Child health

IN April 2016 Wiltshire community child health services were taken over by a private healthcare provider, Virgin. A year on, the concerns expressed by many of us then have become reality. Staff who were forced to transfer their contracts have encountered many frustrations, and some have been asked to take on more with no new resources. Recruitment has been a problem. Waiting times have increased.

One consequence of the takeover has been a deterioration in the service available locally to children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Everywhere else ADHD is managed by community providers, and it was assumed that Virgin would take this on. However this was not specified when the contract was awarded, and Virgin have refused to see these children. By default they are now being seen by non-specialist doctors such as myself rather than in a specialist clinic. Virgin have now agreed to take this on but not until October 2017, and even then it seems unlikely that they will be able to recruit enough specialists to provide a service. Parents desperate for expert help with these challenging children will therefore have had an unsatisfactory service for at least 18 months. All this is a direct consequence of government policy: health commissioning bodies are forced to offer contracts to whoever can claim to provide a service for the least money.

Virgin Care have recently declared substantial losses. As they are a business whose motive is profit, this can have only two consequences: either they will slash services further, or pull out altogether leaving the NHS to clear up the mess, as usual. Neither of these options are good for our children. Private corporations have no place in providing this kind of healthcare. Voters should make this clear to candidates in the coming general election.

Dr Robert Scott-Jupp, Salisbury

Time for PR

I WAS most interested to read Dick Bellringer’s letter in last week’s Journal calling for a Progressive Alliance in Salisbury. In my personal opinion, the three centre left parties have a duty to their voters to give Mr Bellringer’s proposal very serious consideration. Such an alliance would more accurately represent the views of Salisbury’s voters. On figures I have seen for the City Council, the Tories received 13,085 votes (42%) and won 17 seats. The LibDems got 7,372 (24%) votes and won just one council seat. Labour, the LibDems and Greens combined received 55% of the votes and won just six seats. Salisbury voters wanted a centre left council; they got a Tory one party state.

Another solution to the issue of fairer representation is proportional representation (PR), for which the LibDems have long argued. For example, City council wards, with one exception, elect three members per ward. With first past the post the largest party may take all three seats even when supported by under 50% of the voters. In no way can this be said to be fair or democratic. Multi member wards are ideally suited to a PR form of voting.

At a national level, a Progressive Alliance might have as a key aim the introduction of a fairer, PR voting system at all levels of government. It is too late for the elections this year but my personal hope is to see the centre left parties talking to each other in time for the next round of local and national elections in 2021-22.

Ian Curr, Secretary, Salisbury Lib Dems

Home plea

AN event last week at The Guildhall, organised by local charity ‘Children’s Chance’, brought people from all sides of the political debate together in a ‘Question Time’ style debate.

Panellists and audience members thrashed a variety of suggestions around re the urgent need to find solutions to the problem of poverty, low incomes and poor life opportunities.

We now need a follow up event, especially as the key issue of shockingly unaffordable housing – a root cause of anxiety, family insecurity, declining health and financial struggles – was unfortunately not mentioned.

With so many other pressing issues such as cuts to bereavement benefits, growing inequality between the highest and lowest paid and cuts in other areas including health and social care time has unfortunately ran out. Accommodation is a basic need. It’s surely time to all stand together and demand solutions to the unaffordable housing crisis in the UK, especially for young people who are tomorrow’s parents.

Marie Lewis, Salisbury


DOWNTON Parish council tax went up 16 per cent last year and 19 per cent this.

Since the Wiltshire Council share is capped, the parish has taken over some responsibilities otherwise lost; fair enough, but why impose a further increase in the parish share of £12 per year for the next 25 years to take out a mortgage to extend the Memorial hall?

The extension will provide enhanced facilities for the village pre-school playgroup, plus yet more parking problems, and will deprive the Memorial Hall stage of changing and toilet facilities.

But why add a second storey with two more meeting rooms plus the necessary lift?

The existing meeting spaces in the village are adequate and, even now, have difficulty balancing their books.

How on earth will the proposed development be serviced? And by whom?

The Parish Council announced that 90 per cent of those attending their presentations support the proposal; there has been no referendum. There were 2,460 on the Downton Electoral Roll in 2013 and some 250 attended the recent exhibition!

Finally, what has happened to the contribution the developers of the Bishop Mead estate must have made, and how much was it? How was the Parish Council’s architect selected, what was the brief and what the financial guidelines? If any.

Name and address supplied.

Poll fear

WE can now call Salisbury ‘Tory Town’ following the recent election.

The election on June 8 will, I predict, go the same way as there is no sign of any decent opposition to the Tory War Machine.

Normally, the electoral process sees those involved in seeking to get elected, using whatever publicity source is available to boost their chances.

So what can we expect for our new local Conservative team?

I doubt much attention will be given to the opposition view point at committee meetings in the near future.

There is nothing left to provide a balance or sensible opposition.

Former councillor Andrew Roberts has put forward his pride in leading the opposition for the past four years.

Can I suggest that naivety by the ruling group led to their downfall?

Complacency was also much in evidence over the past four years.

I once was a councillor for Salisbury and enjoyed taking part in debates over Waitrose and the Chapel Nightclub planning.

It is nice to be part of a winning team of competent councillors. All we can have left is hope that the Labour/Liberals, etc., can find a way to reconstruct themselves before our next election.

Colin Duller, Harnham

Rights of way

RIGHTS of way are being lost to us forever.

If you or I go with out families and dogs etc., where for generations we have roamed freely, we are now met with these restrictions.

As for livestock, landowners knew before they bought or inherited the fields, that these rights of way existed, and are fast enough to sell off their land for housing, development, etc., without a thought for where they will put these animals, however large or dangerous they may be.

This is actually going on all over our countryside.

We are constantly barred from and corralled into smaller areas.

Do we want to leave this loss of ancient freedoms, to our children and grandchildren (and dogs)?

Name and address supplied

Debris plea

WALKING in Middle Street Meadow at Harnham on Monday I was saddened to see picnic debris including three crisp packets, a carrier bag, paper napkins and another large paper bag dumped in the river by one of the fishing jetties. After photographing it I found a stick, fished out the carrier bag, as waterfowl could become trapped in its handles, and took it to one of the three rubbish bins at the entrances to the field.

Readers often complain to the Journal that the city is dirty. It’s not the council’s fault, it’s the fault of disgusting people who carry a bag of food to the park but can’t be bothered to carry the empty bag home again or even take it a hundred yards to a bin.

Name and address supplied

Infill anger

WHAT can only be described as a disgrace to our beautiful city is the practice of replacing damaged flagstones with an infill of tarmac. In particular the areas that attract tourists , Butcher Row with the Tourist Information centre together with the Poultry Cross are only two examples . The practice maybe acceptable as a cost effective short term fix however the time for that excuse is now long gone.

Reg Davis, Harnham


GOOD luck to Dick Bellringer with his grand Progressive Alliance (Postbag May 11). Perhaps to start the ball rolling, he could lower his sights a little and form a coalition between Labour Party members, their MP’s, and the Party leader.

He might also like to give some thought to policy, since going back to the 1970’s is the direct opposite of what most people consider progress. Just a suggestion!

John McGarry, Harnham


HOW typically disgraceful that a planning application for conversion of a perfectly serviceable building has turned into an application for demolition.

United Kingdom House, Castle Street is said building.

Why? Please all be aware of the chaos this will bring to Castle Street, Endless Street and Salisbury. To the people “where everybody matters”, no!

Former maintenance employee of Friends Provident, United Kingdom House, Castle Street.

A Clark, Salisbury