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Businesses to have a greater say on road closures – pledge

Graham Pound from First4Skills, Chamber of Commerce president Paul Shimell and Dee Temple-Multon from Wiltshire Business Support ServiceGraham Pound from First4Skills, Chamber of Commerce president Paul Shimell and Dee Temple-Multon from Wiltshire Business Support ServiceMarlborough businesses will have a greater say about the closure of Britain's widest High Street for resurfacing in 2013 than they did about the closure of the Pewsey Road Bridge in 2010.

That was the pledge from Chamber of Commerce president Paul Shimell, elected for a second year to lead the business organisation.

He told twenty business leaders at the chamber's annual general meeting that a better relationship with council officials meant businesses – especially retailers – would have much more input into the planning of potentially-disruptive roadworks.

The traffic chaos caused by the closure of the Pewsey Road due to the replacing of the bridge two years ago has not been forgotten. The works lasted nearly two years – with a business-negotiated break over Christmas – and caused severe traffic jams as one of only two crossings over the River Kennet was closed.

But Mr Shimell, franchise holder at Specsavers in Marlborough High Street, assured the meeting that businesses would get more of a say from now on.

“The Chamber of Commerce is now sitting around the table with the town council and Wiltshire Highways,” he said.

“There will be resurfacing works soon. London Road will be done first, because it is in the worst condition, and in 2013 High Street will be resurfaced.

“We will be telling them how we want it laid out. There will be more consideration for pedestrians.

“We can now say what happens and when. We can't get to the ridiculous stage we were at with the Pewsey Road Bridge.”

As part of this new relationship, the Chamber was heading up the development of a Town Plan, Mr Shimell told the meeting.

“This Chamber-led initiative sees us sitting around the table with the town council, the police, the Transition Town movement, Marlborough Area Development Trust and a town planner,” he said.

He said the town plan may eventually lead to the formation of a Business Improvement District (BID), where all of the towns businesses pay a surcharge on their business rates if the majority vote in favour of the scheme.

The BID is seen as a way of getting large, uninvolved national chains contributing to the vitality of town centres.

Looking back on his first term as president, Mr Shimell – the first retailer to hold the post for at least five years – said: “It started in tough times and unfortunately we are still in tough times... and the weather isn't helping.

“My first job was to build a better link between the Chamber and the retailers, and there's been a big push around that.

“The fashion show, in November, was a great success: a lot of work went into it, a lot of businesses supported it, and it boosted businesses.

“Our jubilee ball was well attended, and the event raised a lot of money for Swift Medics – we were able to give them just short of £800.

“And we moved on to decorating the town with red, white and blue flower baskets for the Olympic flame and the jubilee, and the High Street looked good as a result.”

Mr Shimell said plans for 2012 a repeat of the fashion show, a golf event and more business networking opportunities.

The meeting then heard from not one, but two guest speakers.

Dee Temple-Multon from the newly-formed Wiltshire Business Support Service, which has picked up some of the services once provided by Business Link, talked about the work of the Wiltshire Council-backed organisation.

“We've been established to provide business owners with real business help and support,” she said.

The meeting heard that since April Wiltshire Business Support Service has already provided one-on-one advice or group training to over 200 business people. Around a quarter were people thinking about starting a business and around a fifth were new businesses, while most were established businesses.

The meeting also heard from Graham Pound from First4Skills, a government-contracted agency which provides young apprentices, aged between 16 and 18, to businesses under the Placed Apprentice scheme.

The apprentices receive formal training from First Skills during their 12-month apprenticeship, with an NVQ qualification at the end if they pass, while the employer is obliged to pay the apprentice £100 a week.

“For local businesses wanting to employ local young people this is ideal,” said Graham. “There is no obligation to keep the apprentices after the first year, but nine out of ten employers choose to keep them on, because after twelve months they are a real asset to the company.”

Mr Pound said the apprenticeships best suited retail businesses, call centres and administrative departments. For businesses with less than 250 employees, he said, there was government funding towards meeting the costs of the £100 per week wage packet.

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Breakfast date for business leaders

Marlborough Chamber of Commerce holds its monthly networking breakfast at the Castle & Ball Hotel, High Street, Marlborough from 8am to 9am on Wednesday, September 19.

Attendance costs £7.50 for both members and non-members. To book a place, call Claire Swan on 01672 518817 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Not too late to support good causes

It's still not too late for Marlborough News Online readers to support their favourite charity or community organisation in the Budgens of Marlborough Community Giveaway.

Nine organisations won through a 19-strong preliminary round to win a place in the finale of the competition to win a share of a £6,000 jackpot.

And at The Theatre on the Hill, ST John's School on Thursday evening (September 27, 7pm-9pm), members of the public will be able to vote for the three organisations that will each walk away with cheques for £1,000.

And all of the nine finalists will get a share of another £1,000 over the first three months of the new forecourt opening.

Customers will be given a token each time they shop, to vote for one of three organisations per month. Each of these three organisations will get a share of £1,000, proportional to the amount of tokens they receive in-store.

Anyone can apply for a ticket, which will give them a vote to support their favourite community organisation. Tickets, which are free, can be booked at

And it's not just the contestants who'll be going home with prizes. Every member of the audience will get a Golden Ticket entitling them to discounts from the convenience store, 2p a litre off fuel, or a half price car wash. There are also a £25 shopping voucher and a Window Van worth £50 to be won.

The Community Giveaway is being staged by Budgens of Marlborough, which is opening a petrol station, convenience store and Subway outlet at Marlborough Business Park in October. Work on the £2 million development, which will create 50 new jobs, started in July.

The finalists, and their projects, are:

Education and Young People:

St John's School

Having completed the new school building without the help of any national government funding, and moved in late 2009, the school is now working hard to raise the money needed to complete the external sports facilities at the new school. The All-Weather Pitch will not only benefit the students, but will also be available for evening, weekend and school holiday use by the wider local community.

Marlborough Brandt Group

To enable six students studying for the international baccalaureate from St John's School in Marlborough to travel on a study visit to The Gambia with a teacher and an education worker from MBG, to enhance their learning about development in an African community.

Savernake Forest Scout Group

Savernake Forest Scout Group requires new lightweight tents so that the 60 young members of the scout troop can go on camping adventures and develop key life skills through adventurous physical activity.

Health, Wellbeing and Social:

Wiltshire Air Ambulance

To support the running costs of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance, the only emergency helicopter in the UK to fly with a pilot, paramedic and police observer at all times. Each day the Wiltshire Air Ambulance is called out an average of three times. Since 2009 the Wiltshire Air Ambulance has attended 41 emergency incidents in Marlborough and Pewsey alone. It costs almost £2,000 per day to keep the Wiltshire Air Ambulance flying and saving lives.

Splitz - KidzPace

Working with children aged 11-17 who have witnessed or been exposed to domestic abuse in Marlborough and Pewsey. Splitz provides a mix of one to one support and group work to build children's confidence and self-esteem.

Carer Support Wiltshire

To support the work of the Wiltshire-wide charity that gives free and confidential emotional support, information, advice and breaks to unpaid carers living in the county.

Community & The Arts:

Phoenix Brass Band

To purchase two tenor horns to enlarge the horn section of the training band, which exists to introduce any person, young or old, to the joys of music and brass banding.

Marlborough Communities Market

To support the ongoing success of the monthly Marlborough Communities Market, a not-for-profit enterprise working in collaboration with Transition Marlborough and Marlborough Town Council and incorporating a farmers' market and local crafts and produce.

We Love Marlborough

To bring Christmas cheer to Marlborough families, We Love Marlborough would like Father Christmas to be free to visit in the town hall this year, and have an free top-quality artist-led Christmas crafts-making session culminating in a procession at the lights switch on at 7pm. The Christmas Lights Switch On Activities will take place on 29 November 2012.

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Just over a week remains in Community Giveaway race

Fraser's group operations manager Mark Wilson with shops development manager Nick FraserFraser's group operations manager Mark Wilson with shops development manager Nick FraserSupporters of some of Marlborough's best-loved charities and community organisations have just over a week to help them grab a share of a £6,000 jackpot in the Frasers Budgens of Marlborough Community Giveaway.

The Community Giveaway is being staged by Oxfordshire-based retail group Fraser’s, who are opening a petrol station, Budgens convenience store and Subway outlet at Marlborough Business Park in the autumn.

Until Firday 7 September, a public poll will select nine finalists from three categories – Health, Wellbeing and Social; Communities and the Arts; Education and Young People.

The finalists will be invited to pitch their projects to a live voting audience at Theatre on the Hill in Marlborough on Thursday 27 September, when representatives from each community group are invited to pitch their ideas from the theatre stage to a voting public. 

While there's a lot of money at stake, the emphasis will be on fun, with organisers insisting the event will be more like Britain's Got Talent than Dragon's Den.

The three community projects that receive the most votes on the night will walk away with cheques for £1,000. And all of the nine finalists will get a share of another £1,000 over the first three months of the new forecourt opening.

With just over a week of voting remaining, Marlborough Brandt Group are leading the the Education and Young People category with 32 percent of the vote, with Savernake Forest Scout Group, who have 28 percent, in second place. The Merchant's House Education Programme is in third place with 25 percent.

St John's School (12 percent) and Savernake ExplorerScout Group (four percent) won't secure a place in the final unless they can muster some more votes.

In the Health, Wellbeing and Social category, Wiltshire Air Ambulance have maintained their lead with 56 percent of the votes, Splitz - KidzPace are still in second place with 23 percent, and Carer Support Wiltshire have 15 percent.

National Childbirth Trust have four percent and SWIFT Medics have two percent. They need to rally the support of their friends for a place in the final.

And in the Community and the Arts category, Phoenix Brass Band, with 59 percent of the vote, have increased their lead over Marlborough Communities Market, who have 32 percent.

We Love Marlborough's nine percent is still enough to win them a place in the final, unless Kennet Accordion Orchestra, Kennet Valley Arts Trust, Marlborough Concert Orchestra and Marlborough Community Orchard can up their game.

Readers wishing to cast a vote, or to apply for a grant on behalf of their community organisation, should go to and click the red 'vote' button.


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Stirring stuff as Ramsbury Tea scoops awards

Amanda Fearon of Ramsbury TeaAmanda Fearon of Ramsbury TeaSuccess is brewing for fledgling tea company, which won a clutch of medals at the 2012 Taste of the West Awards.

Ramsbury Tea, which is not yet a year old, won a silver medal for its Rose Congou Keemun, which was so highly rated it only narrowly missed taking the gold.

The company's Lapsang Souchong, which was complimented for its smokey aroma and character, took a silver medal while its Lemon Grey was awarded a bronze.

Director Amanda Fearon said: “For our first year, we’re absolutely delighted to have won anything at all! In fact, we nearly didn’t enter this year but we got a reminder on the last day for entries and thought we’d give it a go after all. If only all last minute decisions were so successful!”

As well as selling direct to the public online and at farmers markets, the team are increasing the number of select local retail and catering outlets which stock Ramsbury Tea products.

On the back of a successful launch in 2011, Ramsbury Tea have already doubled their range of teas and are adding new accessories like mugs and tea canisters.

In addition to their prize-winning trio of teas, and best-sellers like English Breakfast, Earl Grey and Peppermint, they offer specialist brews like Pu-Erh and Formosa Choice Oolong.

They’ve also sourced an organic single-estate Assam and a decaffeinated Ceylon and supplemented their herbal tisanes with Fennel.

For more information log on to

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Chamber of Commerce fears that CCTV project will be delayed by Big Brother debate

Paul ShimellPaul ShimellMarlborough’s Chamber of Commerce has given its full support for the town council’s bid to introduce a start-up high-powered, quality CCTV system to cover the High Street shops and businesses. 

But it fears that any continued debate on the proposal for a £20,000 initial scheme with four cameras will end up with further delay, the town council having first discussed CCTV 11 years ago and failed to take decisive action. 

“It’s great, a fabulous idea which the Chamber fully supports but I fear we shall be in the same position 10 months from now and nothing will have happened,” Paul Shimell, the Chamber’s president, told Marlborough News Online.

“We are the only market town in Wiltshire without CCTV.  Everyone knows it.  That’s why we are being targeted and hit by gangs and thieves. Shops are suffering and CCTV is what we need to fight crime.”

“If the latest report to the town council shows it is such a good idea, then why haven’t they not introduced it?  Why have they suddenly found the finance to do it when before they said it was too costly?”

He remains concerned  that opponents to “Big Brother” CCTV as an intrusion into people’s lives will prevent the project going ahead, and added: “We have to ensure that any scheme does not invade people’s privacy.”

With other Marlborough organisations, including Marlborough town councillors, the Chamber is currently supporting the creation of a Business Improvement District to cover the town, which would eventually result in a Neighbourhood Plan being introduced.

This would include a wide-range of improvements for transport and parking, energy consumption, culture, tourism, telecommunications and Marlborough’s historic streetscape.

“If we can get that going then may be it will be the method by which we can fund CCTV ourselves,” he declared.

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Work starts on Marlborough’s new filling station

Getting to work – group operations manager Mark Wilson, mayor’s consort Cllr Nick Fogg, mayor Edwina Fogg and shops development manager Nick Fraser cut the first turf at the development siteGetting to work – group operations manager Mark Wilson, mayor’s consort Cllr Nick Fogg, mayor Edwina Fogg and shops development manager Nick Fraser cut the first turf at the development siteWork started this week on Marlborough’s new filling station and convenience store, with the town’s mayor cutting the first turf to kick-off the £2 million construction.

Contractors are expected to be on site for 12 weeks, after which the town will have a filling station to service eight cars at a time, Budgens convenience store, Subway food outlet, and car washes.

At a turf cutting ceremony, Marlborough’s first citizen, Edwina Fogg, said: “As mayor, I would like to say how thrilled I am about the new Fraser’s Budgens of Marlborough development coming to the town.

“It’s fantastic because 50 new jobs will be created. It’s really good news for everyone.”

For group operations manager Mark Wilson, the sight of diggers moving onto the Marlborough Business Park site was the culmination of a decade-long dream.

“We’ve been trying to get into Marlborough for some time; probably ten years, and we’ve finally made it,” he said.

“I hope we can do the town of Marlborough proud with this development, and that the people of the town will enjoy using us.”

Shops development manager Nick Fraser explained exactly what customers would find when the business opens its doors on Thursday, October 4.

“There will be a large BP forecourt, a Budgens convenience store and a Subway food outlet. There will also be a rollover car wash and two jet washes.

“We will be working with local producers and suppliers, and we are involving ourselves massively in the local community,” he said.

The company recently launched a £6,000 Community Giveaway, and invited organisations and good causes in the Marlborough area to compete for grants of up to £1,000.

The winners will be decided by public vote on Thursday, September 27 at an event at Theatre on the Hill, St John’s School, Marlborough.

Organisations can apply for a grant, and their members can support their bid, at

The Fraser Group is a third-generation business with a string of awards to its name, including Best Forecourt Independent Retailer, a national title which it has won three times. The Marlborough filling station will be Frasers’ sixth site.

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One business, two Marlboroughs, 12,000 miles – how hard could it be?

Debbie PeplerDebbie PeplerA businesswoman who runs companies in two Marlboroughs – 12,000 miles apart – will tell the story of the challenges she faces at a networking event next week.

Debbie Pepler runs business consultancy Peptalk in Marlborough, Wiltshire (population 8,000) and Marlborough New Zealand (population 46,000), a wine-growing region of 12,500 square kilometers.

Married to a Wiltshireman, the Kiwi splits her time between the UK and New Zealand, chasing the sunshine and enjoying two six-month summers – although she admits that hasn't worked out too well for her this year.

And next Tuesday she will tell members of 4Networking how she manages to run two businesses on opposite sides of the world in a talk entitled Juggling the Rose and the Kiwi – one business plan, two countries, 12,000 miles, how hard can it be?

The meeting takes place at Ogbourne Downs Golf Club on Tuesday, July 10 from 8am to 10am.  Attendance costs £12, which includes breakfast.

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Magazine wins national award


Monique Hayes, group communications officer, with TV presenter Fiona PhillipsMonique Hayes, group communications officer, with TV presenter Fiona PhillipsA company magazine published by The Hills Group has been named one of the best in the country.
intouch was identified by the Institute of Internal Communications as the best news magazine with up to four issues per year at a glittering awards ceremony in London on June 15.
Nearly 40 awards were handed out by TV presenter Fiona Phillips in front of a crowd of 400 internal communications industry professionals.
Monique Hayes, group communications officer, said: “This award means so much to our small, in-house team who put a lot of effort in to keeping Hills’ employees, pensioners, shareholders and friends up to date with what is happening within the company.
"We were thrilled when we found out that we had been shortlisted and are extremely proud to have been judged as the overall winner in our category.”
The magazine, described by judges as “a really nice reader-friendly magazine with a focus on the business and its people – a publication to be proud of”, was shortlisted alongside similar publications produced by three national companies – Network Rail, TNT Express and Tarmac UK.

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Is Pewsey about to lose its popular Knitty Gritty shop?

Pauline Hawkins outside Knitty GrittyPauline Hawkins outside Knitty GrittyPauline Hawkins has been running Knitty Gritty in the centre of Pewsey for over thirteen years.  Now she wants to retire and do something different and has put the shop up either for sale as an established business or to let as premises for another kind of shop.

She sells women’s clothes, gifts and cards, but it’s the clothes that customers say they will really miss. As one very satisfied and frequent customer told Marlborough News Online: “Pauline doesn't just stock smart-casual clothes for us women, she also stocks all the basic, everyday essentials you can't buy in Marlborough or anywhere else around here.”

Knitty Gritty is the area’s main stockist for Sloggi, Triumph and Naturana underwear and swimwear. Which leaves plenty of space for Aristoc, Viz-a-viz, Pretty Polly – and for that special gift – Bulaggi designer handbags.

With one of the best addresses in the village – 1 Market Place – Knitty Gritty has been developed by Pauline into a thriving business.  Now she thinks “Someone with new enthusiasms and new ideas could take the business to a higher level.”

One of the reasons for her success is that she stocks a variety of goods: “If you specialise you’re not going to sell everyday.”  In the short time we were in the shop to talk to Pauline, she had four customers checking out her stock.

Pauline was born and brought up in Pewsey, but moved to Pembrokeshire where her husband became a well-known and successful builder renovating farmhouses and building new homes.  After eighteen years in Wales, the family moved back to Pewsey.

So far she’s had a couple of people interested in taking over the shop.  But she says despite being ‘of a retirement age’, she’s not in any great hurry to retire.

Anyone interested in taking over Knitty Gritty can ‘phone the shop on 01672 564313.

1 Market Place, Pewsey1 Market Place, Pewsey

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Marlborough’s jubilee celebrations get off to a colourful start

jphoto Collins of solicitors Withy King (top left) and friends enjoy the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce Olympic Jubilee Balljphoto Collins of solicitors Withy King (top left) and friends enjoy the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce Olympic Jubilee BallMarlborough's jubilee celebrations got off to a colourful start with a red, white and blue themed ball on Saturday. The Marlborough Chamber of Commerce Olympic Jubilee Ball was timed to celebrate not only the diamond jubilee, but also the arrival of the Olympic flame, which will pass along Marlborough High Street on Wednesday.

Around 100 members of the business community donned black ties and ball gowns to enjoy a slap-up meal and music by Echo.

The event was also an opportunity to raise awareness of, and money for, Swift Medics, a charity of volunteer doctors from hospital and general practice who provide what is known as ‘pre-hospital emergency care’.

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

A charity auction made over £1,200, while a raffle – with a top prize of £250 of John Lewis vouchers - raised a further £850.

Auctioneer Marc Anderson of Kidson Trigg coaxed bids out party-goers during the auction, including over £300 for a tour of the iconic Lloyds of London building and meal for four in the city, courtesy of the High Sheriff of Wiltshire Robert Hiscox.

Effie Robins, co-organiser of the Olympic Jubilee Ball, looks resplendent in a red ball gownEffie Robins, co-organiser of the Olympic Jubilee Ball, looks resplendent in a red ball gownWembley tickets and a golf day were also among the top lots, while a year's advertising in Marlborough News Online achieved a hammer price of £160.

After the event, Marlborough Chamber president Paul Shimell, who co-organised the event with committee member Effie Robins, of Joules, and presented a toast to the Queen after the meal, said: “Everybody said what a great night it was. There were loads of people and I've never seen a crowd jump to the dance floor so quickly when the band came on – everybody was dancing.”

The next big events in the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce calendar are a summer golf day, where seasoned golfers will play 18 holes while beginners spend time with a professional learning how to chip and putt, and the Autumn Fashion Show, which attracted a capacity audience when it was staged for the first time last yea

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