Welcome rewards

I WAS delighted to see two search and rescue charities in Wiltshire receive government funding to help them continue their brilliant lifesaving work.

Serve On, based in Salisbury, is getting £19,576.13 while Wiltshire Search and Rescue has been awarded £8,497.12. They are among the 57 winners who will share £1million in the latest round of the Rescue Boat Grant Fund.

The money will pay for new boats, equipment and other resources to help volunteer search teams save lives on our inland waterways.

It’s great that the government has recognised and rewarded these volunteers for the fantastic and highly-skilled work they do to keep people safe. They are unsung heroes. Thank you.



South West Conservatives

Criminal treatment

THE wife and I went to Bath Christmas market recently, and purchased two return tickets from Chippenham rail station to Bath, so four tickets. Returning, we got stuck at the Bath ticket barrier.

The wife got through but I had the wrong ticket. I searched my wallet, and all my pockets, but no ticket, it was lost. The woman guard said this and that, and would not let the wife back through the barrier as I went to buy another ticket to get home.

The wife and I are both 82 and not that steady on our feet. It was a disgrace the way we were treated, like criminals. It’s time they crossed the Great off Great Western Railway.


Warren Crescent


Vote with wallet

AT THIS time of year readers may be seeking inspiration to address their expanding waistlines. May I suggest a positive step could be to research their local takeaway on the Food Standards Agency website.

Having decided on a rare takeaway treat for my family over the Christmas break, on a whim I sought out the hygiene rating for the establishment. I was more than a little surprised to see a rating of 1 out of 5, declaring ‘major improvement necessary’. Appalled by my finding, I searched for another local establishment, only to find a similar 1 out of 5. I even searched further afield in Bradford on Avon to discover a meagre score of 2.

The good news is that there are takeaways with higher scores in West Wiltshire, but I find it alarming that businesses failing to make satisfactory efforts to ensure the food safety of our residents are permitted to continue trading. This is an issue I shall be raising with Wiltshire Council.

There is currently no requirement for businesses to display their hygiene ratings, but all inspections can be viewed online at http://ratings.food.gov.uk.

Wiltshire deserves a better and safer service than offered currently. I have voted with my wallet and would urge others to consider the same in 2019.


Horse Road

Hilperton Marsh

False information

IN the letters page on January 3 was a letter titled ‘Claims are untrue’. I am somewhat worried that Rowland Pantling is wrongly criticising a young schoolboy and peddling false information regarding global warming. Years of research by scientists in both the British Antarctic Survey (melting polar ice caps) and the Centre for Oceanographic Studies (prediction of major increase in sea levels), of which I have first-hand knowledge, has shown that global warming is a serious threat to our future and that emissions of carbon dioxide are having a significant impact on the ozone layer.

The current scale of the problem is neither one that has always been with us nor, as he is suggesting, one that we should just learn to live with. Well done St John’s School in Marlborough for your accurate teaching and common-sense approach.

I suggest that Mr Pantling concentrates on writing material for Donald Trump’s speeches with whom he obviously shares an interest rather than seek to give publicity to the erroneous facts and scaremongering false accusations that he regularly makes in your letters page.


Whatley Drive


Vote is only way out

PARLIAMENT returns this week with MPs focused on Brexit. The Government’s ‘preparations’ for no deal have hit new depths‎. They awarded a £16m cross-Channel shipping contract to a company with no ships, whose website refers to their ‘drivers delivering meals’, having being cut and pasted from a fast food company’s website.

I know it is the pantomime season, but you could not make it up!

Frankly it would be hilarious were it not so serious. This is the future of our country’s health, security and economy. It is obvious that Mrs May and Mr Corbyn are united in denying the British people the final say on that future.

MPs from all the mainstream British parties must now come together to defy both of them and get the People’s Vote that we need. It is the only truly democratic thing to do and the only real way out of this mess.

Let all of us decide whether our future lies with Mrs May’s deal, James Gray’s no deal, or the best deal, the one we have right now inside the European Union.


Prospective Liberal Democrat MP for North Wiltshire

Join in Big Half

MENINGITIS Research Foundation (MRF) would like to invite readers to take up a charity place for The Big Half taking place in London on Sunday, March 10.

Public entries sold out quickly but you can still enter with an MRF charity place and join the fight against meningitis and septicaemia.

Anyone looking for a New Year challenge is welcome to apply for a charity place with MRF, regardless of whether they’ve been affected by the disease personally or not.

The Big Half is set to be a celebration at the heart of London with DJs, bands, food and plenty of colour along the route.

To find out more, visit www.meningitis.org/big-half-1 or contact Jenny on jennyr@meningitis.org. The deadline for signing up is Friday, February 8.

Meningitis and septicaemia are deadly diseases that strike without warning. One in ten people affected will die and a third of survivors will be left with after-effects, some as serious as brain damage, amputations, blindness or hearing loss. Babies, toddlers and teenagers are the most at risk but anyone can be affected at any age.

The money that runners raise will help support MRF’s lifesaving research into the prevention, detection and early treatment of meningitis and septicaemia and will allow the charity to continue raising awareness and supporting those affected.


Meningitis Research Foundation


Street light woes

I HAVE since October 10, 2018 reported a section of 10 street lamps not working to Chippenham Town Council using the online system. I have visited the office twice, have made phone calls to both the council and SSE (who the council say are responsible, SSE say the council are responsible) and also have sent 20 emails.

Neither are accepting responsibility.The report no’s are 2767555 & 2793772 The section of road is SN15 3LH, Avenue La Flèche from the pelican crossing at the bottom of Wood Lane to London Road and The Butts adjacent to the Three Crowns public house.

It is plain for all who drive or walk this route to see that it is dangerous.


Via email

Why no MPs’ views?

YOUR decision to cease publishing columns from three local MPs is perplexing.

The political features are the first section I turn to, whatever the voting habits of our MPs.

I suspect that you will lose a fair number of readers if you persist with this policy, myself included. Your explanation would be welcome.


Ebor Gardens


EDITOR’S NOTE: While we have discontinued the MPs’ columns, I have assured all of the MPs that there is still a place for them and their views in the Gazette, it will just not be in the format of a column.

Concert success

WE would like to say a big thank you to all who came to the carol concert on December 15 held in the Chapel at Marlborough College.

This has become an annual event and this year saw a record number of over 630 attending.

We are very grateful to those who gave their time to perform at the event, including Oare and Ogbourne Primary Schools’ Choir led by head of Oare Gudrun Osbourne; the Great Bedwyn Millennium Choir, the Bluebelles, soloist Fiona Scott MacArthur and the wonderful performances from talented young musicians, singer Izzy Albery and oboist Noah Piercy.

Thanks to the generosity of the performers giving both their time and talent for free, all the ticket monies and retiring collection, a cheque for £6,795, has been given to Hope and Homes for Children to support its ongoing work.

Our thanks also go to our main sponsor Kim Vine and to the support of Rick Stein.

Hope and Homes for Children was started 25 years ago by Col Mark Cook and his wife Caroline, following the Bosnian conflict, and who were at the time living in West Stowell, just outside Marlborough.

To find out more about the work of Hope and Homes for Children go to www.hopeandhomes.org

This year’s carol concert will be at 4pm on December 14.


Concert organiser and the Vale of Pewsey Support Group

Staff make a school

I AM writing to protest the proposed closure of Larkrise School in Trowbridge.

There is a well-known phrase that it takes a village to raise a child and that is especially true for a child with special needs. Our children will not go to college or university, they will not marry or have families of their own, travel independently or have a career. Their quality of life is solely dependent on the strength and support of their families and local community. We are not asking for special treatment for our children - just parity. No other group of schoolchildren in the county would have all appropriate local education closed to them and be expected to travel around two hours every day to what will be, after all, an institution in all but name.

Baroness Jane Scott and Cllr Laura Mayes use phrases such as ‘centre of excellence’ to describe the proposed new school. This is a meaningless soundbite. A state-of-the-art building (if indeed, that’s what it would be) and up-to-date equipment do not make a centre of excellence in education. That is created by the teachers and all the supporting staff.

As Larkrise parents we would say that we already have a centre of excellence, one that needs to be nurtured and developed, not sold to the highest bidder and our children sent out of town.

Whilst our children will always be our priority this plan will have huge impact on families who already have quite enough to deal with. Having a child with complex needs impacts on siblings, family finances and employability, quite apart from the stresses that come with long-term health or neurological conditions.

Now we will have to deal with the extra stress of extended travel, not being able to get to our children quickly if there is a problem, as well as further isolation for parents no longer able to meet and connect at the end of a school day.

This decision is not just wrong, it is cruel and discriminatory creating further distance between special needs families and the local community.


Parent of Larkrise student

Submitted via email

Support new vote

WE are relieved that, along with many of your parliamentary colleagues, you will make every effort to avoid a No Deal Brexit.

There currently appears to be no majority in parliament for the way Britain leaves the EU.

If the draft withdrawal agreement is voted down next week, we believe that the Article 50 process should be extended to allow the people to express their final opinion on Brexit.

We urge you to support a People’s Vote.



On behalf of Devizes for EU

cc to Devizes MP Claire Perry