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Business

Used cooking oil fuels a good cuppa

Wiltshire residents have generated sufficient clean, green energy to make almost 2 million cups of tea by recycling their used cooking oil.

Figures for 2011 show that 8,020 litres of used cooking oil was collected at the county’s household recycling centres (HRCs) operated by Hills Waste Solutions. That amount was sufficient to generate 30,075 KWh of green electricity.

Cliff Carter, recycling manager Hills Waste Solutions, said: “The carbon neutral electricity generated by recycling used cooking oil is helping to achieve renewable energy targets and slow climate change. Recycling this oil makes good use of what was previously a waste material.”

Living Fuels, who are contracted by Hills to collect the oil from its HRCs, uses a patented recovery process to produce a sustainable bioliquid called LF100. It is this bioliquid which is used in combined heat and power facilities to generate green electricity.

Toby Sturgis, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for waste and recycling, said: “The council’s 11 household recycling centres are a key part of Wiltshire’s very successful drive to turn waste into resources and reduce the amount sent to landfill.

“They are helping considerably with our plans to recycle 50 percent of household waste and reduce landfill to less than 25 percent by 2014. The new collection services will enable residents to recycle more at the kerbside, and we will be working with Hills to extend the range of materials that residents can recycle at the household recycling centres.

“Cooking oil is one of our more recent successes, along with household batteries, and we will seek more new opportunities in the future.”

To find your nearest household recycling centres and opening times visit www.recycleforwiltshire.com To find out more about the oil recycling process, visit www.livingfuels.co.uk

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'Luna' to open second shop in Hungerford

lunalunaMarlborough’s independent ladies fashion boutique Luna is defying the economic downturn and the slew of recent shop closures to open a second Wiltshire store in Hungerford.

Owner Carrie Mainwaring, who opened her first shop on King’s Street in Marlborough in mid-November, has been delighted with the response from locals and is excited about the new Hungerford launch.  “I really wasn’t sure how Luna would be received in Marlborough but I recognised that there was a gap in the market for an independent, mid-range fashion and accessories store.  Although I have a keen interest in fashion this was my first foray into retailing and let’s face it a lot of people would say it wasn’t a great time economically to take the risk of starting up a new venture.  However I have been overwhelmed by the support I have received, both from customers and from other shop owners in the town and I’m hoping the Hungerford store will be as equally well received.”

“I want Luna to be somewhere that offers a fun retail experience with items that won’t break the bank but are stylish, seasonal and maybe slightly more ‘edgy’ to wear.”  continues Carrie. “Most of the pieces are around the £25 to £50 price mark although we do have a couple of more luxury items such as a gillet which is £180. The handbags have proved to be really popular in the Marlborough store so it will be interesting to see what takes off in the Hungerford shop.”

The Luna Hungerford Store, at 115 High Street, opened on Saturday, March 17 - and customers were invited to enjoy a glass of bubbly while they looked around.

Luna opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm, Sunday 11am to 4pm

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Chamber of Commerce plans Olympic Jubilee Ball

Marlborough businesses will be celebrating a red, white and blue year in their town with an Olympic Jubilee Ball.

To mark passing of the Olympic torch through Marlborough on May 23 and the Queen´s diamond jubilee celebrations in June, Marlborough Chamber of Commerce is holding a black tie event at Marlborough Town Hall.

Ticket holders will enjoy a champagne reception, three course dinner, live music and a charity auction in aid of Marlborough-based Swift Medics.

Swift Medics is 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.

The event will be held on Saturday, May 19 from 7pm. Tickets are £40, available from Chamber president Paul Shimell at Specsavers or from committee member Effie Robins of Joules. Both shops are on High Street, near the town hall. 

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Chamber toasts hotel´s £1m refit

Marlborough Chamber of Commerce is toasting the re-opening of the town´s iconic Castle and Ball hotel – with coffee, tea and a cooked breakfast.

The Chamber will be holding its first business breakfast of the year at the hotel on Wednesday, March 21 from 8am.

The popular networking meetings were put on ice because the hotel was undergoing a £1m refurbishment.

Organiser Rob Collins, a partner a Withy King solicitors, said: “I hope that you will be able to join us in the improved surroundings.”

Bookings must be made by March 19 to Claire Swan on 01672 518811 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Traders warned of the return of the Tea Towel Scammer

Marlborough Chamber of Commerce is warning business owners to be wary after the return of the tea towel scammer.

The con-man visits retail premises and persuades junior shop staff to pay from the till for low-cost items that have not been ordered.

According to one trader, who alerted the Chamber of the con man's return to the town: “His scam normally works by asking for the manager.

“If the shop assistant says he or she is not there, he’ll tell them the items have been ordered, and he needs immediate payment as he is in a hurry.

“His ID clearly looks fake,” added the trader.

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New Business Park filling station given welcome planning approval

The delayed plans by Fraser Garages to open a petrol filling station with car wash and convenience store selling local produce on the Marlborough Business Park were given welcome approval on Monday by the town council.

It’s planning committee backed the initiative of the Oxford-based company, which runs a chain of six garages, to go head to head in competition with Deans, the London Road garage that serves local motorists.

As the only garage in Marlborough, Deans has been described and heavily criticised for charging the highest prices in Wiltshire – currently £144.90 a litre for diesel and £138.90 for leaded petrol.

“I am very impressed with the people who run Frasers,” Councillor Nick Fogg told the planning committee.  “We used to have four or five filling stations in Marlborough, but now we have only one.”

Councillor Peggy Dow added: “This will be an asset for the town.  We desperately need another filling station – and one with cheaper petrol than is currently being charged.”

And in opening at the Business Park – on the site in front of the Savernake Forest Dental Practice – it will enjoy support from the 220 houses planned by the Crown Estate for a site on the opposite side of the Salisbury Road.

Both Mr Fogg and Mrs Dow are also Wiltshire councillors who have been pressing the unitary authority to take legal action against Deans owner Mr Zubair Dean for failing to repair a grade II listed property adjoining his garage.

An emergency prohibition notice was served on him in April last year, which gave him 28 days to carry out urgent repairs to the property, subsequently ordered by conservation officer Pippa Card to be boarded up.

She wrote to Marlborough town council in August declaring that a final chance was being given to Mr Dean to restore the property, which had been used for housing, or face legal action.

She indicated that their had been a transfer of the ownership of the property and it was not known who was now responsible for its upkeep.

A month later still nothing had happened and Mr Fogg again hit out at Wiltshire for failing to act, one reason said to be its lack of funding to take on legal cases and enforce the repairs to a property described as being of “national importance”.

And another town councillor claimed that a legal notice had not been served because Wiltshire had no address for Mr Dean or possibly his son, which would normally be available at Companies House.

Then the garage – and another Dean filling station on the road to Hungerford -- were put up to rent, the 'To Let' sign still on display at the dilapidated premises.

Now it is believed that an offer to buy the Marlborough garage site, on the edge of River Kennet, and redevelop it, is believed to have been made, but no details have been revealed.

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Marlborough’s premier Castle and Ball re-opens after a £1 million refurbishment


The Castle and Ball, now Marlborough’s premier hotel and restaurant, is back in business, re-opening today (Saturday) after a two-month refurbishment costing close to £1 million.

The historic coaching inn that dates back to 1670 now has additional bedrooms to cope with tourism following the controversial sale of the Ivy House Hotel, on the opposite side of the High Street, to Marlborough College.

 “We are clearly committed to Marlborough by the fact that is our most expensive refurbishment to date costing close to £1 million,” Gordon England, regional manager for owners Green King/Old English Inns, told Marlborough News Online.

“We are absolutely delighted to be Marlborough’s premier hotel and we are looking forward to a prosperous and exciting future ahead.”

The Castle and Ball, originally called The Antelope at the time of the Spanish Armada, now has a total of 37 bedrooms, two more than before, both fitted with en suite showers instead of baths.

The original 35, some with four-poster beds, have all been upgraded with new decoration and carpets.  Some have been upgraded to a higher standard than before offering superior accommodation to some of the 84 people the hotel can accommodate when fully booked.

Only nine bedrooms are currently available, the rest coming on stream during the rest of March with a double room costing £89 a night with a £10 or £20 additional charge being introduced at peak times.  This includes a full English breakfast or alternatives.

“We are treating the Castle and Ball as a research and development project by raising its splendid bedrooms to a higher status,” said Mr England, who controls 14 hotels in five counties.

The new general manager in charge of a team of 30 members of staff is Nigel Forrester, who has been recruited from Whitbread Hotels, the biggest chain in the country.

And chef Adam Barrett and his staff have a new kitchen to prepare meals for those attracted by the hotel’s distinctive and newly gilded sign with gold leaf.

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The campaign for real bread comes to the High Street

Nikki and Bob Holman have spotted a hole in Marlborough’s bread supply and they’re going to fill it – there’s nowhere in the town you can regularly buy artisan bread.  So from Thursday, February 16 the Food Gallery will be selling a small range of award-winning artisan bread.

It comes from a very special bakery – the Fabulous Baker Brothers’ Hobbs House Bakery in Chipping Sodbury.  The Brothers series of programmes on Channel 4 ended last Wednesday.

Tom Herbert is the baker and his brother Henry is the chef and butcher.  It’s been Tom’s aim to do for bread what Rick Stein had done for fish.

Made overnight by what Bob describes as a “team of skilled and charming bakers”, the bread will be delivered daily from the bakery – arriving as the Food Gallery opens.  It’s the bakery that makes the bread for the Food Gallery’s made to measure sandwiches.

Amongst the loaves that’ll be on sale will be:
Fig and walnut which is great with just about any cheese. Pain de campagne - a rustic loaf made over two days - it has a crispy crust and goes well with a piping hot bowl of soup. The organic spelt loaf that's won gold medals at the Taste of the West awards - a real wholemeal loaf.  Sherston which is probably, says Bob, the best white bread you'll ever taste. And Harvester a granary style loaf that wins accolades as the Food Gallery’s most popular sandwich bread.

Bob says: “You'll see the display as soon as you come into the coffee shop. Simply make your selection, slip it into a paper bag, and bring it to the counter to pay.”  But he warns that customers should try “not to nibble before you get it home to share with your family and friends.”

More Food Gallery news at www.thefoodgallery.co.uk/news.php

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Not losing your job can be stressful too!

Being made redundant, or even the fear of losing one's job, can lead to stress, anxiety or depression. But what about the colleagues left behind after a company has made cuts to its workforce?

According to psychotherapist and counsellor Geoff Miles, employees who don't lose their jobs might be as much in need of therapy as those who do.

Geoff and Helen Payne-Kumar, whose company See For Miles Ltd, have just moved into new premises in Marlborough, say workers who remain at their desks after redundancy are likely to feel anxious about their own job security, stressed because they are picking up the workload of their former co-workers, and even guilty that they held on to their jobs while colleagues were shown the door.

“It's called survivor’s guilt,” says Geoff. “And along with stress, it's a very real problem for employers.”

Over nearly 40 years, Geoff has developed counselling techniques which can be delivered to employees in the workplace, or at a neutral off-site venue, helping them to become more productive.

“Employee stress is the cause of more lost working days than any other work-related illness,” he points out. “Years ago you couldn't get signed off for stress.  Now GPs have a better understanding of stress, and are signing workers off; sometimes for long periods of time.”

Geoff has also seen an increase in the numbers of people coming to him for counselling – and says the economic conditions and accompanying financial concerns are a huge contributing factor.

“Most of our work involves individuals who need counselling – where they can identify the cause of their problems and need the tools to help them cope – or psychotherapy, where the root causes of the patient's anxiety is unknown, and has to be identified before the patient can begin to tackle the issues.”

Even children are feeling more pressure.  One of See For Miles' most popular courses is delivered in classrooms to students about to sit exams.

“It's a very stressful time,” said Helen.  “There's a lot of pressure on young people today.”

“We give them the tools to recognise and deal with pressure, and those skills will be carried with the youngsters throughout their school career and the rest of their lives.”

The new See for Miles offices at Old Hughenden Yard in Marlborough offer a quiet contemplative space for groups, couples and individuals. There's even a video conferencing facility where Geoff can talk to patients via the internet – a service one of See For Miles' clients – who lives in Australia - finds particularly useful.

And the next step for the company is to build a network of consultants who can deliver those courses all over the UK.

For more information log on to www.seeformilesltd.co.uk or call 01672 511043.

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Fashion chain Dash closes UK flagship store

Ladies fashion chain Dash is closing its flagship store – in Marlborough High Street – because of a wrangle with the landlord over rent.

The store, which has thrown a closing down sale, is due to close on Friday, March 23.  Three members of staff, including the manager, have been made redundant while two other members of staff have been relocated to Swindon.

Dash has traded in Marlborough for over 20 years and, before the closure was announced, the High Street shop was its flagship store.

Manager Lisa Foote, who has worked at the store for over 10 years, said: “People used to come here from quite some distance because we stocked the full range of clothing.  A couple of customers used to come twice a year from the Isle of Wight.”

“Our customers were very disappointed when dash announced the closure.  There are a lot of unhappy ladies in Marlborough at the moment.  One has even written a letter to the MP.”

The manager confirmed the decision was related to the high rents charged by landlords for retail properties in Marlborough.

“The company is in profit,” she said. “The issues were with the landlord.  They couldn't agree on the rent.”

Marlborough Chamber of Commerce is due to discuss the matter of retail and office rent at its next meeting in mid-February.  Committee members will be deciding whether to write to property agents about their concerns.  

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Devizes constituency youth unemployment rises again

Devizes MP Claire Perry has told the House of Commons that unemployment in her constituency is “creeping upwards and long-term unemployment is coming down” - and she claimed that apprenticeships were starting up at “an incredibly rapid rate.” 

Speaking in an opposition debate on youth unemployment and bank bonuses, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the treasury, Rachel Reeves told Mrs Perry that youth unemployment in the Devizes constituency had increased by 36 per cent in the year to December 2011.

As both MPs have, at one time or another, been tipped as potential future leaders of their parties, the exchange had an added edge to it.

In fact the numbers claiming job seekers allowance for more than twelve months have come down when compared to December 2010.  But between November and December 2011 they showed a slight rise from 8.9 per cent of claimants in the constituency to 9.1 per cent.  The number of new apprenticeships for 2010-2011 are provisional and because of changes to the apprentice programme cannot reliably be compared with earlier years.

It may (so far) be an unusually mild winter, but figures on the economy have a very wintry feel. This week’s announcement showing that Britain’s economy shrank in the last three months of 2011, has led to fresh forecasts of more problems ahead for family budgets, shops and jobs.

The unemployment figures for the Devizes constituency are indeed getting worse.  Although the total number of those claiming job seekers allowance was ‘only’ 1,081 last month, that was a 20.5 per cent increase on December 2010.

Rachel Reeves had rounded down the percentage of claimants aged twenty-four and under  in the Devizes constituency – the actual figure in December 2011 was 36.7 per cent up on the previous year.

Devizes’ position in the league table of constituencies has worsened considerably.  In December 2010 it was at 502 out of 533 English constituencies – just 31 places from being the constituency with the least unemployment. With the November figures Devizes had slipped to 483rd place and in the most recent figures – issued this month – it’s  475thplace.  A year-on-year drop of twenty-seven places.

The official, headline-grabbing unemployment figures hide the fact that of the 29,120,000 people in employment in Britain, 7,860,000 are in part-time work. And that figure rose over the last quarter by another 75,000.  Twenty-seven per cent of those in employment are now part-time workers.

Many of those will, of course, work part-time by choice.  But these figures themselves hide some very part-time work indeed.

Recently a case came to light of a young man who signed a “zero hours contract” to work for a high street retailer. This means he has been called in during a week for as little as one four hour shift – earning him £15 before tax. In the official figures he counts as an employed person.

His employer told him that if he looked for other work to increase his weekly earnings, he would be dismissed.  And 2012 is the two hundredth anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth.

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