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News

Sainsbury’s to sell off their failed supermarket site in Marlborough

Sainsbury’s have confirmed that they are now selling off the failed supermarket site in Salisbury Road site where their plans to give Marlborough an alternative to Waitrose proved a flop.

This follows Sainsbury’s decision to ditch  a judicial review they were seeking against Wiltshire Council over its decision to grant planning permission to rivals Tesco for a store on the adjoining Marlborough business park site (see exclusive report January 23).

A company  spokesperson told Marlborough News Online: “Sainsbury’s will now look to market the site to a developer for residential redevelopment possibly including low key employment uses.”

“The council’s previous resolution to grant permission on the depot site for a mixed residential and employment development will clearly influence any future scheme.”

This was for 32 homes with workshops and offices, a project which has held fire since Sainsbury’s decided to take legal action against Wiltshire almost 18 months ago.

“This is the kind of development scheme we need now,” said Wiltshire councillor Nick Fogg. “It is exactly what people want, a chance to set up a business on the same site where they also live and can have a workshop or an office.”

“That could have a real impact on the local economy at a time like this and something that I hope will now be pursued.”

Agents Carter Jonas, whose original SOLD sign for the old Wiltshire Council depot site remains at the entrance, may now be asked to re-launch the scheme.  A spokesman indicated that they had yet to be contacted by Sainsbury’s.

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Marlborough’s mayor and churches combine to salute the Queen’s jubilee

 

A special thanksgiving service to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee is to be held at St Mary’s, Marlborough’s parish church, on Monday February 6 – the actual anniversary of her accession to the throne.

It is being organised by Marlborough’s mayor, Councillor Alexander Kirk Wilson, together with the town’s combined churches, invitations to the event going out from the town hall to 10 local organisations inviting them to take part.

And residents in general will be welcomed at 7.30pm event, to be conducted by the Rev Andrew Studdert-Kennedy, Rector of Marlborough.

“The service is going to follow a fairly formal pattern and it will contain the material used for the accession service from the Book of Common Prayer,” he told Marlborough News Online.

“We are also going to use quite a lot of the liturgy from the Queen’s golden jubilee service at St Paul’s cathedral 10 years ago, which I am being allowed to borrow for the occasion.  There will be appropriate readings and a very good litany of thanksgiving, as well as a chance to sing hymns that genuinely reflect the occasion and give thanks.”

He added: “I am fully aware that a Monday evening in February isn’t the most friendly of times for a service but it is a way of marking the start of the celebrations that are to take place in the town throughout the year.”

Preparations for the diamond jubilee are well under way in Marlborough and throughout the country is has been noted that there have been more applications for street parties than at the royal wedding last April.

“I’m really pleased to hear that,” said the Rector.  “The royal wedding was much more a success than was first thought it might be and maybe that has whetted the appetite for doing something better next time, on this occasion for the Queen.”

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Man charged following serious assault in Marlborough High Street

Police have now charged a man with causing grievous bodily harm following an assault in Marlborough High Street at around 2.40am on Sunday morning when a man received serious head and facial injuries.

Gavin Jackson, 28, from Marlborough, has since been arrested and charged and is due to appear at Swindon court on February 8.

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Police issue CCTV pictures of gun armed Chiseldon newsagent robbers

 CCTV pictures are now being distributed by Wiltshire Police in an updated appeal for witnesses and information following a robbery at Chaplin’s newsagents, in Chiseldon, early on Monday.

At approximately 6.30am, two men entered the premises, threatened a member of staff with what was believed to be a handgun, and stole cigarettes and a small sum of money.

The suspects are described as white and aged in their 20s.  One was approximately 5ft 9ins tall and was wearing a grey hoodie with a large black stripe across the middle, and both had scarves covering their faces.

The suspects put the cigarettes they stole into a holdall which had a distinctive logo.

Detective Constable Liz Coles, told Marlborough News Online: “Robbery is an extremely serious offence and it is fortunate that no-one was hurt during this incident.”

“I would like to thank the public for their response so far, but I would also like to stress that I am still keen to speak to anyone who was in the area at the time and may have seen any vehicles or someone acting suspiciously.”

“The suspects used a distinctive bag and we have CCTV images of them, someone must know who they are.  If you do, I would urge you to contact police or Crimestoppers immediately.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact DC Coles at Gablecross Police Station on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where information may be left anonymously if preferred.

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Police raise the stakes in bid to introduce CCTV in Marlborough

 A police bid to encourage Marlborough to introduce a CCTV system in its much admired High Street was made last night (Wednesday) at a special meeting of Marlborough Chamber of Commerce’s executive.

And it was welcomed by the Chamber’s new president Paul Shimell (pictured), who wants to raise the profile of Marlborough and make it a "must attraction" for tourists in the coming year.

“Attempts to introduce CCTV have floundered in the past mainly due to cost,” he told Marlborough News Online.  “It would obviously be of considerable benefit to Marlborough and a deterrent to those who think we are a soft touch.”

“Our aim is to co-operate with the town council in finding a viable way of introducing CCTV and we are most grateful to the police for providing us with the latest information as to the kind of system that ought to be introduced.”

Marlborough, the only significant town in Wiltshire without a CCTV system to prevent crime and outbreaks of social disorder, has been targeted by gangs coming from London, Manchester, Bristol and Swindon in the run-up to Christmas.

This is a phenomena that has been happening on a national basis, along with the theft of valuable metals from church roofs and war memorials.

There have been 50 incidents of shoplifting and theft in Marlborough since September, but the police believe this is not a total figure as too many cases go unreported by retailers.

So the Chamber invited two officers, Town community beat manager Stan Boardman and Special Constable Mike Tuckman, to outline their concerns and give details of the CCTV operations in other towns, in particular Wootton Bassett, where PC Tuckman introduced CCTV.

And to cut costs this operation is monitored by small army of volunteers, a system the police believe could also be introduced in Marlborough.

Marlborough town council has a sub-committee investigating the CCTV initiative but it has yet to report to the council.  An attempt to add £10,000 to next year’s council budget to pay for an initial system was defeated at last week’s council meeting because there was no detailed information available to support it.

Meanwhile, Councillor Richard Pitts, who represents the town council at Chamber of Commerce meetings, is preparing his own report on likely costs and how a CCTV system would operate.

He believes the capital cost could be covered if CCTV became part of the Marlborough town hall improvement project and that the system could be operated from the town hall itself.

“I favour the introduction of a simple system of six cameras that could cover the town and the four main roads in and out of Marlborough,” he told Marlborough News Online.

But he is concerned whether or not the system includes instant number plate recognition, which would inflate its costs, and whether volunteers would be forthcoming to monitor the system.

“I fear that introducing CCTV could create an iceberg hole in the council’s finances if we are not careful,” he added. “It is going to take a little time for us to work out the best way ahead.”

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Wiltshire is the safest place in the country for violent crime new survey reveals

 The latest British Crime Survey results issued by the Home Office has revealed that Wiltshire police are the top force in England for tackling violent crime.

The quarterly statistics state that nationally, in the 12 month period up to September 2011, crime has decreased by four per cent while, in Wiltshire, the equivalent figure for the same period is a reduction of 22 per cent in reports of violence against the person.

This makes Wiltshire the most successful force in England in this area.  They also come top for reported drug offences and 5th for criminal damage and burglary.

Several successful operations have contributed to this reduction by tackling prolific offenders, enabling officers to concentrate on the problem hotspots.

Operation Drink took place in Swindon town centre ensuring extra patrols on Friday and Saturday nights and raising awareness with the public as to the consequences of drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.

Wiltshire police are also part of a Domestic Violence Prevention Order pilot scheme, which gives offenders a 28 day cooling off period away from their families to prevent further abuse being committed.

In addition, Operation Diffuse, which took place in the summer, tackled violent crime and drugs making 14 successful arrests, impacting on prolific offender’s criminal activity.

Assistant Chief Constable Mike Veale (pictured) told Marlborough News Online: “Today’s crime survey reveals that we are one of the safest counties in the country and we continue to work towards keeping people as safe as possible.”

“We work closely with all of our partners who continue to play a huge part in our success.  Our priorities are clear.  We have to be more visible and more engaging – not less.”

“We need to be there at the critical times when people need us the most, targeting prolific offenders, violence hotspots and the night time economy.”

 “Our aims are to give the best service we can to victims of crime and we continue to be committed to making Wiltshire the safest county in the country.”

Chris Hoare, who is chairman of Wiltshire Police Authority, added: “The British Crime Survey shows that by being the best in England, Wiltshire policing is performing very well in protecting the people of Wiltshire and Swindon from violent crime.”

“This type of crime is one of the most damaging for our communities and it is crucial that Wiltshire Police maintain their success in this field.  This will only be possible through the continued close engagement and cooperation with our communities and our partners.”

“Offending cannot be tackled by the police alone and the encouraging results for Wiltshire shown in the latest British Crime Survey have only been made possible through the active support of our public and our many partner organisations”

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I am happy and honoured declares Marlborough’s new town clerk Derek Wolfe

 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.

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Sainsbury’s ditch costly legal challenge over failed Marlborough store bid

 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.”

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Good news: Wiltshire figures show a further decline in hospital infections

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.

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Education Secretary promises to fast track St John’s academy application

 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’”.

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Two candidates in final battle to become Marlborough’s new town clerk

 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.

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