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Pewsey burglaries - Police appeal for witnesses

25 Apr 2019

  Police are appealing for witnesses after a car and jewellery were stolen during a series of burglaries in Pewsey.Four homes at three buildings in the town were broken into in the early hours of Thursday 18 April 2019.A large amount of jewellery was stolen, as well as a black BMW...

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"'Coke Pipes' on sale to all in Marlborough Market" - a concern raised at the Council meeting

25 Apr 2019

  At Tuesday's meeting of the full Town Council (24 April) Cllr Nick Fogg raised the issue of 'coke pipes' being on sale from a stall in Marlborough's regular High Street market, and he was particularly concerned not just about the availability of such drug-taking equipment but that these pipes were...

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Wires crossed over future of Marlborough's Red Telephone Boxes

25 Apr 2019

At Tuesday's meeting of the full Town Council (24 April) Councillors voted to take over Marlborough's four red telephone boxes and turn them into attractive and ornamental displays, but leave one still operational as a phone box.  However, there was confusion after the vote as to which box would remain...

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Play equipment taken away from Rabley Wood View playground

25 Apr 2019

Early on Tuesday morning (23 April) workmen moved in and started to remove the play equipment on which many of the children bought up in this area of the town had spent many happy hours.  

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Award-winning folk artist Rachel Newton to perform at a Marlborough area village

25 Apr 2019 A Correspondent

Singer, harpist and BBC Radio 2 Folk Award Musician of the Year 2017, Rachel Newton, will visit Collingbourne Kingston, near Marlborough (May 10) to perform tracks from her latest release WEST, with new material and favourites from her back catalogue.

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The changing NHS: another attempt to treat more people away from hospitals

25 Apr 2019

When NHS hospitals are full to overflowing, it may seem a case of upside down logic to call for them to be - in headline terms - 'shrunk'.  But that is the call clearly implied in the NHS Long Term Plan that was issued in January.

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Looking to find your dream home in the Marlborough & Swindon area? Check in with Kirstie & Phil…

25 Apr 2019 A Correspondent

Channel 4’s popular property programme Location, Location, Location is coming back for a new series - it's twenty-third! - and are planning to come house hunting in the Marlborough and Swindon area.

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Natural Climate Solutions

25 Apr 2019 Professor Dave Waltham

  Over the past two centuries we’ve added as much carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as it already contained, and the amount should have doubled.  However, the concentration has gone from just below 0.03 per cent to just over 0.04 per cent - about half the increase expected! 

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St John’s rocket cars blast off to regional final

24 Apr 2019 Sue Round

St John's Year 7 Design and Technology students finished the Spring Term by trialling the model rocket cars they had designed as part of a nationwide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) competition called Race for the Line.  

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Local company recognised for national best practice in The Parliamentary Review

23 Apr 2019 Sue Round

TimeFinders - a company with its origins in Aldbourne and which provides senior life services - has been recognised as Best Practice Representative 2019 in The Parliamentary Review.

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July’s unemployment figures bring much better news – but…

The national statistics released on Wednesday (July 17) showed the number of people claiming uenemployment benefit dropped by 21,200 in June.  This is the fastest rate of improvement for three years.

The wider calculation of those out of work (which takes longer to collect) showed Britain's unemploymenrt toal between March and May was 57,000 lower than for the previous quarter.  The figure was down to 2,510,000 or 7.8 per cent of the labour force.

However figures for the long-term unemployed have reached a seventeen year high – rising by 32,000. And the number of people who are ‘economically inactive’ (those not seeking work) has increased by 87,000 to reach nine million.

Figures for the Devizes constituency reflected the better news. Those claiming job seeker’s allowance fell in June by twelve per cent against the same month last year.

And between May and June the number of claimants fell by seventy bringing the claimant rate down from 1.9 per cent to 1.8 per cent.

In the constituency the figure for the long-term unemployed (those out of work for more than a year) rose by almost twelve per cent over the figure for June 2012.  The actual number was exactly the same in June as that recorded for May.

Unemployment in the 18-24 age group is proving a stubborn problem.  The June figure for the constituency was down by 7.4 per cent or 20 fewer claimants against June 2012.  Between May and June this year the figure fell by 25 to 250.

The better news for unemployment could not hide the continuing fall in living standards. Average weekly earnings (excluding bonus payments) rose by one per cent in the period March-May – while inflation is now at 2.9 per cent.

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Marlborough posties are 95 per cent against privatisation but are unlikely go on strike

Ninety-five per cent of Marlborough’s postmen and women are adamantly against the controversial privatisation of Royal Mail but it is unlikely they will go out on strike to prevent it.

That’s because they will inevitably lose money in a time of austerity and need to support their families.

There is a staff of 65 at Marlborough’s postal delivery office spread across an age range from 18 to early 60s.  “And it is the older ones who are more militant,” Martin Tylee, the 57-year-old CWU representative at the office, told Marlborough News Online.

And as a postman for 15 years he points out the former Tory premier Margaret Thatcher opposed Royal Mail privatisation.  And declared: “She was right and I support her view.

“Being the strong-willed woman she was, if Maggie thought it should have been privatised then it would have been.  That says something about her and the industry itself.”

He estimates that 95 per cent of the Marlborough staff is opposed to privatisation and added:  “My view is that privatisation of Royal Mail should not go ahead and should be left in the public domain.

“Why privatise when it is making a profit and has done so for all but two of the last 40 years, as far as I am aware.

“Money has gone straight to the government coffers and they even took a pension holiday for 10 years.  Why not invest?  “They could have done 20 years ago but successive governments have not bothered.

“They should never have given into Europe and opened up the floodgates for competition as we are the only one to have done so.  The rest of Europe is a closed shop.

“Give us a level playing field and we will compete on an equal basis six days a week for a one price goes anywhere to 26 million homes in the UK.”

While the government is offering shares worth £2,000 to all employees, he favours a continuation of the current company called Colleagueshares.

“Eighteen months ago they were due to be cashed in but surprise surprise the value of the Royal Mail was in the negative so we got nothing,” he explained.

“We are still fighting the case.  The company will now be valued at £2 to 3 billion.  How come?  To screw the workers.  This is why we don't trust Royal Mail or a share issue.”

He believes the cost of postage will inevitably go up and the service reduced after a three-year agreed period when Royal Mail must stick to the current conditions and terms of service.

“There’s nothing to say that after those three years they will change Royal Mail to the way they have in the rest of Europe,” he protested.

“That means a two or three-day service and people like those living in the villages around Marlborough will suffer because they won’t get much of a service at all.”

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Laura Collett: concern over lung injuries means more days under sedation

Laura Collett and Rayef at Barbury last SundayLaura Collett and Rayef at Barbury last SundayLATEST NEWS (Saturday morning, July 13): "Laura is now breathing with a mask and talking with her family for short periods. She is very tired and sleeping most of the time."

For further updates go to Laura's website.

The British event rider Laura Collett will stay under sedation over the weekend as doctors remain concerned about the lung injuries she sustained in a cross country fall last Monday.

The 23-year-old, who is based on the Membury Estate near Ramsbury, was taken taken to Southampton General Hospital's intensive care unit afrer her fall. She "has injuries consistent with being crushed, the injury causing most concern is the damage to her lungs."

A statement on her website (Friday morning, July 12) said she would continue to be "sedated and kept incubated so the lungs can recover".

The statement continued: "We can confirm that she has no injuries to her limbs and all tyestes to her head and brain have been clear. When in lighter sedation she is very responsive."

Last Sunday Laura Collett was at the Barbury International Horse Trials giving a dressage display on former racing great Kauto Star and riding in the three star cross country event.

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Six years after purge, A boards ban is officially lifted

A boards at the entrance to Hughenden Yard, whose traders were not affected by strict highways regulationsA boards at the entrance to Hughenden Yard, whose traders were not affected by strict highways regulationsSix years after a purge on A boards left Marlborough traders fuming – and out of pocket – Wiltshire Council has officially relaxed its stance on street furniture.

And a leading councillor has admitted that “ Over-burdening local business with a bureaucratic unnecessary process is not the right thing to do.” 

Marlborough Chamber of Commerce was forced to come to the rescue of independent shopkeepers in 2007, following a purge by Wiltshire Highways. 

The highways department wrote to 19 traders who had erected A boards in Marlborough High Street, citing health and safety concerns.

A boards owned by 13 traders, who had not heeded the council notice, were subsequently confiscated.

Shopkeepers – many of whom were based in Kingsbury Street and The Parade – reported an immediate drop in footfall of between 25 and 40 percent.

And there was confusion over what constituted 'the highway', with traders from Hughenden Yard escaping the purge because their A boards were on private land.

Following negotiations with the highways department and the town council, the Chamber of Commerce arranged for the installation of two large planters with bike racks and finger posts to the retail enclaves.

Now, the council has reviewed and relaxed its regulations.

Wiltshire councillors and officers decided to avoid regulations with the condition that anything businesses place on the highway is done in a sensible manner without creating a risk for other users of pavements and footpaths. 

John Thomson, cabinet member with responsibility for highways and transport, said: “Over-burdening local business with a bureaucratic unnecessary process is not the right thing to do, and we want to make it as easy as possible for local businesses to do well in Wiltshire.

“We do however expect businesses to act responsibly and ensure that everyone, including those with disabilities, is able to use the footpaths and pavements safely and without risk.”

The news was welcomed by Marlborough Chamber of Commerce. President Paul Shimell, who owns Specsavers in High Street and uses two A boards to promote his business, said: "It's good to see that common sense has finally prevailed, and that traders can promote their businesses in a safe manner."

Traders are being encouraged to speak to council highways officers who can give guidance, advice and practical help to businesses wishing to promote their business in this way. The council’s highways enforcement team can be reached on 01225 713356.

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Wiltshire’s White Horses inspire a major artistic enterprise – and a lot of downland walking

Ali Pretty and Richard WhiteAli Pretty and Richard WhiteArtists Ali Pretty and Richard White are about midway through a summer-long artistic enterprise inspired by Wiltshire’s eight White Horses.

They call themselves the analogue and digital partnership – Ali uses more traditional artistic mediums and Richard uses computers, apps, GPS, digital images and sound.

Ali Pretty has worked for several years on carnival connected projects.  She designed the opening ceremony for Fifa’s 2009 Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi and designed part of the closing ceremony for the London 2012 Paralympics.

Marlborough News Online asked Ali Pretty why she thought the White Horses would be a good starting point for an artistic project: “I’ve been working on carnivals and ceremonies a lot and wanted to get out into the landscape.  I knew I wanted to start walking and doing something small and intimate.”

Opening ceremony Fifa Club World Cup 2009Opening ceremony Fifa Club World Cup 2009The project – titled Freedom on My Doorstep – emerged from a commission to link up all Wiltshire’s White Horses.  And grew when Ali met Richard and decided to collaborate on a wider project connecting people and the White Horses.

It began last month with a series walks to each of the eight White Horses. Groups including enthusiasts from Essex London and Bristol joined the walks and contributed their ideas and collected sounds and images as they went.

Now Ali has finalised the eight designs or ‘escape maps’ relating to the Horses and the walks – indeed created by the people who did the short walks.  

The idea of the ‘escape maps’ came from the parachute silk maps carried by air crew during the Second World War.  Maps and silk are central to the whole project.

Until 19 July Ali will be holding a series of silk painting workshops at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes inviting people to come and help and learn about this skill.  They will be turning the images into eight banners – four metres tall by one metre wide.  

The banners will be at the centre of a unique installation that’s being created at the Museum and can be seen free of charge from 16 to 31 August.  It will bring together the 500 images and sounds – including voices – collected during the short walks.

The walks may have been short, but Ali says the weather was pretty terrible: “Sometimes it was so windy, you felt it was more like a walk by the ocean – you even felt like being on the sea rather than on the downs.”

After the eight short walks comes the long walk from 22 to 26 August. It will be a one hundred mile walk linking all the eight white horses. The route can be found and followed here.

You can sign up for the silk painting workshops or to join the long walk for one or more days.

As the walkers reach each of the Horses, the appropriate banner will be brought from the Museum to join the walkers.  And back at the Museum as each banner is handed over, there will be a change to the installation.

Finally the banners will become a key part of this year’s Devizes’ International Street Festival and Carnival.  As Dave Buxton, director of the Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts group, explained:

“The last part of the long walk brings the banners to Devizes.  They’ll be brought down into the crowded market square on the second day of our Street Festival (26 August) and with some drama they’ll be welcomed into the Square.”

As an organiser of outdoor events, Dave is an optimist and he’s sure the weather will be great for the Street festival.  And will last for another five days when the banners will join the Devizes Carnival procession (31 August.)

Ali Pretty started a studio called Kinetika in 1997 to work on carnival inspired projects with lots of participation. She has worked on Paralympic and football events.  So what’s next?

From the gentle curves of the Wiltshire downs, she moves to a not so gentle sport. She’s designing the opening ceremony for the Rugby League World Cup in Cardiff in October.

And if when you visit the installation or catch sight of the banners on the long walk or in Devizes, you spot one of the ‘escape maps’ that reminds you of Martinsell Hill – you’ll be right.  Sitting on Martinsell Hill chatting to a local farmer, Ali had ‘a moment of happiness’.

So Martinsell became ‘Moment of happiness hill’ and a theme for one of the banners.  And after all you can just see one of the White Horses from Martinsell.

It is a really wonderful map-like design – you can get a glimpse of it here.  Do go and enjoy these imaginative banners.

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Search continues for the pollution source that caused River Kennet’s “unspeakable disaster”

Mildenhall BridgeMildenhall BridgeThe search to discover the source of the toxic chemical that polluted a 15 kilometre section of the River Kennet between Marlborough and Hungerford has been joined by the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The conservation organisation has joined local farmers to “leave no stone unturned” in helping to help trace the source chemical chlorpyrifos, which can be bought in garden centres.

The incident, revealed exclusively last week by Marlborough News Online, has been described as an “unspeakable disaster” by AONB’s director Henry Oliver.

After attending a high level meeting yesterday (Monday), Mr Oliver said they would be supporting the farmers, the Environment Agency, Thames Water and the Action for the River Kennet (ARK) group, as well as other local organisations, to quickly get to the root of the crisis.

“We are deeply saddened by this horrific pollution, which has devastated a stretch of the River Kennet, in the North Wessex Downs,” he declared.  “However, we are pleased that downland farmers are already on the case to identify how and where the pollution took place.

“We understand that, at this stage, the origin of the pollutant is unknown and could be either domestic or agricultural.  The chemical chlorpyrifos, identified as causing the pollution, is the same as used in some ant killer applications that can be bought at garden centres – though it is also used in commercial agri-chemical applications.”

And he added: “The River Kennet is a chalk stream, usually known for water purity and lack of sediment.

“The spring-fed, fast flowing streams and rivers which cut through the chalk also support a diversity of plant and animal life, especially the diverse crustacean and invertebrate community, which have been wiped out by this chemical spill.  “The clear water supports healthy fish populations including brown trout, perch and chub – and these species will be left with nothing to feed on.  

“Eighty-five percent of the chalk streams on this planet are located in England and a significant number of these are within 50 miles of the Marlborough-Hungerford axis.  Thus, this tragedy on the iconic and much loved River Kennet strikes at the very heart of such an internationally renowned environment.”

Local farmers who have pledged to track down the source of the pollution are all members of the Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area (MDNIA), which has done so much to improve wildlife habitats on the Marlborough Downs.

Dr Jemma Batten, the organisation’s project manager, said: “Our farmers are making a major contribution to the health of our local wildlife.  We are devastated at the news that the gorgeous River Kennet has suffered this major pollution incident.

“We as farmers understand the profound importance of handling chemicals responsibly.  We do all we can to ensure the farming community is never the cause of such a serious event.”

Charlotte Hitchmough, director of Marlborough-based ARK,  added: “With a chemical like this, if disposed of inappropriately only a small amount can cause a great deal of damage to wildlife.  With such a wide range of users, searching for the source will be a major challenge.”

Concerns about the quality of the Kennet water pumped by Thames Water for domestic use in Swindon have been nullified by spokesman Simon Evans, who lives in Hungerford.

“There is absolutely no risk to drinking water supplies,” he told Marlborough News Online. “Anyone claiming otherwise is either grossly misinformed or scaremongering.”

Pic courtesy of Philip Perkins' 'Beautiful Kennet' calendar

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Buy a pint of HoneyBee Nectar – a special brew designed to save bumblebee populations

(left to right) Ramsbury Estates Manager Alistair Ewing, Mayor of Marlborough Guy Loosmore and the Mayoress, Henry Oliver, Director of North Wessex Downs AONB(left to right) Ramsbury Estates Manager Alistair Ewing, Mayor of Marlborough Guy Loosmore and the Mayoress, Henry Oliver, Director of North Wessex Downs AONBAn historic first pint of  specially blended brew called HoneyBee Nectar, which is destined to be a lifeline for local bee populations, was pulled by Marlborough’s mayor, Councillor Guy Loosmore, at The Bell at Ramsbury on Saturday.

The light, summery beer is produced by Ramsbury Brewery as a special gesture to  North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), with 20p from the sale of each pint or bottle aimed at bee conservation, especially bumblebees and their habitats.

Bumblebee populations on the Downs have declined dramatically over the decade, partly due to the disappearance in some parts of 97 per cent of the area’s flower-rich grasslands.

Henry Oliver, director of AONB, announced: “This project will help towards our vision that our communities and countryside will once again be rich in bumblebees and colourful wild flowers, supporting a diversity of wildlife for everyone to enjoy.”

Funds from the sale of the beer, augmented by grant funds from AONB -- and possibly additional funding further down the line -- will be used to encourage schools,  allotment holders and gardeners to plant varieties of specially-prepared perennial wildflower plug plants next Spring.

And by next summer they will start to provide a carpet of colour, an irresistible attraction to nectar-loving bumblebees, bees, butterflies and other insects.

“Many of our farmers and large landowners have embraced the need for wildflower planting,  but there is much the ordinary individual can do,” added Mr Oliver.

“And we are very keen to develop an outreach programme with local primary schools.”

Charles Flower, a renowned West Berkshire based wildflower seedsman and a member of AONB’s guiding Council of Partners, said: “If wild flowers can be grown in school grounds, the plants which form the base of the wildlife food-chain can be studied, their seeds harvested and the bumblebees and other insects which come along can also be studied.

“If children grow up without realising that wildflowers exist, the consequences for our wildlife do not bear thinking about.”

As Mr Oliver pointed out: “Bees really are for everyone and bumblebees have amazing lives.  Some species are in danger of disappearing altogether.  Indeed, Wiltshire is one of very few places where the shrill carder bumblebee can be found.  “Today’s launch of this limited edition very local beer is a shining example of ways that communities can get involved to help the survival of our black-and-yellow buddies.”

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Wiltshire issues a heat wave alert public health warning as temperatures predicted to soar

Wiltshire Council’s emergency planning department has issued a Heat Wave Alert warning as the summer sunshine is expected to hit its highest peak this weekend.

And the Level 2 warning is expected to be raised to a Level 3 one during the coming 48 hours as temperatures are predicted to soar to unexpected heights.

Such warnings are issued only when hot weather is expected to cause health problems for people who are frail and elderly, those with respiratory conditions, the obese, people over-exerting themselves and also children exposed to the sun or left in parked cars.

The trigger for official heat wave warnings is the moment when temperatures are expected to climb higher than 30 degrees centigrade on successive days.

And on occasions when the night-time temperatures are not expected to drop below 15 degrees centigrade.

Inland areas in the West have been feeling the heat more than the coasts and seaside resorts in Dorset and Somerset, where a cooling sea breeze has reduced the impact of the current unexpected heat wave.

Smoke from a huge grass fire on Salisbury Plain yesterday could be seen across a vast area.  The blaze is being monitored by the Army, which controls much of the area from its local bases.

Somerset has also issued a heat health warning, council chief executive Christine Lawrence making a statement to the Western Daily Press.

“Intense heat can be as perilous to heath as the cold, with the effects of dehydration or heat-stroke being severe and the symptoms often coming on very quickly,” she said.

“In general, we are not at the stage yet where temperatures are going to seriously affect health, but I would ask that people keep an eye on anyone they know who might be struggling to cope.

“Make sure someone is keeping their home cool, drinking plenty of water and not having to do any strenuous activity in the heat will go a long way to keeping them healthy.”

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New proposals to extend High Street cycle rack provision likely to end council bike row

More extensive new proposals for cycle racks to be introduced by Wiltshire Council as part of its £400,000 resurfacing of the High Street look set to end the row that has engulfed Marlborough town council.

A petition signed by 195 people was presented to the council last month after it had earlier decided, by nine votes to four, to ask the highways authority to re-examine a cycle parking initiative from Transition Marlborough.

This would have meant the loss of two parking spaces when resurfacing starts next month, one outside The Polly Tearooms and another two outside Valentino’s on the other side of the High Street as the sites for cycle racks. But the council also asked for cycle parking in the centre of the High Street to be considered too.

Now the council’s Planning Committee will on Monday have on its agenda the results of a meeting that took place on June 26 between Marlborough’s mayor, Councillor Guy Loosmore, town clerk Shelley Parker, two representatives of Transition Marlborough’s cycling sub-group, Wiltshire’s area engineer and the council’s community area manager.

They are now recommending that the existing cycle parking attached to the planter on “the bulge” on the High Street be replaced with a cluster of five cycle racks providing space for up to 10 cycles.

That two more cycle racks be provided on the large brick build-out near the proposed new Morrison’s supermarket and that two paid for central parking spaces be exchanged for cycle parking.

And that the existing provision of five cycle racks outside the library be repainted and given new signage to make them more visible.

“These proposals would establish four cycle parking areas in the High Street and increase the number of cycle parking spaces,” says the Planning Committee report. “The original proposal for using free parking spaces is not included.

“The suggested proposals are subject to agreement by Wiltshire Council’s area board.”

The report says that the advantages of the new proposals mean that there will be more frequent parking provision for cyclists, that the racks would be in the right place with good visibility and that they do not cause any obstruction to pedestrian flow and will be under constant surveillance.

And it adds: “Of 240 paid car parking spaces on the High Street, losing one or two constitutes a loss of less than one per cent of available car parking in exchange for a significant increase in cycle parking.

“This all falls in with the most recent strategies under Wiltshire’s local transport plan and varies national and governmental agendas.”

The report concludes with a recommendation from the town clerk asking councillors to “agree the revised proposals…for improved and appropriate support for cyclists” and that the resolution be passed to the area board for its next meeting on July 16.

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Marlborough’s own Andy Murray may well be on his way thanks to the homeless tennis club

A budding Andy Murray may already be out there in Marlborough waiting for his – or her – chance to show off their prowess with a tennis racket.  And inspired by him to be a future Wimbledon champion.

Marlborough Tennis Club’s annual summer festival last week on the courts at Marlborough College produced a record entry of 180 children aged from three to 18, who attend local primary schools and St John’s Academy.

They were mostly eight and nine-year-olds, among them a number who had never swung a racket before but are benefiting from the coaching of Hilda Moore, who has spent more than a decade creating winners at the only tennis club without its own clubhouse and courts.

“It was a fabulous festival with more kids than we have ever had before,” she told Marlborough News Online.  “We find competitions for all of them to take part in.

“And there will be some obvious new interest now to spur others on following Andy Murray’s triumph.

“It will be just like the Olympics last year, which spurred interest in a all sorts of different sports.  Andy won a gold medal there too, which had its effect.”

But Hilda doesn’t know if there is another Andy Murray waiting in the wings because Marlborough Tennis Club, founded in 1914, sold off its site some 25 years ago and relies on the support of Marlborough College for its weekend training sessions.

But all that is hopefully going to change with the support of Marlborough’s Sports Forum, which has its annual meeting tomorrow (Thursday), and Marlborough Town Council, who are working on an ambitious project to create a new home for the tennis club.

“Their aim to build a new clubhouse with state of the art courts back on the Marlborough Common is an excellent one,” veteran tennis player Councillor Andrew Ross, who founded the Forum he chairs three years ago, told Marlborough News Online.                      

Marlborough Town Council has given permission to Marlborough Golf Course, which rents its site from the council, to build a new tennis club on the Common.

“We welcome these positive plans but progress is painfully slow,” said 67-year-old Councillor Ross, who is also an occasional golfer.  “Marlborough Tennis Club is very active and has this big following teaching kids how to play.

“I am obviously going to make a reference to Andy Murray’s triumph in my opening remarks and it will be a nice idea for the Forum to send him our warmest congratulations on the way he made history at Wimbledon, which will undoubtedly inspire others.

“We’re having a summer of sporting success, in rugby union, in cycling and hopefully in the Ashes test matches, which begin today.  The more publicity there is undoubtedly inspires youngsters to do better.

“Now is a good opportunity to encourage children to pick up a tennis racket and get busy.”

Hilda Moore also expects renewed interest in tennis in the wake of Andy Murray’s achievement, as well as in other sports.

“I haven’t had a reaction yet from our young tennis players because I won’t be seeing them until Saturday,” she said.  “Certainly they were all talking about Wimbledon before the finals and saying who their favourites were.

“Now they will be very enthusiastic about Andy Murray’s win.  It will definitely have a knock on effect with youngsters who haven’t been playing tennis suddenly becoming aware that there is something going on out there they are missing.  That’s where the benefit is ever greater.

“Marlborough is well served with a variety of sports clubs as well.  That’s helpful, as well as a hindrance.  It’s good that the kids are fit and active but it is difficult for any one club to attract members because the youngsters are now going to so many different clubs.”

Has she found a budding Andy Murray?

“No, not yet, but we have got some very good kids performing,” she replied.  “The trouble is that because we don’t have our own tennis courts – Marlborough College is so very supportive in helping us – we tend to steer kids into other clubs, which have the facilities to take them to the next level and raise their game.”

Meanwhile, talks are continuing for a new headquarters on the Marlborough Golf Club site and another meeting is due in two or three weeks’ time, according to Councillor Ross, whose Sports Forum is carrying out an audit of all the sports clubs in the area.

“We still have funds available from the sale of our old site and we hope to raise money from other sources, the Lawn Tennis Association and private donations,” added Hilda.

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A new broadside over the rejection of the Crown Estates plan for a new hotel for Marlborough

Wiltshire councillor Nick Fogg has issued another broadside against the unitary authority for not informing him of last week’s inquiry into the council’s core planning strategy and its effects on a new hotel proposed for Marlborough.

Prior to today’s (Tuesday) full council meeting – his request to table an emergency question has been denied by the council’s chairman Christine Crisp – he has received an explanation from Georgina Clampitt-Dix, the council’s Head of Spatial Planning.

And she reveals that the programme officer organising the inquiry did not inform Marlborough Town Council it was taking place.

“In reply Councillor Fogg, also a member of Marlborough Town Council, has protested:  “It would appear bizarre that, in a discussion on tourism in Marlborough, a group of unelected officers should appear to consider that they have the right of veto over a project that many people in the area see as representing a real community aspiration.

“And which the landowners, the Crown Estates, who are probably the most respected development agency in this country, have said that they will view sympathetically.

“For future reference, I object most strongly to this attempt to veto this legitimate process and the way it has been conducted.  I presume that this now makes me eligible to participate in future discussions.”

Georgina Clampitt-Dix had told him by e-mail that the inquiry before government appointed inspector Andrew Seaman formed part of the hearing sessions for the examination of the Wiltshire core planning strategy.

“Officers are in attendance on behalf of the council to defend the council’s position as set out in the core strategy approved by council at its meeting on 26 June 2012,” she explained.

“We have sought to keep members updated and issued a briefing note in January 2013 regarding the examination.  In addition, an update was provided as part of the member’s training sessions that recently took place.

“The examination is a statutory part of the development plan process which is undertaken by a government appointed Inspector who independently examines the plan for soundness.

“Anyone who has objected to the plan in relation to the matters that the Inspector has raised is entitled to participate in the proceedings.  It is the council’s role to defend the plan.  Unfortunately I was not at the session to listen to the discussion but understand that Officers supported the position in the draft core strategy, which identifies the Salisbury Road site as a strategic site for housing but does not make provision for a hotel.

“I appreciate that the town council have aspirations for a new hotel within the town.  The hearing sessions on tourism were very much about the policy framework within which decisions are made for tourism related uses and did consider Core Policy 40 relating to hotels, which is the policy against which proposals can be considered in the future.

“I understand that Marlborough Town Council did not make representations through the last two consultations to the plan and given this were not contacted by the inspector, via the programme officer, about his examination process.

“However, notices informing the community that the examination was taking place were placed in papers across Wiltshire.”

Thanking the senior officer for the explanation, Councillor Fogg declared: “Perhaps it might have been better to have communicated with me and the town council direct, rather than burying it amongst 'members training sessions' and 'papers across Wiltshire'  -- a sure way to guarantee that no-one will find out about it.

“Since most of the discussion seems to have revolved around issues that are entirely pertinent to myself as ward member and to Marlborough Town Council, it would seem to me an act of common courtesy to have informed us that this discussion was occurring and to have invited us.

“What you appear to be saying is that one can only become part of the discussion if one objects to something.”

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Grants awarded to Marlborough's rising sports stars

Young tennis star George Wardley, hockey star Rachel Cox and swimmer Ella Duncan-Zaleski with Sports Forum chairman Andrew RossYoung tennis star George Wardley, hockey star Rachel Cox and swimmer Ella Duncan-Zaleski with Sports Forum chairman Andrew RossIn a week that Andy Murray won the nation's heart by winning the men's singles final at Wimbledon, Marlborough's Sports Forum has awarded a grant to up-and-coming tennis star George Wardley.

The 10 year old, who attends Ramsbury School, told the forum – made up of representatives from all of Marlborough's major sports clubs – that he trains four or five times a week, and was hoping to play in regional tournaments next season.

And the rising star, who already competes at county level, is already used to giving interviews, having appeared on BBC Radio Wiltshire just prior to, and following, Murray's Wimbledon win.

There were also grants for St John's schoolgirls Ella Duncan-Zaleski and Rachel Cox.

Swimmer Ella, from Marlborough, represents the county at backstroke, and may compete at regional level if she can shave a vital second off her time.

Hockey player Rachel plays in midfield or defence for the south west of England squad, and trains at the Junior Regional Performance Centre in Bristol. She is aiming for a place with with the national under 16s squad.

There was a second grant for another young hockey star, Will Seward, whose cheque was collected by his proud father, Peter.

Will was unable to attend the Sports Forum AGM, which was held at Marlborough Town Hall on Thursday (July 11) because he was representing the UK under 18s in a three-match tournament against Germany.

Since last year, Will has left Marlborough Hockey Club to play for the Bath Buccaneers, and his juggling his success on the hockey field with AS levels at St John's Academy.

This year's grants – which are awarded to help the town's young sports stars meet the costs of kit and equipment, travel, and other costs associated with performing at a regional or national level – were made possible thanks to a fundraising dinner held at Marlborough Town Hall last October, at which cricket star Mike Gatting was the guest speaker.

Town councillor Andrew Ross, who presented the awards to the young sporting stars, said the £6,000 raised by the event was 'truly remarkable', and a sum the forum hoped to repeat.

Grants of £500 were also awarded to a couple of the town's newest sports clubs: the netball club and boxing club.

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Police commissioner puts budget cuts on the menu for dinner tonight with the Chancellor

PCC Angus Macpherson with PCSO Mark Braithwaite at the Jubilee CentrePCC Angus Macpherson with PCSO Mark Braithwaite at the Jubilee CentreCuts in police budgets will be on the menu when Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne dines tonight (Thursday) at the Bowood Hotel, Derry Hill, Calne.

For among the guests will be Angus Macpherson, Wiltshire’s police and crime commissioner, who has lost £3 million of his budget, now down to £106 million for the current year.

Mr Macpherson, in Marlborough today to meet members of the public at the Jubilee Centre – none arrived to quiz him – revealed the meeting in an exclusive interview with Marlborough News Online.

“I am having supper tonight with the Chancellor of the Exchequer,” he said. “And I am sure I shall be telling him how much more money I would like to have.

“I haven’t thought to much about what that figure might be just yet.  We have had four per cent dropped off in the last year.”

Mr Macpherson, a qualified accountant, former councillor and magistrate elected to the new role of police commissioner last November, believes “these figures are manageable with the plans that were put in place in 2011.”

He added: “We started this conversation in Wiltshire recognising that we were in a changing world.  That’s why the conservation has been around the better use of the estate and working closely with the local authorities.

“And recognising that our best asset is our people.  The officers and PCSOs out on the beat looking after crime and disorder.  We have got to protect that at all costs and to reduce demand.”

He pointed out: “I am constantly saying that the use of a police warrant card is a measure of failure. If you have got to arrest someone then something has happened – education has failed, health and mental health has failed, employment has failed, parenting has failed something has failed to force an officer to arrest someone.”

He accepted that this is an inevitable and increasing problem result from tough economic times and the current age of austerity.

“But it is not a police issue to mend the problems and we need to go back to what we do,” he replied. “That is why PCSOs are so important to us. They are the people that are on the ground, not there to manage the situation, but who are having to react to it, sign-posting, warning, supporting people where they are in the community.”

Mr Macpherson, who discussed the reintroduction in Marlborough of the police Pub Watch programme with PCSO Mark Braithwaite and offered to visit a pub in the town on a future date, operates in a county with one of the lowest crime rates nationally.

“We can always do better,” he declared. “We’re retaining staff numbers, which is really important. We’re on track to manage the declining budget whilst maintaining the service.”

So is he comfortable with the current situation?

He paused and confirmed: “I am not disheartened by it.”

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Public health “all clear” given on the River Kennet as the chalk stream continues to suffer

Charlotte Hitchmough, director of ARKCharlotte Hitchmough, director of ARKAn “all clear” message to the public on the state of the polluted River Kennet has been announced by the Environment Agency with the removal of restrictions on people bathing in the river or eating fish caught in it.

But the famous chalk stream that flows through Marlborough still continues to suffer as experts continue to investigate the pollution source and have repeated appeals to the public for their help.

Samples taken last week and over the weekend show that the pesticide has dissipated naturally with the water flow and levels have now dropped significantly.

The Environment Agency reported: “Public Health England continues to work in partnership with the Environment Agency and Wiltshire and West Berkshire Council and, following the latest round of water sample results, it has advised that the previous restrictions asking the public and pets to avoid skin contact with the water can be removed.

“The Food Standards Agency has also advised that there should be no restrictions on eating fish caught in the river.”

Paul Hudson from the Environment Agency, told Marlborough News Online: “It is obviously great news that the pesticide has dissipated naturally and that the precautionary restrictions put in place have been removed following advice from Public Health England and the Food Standards Agency.

“We are still trying to trace the source of the pesticide, and we would appeal for anyone who has information to come forward so that we can take steps to educate those responsible and others to try to prevent it from happening again.

“We are also meeting with business owners along the Kennet regularly to keep them informed of the latest information.”

Nevertheless, 10 days after the pesticide Chlorpyrifos entered the River Kennet at Marlborough, the river is continuing to decline, life in the river proving to be far from back to normal.

The layer of dead freshwater shrimps and mayfly is providing an excellent food source for algae, which is now a brown scum plastering the bottom of the river and smothering the oxygenating plants.

Usually fresh water shrimp graze the river bed, helping it to stay clear, but the balance has been upset, and the river is deteriorating by the day.

Local residents have reported finding dead crayfish, but there is no evidence of fish deaths yet.

“Fish will be looking hard for alternative food,” Charlotte Hitchmough, director of Action for the River Kennet (ARK), whose volunteers discovered the pollution, told Marlborough News Online.

“They can be quite adaptable and will be altering their diet to include bugs which fall into the river from trees, and even smaller fish, but we are expecting to see some fish deaths caused by starvation.”

Officials from the Environment Agency and Thames Water are investigating the sewer network to discover at what point in the system the pesticide entered, in an attempt to identify the culprit.

ARK’s chairman, Geoffrey Findlay added: “This is indeed a disaster for the Kennet and its wildlife.  It is vital that we find out how it happened, and how it can be prevented from ever happening again.

“Anyone with any information about this incident, or any pollution or environment incident, should contact us by calling our hotline number 0800 80 70 60.”

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Laura Collett in intensive care after bad fall at Hampshire horse trials - LATEST NEWS


Local British rider Laura Collett is seriously ill after a bad fall at the British Eventing Horse Trials at Tweseldown on Monday.  She was taken to Southampton General hospital and is in intensive care.

A statement on her website posted today (Tuesday, July 9) said:  “Laura had a comfortable night and remains in a stable condition…Her family appreciate all the support from friends and well wishers.”

LATE NEWS: Laura was woken up on Tuesday and responded well to family members. She then went back to sleep.

At 4pm on Tuesday her website reported: "As a result of the damage to Laura's lungs it has been decided to give her longer under sedation and it is anticipated waking her tomorrow [Wednesday]".

Laura was riding Tis a Beauty - a seven year-old mare ridden last year and up to May this year by Oliver Townend.  Taking part in the cross country, the horsefell and landed on Laura.

The successful event rider who is 23 years old, has stables at Membury near Ramsbury and has been training the retired race horse Kauto Star for his new career in dressage.

At the Barbury International Horse Trials on Sunday she gave a dressage display with Kauto Star.  But then lost out in the final stages of the three star cross country event when her horse Rayef ran out before one of the final obstacles.

Writing on her site at the end of last year she said of the New Year: "The planning for Rio begins."

For background see:  As Barbury welcomes Kauto Star, it’s competition as usual for new partner Laura Collett.


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Wiltshire chairman refuses emergency question on plans for a new hotel for Marlborough

Councillor Nick FoggCouncillor Nick FoggA challenge to suggestions that a new hotel for Marlborough – it only has one – is likely to be excluded from the Crown Estate’s development of a green field site off the Salisbury Road is being made by Wiltshire councillor Nick Fogg.

Neither he nor any representative of Marlborough Town Council were present at hearings in Trowbridge last week, held before government-appointed inspector Andrew Seaman, into the county’s core planning strategy.

Councillor Fogg, who represents the ward in which the Crown Estate’s major housing scheme is being promoted, has protested that neither he nor any town council representatives were aware of the hearings and had not received an invitation to attend.

And Shelley Parker, Marlborough’s town clerk, has confirmed that to be so and at a time when the council is holding meetings to boost and improve tourism in Marlborough, which lost the Ivy House Hotel when it was taken over as a student hostel by Marlborough College.

But an attempt by Councillor Fogg, twice Mayor of Marlborough and also a town councillor, to raise an emergency question on the issue at the full Wiltshire Council meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) has been rejected.

His e-mail on Thursday to council chairman Christine Crisp has received a negative response.

“This is too late for inclusion in Tuesday’s proceedings,” Christine Crisp replied to a detailed email from Councillor Fogg. “I have passed this on to Georgina Clampitt-Dix for an answer.”

She added: “I am not aware of any invitations being issued to anyone to attend the core strategy proceedings but I am sure Georgina will give you a full answer.”

Councillor Fogg had pointed out: “I have been in discussion for some time with the Crown Estates about providing a hotel on the land they are proposing to develop at their Salisbury Road site.  The reaction to this has been positive and I understand that Crown Estates has had some discussion with potential providers.

“I now understand from press reportage that there was a discussion on tourism at hearings on Wiltshire's core strategy which took place before an Inspector at Trowbridge on July 2.  “As unitary council member for the ward in question, I was not invited to this meeting, nor was I informed of it.  The same applies to Marlborough town council.”

And referring to reports on Marlborough News Online by Tony Millett (see below), he added: “The following exchange was reported in Marlborough News Online, a representative of which was invited to the meeting. [Note:  no representative from Marlborough News Online was invited, we went to cover the hearing]

“'The inspector, Andrew Seaman, asked council staff whether a hotel would be included in the Salisbury Road plans or whether the land was all allocated for housing.  

“The answer came back: “No.”

'Mr Seaman: “It’s unlikely – we mustn’t start false hares running in Marlborough.”'

“So, my questions are:

“1. Why was neither the unitary councillor nor Marlborough town council either informed of, or invited to the meetings on core strategy that took place at Trowbridge on July 2 and discussed the proposal that the Crown Estates develop an hotel on their land on the Salisbury Road in Marlborough?

“2. Who were the "council staff" who stated that such a project would not be included in the plans?  On what basis did they make this decision and in consultation with who?

“3. What statutory authority does this recommendation possess?

 “I would be really grateful if this could be put on the agenda.  These are questions that really need answering.  Although, as you will realise, I am not suggesting that, as chairman, any part of this issue forms part of your responsibility.”

Councillor Fogg added that he was copying his email request to Shelley Parker, Marlborough’s town clerk, who had earlier informed him of the media reports.

She told Marlborough News Online:  “The town council weren't informed about the examination in public at Trowbridge.  If so, a representative would certainly have attended.  

“I gather that only those who had previously submitted comments about the Wiltshire core strategy were invited along.  

“Development in Marlborough is clearly something that our councillors are keen to be informed about at all stages. We will be talking to the relevant officers at Wiltshire Council to clarify some of the comments made during the hearing.”

A Marlborough News Online report by Tony Millett on March 17 announced that the Crown Estate plans would be considered during Wiltshire’s core strategy inquiry being held at Trowbridge between May 7 and July 4.

See: A new hotel for Marlborough is now unlikely (July 3) and Extent of proposed Salisbury Road housing development still uncertain (also July 3).

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