Read what our columnists have to say

Farming diary - Welcoming new life to farm

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Matt helps to unite lambs with their mothers

10:00am Sunday 13th April 2014

Another warm, sunny weekend to start the week deteriorated into a mixture of dull, damp and chilly weather once again.

Zena Robson, Woodborough Garden Centre - Watching out for weeds and moss

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Delphinium ‘Black Eyed Angels’ need protection from slugs

9:00am Sunday 13th April 2014

Seed-sowing and pricking out are at full throttle in the Robson household.

My Word - We must count our blessings, by Ed Deedigan of Kandu Art

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Ed Deedigan

8:00am Sunday 13th April 2014

How often do we really stop and count our blessings and take the time to reflect that, when all things are considered, we live in a predominantly peaceful, bountiful and, indeed, beautiful county?

James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire - We love real contests, not ‘battle’ of Nigel and Nick

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: MP James Gray

12:00pm Thursday 10th April 2014

Did you see either of the two Nigel vs Nick Shows? I felt there was something rather sad about Mr Farage’s obvious delight at national coverage and at last being taken (semi-) seriously; and something even sadder about Mr Clegg’s desperate clinging to the dim memory of his life’s great triumph – outshining Messrs Brown and Cameron during the TV debates four years ago. How he must long for those glory days!

Duncan Hames, MP for Chippenham - Lib Dems fight to stay in Europe for sake of jobs

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Duncan Hames MP

12:00pm Thursday 10th April 2014

When it comes to Europe, do you want to be ‘in’ or ‘out’? That’s the question at the heart of next month’s elections for our representatives in the European Parliament, and played out last week in a televised leaders’ debate.

Claire Perry, MP for Devizes - System of MPs’ expenses has to be looked at again

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Devizes Claire Perry MP

12:00pm Thursday 10th April 2014

Well, that was a miserable week. Like the creature from the black lagoon, the tentacles of the lax financial regime in the last Parliament reached out of the mire and strangled talk about everything else, including the tax cuts that benefit almost all of us, the great help for businesses now available and another upgrade of Britain’s growth forecasts by the IMF. At the centre was Maria Miller –a very decent, hard working, capable colleague, who was investigated properly, found to be innocent of all allegations of wrong-doing, identified herself an over-payment in her favour and corrected that.

Farming diary - Fertilisers and feeds go in

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: The heifers relax in their grassy surroundings

10:00am Sunday 6th April 2014

What a chilly week, ending with a cloudy, damp and thoroughly miserable day.

Zena Robson, Woodborough Garden Centre - Beautiful scent but quick to die

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Daphne Mezereum was in stock this year

9:00am Sunday 6th April 2014

There are very few plants that can compete in the scent-stakes with Daphnes. On a warm early spring day, their delicious fragrance fills the air and stops one in one’s tracks, nose a-sniffing.

My Word - Outlook is now brighter as tax burden is lessened, by ex-Wiltshire fire chief John Craig

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: SNJ reader Valerie Hicken pokes fun at the way human activity, particularly house building, has contributed to the recent flooding and how politicians and journalists reacted to the crisis  (4614979)

8:00am Sunday 6th April 2014

Having been involved in several serious emergencies, I have noticed the way that both man-made and natural disasters bring out both the worst and the best in human nature.

Duncan Hames, MP for Chippenham - Regional Growth Fund is proving just the job

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Duncan Hames MP

1:00pm Thursday 3rd April 2014

When I became a Member of Parliament, our economy was reeling in the wake of the financial crisis.

James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire - Life of an MP is mixture of the local and national

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: James Gray

12:00pm Thursday 3rd April 2014

All MPs face a delicate balance – and vitally important linkage – between local and national matters. Monday to Thursday in Parliament is crammed with demanding activities.

Claire Perry, MP for Devizes - Outlook is now brighter as tax burden is lessened

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Devizes Claire Perry MP

12:00pm Thursday 3rd April 2014

As Benjamin Franklin said: “Nothing can be certain except death and taxes” but thanks to the actions of this Government at least some taxes are starting to fall.

Farming diary - Time for natural growth spurt

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: One lamb finds a cosy bed on its mother’s back

10:00am Sunday 30th March 2014

Another weekend of bright sunshine led us to believe spring had truly arrived, but the week ended with a chilly feel in the air and unpleasant storms.

Zena Robson, Woodborough Garden Centre - It’s time to mix it using fertilisers

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Cut down shrubs such as Buddleia davidii now

9:00am Sunday 30th March 2014

I need to talk to you about fertilisers. As a general rule, I would not be encouraging you to chuck fertilisers about the place but the heavy rains that we have had will have washed away (leached) some nutrients from the soil.

My Word - Keep the laughter coming

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Lisa Lewis

8:00am Sunday 30th March 2014

As I am stood, bent double, with tears streaming down my face, there is a truly horrible moment when I think that I am actually going to vomit. It is rather unfortunate that I have just consumed the largest plate of food imaginable and it is at that point that M decides that it is time to launch into one of his hilarious tirades.

Claire Perry, MP for Devizes - Making sure all those sacrifices are not in vain

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Devizes MP Claire Perry signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment in the House of Commons

12:00pm Thursday 27th March 2014

I recently wrote about International Women’s Day which has grown from a slightly clunky political occasion into commemoration that is now meaningful, but this week I have been thinking about a much more long-standing and solemn occasion that we will be commemorating in Great Britain this year – the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War.

Duncan Hames, MP for Chippenham - Millions of workers to be better off after tax break

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Duncan Hames MP

12:00pm Thursday 27th March 2014

From next week, no one will pay any income tax on the first £10,000 they earn.

James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire - Freeing up pension pots is a welcome step forward

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: James Gray

12:00pm Thursday 27th March 2014

Funny things, Budgets. Sometimes they are a disaster (George Osborne’s 2012); sometimes they are widely acclaimed by the public for a few days until the Sunday newspapers unpick them as a sham (most of Gordon Brown’s); occasionally they are completely boring non-events (Alistair Darling – remember him?).

Zena Robson, Woodborough Garden Centre - Beastly bugs can kill off your plant

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Pollen-free lilies are on offer at the garden centre

9:00am Sunday 23rd March 2014

Here are two words to send shivers down spines and looks of disgust across faces – vine weevils!

My Word - Workers have fewer allies, by Ed Deedigan of Kandu Arts

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Ed Deedigan

1:00pm Thursday 20th March 2014

As the green shoots herald the forthcoming spring and the re-emergence of the sun fills the air with optimism and the inevitable hose pipe ban, we can also look upon the economic forecast with confidence… Confidence that if we fall into old, bad habits of being seduced into spending that which we don’t have, to fuel a recovery built on debt, on things we don’t need, to uphold a system that doesn’t work, it won’t be long before we are back in the mire.

James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire - Set aside sadness in order to celebrate life well lived

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: MP James Gray

12:00pm Thursday 20th March 2014

Mourning is a natural and a healthy process. We are sad, perhaps beyond words sad, at the passing of a loved one. We will miss him or her; we think of all the things that might have been.

Duncan Hames, MP for Chippenham - Extra cash for schools will give pupils best start

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Duncan Hames MP

12:00pm Thursday 20th March 2014

At last, the Government is tackling the unfairness in our school funding system that has seen Wiltshire schools get less than they should compared to schools in other counties.

Claire Perry, MP for Devizes - Budget should benefit the makers, doers and savers

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Claire Perry says she was tempted to shut her Twitter account after receiving  obscene tweets from ‘trolls’

12:00pm Thursday 20th March 2014

This week saw the excitement of Budget Day where the House of Commons simmers like a saucepan coming to the boil until the Chancellor stands up at 12.30pm.

My Word - Put people before housing by Don Jones of CAMRA

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Devizes Constituency MP Claire Perry has asked for the Coate Bridge  planning appeal to be heard by Ministers

12:00pm Thursday 20th March 2014

There was a snippet in this paper a couple of weeks ago about vandalism on a building site in Devizes and it reminded me of a similar incident from a few years ago. In both cases, a newly-built wall was pushed over some time when the site was unoccupied. I don’t know if the police have had any joy this time but, in the older case, the vandal was never caught. I’m almost certain that this was the only such act perpetrated by this ‘vandal’. I say that because I happened to meet them once and they were very keen to explain why they did it. This outwardly normal and respectable person wasn’t particularly proud of their action – something that many of us would call silly, irresponsible or downright criminal – but they said they did it out of rage and frustration. That might sound a bit over- dramatic but they, and many others felt that they had been totally disregarded. New houses were being built in a place that most felt neither needed nor could accommodate them. The vandal was one of a group of locals who had gone through due process to raise their objections to the development but seemingly had their concerns brushed aside. Maybe there was more than a little NIMBYism involved but they felt marginalised and ignored and this was just one final, futile ‘up yours’.

Farming diary - Lambs signal spring’s arrival

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Painted-on number codes keep ewes with their new lambs

10:00am Sunday 16th March 2014

Things are looking up. The barograph reading, over the last week, has been recording a pressure consistently higher than any since Christmas.

Zena Robson, Woodborough Garden Centre - Jobs to do before the spring comes

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Trachelium caeruleum took a long while to germinate but it is under cover and doing well

8:00am Sunday 16th March 2014

So what else can you be doing if you can’t really get on the soil yet?

Farming diary - A pleasing rise in butterfat

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: The first set of twin lambs born

10:00am Sunday 9th March 2014

Once again another week has passed with a mixture of weather systems.

Zena Robson, Woodborough Garden Centre - Keep off soil, or be bogged down

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: An Ali Baba pot – these require extra care when planting if you want to gain the best possible results

9:00am Sunday 9th March 2014

I know what you’re going to say: what is she talking about gardening for when my garden is a swamp? I have been telling people, and myself, that this will all end and that we must look forward and onwards.

James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire - People of Ukraine must be allowed say on future

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: James Gray

12:00pm Thursday 6th March 2014

It was a rare privilege to sit a few feet away from the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, in the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords last week to hear her (more or less) apologise for the two world wars and thank the British for standing up to Nazism.

My Word - Why is our service so bad? By editor Gary Lawrence.

12:00pm Thursday 6th March 2014

The assistant looked at me with all the eager attention of a toddler being presented with a book on quantum physics, barely pausing from chanking on gum that occasionally poked out between her lips like an extra blueberry-flavoured tongue.

Duncan Hames, MP for Chippenham - Transport costs must not stand in way of education

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Duncan Hames MP

12:00pm Thursday 6th March 2014

Hot on the heels of confirmation of funding for Wiltshire College’s redevelopment in Chippenham, I was back in the College last week to track the progress of their planning application and speak with students.

Claire Perry, MP for Devizes - Violation of sovereignty will have consequences

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Devizes Claire Perry MP

12:00pm Thursday 6th March 2014

For the third time in this Parliament a military crisis overseas has moved to dominate our domestic agenda and as I write we are preparing to hear a statement from the Foreign Secretary on the situation in Ukraine. There is no military mission proposed, nor any appetite for military action, but what matters now is that a very clear message is sent from across the world to the people of the Ukraine that we want to allow them to choose their own future. An equally clear message also needs to be sent to the Russian government to say that continuing down this path of violation of the sovereignty of another country will have costs and consequences. The whole world needs to come together to deliver that message and for me it is important the United Nations is at the forefront of that but Britain can play a role in bringing to bear diplomatic, political, economic and other pressures in order to support our position.

Farming Diary: Productive cows keep mum

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: One of the cows comes for a brush

10:00am Sunday 2nd March 2014

Dare I say, the weather has been a little kinder to us over the last week; there was even a day when a pair of buzzards were enjoying the thermals.

Zena Robson, Woodborough Garden Centre - Signs of summer as bulbs come in

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Gladioli will bring a wonderful variety of colours to the garden this summer if you get the bulbs in now

9:00am Sunday 2nd March 2014

You may not have noticed but the summer flowering bulbs have been in for a few weeks.

James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire - We must remain vigilant in opposition to builders

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: James Gray

12:00pm Thursday 27th February 2014

At least half the people in North Wiltshire live in towns – roughly 12,000 each in Calne and Royal Wootton Bassett, 4,000 each in Purton and Cricklade, 4,500 in Malmesbury and 3,500 in Box. This makes a total of about 40,000 or so in the main towns in my constituency, and a similar number in villages and the countryside.

My Word, by Lisa Lewis, of Doorway - It’s a huge learning curve

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Lisa Lewis

12:00pm Thursday 27th February 2014

Time never stands still at Doorway. Not only are the lives of our guests constantly changing but the very fabric of the organisation is also developing, adapting and evolving. We are always looking at ways in which we can improve on the services to our guests.

Duncan Hames, MP for Chippenham - Grant funding for college will build strong economy

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Duncan Hames MP

12:00pm Thursday 27th February 2014

I am delighted to report that Wiltshire College has been awarded grant funding from the Coalition Government for the redevelopment of its campus in Chippenham.

Claire Perry, MP for Devizes - Comments on welfare must be based on facts

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Devizes MP Claire Perry signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment in the House of Commons

12:00pm Thursday 27th February 2014

This past week has seen more debate around welfare reform and food banks with comments made by the new Cardinal Nichols and a letter signed by Anglican bishops about the alleged impact of benefit reforms.

Farming Diary: Challenges in soggy times

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Mark and son Edward load lambs before returning them to Stowell Farm

10:00am Sunday 23rd February 2014

What a wild 24 hours we have experienced. More than 2ins of rain has fallen again over the last week.

James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire - Don’t look over border if changing fire service

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: MP James Gray

2:20pm Thursday 20th February 2014

The Parliamentary half term recess is with us, which brings both a chance to recharge the batteries in the clean Wiltshire air; to do a bit of reading and writing and thinking and to get around the constituency.

My Word - Who will the youth turn to? by Ed Deedigan of Kandu Arts

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Ed Deedigan

2:03pm Thursday 20th February 2014

As the heavens continue to open and the cats, dogs and, no doubt, frogs and locusts continue to plague our sodden county, it is perhaps a good time to give thanks to all the dedicated individuals whose endeavours keep the majority safe and sound.

Duncan Hames, MP for Chippenham - Work is needed to ensure flooding is not repeated

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Duncan Hames MP

2:00pm Thursday 20th February 2014

Like so many local residents and businesses, I am determined to make sure that Bradford on Avon is protected from future flooding, so that we do not see a repeat of the damage suffered at Christmas.

Claire Perry, MP for Devizes - Recess means more time for issues and friendship

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Devizes Claire Perry MP

2:00pm Thursday 20th February 2014

The House of Commons is on recess this week, which gives me more time for more local visits and meetings as well as time to brave the half-term crowds at family attractions – thankfully for my waistline, Cadbury’s World was fully booked so we settled for the excellent Steam Museum in Swindon instead.

Farming Diary: Bringing in the terragator

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Peach has been busy with birthing plans

8:00am Sunday 16th February 2014

Not a lot changes! Over two inches of rain has fallen on Manor Farm since this time last week.

James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire - Just why did other parties block bill on referendum?

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: MP James Gray

12:00pm Thursday 13th February 2014

The two extreme stances on Europe are equally wrong. UKIP would say “get out now, and hang the consequences”.

My Word - Policies are playing with fire. By ex-Wiltshire fire chief John Craig.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: An aerial view of the fire at Wiltshire Waste (Recycling) near Devizes

12:00pm Thursday 13th February 2014

“There are a lot of myths about concerning recycling”.

Duncan Hames, MP for Chippenham - Improved rail service will build stronger economy

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Duncan Hames MP

12:00pm Thursday 13th February 2014

I welcomed a Government Minister onto the new TransWilts rail service last Friday.

Claire Perry, MP for Devizes - Sustained attack from developers is a concern

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Devizes MP Claire Perry signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment in the House of Commons

12:00pm Thursday 13th February 2014

There was more flooding misery this week and it was good to see Wiltshire Council responding actively with a new flood resilience scheme to help villages tackle the rising waters and also new drainage by-laws that will give them more powers to tackle problems of water flow and ditch clearance. The Prime Minister also announced new grants of up to £5,000 per property this week to pay for future flood protection work and £10m support for waterlogged farmers who are unable to plant crops or move livestock. He has made a commitment to do whatever it takes to help people clear up.

Prosperity in our county comes with a price tag

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: James Gray

12:16pm Tuesday 11th February 2014

Success and prosperity often brings with it associated, sometimes unforeseen, problems. Take the Royal Wootton Bassett/Calne/ Lydiards/Purton/Cricklade area as an example.

Make everybody matter

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Chairman of Devizes CAMRA Don Jones outside the old Artichoke pub

12:08pm Tuesday 11th February 2014

So, Jane Scott decided not to accept the 36.5 per cent increase in her allowance. This, after spending a couple of months telling us all that she was perfectly entitled to the new rate of £52,227 a year. Since November, Mrs Scott’s attitude seems to have been “stuff you – it’s what I’m worth and what I’m going to get”. Then Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has a quiet word in her ear and she’s suddenly claiming that, over the Christmas break, she’d decided not to take the increase. Some cynical people have claimed that Mrs Scott, OBE, was told by the Conservative Party to decline the extra dosh but I for one believe her Christmas story. After all, it’s only an extra fifteen grand that she was turning down and that sort of thing can easily slip your mind.




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