Plus ca change...

First published in Wain's World Salisbury Journal: Photograph of the Author by

The “new-look” Wiltshire Council isn’t exactly inspiring, is it? Most of those who advocated the creation of our ludicrously ill-considered unitary authority are still there.

True there’s slightly less of a political imbalance (down from 62 Tory councillors to 58). But some of them are there by default: the other parties knew it was a hopeless fight, and anyone standing independently faced overwhelming organised party-power.

So we face four more years of what’s effectively one-party local government run from somewhere that no-one’s ever heard of and whose officials need maps to find us. Four more years of one of England’s great cathedral cities suffering the indignity of having a grandiosely-named but powerless parish council. Four more years of watching city centre shops being boarded up while handy car parks are closed to force out-of-town shoppers to use park-and-rides they don’t like and don’t want.

Four more years of being unable to talk face-to-face with local planning officers about building proposals ; of being told that suburbs joined with us at the hip are outlying villages; and of decisions being made by strange groups with strange-sounding names who are unelected. Four more years of our police being run from Melksham (where?) and Saturday-night yobs being transported to the north of the county to face justice because that’s somehow more “efficient”.

Above all, four more years of being treated by Trowbridge merely as a useful source of income to prop up a sprawling cash-strapped county that the Boundary Commissioners should have abolished decades ago. “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose”, say the French. “The more it changes, the more it is the same.”

  • Selling our house and moving back into the city centre has meant rediscovering the joys and perils of cycling.

The upside is that you can get pretty well anywhere quickly; the downside is that even with a reflective jacket you become the invisible man. The biggest hazard is heavy goods vehicles.

It’s noticeable how many more HGVs are using New Street to get to and from Churchfields industrial estate. (Not just tall car transporters but 6-axle juggernauts able to use Fisherton Street to reach Churchill Way) Could this increase be due to over-reliance on car navigation systems, I wonder?

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