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Tory MP Claire Perry makes three healthcare promises to constituents

Three healthcare promises to voters in her Devizes constituency have been made by Tory MP Claire Perry in the wake of open meetings held locally to discuss major NHS changes.

Mrs Perry has come under attack for some of her comments made at the meetings and despite her campaigning she is unlikely to achieve the re-opening of Savernake minor injuries unit.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has equally been under pressure over the inability of the NHS to cope with cuts in the number of nurses now working in hospitals.

Revealing her promises, Mrs Perry told Marlborough News On Line:

“I will work to ensure that all relevant organisations talk directly to each other and to other healthcare groups so that the best possible services are delivered for the people of the Devizes Constituency.”

“I will work with local councillors, local residents and health professionals to review the cases for minor injuries services in Devizes and Marlborough and to re-start the stalled process to deliver a Primary Care Centre in Devizes.”

“I will hold these popular health forums annually so that we can review progress.”

She added:  “I was delighted by the turnout for the health forums I held in Devizes and Marlborough last month.  The animated discussion showed how much we value our NHS, and how much interest there is in finding ways to deliver a better local minor injuries service and get on with delivering the long-promised Primary Care Centre in Devizes.”

“I am therefore making these three promises to my constituents and I will keep making this issue one of my top local priorities”

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A ‘spring cleaning’ day with Lord George Carey for parishioners of All Saints

Spring Cleaning – not dusting and polishing literally, but Lord Carey, with years of experience as a vicar in Durham and later Bishop and Archbishop, encouraged a different outlook when he spent the day in Burbage.

There was a need to spring clean’ Christianity, to let the light in on areas of the church life, which need refreshing by looking at ourselves, at our communities and at Jesus, reports Joy Guy, churchwarden of All Saints.

There is only space here to mention some of the points Lord Carey made but you can hear the whole of his talks on the church website.  It’s very easy listening.

Taking the Bible story of the storm on the lake (Matthew ch.14 v. 22-33), we saw how Jesus went off to pray alone at the end of a busy day – an example for us.

But in the storm, it was actually the disciples who felt ‘alone’ until Jesus rejoined them.  In the same way, Christians are counter-cultural and a minority, something which can either make us tougher or leave us feeling inadequate.

Lord Carey also pointed out that the disciples were together in the boat -- the Bible was written to communities -- and explored what this can mean in a 21st century setting.

He described the church as a gathering of people who love Jesus, who want to spend time in his presence and to be used in his service – priorities which can be lost for so many reasons.

The church should be Godly, purposeful and integrated in the community, aware of the needs of different groupings in it and also that many have a ‘subliminal spirituality’ and are supportive though they may not identify themselves as church members.

We explored ways of sharing our experience of God with friends and neighbours who feel like this, both as we interact individually with them and where our corporate worship is concerned, being sensitive to what will best help everyone to come near to God.

Rounding off his theme, Lord Carey reminded us that, when, like today, society  wandered away from God’s good news in the time of John Wesley, he saw possibilities, not problems, he was willing to face the cost of witnessing, he knew that prayer had to under-gird his work.

And that people needed to be taught the faith.

Finally, Lord Carey complimented All Saints saying we were in good shape, a healthy church with a strongly committed core and open to new ideas.

The 80 or so people who attended the day went home with a great deal to think about.

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Huge sums made by internet porn makes it so hard to outlaw for children, claims Claire Perry

The vast sums of money made by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) by providing consumers with access to hard core pornography is probably one of the reasons why the industry is so slow in protecting children from watching it too.

But slow progress is being made by the industry in finding a solution to the problem, Marlborough’s MP Claire Perry revealed on the Radio 4 Today programme this morning (Tuesday).

The Tory MP clashed with Nicholas Landsman, secretary-general of the Internet Providers Association) following growing anger over internet porn as a result of the cross-party inquiry she chaired, which issued its report last week.

And Radio 4 interrogator John Humphreys entered the fray too by demanding that Mr Landsman explain why ISPs were still providing access to pornography when the High Court had ordered five internet sites to call a halt.

“Do you accept that the internet is changing?” Humphreys asked Mr Landsman.

“Of course it is changing and it will continue to change,” he replied.  “And that’s why the ISPs are very receptive to having these conversations about what is the best way to protect children, but, at the same time, people being able to see content that they want to see that does not break the law.”

Claire Perry interjected: “The time has come when the internet should not be treated differently from any other form of media.  We don’t accept it with any other media, telly and mobile phones or anything else.”

“Why should the internet be different?”

Earlier, Mr Landsman said: “We have to look at what is illegal and what is not illegal.  It is not down to an ISP to decide what content people in Britain look at.”

Humphreys: “Surely it is wrong for children to have access to hard core pornography.  It’s wrong.”

Landsman: “The latest development is that the ISPs have come together and developed a code called Active Choice.  What that means is that when consumers contact their ISPs and say they want an internet connection, at that point the ISP will say, ‘Do you want us to put filtering on to protect your children?’”

“At that point the ISPs can send filtering packages, put it on the network level and protect the children. That’s being done.  It’s a new development and I think that is going to help find a solution.”

Mrs Perry, who has three children, replied: “First of all the Pirate Bay logo is just like a Blue Peter badge, which is very interesting.”

“What we are seeing with the Pirate Bay decision is a continuum of change that is going on that says actually internet service providers, who don’t forget make £3 billion a year in access fees in selling internet access to British households, have a role to play.”

“When it comes to adult content – and Nicholas is right, the industry is moving and taking it seriously – but we know that 80 per cent of people have an internet connection already.”

“We know that only four of 10 households actually use the sort of filters that are supposed to keep our families safe.  And it is just not good enough.”

“And the other thing about this decision of course is the power that big commercial pressure can bring in bring this High Court decision about.  Who is speaking up for consumers?”

“Are the ISPs out there actually talking to their consumers because if they were they would find that 66 per cent of people said this weekend that they would like a opt-in filter.”

“We don’t want to ban pornography, we don’t want to make it illegal, that makes many of us very queasy, we’re not Burma or China, but what we want is better protection that preserves consumer choice.”

“And that is where an opt-in solution delivers on both counts.”

John Humphreys pointed out that BT had asked for more time to decide how to obey the High Court decision making access to internet porn illegal.

Mrs Perry: “I’m just interested about the commercial pressures here.  I would be interested to know what the revenue looks like from consumers.  I imagine that access to illegal file-sharing sites is really a popular thing among consumers, who wouldn’t want something for nothing.”

“And that may be one of the reasons why the ISPs are reluctant to do it.”

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Police close the road after lorry brings down overhead electricity cables

Police closed the road at East Sands, Burbage, early on Monday when they received a report that overhead electricity cables being pulled down after being snagged on a passing lorry.  The closure was in order to protect the safety of the public while Southern Electric were called in to sort the problem, the road being re-opened by 11am.

“There were no injures,” a police spokesman told Marlborough News Online.

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Benefits cheat from Marlborough must pay back £7,721

A woman will have to pay back more than £7,000 in benefits funding she received after pleading guilty to benefit fraud and being given a conditional discharge for two years.

Marjorie Lloyd Jones, 50, of Rabley Wood View, Marlborough, pleaded guilty to failing to notify Wiltshire Council and the Department for Work and Pensions promptly that she was in remunerative work.

She appeared on Tuesday at Chippenham Magistrates Court, where she was given a conditional discharge for two years and ordered to repay the full amount.

A joint investigation carried out by Wiltshire Council and the Department for Work and Pensions identified that Lloyd Jones started employment and as a result of her change in income she had received a total of £7721.20 in benefits she was not entitled to.

“It is always the responsibility of the person claiming benefit to tell the council of any changes in circumstances which may affect their entitlement,” a council spokeswoman told Marlborough News Online. “If there is any doubt, then the revenues and benefits team will be happy to discuss any issues.”

 “The council is very keen to stamp out benefit fraud and will take action against those found to be cheating the system.  If you have any information that can help catch a benefit cheat, call Wiltshire Council’s confidential hotline on 01249 706256 or the National Fraud Hotline on 0800 854440.”

Contact 0300 456 0110 to report any changes in circumstances or ask for advice.

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Town hall fashion show raises vital funds for Wiltshire Air Ambulance

Torrential rain failed to dampen the spirits of more than 100 women who attended a fashion show event in Marlborough Town Hall last night (Thursday) staged by Viyella/CC in aid of Wiltshire Air Ambulance.

It was the second of its kind organised by Bridget Bird, manager of the Viyella/CC store since it opened in the High Street nine years ago, together with her staff.

Six models, both volunteers and staff, showcased the company’s latest spring and summer designs.  “And I had to make a joke that those present needed to use their imagination and think the sun was shining,” Mrs Bird told Marlborough News Online.

“The evening was a positive success and we raised a total of £720 for the Air Ambulance, which is such a vital resource in rural areas.”

Viyella/CC staged a similar fashion show last September for ShelterBOX, the international disaster relief charity, which enabled two crates of essential equipment, each worth £500, being sent out to Pakistan.

And it was Mrs Beverley Luxford, a supporter of that ShelterBOX charity, who subsequently asked if a similar event could be staged in aid of Wiltshire Air Ambulance.

“We had no hesitation in saying we would help in any way we could,” said Mrs Bird. “We can’t all be takers. Y ou have to give something back to help the community. It’s great to give to such a worthwhile local charity – and local people made our local event a huge success.”

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Free market stalls on offer to budding entrepreneurs and charity groups

Budding entrepreneurs are being given a chance by Wiltshire Council to sell their wares to the public at a special free market day next month.

Devizes Market Place will be hosting free market stalls for entrepreneurs looking to start new businesses, and for schools and charities to set up and sell their produce.

The event will be held on Friday June 29 during National Markets Fortnight when some 30 stalls will be available to individuals or groups, but those attracted to the enterprise need to sign up by June 15 to secure their stall.

Dick Tonge, cabinet member with responsibility for markets told Marlborough News Online: "This is a real opportunity for anyone out there who is wanting to start their own business to bring their goods and trade for free."

“We would also encourage schools and charities to get involved and set up a stall giving the whole venture a real community feel."

"The council is committed to a whole raft of measures to boost our county's economic health and we hope as many would-be retailers as possible will get involved."

Setting up of stalls will be from 8am with trading from 9am to 5pm. For more information and to book a stall please contact Tom Ince on 01380 734639.

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Marlborough area bus service faces cutback but community transport gets new support

During the year, Wiltshire Council is looking for ways to reduce the money it spends on subsidising bus services by a quarter of a million pounds.  Among the services now being reviewed are the two that link Marlborough, Great Bedwyn and Hungerford – routes 20 and 22 run by Wiltshire Buses.

These routes not only provide links between the villages, but link Marlborough to railway services for Newbury, Reading and London. Two possible weekday timetables (taking in part of the Wilts and Dorset route 21) are included in the consultation papers and the consultation will run until June 30.

The Council believe that the number of passengers using these two services does not justify the use of two buses and three drivers each day:  “The main aim of this consultation is to identify possible ways of providing a cost-effective service that meets the needs of the area at an affordable cost to the council.”

The current cost of the council subsidy for these two services are not available.  But for 2011-2012 the 20 and 22 routes – including the shoppers’ bus to Newbury – were supported by a subsidy of £138,730.  And this was a big increase on the subsidy of £84,109 for 2010-2011.

Year by year Wiltshire Council has been reducing its budget for subsidising bus routes.  This money either finances whole routes or finances services at key times of the day or week.  In the current year the cost is £4,296,400.
For 2011-2012 it was £6,089,390 and the year before that it was £6,577,401.  Part of the reduction has come from radical changes to Salisbury’s Park and Ride Scheme which took £1,458,460 of the total subsidies in 2010-2011 but only £491,400 this year.

If the consultation on these two Marlborough area bus routes brings a reduction in services, Wiltshire Council is also announcing Accelerate, a new body set up with Community First to support community transport (CT) systems in the county. Accelerate will use “some” of the money given by central government to Wiltshire Council to develop CT. It will help existing schemes and provide “hands on assistance to community groups wishing to establish CT schemes for the first time.”

Accelerate and the accompanying Community Transport Development Fund, will be launched in Devizes Town Hall on June 9 with a key note address by Claire Perry MP.  It is not yet clear how much money will be earmarked for this CT initiative which appears to be another move away from direct use of public money towards the localism agenda.

The Council’s review of bus routes comes a few weeks after a report by Transition Marlborough criticised local bus services and especially the lack of connections to train services at both Bedwyn and Swindon. As Marlborough News Online reported, surveys showed that bus services do not meet the needs of those seeking work outside the town and this has a knock-on effect on the town’s economy.

The report noted that Transition Marlborough is already working with other organisations – including Community First – to establish a direct minibus service from Marlborough to Bedwyn station to meet the 0646 to Paddington and the 1935 from Paddington. Neither of these trains is served by the present bus timetable.  Now they can count on assistance from Accelerate and the new CT development fund.

Transition Marlborough’s  report has already been put to the Town Council’s Amenities and Open Spaces Committee and will be presented to the Area Board later this month. 

As Marlborough News Online reported last year, the rise in Wiltshire’s car parking charges has been justified by the need in rural areas to subsidise bus routes.  However it is by no means certain that the spread of bus subsidies is equal throughout the county or whether it takes enough account of the availability of other forms of transport such as the railways.

(Details of the consultation on Routes 20 and 22 have been sent to town and parish councils, councillors, area boards and user groups.  Copies can be obtained by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and a web address to access the consultation papers will be available by the end of the week.)


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Wheelchair William from St John’s to propel the Olympic torch through Wiltshire

William CoppWilliam CoppA once in a lifetime moment is on its way for wheelchair user William Copp – propelling the Olympic torch through Salisbury in July.

The chance for the St John’s School sixth former to play a significant role as the torch sweeps its historic way en route to London has come about as a total surprise for the 17-year-old student, an opportunity he treasures.

“There is no better accolade than to be asked to contribute to the Olympic Games,” he told Marlborough News Online as he prepares for the event made possible by Wiltshire Council welfare worker Sue Smith.

“The Olympics comes to your own country only once in a lifetime.  I am just thrilled to be able to do it thanks to Sue.”

“She has worked with me since my days in primary school and put in the application for me to be an Olympic torch bearer without telling me anything about it.”

“I was sitting at home one day four months ago when I got this phone call tell me I was to be a torch bearer.  I thought it was someone having a laugh and didn’t take it seriously at first.”

“Then I was completely gob-smacked and didn’t know how to react.  I remember I just sat there in silence in my wheelchair for a few  minutes letting it sink in.”

“It’s going to be a really exciting day for me, especially as it’s going to be in my dad’s home town of Salisbury.  It’s quite fitting as he went to both the Sydney and Atlanta Olympic Games as the GB hockey team coach.”

“So we have an Olympian in the family already.”

Dad is Jon Copp, director of the Marlborough College Summer School for the past 30 years, who played hockey during he days at Salisbury’s Bishop Wordsworth’s School and played for the Salisbury Town team.

Both he and William’s mother Sally were PE teachers and it is their love of sport that William has inherited, along with his amazing determination, exemplified by his success playing wheelchair basketball for South West Scorpions “my main sporting passion”.

And his ability to play wheelchair tennis and wheelchair rugby plus his triumph learning to ski in the French Alps  – he hopes to compete in events next year – and now his current challenge in learning to drive a specially adapted car, giving him the freedom to travel wherever he wants.

That follows difficult times growing up disabled.  “When I was younger I was quite shy and a withdrawn person partly because of my disability, partly because of the situation I was in,” explained William, who lives in West Overton.

“I remember thinking that I wasn’t going to be as sporty as the rest of the family – my older brother Jack is a sportsman too.  But if you are determined enough and talk to the right people you can open doors for yourself and create wonderful opportunities.”

He laughs and giggles now at the prospect of carrying the Olympic torch for 300 metres through Salisbury on July 12, though initially he worried how he could propel the speedy sports wheelchair he uses for basketball and hold on to the torch at the same time.

“I thought I might end up as public enemy number one and drop the Olympic torch,” William joked.  “They’re going to fix a special holder to the side of my wheelchair and so I will be able to do it like that and now worry about dropping the torch.”

Friends and fellow pupils from St John’s will be in Salisbury waving flags and cheering William on.  He only became a student this year because of the school’s initial lack of disabled facilities, but William is thankful to Commonweal School, a performing arts academy in Swindon, where he was introduced to wheelchair basketball.

Now he preparing for A levels in Business Studies, Psychology, English and History and is intent on going to university with his ambition to become a sports journalist or working in the sports psychology field.

He will be showing off his writing skills reporting on the Olympic torch run in Salisbury for Marlborough News Online -- and hopefully interviewing disabled sportsmen and women taking part in the ParaOlympic Games, for which tickets are already booked.

“My love of sport comes from my whole family and from my father especially,” said William.

And his father responded: “We are all immensely proud of our William.”

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Marlborough’s Diamond Jubilee beacon - music, food, a full moon and a big bonfire

What links Marlborough, St Helena, Treetops in Kenya, Gunjur in the Gambia and Hadrian’s Wall?  They are all hosting beacons to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – but not all of them will be graced by a glimpse of the full moon.

VICTORIAN BEACONVICTORIAN BEACONAnd not all of them will be on the scale of this beacon built for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

Marlborough’s Diamond Jubilee Beacon will be above Barbury Racecourse on Jubilee holiday Monday, June 4 –under a full moon.  The event will be open from 6.30 pm – the sun will set at 9.20 pm and the beacon will be lit at 10.00 pm.

Marlborough’s beacon – organised by the Marlborough Brandt Group – will include a hog roast, fish and chips, and a bar in the racecourse barn.  There will be music from a trio led by Marlborough’s favourite saxophonist, Mick Allport – with dancing encouraged.

At about 9.30 pm people will stroll up the hill from the barn, along a torch-lit route, to the beacon.  And while the huge bonfire burns on, people can camp close by for the night.  At least one other local beacon will be visible from the hillside – the one on Martinsell Hill.

Admission will be by ticket.  These cover the hog roast supper (with veggie alternative and with sausages for children) and are on sale now from the White Horse Bookshop in Marlborough High Street.  There’s a family deal available.

Access to this event is only from the Marlborough-to-Broad Hinton road.  There is no way through from the Barbury Castle side of the hill.  And as there are horses about – it’s strictly a no firework occasion.

A coach will take people from Marlborough High Street but only by prior arrangement.  This service will only be available if you book seats by close of play on Monday, May 28 by phoning Marlborough Brandt Group on 01672 861116.  And it’ll bring them back again.

Why a beacon?  Once used to communicate from hilltop to hilltop – especially to warn of an approaching dangers like the Spanish Armada – beacons have become a feature of celebrations, notably royal ones.

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 was the occasion for some major beaconary – as the photo on the right shows some were so big the plate camera could not see the top and show the bonfire builders clearly as well.

Beacons were organised for Queen Elizabeth’s Silver (1977) and Golden (2002) Jubilees.  This year the aim was to have 2,012 beacons lit around the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.  That target has been left far behind:  over 4,000 beacons are now registered with the Queen’s Pageant Master.

These include sixty beacons (one for each year of the Queen’s reign) along Hadrian’s Wall; a beacon on St Helena in the South Atlantic; and one at Treetops in Kenya where Princess Elizabeth was staying in 1952 when she heard about the death of her father, King George VI.  And they’re building a beacon in Gunjur in the Gambia which has had a thirty year link with Marlborough through the Brandt Group.

The chain of beacons will be completed at 10.30 pm in London when the Queen will light the national beacon at the end of the celebratory concert.

Some beacons will be the brazier type – and this year there is a gas-fired version which is safe enough to install on church towers.  Marlborough’s beacon will be a huge bonfire some eight to ten metres high, designed to burn for a long time.


Watch this space for more news about the Marlborough beacon.

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Marlborough’s “royal” jazz festival prepares to blow away those economic blues

Double-dip recession? Don’t you believe it. Marlborough’s International Jazz Festival is on its way – and it is proving to be the ideal opportunity to blow away those economic blues.

This year’s three-day festival for the weekend of July 13, 14 and 15, sponsored by Brewin Dolphin, is expected to be the biggest ever with a 100 bands from countries galore providing their own unique music.

“We are experiencing another year of phenomenal growth,” Nick Fogg, the festival’s founder and organiser told Marlborough News Online “We seem to be recession-proof.  “We have never had so many sensational acts on the bill.  To see all the bands individually would cost hundreds of pounds.”

And the appropriate royal landmark for the Diamond Jubilee Year is the world premier tour of The Queen’s Suite, specially composed by the late American composer and band leader Duke Ellington after he met Her Majesty in 1958.

Claire TealClaire TealOther highlights include a galaxy of top award-winners -- Britain’s top jazz singer, Clare Teal (pictured), the only jazz artist in recent years to have had a CD in the Top Twenty, and is twice winner of the Singer of the Year in the British Jazz Awards.

Sarah Gillespie is bringing her new show with Gilad Atzmon, “The War on Trevor”, premiered at Ronnie Scott’s, and the Azerbaijani virtuoso pianist, Amina Figurova, as well as Darius Brubeck, will be performers too.

At the last count, 18 nationalities will be represented during the festival, together with the winners of every possible jazz award.

And among some  of the 100 bands on show around the festival will British jazz stars Richard Bryant, Dave Green, John Crittenson, Ian Bateman, Julian Marc Stringle, Derek Nash, Clark Tracey, Steve Kershaw, Enrico Tomaso and Bobby Wellins.  

The bands Fusion Experience and The Juncture Quartet, winners of the 2008 and 2011 Brewin Dolphin Award for The Best Newcomer respectively, are among other returning stars.

“This is indicative of the festival’s ability to build enduring contacts with rising artists,” said Nick Fogg. “At the time of going to press, artists have been booked from 21 countries, including Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brazil, Cameroons, France, Hungary, Israel, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, The Seychelles, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, USA, South Africa and even Zimbabwe.”

The 1,000-capacity Awdry Bailey and Douglas Marquee will feature the Red Stripe Band, The Echoes of Ellington Orchestra, Protect the Beat, Sticky Wicket and his Swing Orchestra, the Adam Winslett Band and the legendary jump-jive outfit, Jive Aces.

The festival box office is on 01672 515095 or 08443 350822 – calls cost 5ppm from a landline.

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