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A picture for The Elephant in Tisburys Midst

Recently enough we had a Salisbury District Council, which in its wisdom the Wiltshire County Council abolished, when itself becoming a Unitary Authority.

What for an example, knows Trowbridge of the affairs of Tisbury, let alone it’s side kick West Tisbury? The loss of the SDC effectively aggrandised its twenty six Parish Councils, few of which have Councillors elected by Public Franchise. Traditionally each ‘P.C’ was there to represent Parishioners’ opinions, not to formulate their own in lieu. However sound Councillors judgements might be, in such small Squares there are always anomalies that queer the Pitch.

Without wishing to be invidious, so only par example, this month Tisbury Parish Council has had two particular planning matters to consider at one or another of its meetings.

The first concerned redevelopment of a house in Tisbury. One Parish Councillor* immediately excluded himself from considering the matter on the grounds of his ‘involvement’. ‘Was this the ‘TBA’’, asked The Parish Chair.’ Yes it was’ said the Parish Councillor. Of course the ‘TBA’ is the Tisbury Business Association, of which the councillor was Chair whilst one of the Joint Applicants is listed as Treasurer. e&oe. Not sure where this left the many other Parish Councillors who also are members of the Tisbury Business Asscn. Possibly it would have been better had ‘no comment’ been made on the application. Last one heard of that was that there was to be a Site Inspection.

A planning matter at the second meeting concerned Chicksgrove Mill on Tisbury’s ‘Eastern Frontier.’ The applicant here was proposing to lay out some three million pounds to purchase this house having it in mind to start a B&B. The neighbours not being that naďve found that the applicant was not only involved in The Elephant Hotel in Pangbourne, but too in an Hotel at Buckler’s Hard in the New Forest, and that there was a stated intent of opening other Boutique Hotels and Wedding Venues in the South of England. Fair enough, but why not state such to be the case if it is so ? As it happens the Elephant Hotel used to be my late father’s watering hole, before it became ‘The Copper Kettle’, and then again The Elephant. I have never heard mention of it being a B&B., any more than is the Master Builders at Buckler’s Hard. Is this application a case of ‘softly softly catchee monkey?’ One Parish Councillor rightly pointed out that even so, that had nothing to do with the application. However such wasn’t the basis of the neighbour’s complaints, the exact detail of which will be laid, not before The Parish Council, but the Planning Authority. This Application too is to benefit from a Parish Council Site inspection. Due Diligence is a term that springs to mind.

That’s fair enough, so which the perceived problem ? Only five Parish Councillors attended the meeting at the time the matter was discussed. Councillors Ms Pam Shave, Ms Felicity Corp, David Carroll acting Chair, Johnnie Berkley- Matthews, and David Hemsley Wood. The latter having declared a personal interest took no part in the discussion, so as Agatha Christie put it ‘ Then there were four.’ including the Chair whose stated personal policy is not to vote when Chairing a Planning Meeting, which brings the number down to three. Does that tale not end with ‘and then there were none?’

Tisbury Parish Council should have all of eleven members. Shortly after being elected in May 2013, one member resigned due to moving to Egypt. So it was that another had to be co-opted. One understood there were three applicants, and following an interview by a Parish Council ‘Elder’ the Chosen One, was a man who’d once before been co-opted to the Parish Council . He had stood for election in May 2013 , but was the first of the unelected. At the time of this his second co-option he was set to become the new Chair of The Tisbury Business Association. ‘Alas Alack a day’ he has resigned his promising Councillorship, mere weeks after being co-opted. Possibly that’s par for the course, was it the last Parochial Session or the one before, that sported thirteen co-options ?

Today of all days, may one quote from ‘The Scottish Play ?’ ‘Out , out, brief candle! Life is but a walking shadow, a player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage.’ (Macbeth Act 5,sc 5,23-25)

As mentioned previously our long serving Michael McGrath’s recent death accounts for another vacancy on The Tisbury Parish Council. Possibly these two vacancies will provide an opportunity for the Co-option of new blood to the Tisbury Parish Council. It might be a better idea this time if the Parish was to know the names of all the Applicants, and that none be recommended for co-option by any designated Parish Councillor. Hopefully the net will be cast further than the TBA. For there are many new residents, some of whom one reads are already disaffected by our local governance.

Here is a chance to co-opt Councillors for the morrow, rather than for the days of yore. West Tisbury did it, maybe we should too. Photos are of Pangbourne and its Elephant in 1903 http://hillbrookehotels.co.uk/ with acknowledgement to a neighbour. Thursday 18th September 2014

A picture for The Elephant in Tisburys Midst

Email : brownfieldpope@gmail.com