Marlborough is a small, ex-market town, sitting astride the River Kennet, surrounded by beautiful downs and close to Savernake Forest, in Wiltshire. Marlborough depends on two supermarkets for most of its food and has extremely poor public transport links, having neither a train station, nor a decent bus service. As a result people are dependent on private cars to get around. While homes in the town centre are connected to the gas grid, those in the surrounding villages depend on oil for heating. Marlborough’s demographic is highly distorted as 50% of young people between the ages of 20 and 30 years leave the town because of high house prices, lack of skilled jobs and poor transport links to urban employment centres. Marlborough also has a strong social divide, due to a wide disparity between the richest and poorest families in the town. Last summer the River Kennet dried up due to over abstraction by the local water company.
Transition Marlborough has grown out of Marlborough Climate Pledge, which had been raising public awareness of issues around peak oil and climate change since 2005. The idea for a new, more participatory Transition initiative was put to the Town Council in August 2011, in order to address public concern over the rising costs of food, fuel and transport. The full launch was held on 12th September 2011 in the Town Hall, when people watched the film: End of Suburbia, calculated Marlborough’s carbon footprint with the help of Wiltshire Council’s Climate Change Officer and discussed the formation of Activity Groups: Food, Transport, Energy and Recycling, to improve the town’s self reliance. Cllr Rich Pitts, who had been a strong supporter of this Transition initiative, then proposed a motion to the rest of the Town Council calling on them to become a ‘Transition Council’. This motion was carried unanimously.
The Hub and Activity Groups meet regularly in a local pub in the town centre (the one with the best beer!). Current projects include: Linking with the Bath and West Community Energy Company to support local renewable energy projects, increasing the number of community allotments, establishing an orchard on the common, facilitating the provision of a minibus to take commuters to the nearest train station and improving local cycle paths.