HOW right your front page story was in last week’s Journal. Salisbury is a public disgrace. The litter, the general untidiness, the open begging, the drinking on the steps of the library and Cheese Market, and the shouting, swearing and accosting of shoppers and visitors by drunks is an absolute disgrace. To this can be added the regular evening pot-smoking that goes on in the Elizabeth Gardens, along the Avon riverside, and more surprisingly, in several parts of the Cathedral Close.

As a Registered Blue Badge Guide, I have escorted hundreds of visitors through our city since the 1970s – and not without the occasional taunt from noisy youths or interference from someone the worse for drink. But, these occasions were always manageable, and there has always been the added security of a good, on-the-beat police presence in the city and a fully-operative Police Station just up on the Wilton road.

Now, it seems, our authorities have completely lost interest, or the will, to take action to protect local people and visitors, and to enforce their own local laws. Salisbury has a bylaw that quite specifically bans the drinking of alcohol in the Market Square and surrounding area. So, why is this not enforced?

I believe the answer is quite simple. Wiltshire Police are a spent power, an emasculated force led by a Chief Constable who deludes himself that he and his officers are doing a good job – even when evidence on the ground is to the contrary.

Nowadays, our police have a low-profile presence in their offices in the old Council grounds, and a high profile presence filling up the adjacent public car park with their cars. And when it comes to arrests, surely someone must take personal responsibility for the sheer madness of a 60-mile round trip to the appointed police cells in Melksham and their associated costs and consequences.

We need to ask just what policing priorities Wiltshire Police have set for themselves, because there is little evidence of their regular on-the-beat presence in the city, and even less evidence of their determination to keep citizens and visitors safe from the excesses of an uncontrolled minority.

Jon Burton, Salisbury