… in Salisbury Cathedral gift shop is a greetings card listing collective nouns – a Shrewdness of Apes, Pace of Asses, Murder of Crows and so on. It occurred to me, ploughing through the Unkindnesses, Pandemoniums, Lamentations and Destructions, that something was missing. They’d overlooked a Trowbridge of Incompetents.

What kind of Mickey Mouse outfit are they running in County Hall? Thus far the unitary Wiltshire Council has proved itself to be an unmitigated disaster as far as Salisbury concerned (well, can you think of anything mitigating?).

Not so long ago I took a course at Oxford on Creative Writing where we had to put a real-life situation into a fictional story. If anyone had postulated a large cathedral city suffering serious economic hardship from punitive car-parking charges imposed because a County Hall official hadn’t computerised the local Chamber of Commerce’s address it would have been rejected as too far-fetched. To borrow a line from “A Fish Called Wanda” even a stupid person would have thought it was stupid.

Salisbury is the biggest city in the county (Swindon isn’t covered by WC). And yet we’re allowing ourselves to be run by small-minded people in a small town on the far side of the Plain. The decision to scrap 5 district councils in favour of a single unitary authority was taken for party political reasons, not for the general good. And there’s nothing we can do about it. Or is there? Well, yes there is. It will take a real effort on their part, but I believe the members of the “City” Council should swallow their pride and re-designate themselves as a Parish Council – which is what they are. No other English cathedral city has such a lowly status, and stressing it would help to force Wiltshire Council to recognise their appalling mistake. Hopefully it would shame them into agreeing to the creation of a South Wiltshire District Council, which is what we desperately need. What we don’t need is more Trowbridge incompetence.

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