After a debate lasting just 13 minutes – the public and press were excluded – a special meeting of Marlborough town council last night (Monday) chose 57-year-old Derek Wolfe (pictured) to be its new town clerk.
He took over as acting town clerk at the end of last month when Liam Costello, town clerk for the past two years, left Marlborough for a similar post on the doorstep of his home in Wootton, Northampton, and was selected from a short list of six candidates for the post.
The town council’s appointment was unanimous after just a short discussion and answers to questions.
Mr Wolfe, who has had extensive experience of local government over the past 35 years, told Marlborough News Online: “I am extremely happy and honoured to have been selected. I look forward to serving the town and the town council for many years to come.”
“I have some good ideas for tackling the tough times ahead but whether they are good ones or not will depend on the views of the town councillors. I have alluded to one or two of them already and I am sure there are other issues that will either will need to be examined because we need to be prudent or initiatives that will enhance the experience of the lives of those living in Marlborough.”
Mr Wolfe and one other candidate dead-heated for the post – in a salary band of £35,000 to £41,000 -- with the result that a group of town councillors other than members of the Staff Committee were called in to question the two applicants last Friday.
Was it a hard grilling?
“It was quite searching but I didn’t have any trouble with any of the questions,” said confident Mr Wolfe. “I delighted that councillors have shown faith in me by offering me the permanent post of town clerk.”
Councillor Edwina Fogg, who chairs the Staff Committee, told Marlborough News Online: “We interviewed six very strong candidates. Mr Wolfe stood out as a man of wide experience with positive ideas. He understands the minutia of local government from his considerable experience.”
“He will serve the town council very well. He will be staying here in Marlborough during the working week and is enthusiastic to become involved in the life of Marlborough. We are pleased to welcome him.”
Interviewed when he took over as locum town clerk, Mr Wolfe said he was hopeful for the future of Marlborough, adding: “I am optimist. And at the end of the day I can only really work effectively somewhere where I believe those around me want improvements and future enhancement for the good of the local people.”
London born and educated, Mr Wolfe began his local government career with the London borough of Harrow in 1974 and since then has worked for other London boroughs as well as town clerk of Keynsham, in Somerset, and Barry, South Wales.
He lives in Axminster, Devon, with his wife but will now take accommodation in Marlborough during the working week.
“I look forward to doing my best for the town and everyone in it,” he told Marlborough News Online.
Sainsbury’s has revealed the reasons why it has pulled out of its legal action against Wiltshire Council over the granting of planning permission for rivals Tesco to build its supermarket on Marlborough’s Business Park site.
The cost of pursuing a High Court judicial review which would not serve any practical purpose, whether they won it or not, prompted Sainsbury’s to ditch its legal challenge.
Tesco won the battle to give Marlborough an alternative supermarket to Waitrose almost two years ago, and is about to celebrate its first birthday next month after a difficult opening year.
But Sainsbury’s has yet to announce what is to happen to the old council depot site, off Salisbury Road, where it planned a 15,000 sq ft supermarket, and where an existing planning consent already exists for 32 new homes with workshops and offices. The original SOLD sign still remains in place next to the bus stop with November 25, 2009 as the closing date for offers.
Wiltshire approved Tesco’s planning application in April, 2010, on land designated for employment use, the decision being taken without proper comparison with the merits of Sainsbury’s scheme, which Sainsbury’s claim was better connected to the surrounding community and local bus routes.
“We have withdrawn the legal action against Wiltshire Council for what we believe could have been an unlawful decision to grant Tesco planning permission for a store at Marlborough business park,” a Sainsbury’s spokesperson told Marlborough News Online.
“A judicial review would be very costly yet in this instance it is becoming increasingly clear that the end result could simply confirm that it was a flawed decision.”
“While the council may have gone on to consider both planning applications side by side, with Tesco’s store built and open, it is highly unlikely that the decision to award Tesco planning permission will be reversed.”
And Sainsbury’s added: “Whilst we remain of the view that the legal action would successful, pursuing it would not serve any practical purpose.”
“Sainsbury’s interest in bringing a store to Marlborough remains and we would like to thank the many people who have written to us offering their support.”
The January meeting of NHS Wiltshire’s board has been told that the number of healthcare associated infections at the three acute hospitals used by the primary care trust are continuing to fall. As infection control improves the targets (*) set each year by the Department of Health drop and those for GWH, Bath’s Royal United and the Salisbury Foundation Trust for the current year are set very low indeed.
The two main infections are MRSA and Clostridium difficile (usually known as C. difficile or C. diff) But now hospitals also have to report cases of Escherichia coli (or E Coli) and MSSA which is very similar to MRSA and just as dangerous.
Giving the figures for the first six months of 2011-2012, NHS Wiltshire’s Director of Nursing, Mary Monnington, made it clear to the board meeting that each case of these infections is one case too many.
One worrying figure showed a sudden rise in C.diff cases at Salisbury’s hospital in July 2011 which means it’ll be more difficult to meet its target for the full year. It is thought July’s figures were a ‘blip’ and it’s been proved the increase in the number of cases was not caused by cross infection within the wards.
Both the RUH in Bath and the GWH are on course to meet their targets for C.diff cases. The target for GWH is set at thirty-nine C. Diff cases through 2011-2012 – so far they have had just thirteen cases which is more than sixteen cases better than expected.
On MRSA the figures for all three hospitals are looking very much better – reflecting the special emphasis put on beating the infection and, where possible, on screening patients before they go into hospital to see whether they are bringing the infection in with them.
GWH has a target of two MRSA cases for the twelve months to the end of March 2012. Their latest figures show they have already had two cases and so are taking every possible step to ensure they have no further cases over the next two months.
New Chief Executive
This was the first board meeting of NHS Wiltshire (on Wednesday, January 18) attended by the new chief executive of the merging Wiltshire and Bath and North-east Somerset PCTs, Ed Macalister-Smith (pictured left.) He was on only his sixth working day at the Devizes headquarters.
Mr Macalister-Smith will be overseeing the merging – or clustering, as it’s known – of the two PCT’s for the final year of their existence. In April 2013 the commissioning of primary health services for the county will become the responsibility of three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) lead by local GPs.
The new chief executive takes over from Jeff James who resigned last year and is now working with the NHS in South Wales. Mr Macalister-Smith worked for the NHS in Wiltshire some fifteen years ago.
Since then he has been chief executive at NHS Isle of Wight and at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre NHS Trust in Oxford. He was chief executive of NHS Buckinghamshire until last year when it merged with NHS Oxfordshire as part of the government’s reorganisation of the NHS in England.
He told the Board that his main responsibility was to continue to provide safe and effective care for patients in the county. That would be his ‘day job’ and “Absolutely what I will concentrate on.”
However, he recognises that there was also a ‘massive transition job’ to be done in the switch to the coalition government’s new regime for the NHS. One of his special tasks, he said, would be to make sure that the PCT’s public health functions were handed over efficiently and with care to Wiltshire Council.
(*) “Targets” were a Labour government priority for the NHS. The coalition government is now replacing with them with “Ambitions” – mandatory ambitions.
Education Secretary Michael Gove has promised to “kick-start” the application for St John’s School, Marlborough, to take on academy status.
In the Commons this week, local MP Claire Perry pointed out:
“St John’s school in Marlborough, of which I am a governor, has been trying to become an academy for over a year.”
“The department has been very helpful in the process, but as we approach the last furlong it feels more and more like wading through treacle.”
“Is there anything I, the other governors and the staff can do to get to a decision so that we can move forward with the programme?”
Mr Gove replied: “No school is better governed in Marlborough, or indeed in Wiltshire, than St John’s. As a result of my hon. Friend’s impassioned advocacy, I will ensure that the necessary posteriors are kicked.”
Mrs Perry told Marlborough News Online: “The plan for St John’s to become an academy has strong local support and the Department of Education has been going through all the necessary process steps with the conversion planned for September this year.”
“However, as we reach the final sign off, things seem to be slowing down. That is why I asked the Secretary of State for Education to look into fast tracking the proposal.”
“I was delighted to hear his response in which he said that he ‘will ensure that the necessary posteriors are kicked’”.
Last night’s meeting of Marlborough town council (Monday), which was due to appoint a new town clerk, was dramatically cancelled – and postponed for a week.
This was because two positive candidates have emerged from a short list of six to fill the council’s top post and Staff Committee chairman Councillor Edwina Fogg is asking for them to be interviewed for a second time.
So she called for the council’s delegated powers, which were revamped last year, to be used to cancel last night’s meeting, though it meant that all councillors were expected to attend, despite claiming their presence is a waste of time.
It was then to the mayor, Councillor Alexander Kirk Wilson, to announce the postponement of the meeting, which was agreed without a vote being taken.
“I am totally happy that we will have followed the correct procedure,” Mrs Fogg told Marlborough News Online. “We will now give the two impressive candidates we have chosen a second interview on Friday.”
“We have invited other members of the council to help with the second interviews of the two front runners because the question of whom we choose is so finely balanced.”
“But those additional councillors will not be able to vote on the candidate the Staff Committee will finally recommend to be appointed.”
She also insists that the names of the two short-listed candidates must remain “totally confidential” until next week’s council meeting, pointing out that any leaks of information will not be tolerated.
“And it is only a full meeting of the town council that can appoint a new town clerk as a senior legal officer, nobody else,” she pointed out.
The appointment of a new town clerk follows the resignation in November of 54-year-old Liam Costello (pictured), who had been Marlborough’s town clerk for the past two years.
He left at the end of the year and has now taken up a similar post in a town just 12 miles away from his home in Wootton, Northampton.