SO the Tories who run our city’s parish council are looking for someone new to lead them into 2019.

Damage limitation is the name of the game following the resignation of publican Matthew Dean from the top job, and indeed from the party, amid allegations of unpaid rent at the Duke of York.

The Conservatives are not over-blessed with young and thrusting talent, which is hardly surprising given the increasing public disdain for politicians and party politics generally and the parlous state of Salisbury, coupled with the lack of real power to do anything significant about it.

I’m not making it sound like a very appealing job description, am I?

Yet it is an important role, and in some respects one which Cllr Dean performed well.

He is, as I’ve said before, a good speaker. During the Novichok affair I thought he came across on TV and radio as clear and to the point in representing Salisbury. He is obviously dedicated to public service. With his previous experience at senior level in Southampton, he must have seemed at first to his colleagues to be the ideal candidate to help restore civic confidence in a city that had lost its political authority.

Kicking a man when he’s down is not something to be proud of, and this column is not written in that spirit.

But it is legitimate to ask why, when lapses of judgement were beginning to mount up, his fellow-Conservatives kept him at the helm for so long.

Two years ago, when a report appeared about him bad-mouthing them on a train home from London after a jolly night out, they let it pass. I found that extraordinary. Maybe they didn’t believe the Journal was telling the truth? More fool them.

Other incidents followed –some texts, which he denied sending, and remarks about Travellers that are still under investigation by Wiltshire Council.

And the fiasco of the now-abandoned plan to move the tourist information office, which cost its award-winning manager her job.

It will be interesting to see whether Cllr Dean, who will now serve as an independent, is re-elected to his city and Wiltshire seats next time, without the blessing of the Tory ticket.

Incidentally, and not meaning anything personal here, I have long wondered whether it is a good idea for councillors to be able to serve at both parish and unitary levels simultaneously.

There must inevitably be divided loyalties – times when what the unitary authority leadership wants, and what it expects members of the ruling party to support, is the opposite of what Salisbury people think is best for their community.

I’m sure readers can think of a few examples!

A great catch

WELL done to the Wiltshire South community policing team for nobbling the disgusting individuals hare-coursing on Salisbury Plain.

The picture of one of their poor lurchers, all skin and bone, broke my heart.

Now it’s up to the courts. It’s time we saw really strong deterrent sentences for this kind of barbaric activity, not least because experience suggests that people who are cruel to animals don’t care much about human beings, either.