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Features

Kids dress up for Pudsey

Pupils and teachers at St Katharine’s School in the Savernake Forest got dressed up for Children in Need day on Friday, November 18.

The children were asked to dress on a theme on pantomime to coincided with a theatre performance of Aladdin, which came to the school on the same day.

Each child was asked to contribute £1 to Children in Need, which goes towards helping disadvantaged children and young people in the UK.

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Savernake friends help Burbage surgery

Burbage Surgery has recently extended its premises to provide a new treatment room thanks to a donation from The Friends of Savernake Hospital.

The grant was made possible by a generous bequest from a former Burbage resident, Cyril Harding.

The Friends of Savernake Hospital and Community, and Burbage Surgery, will be installing a small plaque at the surgery to mark Mr Harding’s generosity.
 
With this funding, the surgery has been able to buy items of medical equipment to provide extra services locally, such as minor surgery and cryotherapy.
 
Pictured: Dr Trevor King, Burbage Surgery; Janet Louth, Vice Chairman Friends; Dr Lucy King, Burbage Surgery; Paul Lefever, Chairman Friends.

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New friends on an old line – railway path gets a supporters club

At the end of last month, a new organisation was launched to help support the well-loved railway path between Marlborough and Coate Water near Swindon.  The inaugural meeting of the Friends of the Railway Path coincided with an exhibition at the Town Hall to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the last passenger train to run on the Swindon to Marlborough line.

The old line is now part of the National Cycle Network, managed by Sustrans and much used not only by cyclists, but also by walkers, runners and horse riders.  It passes from an access point in Five Stiles Road, Marlborough, up the Og valley past Ogbourne St Andrew and Ogbourne St George, through Chiseldon to Coate Water.  It gives access to a variety of circular walking routes and provides a gateway to the wonderful landscapes of the North Wessex and Marlborough Downs and along the Kennet valley.

The route is managed by Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity. They rely on grants, donations and volunteers to maintain the path.  The Friends want to help Sustrans promote, develop and maintain the railway path.

And the Friends want  to encourage a wide variety of users and make it an interesting place to visit.  They plan to do this by:
• Encouraging and coordinating community involvement in its maintenance (both as a path and as a wildlife habitat)
• Securing funding for maintenance and development
• Producing material describing the routes accessible from the path, its history and its environment.

The Friends are organising a series of workdays along the path.

For more information, visit www.friendsofthepath.org.uk

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Marlborough puts on its glad rags

Chamber president Paul Shimell celebrates the opening of the Marlborough Fashion Show with Rachel Fisher from Joules, and Lisa Sprouting and Karen Coulthard from Phase Eight.Chamber president Paul Shimell celebrates the opening of the Marlborough Fashion Show with Rachel Fisher from Joules, and Lisa Sprouting and Karen Coulthard from Phase Eight.Marlborough put on its glad rags for a night of fashion on Thursday, when 10 boutiques paraded their wares in front of a capacity audience at Marlborough Town Hall.

Models sashayed down the runway to a pounding dance music soundtrack, showing clothes stocked by local independents and multiples, including Joules, Rowlands, Spirit, Landmark, Phase Eight, Belles, East, Joan Pressley, Kath Kidston and Jigsaw.

For the organisers Marlborough Chamber of Commerce, it was a chance to show what the town had to offer ahead of the festive season and the month of late night openings when, from November 24 when the town's lights display is switched on, shops will be open until 8pm every Thursday until Christmas.

Chamber president Paul Shimell told the audience: "Effie Robins, the manger of Joules, and I realised that Marlborough town needed to fight back against the recession, so in order to bring the town together we put on this fashion show.  We were so overwhelmed by the amount of traders willing to take part, that we felt we could raise money along the way for the major's charity, Wiltshire Air Ambulance."

The event, which raised £1,000 for the Air Ambulance Appeal, was compered by Liz Williams, owner of The Perfumery in High Street and a herself a former fashion model.

Before the fashion show started upstairs, guests were treated to a glass of champagne courtesy of Waitrose and invited to browse stalls selling the wares of more local shops.

In all, 24 local businesses were involved in putting on the show ­ a feat described by Mr Shimell as a great community effort.
Effie Robins and Sam Candy, from Joules, toast the success of the event with a glass of champagne.fEffie Robins and Sam Candy, from Joules, toast the success of the event with a glass of champagne.fHats off to them - Inge Valentiner, Charlotte Saker and Harriet Booth from Charlotte Quest in High Street brought along some of their beautiful home wares.Hats off to them - Inge Valentiner, Charlotte Saker and Harriet Booth from Charlotte Quest in High Street brought along some of their beautiful home wares. Sammy Waddell of Lovely Stuff shows off her lovely stuff. Sammy Waddell of Lovely Stuff shows off her lovely stuff. Models from Joules, Spirit, Kath Kidston and Joan Pressley show off some of Marlborough's eclectic range of fashion. Models from Joules, Spirit, Kath Kidston and Joan Pressley show off some of Marlborough's eclectic range of fashion.

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Marlborough News Online hits the airwaves

Marlborough News Online hit the airwaves on Tuesday, when it featured in a BBC Radio Wiltshire programme about the internet.

A campaign called Give an Hour is being run across the BBC, to persuade people to give up the hour of their time they'll gain when the clocks go back to help someone who has never used the internet get online.

BBC Radio Wiltshire was keen to look at some of the most innovative ways in which the internet is being used across the county, and presenter Mark O'Donnell spent ten minutes talking live to MNO contributor Peter Davison about the initiative.

Peter explained how hosting a newspaper on the web helped to mitigate print and distribution costs while allowing its team of journalists to react quickly to breaking news stories.

The pair also discussed the newspaper's co-operative status, in which a moral compass is embedded into the company ethos, meaning that unlike some high-profile media companies Marlborough News Online will continue to publish to the highest ethical standards.

To find out how to Give an Hour and get someone started online – and perhaps enjoying Marlborough News Online for the first time – go to www.bbc.co.uk/giveanhour

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Marlborough loses out on subsidised bus routes

When the increases in car park charges across the county were announced in April 2011, Wiltshire Council’s press release said they were “designed to protect subsidised bus services….  Any additional revenue generated from the changes will go straight into protecting bus services.”

It would appear, from the information supplied to Marlborough News Online by Wiltshire Council that Marlborough residents are losing out, and a significant proportion of what we pay in parking charges funds bus services in other areas of the county.

This policy is justified by the statistic that forty-four per cent of households in the county have limited access to a car with sixteen per cent having no car at all.

The total income from car parks in the county administered by Wiltshire Council was forecast in the budget for 2011-2012 to be £9,292,000.  (For a likely shortfall in that expected income see: 'High street woes? Don’t blame parking charges says Wiltshire Council report'.)

When costs of maintenance, wardens, collecting money from the ticket machines and so on, were taken into account, the net value to the Council this year was to be £6,641,000.  How much of that sum is spent on subsidising bus routes?

The Council has also justified steep increases in some towns’ car parking charges on the grounds they want to harmonise the varying charges they inherited from the district councils when Wiltshire became a unitary authority.  Have they also harmonised the spread of bus subsidies?  Is it fair to our area?

For the current financial year the Council allotted £5,167,760 to pay for or subsidise public bus services.  But this figure includes £1,112,800 spent on Salisbury’s park-and-ride buses – that’s 21.5 per cent of the total amount.*
(These figures do not include the Council’s budget for community bus services - about £175,000* - or concessionary fares, school buses and other public transport costs.)

Some bus routes are paid for in full, others are subsidised to allow companies to run services which may not be economically viable at certain times of day or on certain days of the week, but which the council deems are needed to get people to work, school or college.

The money pays for all or parts of:
- thirteen local Salisbury services;
- twenty-five “rural/interurban services radiating from Salisbury/Amesbury” (none of which pass through Marlborough);
- 112 “services in other parts of Wiltshire” of which thirteen serve Marlborough (including the now reduced Bath service.) *

Is Marlborough getting its fair share of the Council’s spend on bus subsidies?  It’s hard to tell without more detailed figures, but it does not look as though the money is very evenly spread.

In January 2011, Councillor Dick Tonge, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for highways and transport, told Salisbury Area Board that £1.2 million of the 2010-2011 bus subsidy money was spent on routes in the Salisbury area.  Adding in the park-and-ride bus services, that means forty-one per cent of the county’s total bus subsidy (money coming from car park charges across the county) was spent in the Salisbury area in 2010-2011 – a proportion that will not have changed much for the current year.

It is difficult to prise out of Wiltshire Council precise figures for a town’s car park revenues.  But at the Council meeting in July 2011 figures were presented showing income during the first quarter (April to June) for each of Salisbury’s off-street and on-street car parks.  If the first quarter’s figures are maintained until the end of March 2012, Salisbury will contribute £2,816,400 to the county’s total car park revenues – that’s about thirty per cent.

From the figures it certainly appears that the Salisbury area is getting more than its fair share of bus subsidies.  And, of course, Salisbury has the advantage of a rail service, whereas a Conservative government stripped Marlborough of its rail connections in 1963.

One question that comes to mind is whether the difference between the income from car parks and the money spent on bus subsidies (over one million pounds) is just set against the total public transport budget.

However, there is one other very pertinent question raised by these figures: who will subsidise the buses if, as many people hope and a few expect, car parks are handed over, under the government’s ‘localism’ legislation, to town councils?

(* Facts and figures obtained by Freedom of Information requests.)
 

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Marlborough plans a Christmas tree with a difference

A Christmas tree with a difference is planned to welcome visitors to Marlborough in December.

Instead of putting up a traditional fir tree on The Green, the town council is considering decorating with sparkling lights the fully grown ancient yew tree growing beside St Mary’s Church, plus the avenue of lime trees running alongside it.

“The plan is the greenest of our proposals,” Open Spaces Committee chairman Councillor Richard Pitts told the town council on Monday.

The mayor, Councillor Alexander Kirk Wilson, personally supported the proposal while other councillors felt there should be a Christmas tree on The Green as well.

“This is cracking idea,” declared the mayor.  “Having a tree on The Green is in fact difficult for motorists to see as they drive up and down”.

“But there are a lot of loose ends to this proposals.  We shall have a meeting to sort them out.”

Councillor Peggy Dow agreed that it was a good way forward, adding: “I think this is an excellent idea.”

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