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There is a Slogan doing the rounds ‘if it aint broke don’t fix it.’ What though if it is broke, would the abolition of the Salisbury District Council be the answer? Definitely not. Vote on the Council Web Site.

It is ALL LOCAL GOVERNMENT ‘that is broke’. At its basic level there are sixty Parish Councils in the Salisbury District Council area which will not be holding an election on May 3rd.2007. This figure must surely include The Parishes of REDLYNCH ( Nomansland Ward) and Tisbury’s two adjoining Parishes of ANSTY and FONTHILL GIFFORD which have no nominations whatsoever. In Tisbury we have not had an election for the last twelve years. Now we will not be having one for sixteen years. In a bid to rectify the matter the number of our Parish Councillors was reduced from a requirement of Fifteen Councillors to a new lower level of Eleven Councillors. A fine fuss our Parish Council made about that, even at the twelfth hour a letter that the Parish Clerk had been instructed to write, was read out to the District Councillors defending the Status Quo. Goodness only knows where the objection lay, for frequently fewer than eleven Parish Councillors find themselves able to attend Meetings of the Parish Council, even after allowing for the fact that one has been indisposed.

The Public is obliged to all who have allowed themselves to be nominated to hold Parish Office for the next four year session. However Tisbury will need to co-opt two more Councillors to fill vacancies. West Tisbury will have to co- opt another four. The process of co- option is ethically right, but seems to be morally wrong. There should be a different procedure. For instance if any Council is undersubscribed why is it that there is no provision for the list of nominations to remain open? I do not wish to have Parish Councillors foisted upon me by some , that the Village might not have voted in as Councillors had there been an election. It is no fault of the Councillors deemed elected that they have to co- opt others. If however any Councillor was to take advantage of the process, so as to accommodate ‘fellow travellers’, that would of itself be a nail in the coffin of Democracy.

AMALGAMATE OR DIE. If one wonders why there is such a reluctance to become a Parish Councillor. Can it be that the days of Parish Pump Politics are past? Maybe Tisbury and West Tisbury should have, when recently given the chance reconstituted as a single entity. Possibly we might now offer to accommodate both Ansty and Fonthill Gifford too? If we wish to reduce Community Charges then the amalgamation of these little fiefdoms each with its own Parish Clerk seems the way ahead. I suspect the residents of all these Parishes are centred on Tisbury. Why should Tisbury alone have to subsidise the Parish Precepts of all its satellites. It might too shed better light on using Tisbury’s R2 funding to underwrite the construction of a Loo facility at Fonthill Gifford.

It is time that Tisbury Parish had benefit of an infusion of new blood. Councillors may have done their best, but really they might have done better. There was too much absenteeism. Of course people are busy but if one is too busy , do not become a Parish or even District Councillor. Last session we had some sixteen plus co-options . It puts one in mind of a comic operetta ? Cox and Box maybe or ‘HMS Pinafore’s entry of Sir Joseph Porter KCB ‘And his sisters and his cousins and his aunts’

(cut and paste) http://math.boisestate.edu/gas/pinafore/ web_opera/pin08.html

Possibly it is the Parish Councils rather than the Salisbury District Councils that need to be abolished ? Have they any relevance beyond Village House Keeping? Parish Councillors are there to be heard, but have no part to play in the Planning Process, however much huffing and puffing accompanies ‘decision’ making . District and County Councillors are elected to decide on Planning Matters, even they delegate their authority to Planning Officers in a majority of decisions.

As there is no requirement for each and every Planning Application to be considered by a Parish Council, why has Tisbury Parish Council become so deeply involved? Recently there was the matter of lopping six Leylandii trees. What a waste of everyone’s time. It is unfair that some suggest any Parish Council is a collection of self interested busy bodies . Forefend surely not , they are there to represent not themselves, but to voice the consensus of local opinion, then to consider the better interest of the Community as a whole, rather than any sectarian portion whether, it be the Chamber of Trade, or …well no need really to be invidious. Parish Councillors should listen to everyone they represent before reaching a decision.

This week I helped out one of the Local District Council Candidates by delivering a few ‘Manifesto’ leaflets . With one exception anyone one had the chance to engage in conversation showed a great deal of interest in Local Government, even when they prefaced their remarks by telling me that they had no interest in it. Some of them waxed eloquent on local issues. One Craftsman Artisan professed to hold views so strongly that he thought he might be a disruptive influence on the Parish Council if he sought to become a member of it. What is wrong with that? It is useless for any faction to be on a Committee unless willing to fight its corner.

Too often one is told after the event ‘Well of course I didn’t agree with this that or the other, but….’ Once a decision has made, then a Councillor is bound by the collective responsibility for that decision. Thus there are those who believe their voice can better be heard by not being on a Parish Council, whilst others may be reluctant to offer their services as a Parish Councillor, in the mistaken belief that they are not ‘Deserving’. Both points are understandable.

How often now does one hear a remark made on the lines of ‘ I really had no wish to stand, but so and so, usually one of the Political Parties begged me to etc.’ Surely it is better that we support the self motivated enthusiast, providing they are not ‘too keen’ for the job, rather some Party Political Placeman. Any who succumb to siren voices do others a disservice. When my wife and I brought a young family to live here in 1980 , I came hot with the election fever of an adjoined District Council. Had the Electorate here, then been as apathetic over Democracy as it apparently is today, one might have been tempted to offer ones services. There were no vacancies then nor room for incomers.

In both 1978 and 1979 I had stood to be an Independent District Councillor in an ad- adjoined Council to Salisbury. I had done so because I had then, as I still have now a great interest in Local Government. Possibly standing as an Independent in a Constituency with a Conservative Parliamentary Majority of twenty-six thousand, may have seemed more of a suicidal attempt rather than a real ‘pitch’ for Office; ‘You can not be serious’ in the parlance of the time. During the latter campaign I spent time over in the Isle of Wight campaigning with the late Robert Adley MP. in the cause of the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate there. (He lost too). Whilst I did so the Ward Conservatives were rushing around as might headless chickens, to successfully ensure that the Ward Seat did not fall to any Independent rather than to the two Candidates they had rustled up to wear the Blue Rosette.

There was that age old problem of any two seat Ward. Two Party Candidates against one other candidate. The Party members vote for their man, The supporters of the one other, vote for their man or woman. Then not wishing to waste the other vote they have to cast , they give it to one or other of the two other candidates. Thereby ensuring the election of the two Party Candidates rather that the candidate that 52% of the electorate supported in the first place. Party Politics is a rough old game.

THINGS WOULD BE BETTER. If every Elector had but a single vote to cast, not two as we have in ‘Tisbury and Fovant’ nor three as some other Wards have. Why should We be allowed to help elect two Councillors to the Salisbury District Council, when others only get to elect one Councillor? Things are much the same everywhere, so why does the term ‘Rotten Borough’ comes to mind? I believe Hindon used to return two or was it three members of Parliament; so clearly Government is cleaning up its act, but why did it stop at Hindon?

This forthcoming Election for the Salisbury District Council has only four candidates who describe themselves as ‘Independent ’, and a fifth who left the relevant space blank possibly on the basis that ‘Independent’ would have been an inadequate description of his prowess.

What news of BULFORD WARD of the District Council this Election tide ? There have been just the two nominations to fill the two seats. There will be no Election in BULFORD. Messrs Smale and Spencer are elected by default. No doubt they will be admirable Councillors, congratulations to this Conservative and Liberal ensemble.

*http://math.boisestate.edu/GaS/iolanthe /web_op/iol14.html (Cut and Paste).

However why have the Party Politicians allowed this to happen? Where a Labour Candidate, a Green, UK Independent, or even another. Why did not two Conservatives stand, why not two Liberal Democrats , instead of just the one of each? Then the result would have been either the same, or there might have had two Conservatives or two Liberal Democrat’s as an alternative. Did all the Political Parties miss a trick? Possibly Tisbury and Fovant Ward might have spared them a Liberal Democrat Candidate, we seem to have two. Maybe both will be elected, who knows? However there is every possibility that now the Conservatives have found someone willing to stand for them, that ‘Tisbury and Fovant’ could return an Independent and a Conservative. Would it not have been wiser to field but one Tisbury and Fovant Ward Liberal ? Two might mean that neither gets elected . It will be interesting to see how it all works out ? Fortunately the Electorate will decide, not some Blogging would be Psephologist.

contact : J.B.Pope