve lost the confidence to actually get involved in that,” she said on the issue of children’s texts and internet exchanges.

“We have to feel more empowered to ask.  Make sure your kids allow you to be friends with them on Facebook, ask them whether what they are doing is appropriate.”

She called too for internet safety taught in the classroom and added:  “We have got to be much franker, much more open and upfront about it.”

“I don’t want it to sound like harking back to Victorian values, but parents should sit down with their kids and say ‘are you aware of what’s out there?’”

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High Street shopping is being put in danger of collapse by online surge says David Dudley

David DudleyDavid DudleyTown centres and High Street are in danger of collapse unless online shopping is made to share the overheads of rents and rates that retailers face.

The warning has come from Marlborough upmarket jeweller David Dudley, who points out that for every pound spent in the high street 50 per cent goes back into the community while every pound spent online only five per cent returns.

It was only a last minute realisation by people that all they needed was close at hand resulted in slow Christmas trade in Marlborough was finally boosted in the last week, he told Marlborough News Online.

“That saved many businesses from disaster,” he said.  “This applied to private and to the multiple shops too. What is interesting is how many people then realised that most of their needs were in the High Street after all.”

“I have a feeling that initially people were ordering online until the last week when they feared items would not be delivered on time, so business improved.”

He added: “One understands why people do this, as the iPad has changed the way we shop, but do they really understands the repercussions it has?  For every pound spent in the high street 50% goes back into the community.  Every pound spent on line only five per cent comes back.”

“When you go shopping you get personal service and expertise, as in our own shop all the staff have taken the jewellery qualifications to give customers good advice and full backup and support when it is needed.”

“This you cannot get online.  Jessop's provided that service but people purchased online, so now no expert help is available.”

“Marlborough is full of many good shops giving expert advice.  They need your support.”

Mr Dudley believes that what is now needed is help for High Street retailers to compete with online companies, which is taking 13 per cent of business.

“Rates have to be reduced and put onto the online companies, whom we are subsidising, as we are, at present, trading in an unfair playing field nationally,” he declared.

“Companies like Amazon, who pay no corporation tax will have to comply with a new form of taxation/rates or else high streets will be full of coffee shops, restaurants and charity shops.  Is this what we want?

“The specialist shops like mine and Kim Vine (his wife’s fashion shop) will survive but we need to have a good mix for everyone to create a strong community spirit, as this is a wonderful town to visit and live in.”

“This is where the Marlborough Town Council can help and take a more positive role, making a visit to Marlborough a great experience and listening to the needs of the traders.  This is in hand but needs to be speeded up before it is too late.”

“Those who are concerned about carbon waste must surely realise that vans driving round the countryside belching out fumes and delivering parcels in cardboard boxes are not helping their cause.”

“Let us be positive and enjoy shopping in Marlborough.”

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Big Lottery funding secures Home-Start Kennet’s work with families for three years

A three year grant totalling £266,000 from the Big Lottery Reaching Communities Fund has been secured by Home-Start Kennet. This money will help underwrite the continuation and expansion of the local charity’s work helping more families in the Devizes, Marlborough, Pewsey and Tidworth areas.

The grant will cover three-quarters of the funding the Home-Start Kennet needs to carry on and grow its work until 2016.  The trustees have made a point of thanking all those who have helped it financially since the loss of its prime funding grant from Wiltshire Council in March 2012.

And they point out that fundraising will have to continue to raise the other one quarter of the annual costs of their new programme and to meet the Big Lottery’s requirement to match part of their grant.

Bel CromptonBel CromptonBel Crompton, the Home-Start Kennet Scheme Manager, told Marlborough News Online: “We are so pleased to receive this Big Lottery award.  It is great that a significant funding body recognises and values Home-Start Kennet’s support for Wiltshire families.”

“Our charity’s trustees and staff can now plan for the next three years, supporting more local families as we expand our team of home-visiting volunteers.”

Home-Start Kennet is a local charity that has been supporting families with young children in the area for twenty-five years – including young military families.  It provides a very special service: volunteers, who are all parents themselves, are professionally trained to help families under stress.  

The volunteers visit the family at their home to give support in parenting strategies, stimulating play for children, accessing local services, family budgeting – or sometimes simply by providing a skilled listening ear when problems need sharing, lessening feelings of isolation.

Last year fifty-one families were supported and the charity currently has thirty home-visiting volunteers. Each family costs the charity between £1,500 and £1,800 a year to support.

Home-Start Kennet has a very small team of part-time staff and the new funding will allow two additional part-time appointments to be made to manage the increasing case-load.

For several years two-thirds of Home-Start Kennet’s running costs were met by Wiltshire Council to the tune of £50,000 a year.  The rest of the costs were covered by money raised from donations and grant making bodies.

In March 2011 the contract for the work the Council referred to Home-Start Kennet was cancelled – though the Council did provide a £25,000 grant for 2011-2012 – after that Wiltshire Council’s major funding for Home-Start Kennet ended.  The Council’s move was a policy decision to concentrate their reduced resources onto the needs of complex family situations. Home-Start Kennet’s aim is to help families before they become ‘complex cases’.

Home-Start Kennet is affiliated to Home-Start UK which provides guidance, governance and advice, but no financial support.
Home-Start Kennet has a new office phone number: 01672 569457.  This is the number for people to contact who might benefit from this kind of support or want to become a volunteer.  Or they can be emailed at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

There are more details on the charity’s new website.

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Marlborough’s Waitrose hits a record 5.5 per cent sales rise to celebrate its best ever Christmas

Andy Davies, manager of Marlborough's WaitroseAndy Davies, manager of Marlborough's WaitroseWaitrose, the magnet that makes Marlborough’s High Street a hit, had a record-breaking Christmas and New Year with sales up 5.5 per cent to create its best ever results.

And as it celebrated its success with a footfall rising to 30,000 customers a week, the super supermarket issued its own warning of food inflation in a tough year ahead and revealed how it is tackling worrying food waste.

Sunday, December 22, when shopping was confined to only six hours trading, provided the store’s peak performance for Andy Davies, Waitrose’s ebullient manager for the past five years.

“Within two hours that day we reached the same sales figures that we have on a normal Sunday – and that was incredible,” he told Marlborough News Online. “What a hectic time it was – and what a real buzz and really good Christmas feeling there was as customers had finished work and were out to treat themselves.

“This has been a best Christmas. Certainly it was from the figures with sales up nearly six per cent.  Better still, we didn’t have snow, the weather was mild, and the supply chain was good throughout.  I got exactly what I wanted – and when I wanted it, which is so important when there are a massive number of things that can go wrong.”

And on Thursday Waitrose’s managing director Mark Field made an unannounced visit to the supermarket to congratulate Andy and his team of up to 250 staff.

“He normally visits us once a year,” said Andy.  “He was here for about an hour and went round congratulating our people and was very complimentary about the store and our achievements.”

“And it was a great opportunity for me to talk to him.  We had other Waitrose managers here talking about Christmas and discussing the challenges we face in the year ahead.  Then suddenly I heard Mark was here and in the store.”

We charge a premium price only for premium products

Statistics for the core period December 18 to 31 at the Marlborough supermarket showed like for like sales up 5.5 per cent on last year.

“If you think about Tesco’s 1.8 per cent up, Sainsbury’s 0.9 per cent rise, Morrisons down 2.5 per cent and M&S down too, then that is really good,” said Andy Davies.

“When we’re dealing now with 25,000 to 30,000 customers a week going through the tills, that is significant for our little Marlborough store.

“More and more people came to us at Christmas because we have changed – our everyday products like a bottle of Fairy Liquid are brand matched with Tesco and people like to see too the work we have been doing supporting the community.

“They’re saying, ‘I quite like this,’ and are heading straight for us.

“What we charge a premium price for is our premium products. That’s because there is a clear difference between our poultry and meat, but we are no more expensive on day to day products and our own label essential range.”

 

What is clear is the lead Mark Price and his managers have taken in revealing the need to tackle food waste and the challenge of food security caused by changing climates and inevitable food inflation.

Marlborough Waitrose has linked up with Greatwood, the charity for retired racehorses at Clench Common, and supplies it with produce passed its sell-by date.

“So their animals are now dining on our parsnips,” said Andy. “It has been a mission for me as a retailer, as a grocer, to reduce the amount of stuff that is thrown away.  We are delighted with the link.”

Then there is a double dilemma of food production in changing climates and the economic pressures resulting in rising food prices. “They are the two big things that will have an impact,” says Andy.

“Poor weather conditions are going to see higher prices coming through from farms and, whereas we can as retailers cushion some of that, we can’t cushion it all.  That is the challenge we are all going to face.”

He takes relief from the bouquets of customers.

“We get plenty of plaudits, customers making a real effort to tell us what a great tem we have and how really pleased they were with what we did to create a happy Christmas and New Year for them.”

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How NHS commissioning for Wiltshire will be organised from April 1

The constitution of the GP-led NHS Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will not be published until the CCG is officially authorised to take over from NHS Wiltshire (the Primary Care Trust or PCT) on April 1.  

However, Marlborough News Online has seen a draft of this constitution dated October 2012 – a few weeks before it had to be submitted to the NHS Commissioning Board as part of the CCG’s authorisation process.  It is understood that this draft was only tweaked before final submission.

The constitution shows how the three ‘semi-autonomous’ Groups into which the CCG has divided itself will be organised. The Groups are Sarum (the south of the county); WWYKD (pronounced ‘wicked’ – standing for West Wiltshire, Yatton Keynell and Devizes); and NEW (for north and east Wiltshire) – which includes the Marlborough area.

Below these groups on the organisational table is another tier - the ‘localities’. Sarum is divided into three, WWYKD into four and NEW into two localities.

Each Group has a director who is not a GP. These three jobs were advertised at salaries of £77,079-£97,478.  The directors will lead their group but will also be ‘spearheading one of the county-wide commissioning priorities’– such as urgent care or mental health.

In some respects this organisation reflects the original scheme for three separate CCGs to cover Wiltshire – a scheme the GPs were persuaded to abandon on the grounds that for efficiency and economies of scale the county needed a single CCG.

The running costs for the CCG will partly accrue from the need to replace GPs when they are called to meetings – and there will be plenty of meetings.  The CCG has its Board which will meet in public (as does the PCT) and four committees.  

The NEW Group will have a GP Forum which will meet once a year (with all GPs and practice managers attending), a NEW Group Executive Committee which will meet monthly, and its Locality Groups are expected to meet every two months.

Meetings of NEW’s Group Executive Committee will include the group chair and deputy chair, at least four other GPs, at least two practice managers, the group director, the group Service Development Support Manager, one of the CCG’s non-executive directors (or lay representatives) and a secretary.

The Sarum Group will have at least two Group meetings a year. The Group Board will meet monthly. The Group Executive will meet weekly. The Sarum Health Forum will meet monthly (except for August and December.)  Sarum locality meetings will be monthly (except for August and December) and there is a Sarum Clinical Cabinet which will meet to guide ad hoc projects.

WWYKD’s meetings schedule will have a bi-monthly GP Forum, a monthly Group Executive Committee and its four locality groups will meet every three months.

The coalition’s NHS White Paper of July 2010 (which outlined the restructuring eventually passed into law as the controversial Health and Social Care Act), stated that this major restructuring aimed at ‘radically simplifying the architecture of the health care system’.  In doing so it promised to reduce NHS management costs by more than forty-five per cent over four years and asserted the aim of ‘strengthening democratic legitimacy’.

At present only the CCG’s Governing Body (equivalent to the PCT’s board) will hold meetings which the public can attend.  But it is not stated in the draft constitution how often those will be held. Decisions about commissioning some of the health services for our area will, it appears, be taken at private meetings.

The CCG, which is based in the same Devizes building (left) as the PCT, will be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.  It is doubtful whether Wiltshire’s CCG Groups and Localities will be.

Government supporters painted the restructuring as removing the PCT ‘layer of administration’.  They did not appear to realise that most of the work the PCT ‘layer’ did would need to be replicated by the CCGs.  It is now clear that several ‘layers’ have been put back into the NHS architecture for Wiltshire.  

The size of the CCG’s workforce is not yet finalised.  But as the CCG will have a considerably smaller budget than the PCT, will have fewer commissioning responsibilities and no assets or buildings to manage, it will be smaller.

At least sixty-seven staff members from the PCT will be working for the CCG from April 1.  But for some of its work and office functions the CCG will also be using the services of other CCGs and the newly established Central Southern Commissioning Support Unit which will be based in Newbury.

It is clear that this constitution is not the last word on the organisation.  Although it says that the CCG must ensure ‘patients and the public are fully consulted and involved in every aspect of the commissioning cycle’, it does not say how this will happen.  Indeed it makes a point of saying ‘further guidance is awaited with regard to process for wider public involvement once the CCG is fully established.’

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Snow provides opportunity for horse play

Snow DropSnow DropMeet Snow Drop, a life-sized snow sculpture by Marlborough artist Deborah Burt.

Deborah is an associate member of the Society of Equestrian Artists, and has been running a ‘Snow Horse’ competition on the society’s Facebook page since the bad weather struck.

“We cater for artists of all ages and abilities and with so many people stuck at home it seemed like a fun activity for our members to take part in and to help build our growing online community,” said Deborah.

From a personal point of view, this gives me an opportunity to work on a much larger scale than I would normally, and of course the materials are free.”

Deborah moved to the area last year and is looking forward to taking in part in this year’s Marlborough Open Studio event with painter and printmaker Rosemary Farrer.

Check out snow pictures from around the area here, and do send us your own snow pictures.

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Caffe Nero should be applauded for giving potential to an under-used vital site, says estate agent

Planning Inspector Phil GraingerPlanning Inspector Phil Grainger

The vitality of Marlborough’s High Street has been enhanced by the arrival of branded national companies, estate agent Kevin Ellis claimed at the town hall public inquiry into Caffe Nero retrospective planning appeal.

He told planning inspector Phil Grainger (pictured) that it was common for some of the town centre properties to have than one planning consent for retail (A1), financial and professional services (A2) and restaurant/café (A3).

The row over Caffe Nero’s presence is that it wants both A1 and A3 use so that café and takeaway services can be provided on the first two floors, the third floor now converted into flats.

“During the last 10 years the High Street has gone from having a lot of empty properties and a high turnover of tenants,” said Mr Ellis, a local resident, who has worked in the High Street in the past.

“However, the vitality of the town has been enhanced by the many national retailers that have been drawn to the town and the change of the demographics.”

“The argument for the loss of retailers is a non-starter in my opinion.  Over the past five years Marlborough High Street has seen a significant overall net increase in retail. There are shops now trading as retail which actually have consents such as A2 or A3.”

He highlighted the Tudor Tea Rooms, a family business that used all three floors of a property on the other side of the High Street, which has now become an estate agents.

And also pointed out that Dorothy Perkins was formerly the Portman Building Society offices and was considered a significant gain in retail space, the Food Gallery was for decades an independent gents retail outlet.

“In addition, the most significant point is that the number of independent coffee houses/cafes is lower than five years ago,” added Mr Ellis, a key witness for Caffe Nero Holdings at the inquiry.

“Up to around five years ago the premises in the heart of the retail zone that has been referred to by Wiltshire Council is 115 High Street, which were occupied by the Tudor Tea Rooms.”

“They traded as a family business and was a family concern that traded over three floors in the building. And the result of that (Tudor Tea Rooms) going was a ground floor now occupied by an estate agency, which was an overall loss of amenity.

“The premises that Caffe Nero acquired have been transformed from ground floor retail to maximise the overall floor area that was storage (first floor).  And provides a like for like basis before the Tudor Tea Rooms going.”

“Caffe Nero should be applauded for the care and attention they have given to the building that wasn’t fulfilling its potential.”

Mr Ellis had earlier controversially claimed that the campaign against Caffe Nero had been “driven by a councillor who was co-opted by the council and not elected by public vote, and who has access to local media.”

He said that this had been “fuelled by Caffe Nero’s tax affairs” (the company is based outside the UK and pays no corporation tax) and added:  “But this has no concern in this planning application and has no bearing on it.”

There were other companies who had been “doing all they can to reduce their own tax liability.”

He pointed out: “Certain members of the town council have used in their arguments the number of places in the town where coffee is served.  Frankly the fact that pubs in the High Street serve coffee is not the place where I would chose to take my children or my wife.”

“And I am sure this is endorsed by the many of the people who are now using Caffe Nero.  Independent retailers in this town have to earn our trust and our business and it should not be assumed  by anyone that they take priority over larger businesses.”

The inquiry has been adjourned until February 7.

See Also:

"Caffe Nero encouraged customers to sign their petition more than once planning inspector told"

"Caffe Nero’s claims of boosting visitors to Marlborough town centre declared “misleading and unfair”"

"Caffe Nero is 'the cynical cuckoo sitting in the heart of Marlborough’s successful High Street'"

"Caffe Nero accused of being “parasitic” at major Marlborough planning inquiry into its future"

"Publish online all those companies like Caffe Nero who escape any taxes due, Chancellor is urged"

 

Quotes from the Inquiry

“Wiltshire Council recognises that money spent in independent retailers helps to keep the local economy buoyant and maintains thriving town centres,” said Marlborough town councillor and Transition Marlborough supporter Richard Pitts.

“As evidence of this, a study by the New Economics Foundation shows 25 per cent spent at independent retailer stays local, versus only 14 per cent spent in national chain.

“Our local businesses are predicated on Marlborough's unique High Street, which further attracts visitors and so ensures the town is kept vibrant.

“I don't not believe the corporate companies do this in Marlborough, they rarely get involved with the local  Chamber of Commerce and put their hands in their pockets to fund things like the Christmas lights to promote the town.

“Given their attitude thus far, I can’t see Caffe Nero contributing to the viability and vitality in this way either.”

Councillor Margaret Rose, chairman of Marlborough town council’s Planning Committee: “This appeal, if allowed, will be in conflict with the national guidance and local policies that seek the safeguard and underpin the well-being of town centres.

“Allowing it would amount to opening up the floodgates to the likes of Caffe Nero to ride into any town and flaunt convention and planning regulations by just setting up shop and throwing down the gauntlet to the planning authorities.”

Calling for the appeal to be thwarted, she added: “Marlborough does not need to rely on Caffe Nero for its footfall. In fact it is the reverse. Caffe Nero hoovers up the trade because of its chosen position and this denies trade to the smaller cafes and independent businesses of the High Street, which consequently suffer.

“ It’s chain retailers such as Caffe Nero push out independents.”

Liz Rolph, a Marlborough High Street resident, told the inquiry: “Having this café in that position means that people are not moving past that point as much as they did when it was a clothes retailer.  So it would be good to see it return to that type of use.

“I have noticed that the other end is given less footfall in many of the individual retailers.  I don’t have any scientific evidence of this but, nevertheless, it is now noticeable.

“Having another chain store does take away from our High Street its attractiveness and uniqueness to visitors.  So all the businesses do suffer as a consequence.

“Marlborough town council does have the support of many of the residents in this.  So I hope the council will be able to keep out High Street attractive for as long as possible.”

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Gunjur’s new market hall built by Marlborough students is opened by Claire Perry

Devizes MP Claire Perry faced a very long, hot day when she opened the new market hall for the people of Gunjur – the Gambian village linked with Marlborough.

It wasn’t a typical Sunday (January 13).  Gunjur’s market square, next to where the new hall has been built, was packed with locals, lined with rows of seats and covered with large gazebos to protect people from the very hot sun.

The day started with an all female troop dancing a traditional African dance, accompanied by a group of very enthusiastic drummers.  

Dignitaries, locals and even the odd inquisitive tourist stopped to watch what was happening.  Many crowded around the central area where the Master of Ceremonies – a local primary school head – presented a long line of elders and village officials.  

Each had a speech but the sentiment was the same – the new market hall would make a world of difference to the women who sold their fruit and vegetables in the village every day.  

It was recognised more than a year ago that these women needed a covered area to sell their wares.  

During the rainy season they need cover.  During the hot, dry season having a roof over their heads means their vegetables do not perish so quickly.  So less waste and more chance of making money.

Nyama Janneh, a local vendor, told the crowd: “Our vegetables only last one day when we are outside.  But this new market hall means they will last longer – possibly up to three days.”   

The building, with its corrugated tin roof and open sides and painted in mint green, was built in only twenty days in a collaboration between villagers and students from St John’s Academy and Marlborough College on their visit to Gunjur last summer - organised by the Marlborough Brandt Group.  (The photograph shows the students handing the building over to village leaders at the end of their visit.)

And so the ceremony continued.

Claire Perry sat patiently alongside Dr Nick Maurice - Brandt Group director – in a long line of dignitaries.  Her turn to speak and then officially open the market would come in time – in fact four hours after the start.

In the UK this would be seen as an arduous, painfully long process.  The searing heat didn’t help and I could see some people wilting.

But this is Africa. People like to take time on something as important as this and although one Gambian admitted to me the speeches “did go on a bit,” it was a very special day for Gunjur.

Ms Perry made her speech saying; “I know how important this market is for the livelihoods of the women and their families.  This is a wonderful example of the link.”

Then it was time for her to cut the ribbon, strung across the entrance to the new hall - the scissors did their work followed by a loud cheer from the patiently waiting crowds.

[It was not possible to transmit photographs of the ceremony from The Gambia.]

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Caffe Nero encouraged customers to sign their petition more than once planning inspector told

Councillor Stewart DobsonCouncillor Stewart DobsonCaffe Nero was claimed at Tuesday’s public inquiry to have encouraged its customers to sign a petition in support of its retrospective planning appeal more than once.

Planning inspector Phil Grainger was told this by town councillor Stewart Dobson, who presented a letter of protest written by Mr and Mrs Michael Skinner, who live in one of the three top floor flats at the High Street property.

And they declared too that allowing the second floor of the premises, formerly a storage area, to be opened for public use would devalue their home and create problems for any possible future sale.

“We understand that Caffe Nero has been encouraging customers to sign a petition in support,” said the protest Councillor Dobson read out. “It seems that customers have been allowed to sign more than once.”

“We therefore hope that were you inclined to consider this petition that the fact that customers were allowed to sign more than once that this will be taken into consideration.”

“The opening of Caffe Nero has resulted in great stress to both myself and my wife and we do hope that our comments will be taken into account and the appeal refused.”

The letter stated that Mr and Mrs Skinner, together with Mrs Ruth Pitts, who owns the two other flats, had strong objections to Caffe Nero’s change of use of the property to allow for a takeaway service.

“Little has been said about the change of use on the three flats,” the letter added.  “When we purchased our flat in 2004 we were given to understand that the premises were A1 retail and that there was no reason to suspect that this would change.”

“Until recently when Caffe Nero opened and finally submitted their retrospective application we had not realised the full implications what a change of use would mean to us.”

“We are have been given to understand that were A3 use (takeaway) to be agreed in the event of trying to sell our property it would be devalued as a result of higher insurance premiums and the reluctance of some mortgage companies to fund the purchase of property above an A3 outlet.”

“This would certainly present a problem for any first time buyers.”

The letter pointed out that Marlborough town council hasd always encouraged residential use of all High Street property above ground floor level on the grounds that it resulted in a healthy, vibrant mix of business and residential usage.

“This is a welcome feature of all historical market towns such as Marlborough,” said the letter.

The claims in the letter were not challenged by Caffe Nero’s legal representatives at the inquiry, which has been adjourned until February 7.

See Also:

"Caffe Nero’s claims of boosting visitors to Marlborough town centre declared “misleading and unfair”"

"Caffe Nero is 'the cynical cuckoo sitting in the heart of Marlborough’s successful High Street'"

"Caffe Nero accused of being “parasitic” at major Marlborough planning inquiry into its future"

"Publish online all those companies like Caffe Nero who escape any taxes due, Chancellor is urged"

 

Quotes from the Inquiry

“Wiltshire Council recognises that money spent in independent retailers helps to keep the local economy buoyant and maintains thriving town centres,” said Marlborough town councillor and Transition Marlborough supporter Richard Pitts.

“As evidence of this, a study by the New Economics Foundation shows 25 per cent spent at independent retailer stays local, versus only 14 per cent spent in national chain.

“Our local businesses are predicated on Marlborough's unique High Street, which further attracts visitors and so ensures the town is kept vibrant.

“I don't not believe the corporate companies do this in Marlborough, they rarely get involved with the local  Chamber of Commerce and put their hands in their pockets to fund things like the Christmas lights to promote the town.

“Given their attitude thus far, I can’t see Caffe Nero contributing to the viability and vitality in this way either.”

Councillor Margaret Rose, chairman of Marlborough town council’s Planning Committee: “This appeal, if allowed, will be in conflict with the national guidance and local policies that seek the safeguard and underpin the well-being of town centres.

“Allowing it would amount to opening up the floodgates to the likes of Caffe Nero to ride into any town and flaunt convention and planning regulations by just setting up shop and throwing down the gauntlet to the planning authorities.”

Calling for the appeal to be thwarted, she added: “Marlborough does not need to rely on Caffe Nero for its footfall. In fact it is the reverse. Caffe Nero hoovers up the trade because of its chosen position and this denies trade to the smaller cafes and independent businesses of the High Street, which consequently suffer.

“ It’s chain retailers such as Caffe Nero push out independents.”

Liz Rolph, a Marlborough High Street resident, told the inquiry: “Having this café in that position means that people are not moving past that point as much as they did when it was a clothes retailer.  So it would be good to see it return to that type of use.

“I have noticed that the other end is given less footfall in many of the individual retailers.  I don’t have any scientific evidence of this but, nevertheless, it is now noticeable.

“Having another chain store does take away from our High Street its attractiveness and uniqueness to visitors.  So all the businesses do suffer as a consequence.

“Marlborough town council does have the support of many of the residents in this.  So I hope the council will be able to keep out High Street attractive for as long as possible.”

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Snow joke... ice is the problem now

The snowfall is over, for now. But over the next couple of days icy conditions will present dangers for Wiltshire drivers, warn police.

Their advice is for people to drive with caution, and not to assume that roads have been treated, even if they look clear.

The advice in full is:

  • Keep up-to-date with the weather forecast and road conditions before you set off on your journey
  • Check that your vehicle is roadworthy
  • Make sure you have full visibility before driving, taking time to de-mist and de-ice all windows
  • Use your lights
  • When the roads are wet and icy, it can take twice as long to stop your vehicle so slow down
  • Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front
  • In poor visibility be extra alert for hazards
  • Carry warm waterproof clothing, a sleeping bag, food, water and a torch in your vehicle, in case weather conditions mean you have to stop
  • Make sure you have plenty of fuel for your journey before you set off
  • Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin. Manoeuvre gently and avoid harsh braking and acceleration. If you start to skid, gently ease off the accelerator and avoid braking. If braking is necessary, pump the brakes, don't slam them on.
  • Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged
  • Poor weather conditions mean it can be harder for drivers to see pedestrians and cyclists, so be vigilant and make sure you can be seen however you are travelling and wear high visibility clothing.

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Rural council revolt threat to government brings about reappraisal of “grossly unfair” funding cuts

Andew LansleyAndew LansleyThe government has backed down in the face of a revolt by 120 rural authorities, including Wiltshire, to take legal action against “grossly unfair” reductions in their funding for vital public services.

Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, was warned that the 3.81 per cent rural cuts compared with reductions of 2.05 per cent in urban areas would “crucify” their activities.

And now the government says it accepts that rural areas are under-funded and will give them a boost before the start of the new financial year in April.

Andrew Lansley, leader of the House of Commons (pictured), has acknowledged that the local government settlement was a "matter of concern" to rural MPs in responding to a parliamentary question from Ian Liddell-Grainger, Conservative MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset.

Mr Liddell-Grainger had asked for a debate discuss the difference between urban money and rural money before next year's money.

"That still presents a problem, and now is the time to discuss it so that we can get it right for next year," said Mr Liddell-Grainger.

Mr Lansley replied: "That is a matter of concern to many members, including my honourable friends at the Department for Communities and Local Government.  Ministers agree that the evidence shows that rural areas are comparatively under-funded, and that a correction should be applied so that there is proper recognition of the additional costs of delivering services in rural areas"

"I will not elaborate on the details of those adjustments, although I could do so.  Although we will want to have transitional stability in local government, the government recognise that such costs need to be understood and reflected in the formula."

Mr Lansley's response came after more than 45 MPs called on the government to reconsider the impact its funding settlement will have on rural communities.

The situation is significant as a report by the umbrella organisation Action with Communities in Rural England has revealed that those living in the countryside will bear the brunt of Mr Pickles’ original demands.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that families in rural areas spend £50 more a week than urban households while research by the insurance company NFU Mutual reveal that inflation in the countryside is twice the national average.

The cost of transport is the cause of the biggest difference, rural households spending around £20 more because they have to rely in personal cars due to the lack of available public transport.

“There is no doubt that these latest government proposals are a harsh blow to those low-paid rural families who are already struggling to make ends meet,” said Nick Chase, director of policy and research at Action with Communities in Rural England.

“Countryside residents are heavily dependent on their cars due to a lack of public transport, typically having to travel twice as far to reach their nearest shops, banks and post offices compared with those living in major conurbations.

“Rural dwellers are also hit by the comparatively high cost of heating oil, which is often used as a substitute for gas, as many rural villages are off the grid.

“We are calling on the government to seriously consider the impact of benefit cuts on rural communities before rubber-stamping these proposals.”

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Avebury better than Taj Mahal and Pyramids for tourists, says new report

The Avenue, AveburyThe Avenue, AveburyAvebury is second only to a site in Mexico in being the best heritage site in the world for visitors according to a new report.

A panel of experts placed Wiltshire’s UNESCO World Heritage Site just behind Monte Alban in Mexico for visitor experience, outscoring famous sites such as Peru’s Machu Picchu, Egypt’s Pyramids and the Taj Mahal.

The heritage sites were judged on 25 criteria including visitor experience, the presentation and preservation of the site, the ability to learn from and engage with the site and the holiday appeal of the surrounding region.

Stuart Wheeler, cabinet member for heritage at Wiltshire Council, said the impressive monuments and the unique beauty of the stones and the surrounding landscape attracted over 250,000 visitors each year.

“We have always known we have a wonderful piece of history on our doorstep and now we have official confirmation. Being placed second only to Mexico in providing visitors with the best heritage site experience in the world is a wonderful accolade.

“We work closely with our partners and all those who have an interest in this beautiful and historically significant rural site to ensure it is preserved and protected for many generations to come.”

Avebury is featured in the recent Which? Travel Magazine which refers to it as the “best-preserved and most impressive complex of prehistoric sites in Europe.” The report states a key attraction is the “quiet, bucolic setting, the lack of crowds and the ability to wander freely.”

Dr Nick Snashall, National Trust archaeologist for the World Heritage Site said: “The National Trust owns, manages and cares for over 1,600 acres of the Avebury landscape including the Stone Circle and many of its other iconic monuments.

“Our dedicated team of staff and volunteers work year round to ensure that it remains a source of inspiration and delight. So it’s wonderful to see that the very special qualities of Avebury have been recognised in this way.”

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No added horse meat: Marlborough cookery coach shows how to make a better burger

Androulla DerbyshireAndroulla DerbyshireA healthier eating regime in the new year doesn't mean having to give up your favourite meals, according to Marlborough cookery expert Androulla Derbyshire.

And, in the wake of the horse meat burger scandal, home cooking means you know what you're eating too.

Supermarket shoppers have been shaken by today's news (Wednesday) that horse and pig meat has been found in beefburgers on the shelves of Tesco and Iceland.

Androulla, whose Marlborough-based company Culinary Capers offers personal cookery tuition in people's own kitchens, says such scandals make people think twice about food traceability.

“One of the best ways to ensure you're eating the best quality food is to buy from a reputable butcher and cook from scratch,” said Androulla.

The cookery expert this week published a recipe for burgers, chips and shakes to demonstrate how affordable and easy home cooking can be.

To help people struggling with their new year's resolutions to cut out junk food, she produced a range of recipes to replace the nation's fast food favourites, including burgers, chicken, pizza, curry and oriental food.

“People who are struggling to stick to their new year's resolution to eat more healthily, or just don't know where to start, will find my easy-to-cook recipes invaluable,” said Androulla.

“Home cooked food is much better for you than ready meals or takeaways,” she said, “and I want to dispel the myth that it's difficult, more time consuming, or more expensive to cook at home.

Androulla's better burgersAndroulla's better burgers“How can people be expected to stick to diets when they don't enjoy the food? I believe changing your culinary habits over the long term, and learning to enjoy making and eating your own meals, is the key to success.

“Cooking at home will also reduce the cost of feeding your family. My burgers, chips and shakes meal is tasty, nutritious, and costs less than eating at a fast food outlet. It's better for you too, as a takeaway burger meal can contain your entire day's quota of fat, sugar and salt.

“And you can prepare and cook my curry and rice from scratch in the same time as it takes to oven cook a supermarket ready meal. It's better for you, too.”

Androulla launched Culinary Capers in 2012, after years in the catering industry and feeding a hungry family.

Unlike traditional cookery schools, Androulla offers a cookery experience tailor-made to her clients' needs, using their kitchen and equipment, and teaching people to cook the food they enjoy – whether that's eating for one or catering for a dinner party.

For more information log on to www.culinarycapers.co.uk

Recipe: Androulla's burgers, chips and shakes for four

Burgers
500g minced beef (I used lean minced beef with 20 percent fat in this recipe but use the best you can afford)
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 slices of bread made into breadcrumbs
1 egg
Salt and pepper

Burger buns/rolls
Fry the onion in the olive oil until it is soft. Cooking the onion first ensures it is soft and sweet. Add to the minced beef with the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and the egg.
At this point you can add any flavourings you like. I added 1 teaspoon of oregano and some ground cumin. You can add other dried herbs like thyme, and spices like cinnamon or ground coriander.
Mix well and then shape the burger mix into patties. Place in the fridge for half an hour to firm up. When you are ready to cook the burgers place them in a preheated griddle pan, grill or hot oven (gas 7, 200ᵒc) for about 4 minutes per side or to your liking.
Halve your burger buns and put your burger together with your choice of lettuce, tomato slices, mayo, ketchup, relish, gherkins or whatever you fancy.

Baked potato wedges
4 medium potatoes cut into chunky wedges
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon of sweet paprika and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
Mix the olive oil, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper together and toss the wedges in the mixture to coat them all over.
Place on a baking tray in a hot oven (gas 7, 200ᵒc) for about 40 minutes until they are crisp and brown.

Healthy, chocolatey fruity shake
200g blueberries
360ml plain Greek yoghurt
80 ml pomegranate juice
1 banana
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons runny honey
2 scoops of chocolate ice cream

Although this milkshake has some ice cream it is still a healthier option than a takeaway shake as the fruit is one of your five a day.

Place all the ingredients in a blender and whizz up to a smooth shake. You can add some ice cubes at the end and process again as this makes the shake nice and frothy.

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Caffe Nero’s claims of boosting visitors to Marlborough town centre declared “misleading and unfair”

Councillor Richard GambleCouncillor Richard GambleTwo witnesses tore to pieces Caffe Nero’s claims at Tuesday’s public inquiry into its appeal for retrospective planning consent that its added value was that it attracted extra visitors to Marlborough’s town centre.

One was John Kirkman, a retired university teacher from Ramsbury, who has been chairman of the Kennet branch of CPRE for 16 years, who revealed that he personally sat inside the café and counted its take-away customers.

And the other was Wiltshire councillor Richard Gamble, the vice-chairman of its East Area Planning Committee, whose arguments overturned the positive recommendation of the council’s own officers when it considered Caffe Nero’s application in July.

He produced evidence to show that Caffe Nero had used “similar figures” of potential customer use for planning applications in other towns such as Devizes, when there were significant differences between them.

And he declared that their statistics should be given no weight.

“Caffe Nero offers us nothing new,” Mr Kirkman told inquiry inspector Phil Grainger.  “The High Street and its associated Hilliers and Hugenden Yards alone have 13 coffee outlets already, not including restaurants and pubs.”

“They include provision parallel to the Caffe Nero offer from Costa Coffee and from a well-established, locally created equivalent at the other end of the street in The Food Gallery.”

“There is a diversity of take-out and eat-in services, such as Barkers, The Polly, and Mercers, in between.”

Mr Kirkman challenged the allegedly independent reports by Allegra submitted by Caffe Nero as to the value of branded coffee outlets in UK towns and Allega’s own survey in Marlborough.  The first report was in fact sponsored by Starbucks.

He tackled the discrepancies between estimates of the take-away trade at Caffe Nero – that it would rise to 30 per cent – compared to a Marlborough town council survey and his own figures from sitting inside the premises.  These ranged from as low as 14 and 18 per cent but never more than a claimed 24 per cent.

And he declared that footfall claims of Caffe Nero attracting new visitors to the town centre were “misleading and unfair” since there was no evidence at all of surveys conducted prior to the café opening and, in any case, Caffe Nero was not comparing like with like as to differing opening hours.

Councillor Gamble informed the inquiry that Caffe Nero’s appearance on the High Street failed to meet the basic strategy in the current Marlborough Area Plan, which identified the “principal needs and aspirations of the community.”

It identified “maintaining a vibrant and healthy High Street” as an issue and the fact that “independent business are being replaced by nationals”.  The plan’s recommendation was to “expand Chamber of Commerce to encourage a wider range of independents”.

The individuality of Marlborough was an equally vital issue but correspondence from Caffe Nero paid little attention to it.

“This was made evident by the fact that a very similar letter indeed was submitted by the same agent in respect of a subsequent application in Devizes,” said Councillor Gamble. “That letter, dated June  19, was received by Wiltshire Council on June 23 and was thus available to view before the committee meeting about Marlborough on July 19.  I noted that the text of the two letters was very similar indeed.”

“Not least, both letters quoted exactly the same figures for expected use of the respective premises despite the fact that the sites were in towns of different character.”

In fact, Devizes is at least twice as large as Marlborough.  Wiltshire Council’s profiles of each community area stated that the population of Devizes was 16,880 and Marlborough was 8,300.  Marlborough, however, is probably more prosperous.”

“Average house prices at that date were quoted as £229,439 for Devizes and £332,050 for Marlborough.  As a local resident and councillor, these differences are well known to me.  I formed the view, therefore, that the case made by the applicant had no specificity to Marlborough and that the figures quoted should not be given any weight.”

The inquiry has been adjourned until February 7.

See Also:

"Caffe Nero is 'the cynical cuckoo sitting in the heart of Marlborough’s successful High Street'"

"Caffe Nero accused of being “parasitic” at major Marlborough planning inquiry into its future"

"Publish online all those companies like Caffe Nero who escape any taxes due, Chancellor is urged"

 

Quotes from the Inquiry

“Wiltshire Council recognises that money spent in independent retailers helps to keep the local economy buoyant and maintains thriving town centres,” said Marlborough town councillor and Transition Marlborough supporter Richard Pitts.

“As evidence of this, a study by the New Economics Foundation shows 25 per cent spent at independent retailer stays local, versus only 14 per cent spent in national chain.

“Our local businesses are predicated on Marlborough's unique High Street, which further attracts visitors and so ensures the town is kept vibrant.

“I don't not believe the corporate companies do this in Marlborough, they rarely get involved with the local  Chamber of Commerce and put their hands in their pockets to fund things like the Christmas lights to promote the town.

“Given their attitude thus far, I can’t see Caffe Nero contributing to the viability and vitality in this way either.”

Councillor Margaret Rose, chairman of Marlborough town council’s Planning Committee: “This appeal, if allowed, will be in conflict with the national guidance and local policies that seek the safeguard and underpin the well-being of town centres.

“Allowing it would amount to opening up the floodgates to the likes of Caffe Nero to ride into any town and flaunt convention and planning regulations by just setting up shop and throwing down the gauntlet to the planning authorities.”

Calling for the appeal to be thwarted, she added: “Marlborough does not need to rely on Caffe Nero for its footfall. In fact it is the reverse. Caffe Nero hoovers up the trade because of its chosen position and this denies trade to the smaller cafes and independent businesses of the High Street, which consequently suffer.

“ It’s chain retailers such as Caffe Nero push out independents.”

Liz Rolph, a Marlborough High Street resident, told the inquiry: “Having this café in that position means that people are not moving past that point as much as they did when it was a clothes retailer.  So it would be good to see it return to that type of use.

“I have noticed that the other end is given less footfall in many of the individual retailers.  I don’t have any scientific evidence of this but, nevertheless, it is now noticeable.

“Having another chain store does take away from our High Street its attractiveness and uniqueness to visitors.  So all the businesses do suffer as a consequence.

“Marlborough town council does have the support of many of the residents in this.  So I hope the council will be able to keep out High Street attractive for as long as possible.”

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