Plan woes

THERE are many practical reasons to object to Wiltshire Council’s plan to build 840 houses in Harnham. A large number of people, including myself, have entered reasoned objections on their consultation website but it is so complicated that one doubts whether what they say will receive proper attention.

To my mind there is a fundamental misunderstanding because Salisbury really is different to most regional centres. The planning process has completely lost sight of the fact that the City of Salisbury is located at the confluence of five rivers. There is only one proper river crossing suitable for heavy vehicles. It also is the home of a Cathedral of national importance. Road traffic, east-west or north-south has to pass through Salisbury and that already makes difficulties for those who live here. Further residences are approved, mostly on brown field sites. There just is no room for thousands more people with their needs for transport, services, schools, parking and other features of lifestyle, including proper employment.

Although our local Member of Parliament has a home here I do wonder if he realises the threat to his constituency? Lets hope he is biding his time.

David Arundale, Salisbury

Sign of times

WONDERFUL, wonderful! The Planning Inspector rejected our Councillors decision which was to NOT allow McDonald’s (and Premier Inns) to build at the South East gateway to our fair city. This rejection, by the councils, was for poor design, an increase in congestion,and over development; it was a decision that, judging by the letters published in The Salisbury Journal at that time, had the approval of many of our citizens. The main concerns of those citizens were the congestion and the appearance of the McDonald’s and it’s inevitable signage.

Now our councillors are fighting what will, almost inevitably, be a losing battle against the size and appearance of the signage. Having already rejected, twice, signage as being too large and inappropriate at this busy entrance to the city, they now face an appeal by the developers (and McDonald’s) to overcome their (and our) objections. Should our councils win, it will only delay the result - each appeal rejection costs money we cannot afford - until McDonald’s get what they want. ‘Ronnie’ and the Planning Inspector will have made a ‘Clown’ of us all!

Brian Ford, Bemerton Heath

Team axed

SADLY what Tim Crarer’s persuasive and optimistic letter in last week’s Journal (Feature Letter of the Week, 7th September) fails to acknowledge, in its discussion of the merged teams that will deliver the arts offer in Salisbury in the future, is that the Festival team no longer exists. Every member of its skilled staff was made redundant at the end of July, and no-one has been taken on for the new body – even on a retainer. The individual and corporate experience in programming, managing and producing a festival – a very different entity to a venue-based organisation – has therefore dispersed to the four winds. The implication that “the merger has retained the best parts” of the teams is hardly complimentary to those who have worked for Salisbury Festival through bad times and good over all of its 45 years’ existence and displays a degree of arrogance as to how a festival might come together in the future.

Debbie Rigg, Salisbury

Queen’s bust

IT has been reported that our local MP, John Glen, the arts minister, is seeking a benevolent buyer to put up £1.45 million for a white marble bust of Queen Victoria by Sir Alfred Gilbert who created Piccadilly’s ‘Eros’. This is said to be in the interests of the historical integrity of keeping the bust in Britain. There is currently a Government export ban in place.

Good to see Mr Glen standing up for something worthwhile.

The question is when are we going to see John Glen MP standing up for the full historic integrity of the medieval city of Salisbury that he is elected to represent? A gift of £1.45 million would go a long way!

Just a thought!

Eric G Hart, Salisbury

Shabby city

THIS morning, walking along London Road I came across a resident re-painting the letters of his street sign which were barely visible through rust and old age. I then dodged the brambles and hedging overhanging the pavement from the cemetery. Rubbish was strewn along the road and weeds flourishing. I then walked through the park and ride site. No maintenance has been carried out. The shrubs are overgrown with weeds. Such a waste of money. Why? A medieval gem of a city is allowed to look so shabby and uncared for. Do we need to form groups to clean it up, or is there any hope that our council will start showing some responsibility?

Heather Kann, Salisbury

Heavy price

THE draft plan asks for feedback from residents of Wiltshire, so let’s do just that!

They ask is the plan sound? I would say no, it’s not. More preparation is required. There are huge gaps in infrastructure and, overall, this plan is led by the government who wish to drive Wiltshire into building more houses at any cost to local communities and the environment. Whilst all the boxes are ticked by WC, there needs to be more understanding of local communities and their needs. If all these houses were for local people then it would be more positive but, as it is, most people who already live in my area and are looking to buy a first house or rent, cannot afford the so-called low cost housing or the rental market. If we need new low cost houses then let WC build them; encouraging the builds by large contractors who are only after a profit is not the way to solve any local shortfall.

Durrington was always assured by Wiltshire and Salisbury District Councils that the tight geographic planning boundary allowed for no more than to infill within Durrington. Our community has welcomed the 180 new homes already built inside the settlement boundary within the last few years; with the increase of 440 homes in Larkhill due to army rebasing, we will have seen an increase of over a third on our overall housing capacity; adding another 60 homes without properly understanding the impact of the planned 440 new builds at Larkhill shows a lack of common sense. Settlement boundaries are meaningless because plots of land have been selected that sit outside of our agreed settlement boundary, with the boundaries to be redrawn to include them. This means that a settlement boundary is really a temporary boundary that can be extended at will; this goes against the principle of the Durrington Village Design Statement and Parish Plan which so many good volunteers took time to prepare. Why did we bother? WC told us it was a way to secure the future of our community. It just proves that local government is driven by inappropriate planning legislation.

Local people understand the need for affordable homes but at a price they can afford. Our current infrastructure cannot cope, without yet more homes. Any suggestion from WC that more homes would make Durrington and Larkhill more sustainable is poppycock; come on WC, think again!

Graham Wright, Wiltshire Councillor for Durrington and Larkhill

Right guard?

I NOTE, with some interest, that, after increase in council tax, we now have 2 ‘un-budgeted’ private security guards to patrol PARTS of the City centre; for 40 hours a week. 70 grand a year for what have been described as Full Time Stewards (SIA trained doormen) seems an awful amount of our money, however raised, to spend on moving problem drinkers to other areas of the city. It does not cure the problem, and when the moment comes that the city can no longer afford to alleviate the problem in this way, it will return. If our money is to be spent then perhaps it should be spent on curing the problem by assisting the many charities and public services who try to assist and rehabilitate the people who are the seat of the problem.

Brian Ford, Bemerton Heath

Care charges

LIFE for people with learning disabilities, their parents and carers can be a constant struggle. Many members of this vulnerable community have very little money to live on. South Wilts Mencap believes that the Government’s funding policies and Wiltshire Council’s charging policy for Adult Social Care have resulted in reductions in many people’s income and access to facilities.

Apart from Healthwatch Wiltshire’s thorough report, details are difficult to ascertain as many of those affected do not understand the long-term impact of such changes or have the ability to express their concerns to the authorities. Often parents and carers feel powerless to act in such circumstances.

South Wilts Mencap has limited resources to investigate, but is asking its members to inform them of any cases of particular hardship where urgent support is required.

Nigel Afford, Chairman of South Wilts Mencap

Legal tender

WHEN the old pound coin ceases to become legal tender in one month’s time, on 15th October, can we be confident that every pay and display car park in Salisbury will have at least one parking meter that will accept the new pound coin?

Alastair Clark Salisbury Electric buses THEIR proposed introduction to Salisbury - hopefully they will be of a Skipper Bus size and not the enormous ones barraging their way through the centre of Salisbury and our estates and villages now sweeping over pavements and cutting corners to get round, usually with two people on board and driven one following another and clogging our town centre.

Having stolen and sold off our bus station how has this been allowed to happen?

S Rodgers ,Alderbury

Truly awful

I AGREE with the comments about the McCarthy and Stone development on Castle Street - it is truly awful. If they walked up Castle Street to Archers Court which is McCarthy and Stone they would see how lovely they can be.

We want to brighten up Castle Street so people would say ‘how lovely I wouldn’t mind living there’, they won’t how it is now.

Sylvie Biggs, Salisbury