PCC must go

WE CONTINUALLY hear from Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner about how well he is doing looking after our interests by promoting modern policing methods and reducing the number of officers. It is time he resigned. Last Saturday I wanted to contact Wiltshire police so called 101. After 41 minutes on hold, being told at regular intervals that my call was important to the police, the call was cut off. I re-dialled only for the second call to also be cut off by the police. When my third call was answered and I queried what was going on I was told they were very busy. This is not the first time I have had to wait an unacceptably long time phoning 101 but the PCC assured me when I complained that more staff were being trained to reduce waiting times. I wonder what his excuse will be this time.

Michael Glover, Dinton

Road state

YOU report the parlous state of the road at Tilshead and the impending anniversary of unrepaired damaged railings (Salisbury Journal, 16 February).

Perhaps I could save the residents some time by forwarding them two years of emails I have sent and received from elected representatives and council officials with respect to the railings alongside Coombe Road.

They have been unrepaired for five years.

The imagination shown in the fatuous excuses I have been sent is impressive.

The latest is that since maintenance and repairs have been contracted out, it is up to a private sector firm to decide when and if to do anything at all.

I was told it is completely beyond the will of Wiltshire Council.

Perhaps we should look forward reaching the standard of surface I travelled a short while ago in Namibia and all buy a 4x4.

Tim Rubidge, Salisbury

Helmet safety

I WOULD like to thank A Philips for commenting on the well-meaning campaigners for child cyclists to wear helmets and the use of cycle mirrors.

Whilst wearing a helmet for adults is a personal choice, there can be few parents who would let their children ride a bike without wearing a helmet.

Pedestrians and car occupants are, in fact, more likely to suffer head injuries from road accidents than cyclists.

Yet no-one seriously suggests that helmets are worn by anyone other than cyclists and motorcyclists.

Whilst only 18 per cent of cyclists in the UK wear helmets there are probably even fewer that use mirrors.

However, there is no evidence that having a mirror would help protect cyclists. The most common complaint to West Midlands Police (WMP) from cyclists is cars that pass too close, and evidence indicates that between 2010 and 2014, 75 per cent of accidents involving a cyclist and another vehicle occurred when the driver had pulled out of a junction – and failed to spot the cyclist.

WMP says drivers pay little attention to what is going on around them and endanger the vulnerable daily – much like speeding drivers or the thoughtless parking of a van on the cycleway/pavement in Laverstock when vulnerable adults and children are walking or cycling to and from school – surely their presence should be enough to make drivers be more observant. More physical measures should be implemented outside our schools to deter motorists from endangering others at peak time.

Dr Jimmy Walker, Bishopdown

Outflank risk

WITH the greatest of respect to other correspondents on this subject, it is naïve to consider that foreign aid is about foreign aid. It is about influence.

Thus in Malawi which I have visited on several occasions in the last 5 years ,the Chinese are everywhere as indeed as they are in the whole of east Africa.

They build roads, railways and parliament chambers for impoverished nations securing their votes in the UN and other organisations.

Post-Brexit, to maintain good relations (trading and otherwise)with ex-Commonwealth countries like it or not foreign aid may need to be expanded rather than contracted.

We are in danger of being outflanked.

Andrew Hodder, Harnham

Jails are full

THOUGH right-thinking and hard-working residents of Salisbury may like the idea of tough sentences for fly-tippers, the simple fact is that prisons in this country do not physically have the capacity to incarcerate people like Mr Kerley (Journal, Feb 17).

Prisons are not a “sexy” priority like schools or hospitals, and so successive chancellors have refused to fund them properly. For years, English prisons have been operating well over their capacity — creating unacceptable safety and overcrowding problems. This situation can’t continue.

The practical effect of Mr Kerley’s sentence is that he will be in jail for little over a month. A community order with unpaid work every Saturday for three years would probably have been a harsher punishment.

It follows that the court made an error of law in sentencing Mr Kerley.

It could not imprison him unless “the offence ... was so serious that neither a fine alone nor a community sentence can be justified for the offence” (Criminal Justice Act 2003, s 152(2)).

Because a top-of-the-range community order would almost certainly have been a worse punishment, Kerley’s sentence violates this restriction. He should have been sentenced to community punishment.

Tom Curr, Salisbury

Broken vow

AT A time when all local authority budgets are under stress, there can be no abrogating the responsibility placed on all councillors to contribute to budget setting and determining the level of council tax or, in the case of Salisbury City Council, the parish precept. In his letter (Postbag, Feb 16), Cllr Dalton gives only half the story about Salisbury precept rises; allow me to provide the other half. In the past four years, the level of participation in the budget process by his small group of councillors has been negligible. He did not support the 16 per cent precept increase levied in 2014; this rise was, however, supported by Conservatives, conditional upon no further increase for the following three years.

Budget-setting for 2017/18 has been particularly tortuous. However, the city council Conservatives presented a carefully-constructed and balanced budget that enabled the zero precept rise promise to be kept. Unfortunately, this was not supported by our opponents, including Lib Dems, who, in turn, did support an ad hoc alternative hastily cobbled together at last full council.

This alternative raised the precept by 17 per cent that Cllr Dalton and his colleagues voted to accept; a clear example of his inconsistency and hypocrisy.

We wanted to keep our no-rise promise to the electorate but when it became obvious this commitment would be broken, we were left with no alternative other than to abstain.

Cllr John Collier, Salisbury City Council

Drive slower

DRIVING from Downton, one enters the New Forest and from there, through Brook, the distance to the Cadnam roundabout is five miles.

At 40mph, five miles takes eight minutes. At 30mph it takes 10 minutes.

Which of us cannot spare two minutes more per five miles on a delightful journey if it might enhance the life of an animal?

Surely now is the time to reduce the speed limit in the Forest to 30mph and enforce it electronically with average speed cameras.

Donald Scarfe, Redlynch

My apologies

FOLLOWING my letter “Staff Praised” in last week’s Journal, I hear that Peter Mason wasn’t at the Arts Centre annual meeting.

I’m afraid I got him mixed up with another gentleman who was at the meeting, and introduced himself as having been involved with the management of the centre in the past, who expressed much the same concerns as Mr Mason.

My apologies for the confusion.

Christine Romano, Salisbury

Centre vision

I WAS extremely disappointed to read the article on The Nadder Centre (Journal, Feb 2).

The vision has always been to provide a mix of commercial and community use.

It was agreed that additional space on the first floor, that had not been included in the original plans and in effect was void space, should be refurbished and made available for commercial let to generate income.

This decision was endorsed by the Nadder Community Operations Board in August, 2016.

The board stated it “would like to rent out the empty space on the first floor on a local commercial basis to anybody who will pay the going rate.”

The leasing of space will help ensure that these buildings are sustainable for the future and less reliant on a subsidy from the council.

The Nadder Centre already hosts businesses including a pre-school, a café, eight business start-up units and has lease arrangements with other local societies and organisations. The planning application for change of use relates to the first floor space allocated for commercial use but not included in the original planning application for the centre.

John Thomson, Wiltshire Council

Budget rehash

COUNCILLORS Dean and Hocking are terminologically inexact. The Conservative budget was never available on paper to the Lib Dems before the meeting at which the city budget was set.

Their final version was a rehash of the leader’s budget with cuts.

Much earlier, Cllr Dean indicated in full council that he could easily make savings. I asked him what they were but he did not reply. I asked him twice more and the second time he said he had not decided and had yet to consult his group.

He failed to put his party’s budget at a meeting arranged especially for this purpose. Nobody asked him to resign for being unprepared.

An emergency meeting was called at very short notice at which Cllr Dean presented his budget, but the Lib Dems could not attend as they had a critical meeting of their local division.

Cllr Dean and I exchanged emails to meet up on the day the budget was to be set.

I raised four questions prior to meeting but got no answer. I asked him to email a copy prior to meeting but he was unable to do so. I requested a copy from the city office, but the wrong budget was sent. By then it was too late as I had a council committee to squeeze in before the budget setting meeting. This does not amount to a refusal to meet.

James Robertson, Salisbury City Council