Marlborough town council is to set a budget of £5,000 to pay for events celebrating the Queen’s diamond jubilee next year, which will include a contribution to a beacon on the downs to mark the occasion.
Some 1,800 beacons across the country and around the globe are planned to celebrate the Queen becoming only the second monarch in British history to complete 60 years on the throne.
“We had a similar budget for the royal wedding in April,” Councillor Andrew Ross, chairman of the council’s finance and policy committee, told Marlborough News Online. “There has been no specific consideration yet as to the actual cost of the beacon.”
“But if it costs too much we won’t be able to do it unless some generous people in the town contribute towards the jubilee celebrations, just as they did for the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.”
Once you’ve found the clock in Marlborough High Street, you’re just a step away from the Jubilee Centre – the town’s drop-in and day centre for people over sixty. The centre welcomes plenty of older people who enjoy the care it gives them, but is short of volunteers to help look after them.
One of the centre’s great attractions is the lunch it serves every Wednesday and Thursday – not just to the people who come to spend the day at the centre, but to several older people who cannot resist a good, three-course lunch in friendly surroundings for a fiver. But….the centre needs a part-time cook willing to work flexible hours and cook suitable, tasty and simple food.
Carole Walker, the centre’s leader, says the right cook will get to know some remarkable older people who come to the centre from many parts of the Marlborough area and get a great response from his or her cooking.
The Jubilee Centre was set-up in 1977 – the year of Queen Elizabeth’s silver jubilee. Wiltshire Council provide half its annual costs, the rest comes from donations, fees and grants from charities.
Carole (seen left welcoming a drop-in visitor) is one of the four paid part-timers who run the centre. She came to the area from South Africa in 2000 and has three grown-up daughters - one of them at university. She fears that in the current economic climate, more people are having to take part-time jobs - and that means there are fewer people able and willing to volunteer.
As a day centre (on Mondays, Tuesday and Fridays) it can accommodate nineteen people – including two wheelchairs. These days are for frailer people who have been referred to the centre by outside agencies. Besides the meal, there’s coffee and teas, and either a talk or an entertainment. And some of the older people will be taken for walks along the High Street by volunteers.
A major part of the work Carole and her team do is arranging transport to bring the elderly – and sometimes infirm – people to the centre from all over the area, and then take them safely home again.
Some use the Kennet and District Community Transport Group’s mini-bus – seen below delivering a wheelchair-bound drop-in visitor to the centre. Otherwise the centre arranges a Link Scheme car or a taxi – and some a delivered by neighbours or family.
On drop-in days – Wednesdays and Thursdays – the centre can have up to forty elderly visitors during the day and provide thirty lunches.
Four times a year they arrange outings. These are subsidised by the Wiltshire Community Foundation. Tomorrow (Tuesday, 1 November), they’re going to the Manger Barn in Lacock where they’ll have an indoor picnic.
In addition, 2012 will not just be Queen Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee, but will also be the Marlborough Jubilee Centre’s thirty-fifth birthday…and that calls for some good citizen to sponsor a really great party for the over 60’s
St John’s School pipped the competition to the post in the Marlborough Apple Day’s photographic competition with two of the eight winners being pupils at the school and a third being a St John’s teacher.
The competition, which invited budding amateur photographers to take an apple-related photo in celebration of apples and orchards, received more than 100 entries.
The winners were announced at an award ceremony at St Mary’s Church today (Saturday) and received a Wiltshire variety of apple tree as part of their prize.
The first prize in the 16 years and under category went to Emily Rodriguez-Martin for her photo entitled "Apples on Parade" (main pic). Emily who lives in Axford is a pupil at St John's.
'Apple Pile Up'
by Eleanor Woodley 'Cockrel in the Orchard'
by Jack Gradidge
The adults’ category (over 17) was jointly won by Eleanor Woodley, from Chiseldon, who is also a pupil at St John’s, with her photo “Apple Pile-up” and Jack Gradidge, from Oare, with his photo entitled “Cockerel in the Orchard”.
Highly commended were Nick Barlow from Burbage, Carolyn Davis from Ogbourne St Andrew, Nicky Foy from Wilton, and Max More from Marlborough, who is a music teacher at St John’s.
by Nicky Foy 'After The Rain'
by Nick Barlow 'Blossom'
by Caroline Davis
Chair of the judges, the eminent photographer and author Roger Phillips, described Emily’s photograph as “an outstanding compositional idea”, praised Eleanor's “excellent combination of colour and fruit”, and admired Jack's entry as “a stunning moment wonderfully captured”.
by Max More 'Green with Envy'
by Nicky Foy
All entries to the photographic competition will remain on display for all to see in St Mary's Church until next Friday (November 4). The winning photographs will then be exhibited in Waitrose café, in Marlborough High Street.
Organiser Philippa Davenport revealed added that the top eight photographs have been made into a set of greetings cards, now on sale for everyone to enjoy, with proceeds benefitting Marlborough Community Orchard.
Charlotte Tickel, aged nine, won a special prize for her photograph spelling out the words Apple Day in apples, a strong image adopted by Marlborough Apple Day 2011 for their poster.
Presenting the prizes, competition sponsor, Juliet Kindersley, of Sheepdrove Organic Farm, declared: "The philosophy and passion behind Marlborough Apple Day mirrors exactly our own commitment to link nature and culture, with local foods for local people at its heart."
Canvassers will hit Marlborough doorsteps from this morning (Friday) to give local people across Wiltshire the final chance to register to vote in all forthcoming elections.
Electoral registration forms were sent out to all 200,000 households in the county at the end of August and so far 70 per cent have answered. The forms were followed by first reminder letters sent to 80,000 properties where the occupants have not yet completed and returned their annual electoral registration form.
Starting this weekend, canvassers will be calling at any properties that have yet to respond, asking householders to complete the form on the doorstep. Many of the calls will be during the evening and weekends and if residents are not at home they will call again at a later time.
John Watling, head of electoral services at Wiltshire Council told Marlborough News Online: “If people are not registered to vote , then they will not be able to make a decision about who represents them at local, national or European level.”
“People have to complete the annual canvass form so they can help decide who makes the decisions which affect everyday life.”
The purpose of completing the registration form is so that an accurate register of electors can be published on December 1, 2011.
The council’s trading standards team are reminding people to check for ID before they open their doors. All legitimate electoral roll canvassers will wear visible identification, and are instructed not to enter any homes.
Marlborough's Mayor, Councillor Alexander Kirk Wilson with the Mayoress, Julie Robinson pictured with Jennifer Hudson from Helen & Douglas House
Helen & Douglas House, the world’s first children’s hospice opened in Oxford in 1982, received a visit last week from Marlborough’s mayor, Councillor Alexander Kirk Wilson, who has included the organisation as one of his mayoral charities during his year in office.
The two hospice houses, Helen House for children and Douglas House for young adults, help 15 residents at anyone time, some £3.4 million of their annual expenditure of £8.3 million coming from gifts, donations and legacies.
“Usually about a third of the residents are in for end-of-life care,” explained the mayor, who was accompanied by Marlborough’s mayoress, Julie Robinson. “It is an immensely moving experience to go there since they concentrate on the quality of life, not the length.”
The mayor and mayoress are pictured with Jennifer Hudson who showed them the hospice at work.
EXCLUSIVE: By Gerald Isaaman
The newly-enthroned Bishop of Salisbury has stepped into the escalating row between Marlborough College and the town over its proposed £1.8 million purchase of the grade II listed Ivy House Hotel as a permanent hostel for girl students.
The Rt Rev Nick Holtam’s (pictured) appointment as Bishop automatically made him president of the council of the governors of the college, whose move to buy the 28-room hotel has created a major rift between the town and college and resulted in the threat of legal action.
Bishop Holtam has now revealed that he is looking into the situation, having done so in response to a plea from retired company director Gordon Olson, who has made an official complaint alleging bias against government planning inspector Paul Jackson, who granted the college change of use consent for the hotel to become a hostel.
“He has politely acknowledged a letter I sent him expressing my disquiet and said he will look into the situation,” Mr Olson told Marlborough News Online.
“It is a start and I look forward to hearing more from him. We shall have to wait now and see what happens given that Sir John Sykes has also written to him.”
Mr Olson’s two sons were pupils at the college, which includes among its former female students the Duchess of Cambridge, the daughters of the Duke of York, and the wives of David Cameron, George Osborne and Speaker John Bercow.
So was one of the sons of retired solicitor Sir John Sykes (pictured), who wrote last week to Bishop Holtham, formerly vicar of St Martin’s in the Field, in London, urging him to persuade the college governors to “withdraw from the purchase” of the hotel.
Sir John Sykes, chairman of the Merchants House Trust
He wrote in his capacity as chairman of Marlborough’s Merchants House Trust, vice-chairman of the Marlborough Literary Festival, and a long term resident.
Sir John’s letter says the planning appeal was granted “despite the combined opposition of both Wiltshire Council and Marlborough Town Council, together with the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce, both the Jazz and Literature Festivals, as well as numerous individuals including Mr Robert Hiscox, the High Sheriff of Wiltshire.”
He points out: “Cogent arguments were submitted against change of use on grounds of the great harm which will result to the tourist trade and the town’s economy.”
Then he adds: “Legal action is now being contemplated to prevent the college’s plans going ahead. As a retired solicitor I believe there are substantial grounds for such action and the college could find itself mired in a long drawn-out, expensive and acrimonious argument.”
“The loss of the hotel will undoubtedly not only affect the future of tourism to the town and the surrounding area but also I fear create a rift between town and gown that will be harmful both to Marlborough and its much valued college.”
“I appreciate that you have been on the local scene for only a short time, but your investigation into the circumstances of the hotel purchase and intervention at this stage will, I hope, ensure that the governors reconsider their decision and withdraw from the purchase.”
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EXCLUSIVE by Gerald Isaaman
It’s an armour-plated world that Claire Perry now lives in. No sooner had she received a surprise phone call from David Cameron with news of preferment than she found herself conveyed to the Ministry of Defence in an armoured vehicle flanked by security men for protection.
Such is the high security that she found herself with only a VIP pass, not a permanent one, and will still be working in her Commons office in her new role as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Philip Hammond, who has taken over from the departed Dr Liam Fox.
And despite the added responsibilities she has now, the Tory MP for Marlborough, in the constituency of Devizes, it is an unpaid post – and Claire a somewhat reluctant Iron Maiden helping to control the nation’s defences and the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
“I realised there was going to be a mini reshuffle when Liam stood down,” she says. “But I literally had no expectations whatsoever that I would be given a job.”
“That’s partly because being a PPS is not a necessary step in order to get promoted and, frankly, I was quite happy being a busy backbencher looking after the constituency and working on campaigns as I have been doing.”
“So when the first changes came out, I thought that was great. I applauded those who had got their jobs and it was good to see some women getting into prominent positions, very good, that’s fine, I thought.”
And elegantly tall Claire adds: “I don’t know if I was the best candidate for this mini-promotion. I shall certainly give it my best shot. And the suggestion that it has just been done because I am a woman I find deeply insulting.”
“There were five promotions. Three went to women and two went to men. It’s not like it’s a clean sweep. I mean how insulting it is to say so.”
“But that’s just the negative stuff that plays today . I think the right thing about your profession, please forgive me Gerald, is just to ignore it.”
That is hardly an option when the headlines are overflowing with tales of the Tory backbench revolt over Europe, the EU’s brave bid to defeat the Euro crisis and the clash between David Cameron and Nick Clegg over the coalition’s response to last week’s momentous events.
(Separate report to follow: The Tories will take the Euro hard line…).
She recognises that Dr Fox did a “very good job” at the MoD with a strategic defence review that slashed billions off its budget and she refuses to cast aspersions as to the deficiencies that resulted in his resignation following the revelations about his close friendship with Adam Werritty.
She is pleased to be working with Philip Hammond, whom she worked with when he was shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury. “It is really a fantastic time to be joining the team,” she insists.
And it is appropriate too since she has 10,500 soldiers in her Devizes constituency, which has kept her involved in military matters, among them her campaign for the armed forces to be fed with British pork instead of cheap Dutch and Danish bacon, which she can now promote from the inside.
Indeed, she is very much a favourite in the local army camps, the more so after her sexual brush in the Commons tearoom with Speaker John Bercow, which she declares was not a barrier to earlier promotion. “They thought it was a hoot,” she says.
Nevertheless, there is a firm clamp on her speaking openly about her new role. “I’ve been told that the enemy uses high technology that can hack into people’s phones,” she reveals. “You have to be very careful about what you say. All the high security protocols have come into play.”
On Tuesday, 8 November the full Wiltshire Council meeting in Salisbury City Hall will discuss a new report: “Countywide analysis of the impact of car parking charges.” This report comes after the widespread controversy over the increases to parking charges made in April 2011 and the council’s U-turn on the abolition of Salisbury’s one-hour parking rate.
The report – with a mass of back-up appendices, charts and tables – sets out to examine the link between car park usage in the context of the current economic climate and the introduction of Wiltshire’s new car parking strategy and new charges. It comes to the unsurprising conclusion that increased charges have not affected the number of people using car parks so they can shop in the county’s high streets.
The report cites ‘wider research’ that “what a town or city has to offer is the primary factor affecting economic health and not parking charges.” And points out that sales of parking tickets were in decline before the charges were increased in April 2011.
Apart from the economy’s ‘slow growth’, other factors producing poorer retail sales from town centre shops include the rise of internet shopping, of out-of-town shopping centres, of chain stores and of supermarkets - the usual suspects.
The increase in charges in April was part of the unitary authority’s policy to harmonise charges across the county. However, it is quite apparent that the charges were ‘harmonised up’ rather than ‘harmonised down’.
Charges rose towards Marlborough’s high level of charges, rather than being brought down to meet Corsham and Wootton Bassett’s pre-April charges of 20p for one hour and £1.00 for two hours. Indeed Marlborough’s one and two-hour charges are still higher than Council’s declared Band 3 charges of 40p for one hour and £1.20 for two hours – the Band it says Marlborough should be in.
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 – before taking into account maintenance, wardens, emptying the ticket machines and so on. And the new 2011 charges were expected to generate an extra £309,000 over this financial year.
But the year so far has seen a sharp downturn in the expected income. There is an anticipated shortfall for the year of £540,000. Of this figure £40,000 is down to the Council’s decision to re-introduce Salisbury’s one-hour charge.
Since April 2011, the use of Marlborough’s short stay (and in this case ‘short’ is considered by the Council as being up to four hours) parking has dropped by six per cent, with long stay dropping by three per cent.
Marlborough’s Waitrose car park
In Marlborough, the ‘Waitrose’ short-term car park causes some of the bitterest comments on pricing. This car park is managed by the Council under a contract with Waitrose signed in June 2000. The contract grants the Council the right to manage the car park and take the fees for twenty-five years – so it has fourteen more years to run.
The car park is to be run “for the primary use of shoppers.” More specifically the agreement states that the Council must “use its best endeavours to impose a scale of charges on the public using the car parking spaces which will encourage short stay parking and discourage long stay parking.”
This means that if it wished, the Council could make the first hour’s parking free or 10p, so long as charges for subsequent hours discourage long-term parking.
How the Town Council could help
If the town council considers Marlborough is getting a bad deal on parking charges, it can continue to badger Wiltshire Council to reduce the town’s charges at least to the Band 3 level. Or it could (as Warminster did prior to April 2011) buy from the county a free hour for a set number of parking spaces.
Alternatively, the town council could support financially, perhaps in conjunction with Waitrose or the Chamber of Commerce, a redemption scheme – like the one run at the Sainsbury’s car park in Devizes. This entitles shoppers to a refund of their first hour’s parking charge if they spend a specified amount in one of the shops joining the scheme.
Earlier this year, a county-wide redemption scheme was proposed by Wiltshire Council. But in July it was reported that “such a scheme may not be wanted by the retail trade in some areas.” And the Council is now consulting about a scheme with town councils, chambers of commerce, and other interested parties.
Wiltshire Council defends its parking charges on two main grounds – it needs to reduce CO2 emissions and meet air quality targets, and it needs the income to subsidise bus routes. It wants fewer cars on the roads and higher income from those that use its car parks.
Watch this space for a report that will try and find out how the bus subsidies work.
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Another bid to introduce a residents’ parking scheme in car clogged Marlborough is being made with the launch of a survey to discover whether people would support one.
More than 200 survey questionnaires have been delivered by CRAMP – Cars, Residents and Marlborough Parking – seeking their views and asking whether they would pay around £100 for an annual permit to park in their street.
And they have been distributed by Marlborough activist Val Compton and her neighbour Abby George (pictured) in the Kennet Place area, where Val originally asked Kennet District Council to consider such a parking scheme in 1996.
And it is an area where parking has resulted in slashed and let down tyres, frayed tempers and verbal abuse in the past as residents have fought to protect “their space”, adding urgency to the problem.
“Mention parking in Marlborough and everyone goes into eye rolling or rant mode – quite understandably,” says the CRAMP survey introduction. “It’s a pain. So some of us have informally got together to try and sort it out under the name of CRAMP.”
“This is the first step to achieving a better system of parking for everyone – residents, workers and shoppers. It’s taken a very long time to get to this point and we are now ready to launch a survey to establish support for a residents’ parking scheme.”
Val’s persistence has resulted in Wiltshire Council and Marlborough town council supporting the survey, the town council covering printing and some postage costs. Initially it is for her own Kennet Place locality as a pilot operation but the aim is to cover the whole town using detailed maps that Wiltshire has provided.
“I now have to create several zones in Marlborough and survey each one,” explained Val. “I need to see what problems arise and, if needed, to make any necessary alterations to the survey questionnaire to ensure that everyone has their say.
“I am hoping the Chamber of Commerce will start to quantify the workers’ parking required in Marlborough, though I haven’t re-opened discussions with them yet. Paul Shimell, the new president, has plenty on his plate till the New Year.”
“But I think the Kennet Place car park, now standing half empty because of increased charges, would make the perfect place for low paid workers to park.”
“If every business employing people as volunteers or on the minimum wage could buy season tickets at the same sort of £100 rate as residents, then it would solve quite a problem.”
The current aim is to ensure the return of all the survey questionnaires, some 25 having already arrived and others going to the town council’s own offices.
“Then we can take the next step forward,” said Val. “It may be a long uphill climb to get this campaign to come to fruition but after 15 years -- and with the parking situation getting worse -- something has to give.”
A formal complaint alleging bias by the planning inspector who granted Marlborough College change of use consent for the grade II listed Ivy House Hotel to be used as a hostel for its girl students was made yesterday (Monday).
It was sent to the Planning Inspectorate, based at Bristol, by retired company director Gordon Olson, who sent his two sons to Marlborough College, in the latest explosive move to prevent the loss of the town’s biggest and best hotel.
And it comes in the wake of Mr Olson obtaining Freedom of Information copies of the documentation considered by planning inspector Paul Jackson in rejecting major opposition to consent being granted, including that of Wiltshire Council and Marlborough town council.
“I wish to make the following points which I believe are, prima facie, clear evidence of bias in favour of the appellants to the detriment of the case made by some 30 objectors,” declares Mr Olson in a five-point protest to the Planning Inspectorate.
The opposition also included that of Robert Hiscox, chairman of the international insurance company and High Sheriff of Wiltshire, who offered to invest in buying the 28-bedroom hotel, which offers luxurious double bedrooms at £95 a night on its website.
“Marlborough is an incredibly attractive town which desperately needs hotels,” he wrote. “The Ivy House could be made into a destination for food and accommodation and become a great asset to the town and the surrounding area.”
Josephine Ball, former owner of the Ivy House from 1984 to 2001 before selling it when her husband died, declared that the hotel had always been a viable, profitable business when managed correctly.
Comments by the current owner that no money had been spent on it for 20 to 25 years were “completely untrue” and, she added: “The Ivy House must remain as a hotel and restaurant. It’s a wonderful business and a great asset to the town and has been for the last 75 years.”
Mr Olson concentrates on the fact that the inspector rejected a late submission by two nearby residents, Pauline and Roger Smith, who live in River Park, pointing out “all the parties involved in an appeal have a responsibility to meet the deadlines set” yet he subsequently accepted “two further late submissions from the appellant’s consultants, DTZ.”
DTZ is the London estate agency whose member of staff, Suzie Willis, represented the College in the planning application and appeal proceedings.
“These two late submissions should not have been sought nor should they have been considered in the appeal process,” protests Mr Olson, who lives in St Martins, Marlborough. “They should have been rejected on the grounds that the deadlines set had been passed.”
He also complains that one late submission, which runs to seven pages plus six pages of appendices, not only restates the College’s case in detail but also contains “extensive unfavourable commentary” on the public remarks made by Nicholas Fogg, twice mayor of Marlborough, who is both a Wiltshire and Marlborough town councillor.
But Mr Olson insists that that Mr Fogg’s views were “made in his private capacity and should not have been made available to the appellants or their consultants.”
Another vital point Mr Olson makes is that the inspector involved only Suzie Willis and Wiltshire’s area planning officer Mike Wilmott on his site visit to the hotel, no other representative of any objector being invited to be present.
Mr Olson told Marlborough News Online: “Since the High Court is normally where these matters are resolved, that is maybe where this matter will end up.”
Peter Bryan, director of corporate resources and deputy master of the College, commented: “The College has acted with customary care throughout this process. Proper professional advice has been taken at all times.”