AND another thing we can blame those Russians for! I’m talking about the lost year for Salisbury’s Neighbourhood Plan, work on which was just starting when the Novichok attack redirected everyone’s energies.

The current rush to relocate our library and the resulting hoo-ha (5,000 signatures and counting) are direct consequences.

Residents have had no chance to say how they’d like to see this happen, if at all, or how it should fit in with the rest of the Maltings and central car park redevelopment.

Not that their opinions would necessarily be heeded, but a figleaf of democracy is always welcome.

As it is, they’ve been asked to take on trust something that will have a huge impact on their city centre, without sight of a master plan. Because there isn’t one.

Trust is the key word here.

It’s not a party political issue, but the chairman of Salisbury Labour Party, Steve Fear, got it right when he said that the real problem with moving the library temporarily is the lack of trust that it will end up with a new permanent home just as good as the current one.

Suspicion of those who govern us is a major problem nationally.

Why would that surprise anyone?

There were two wonderful quotes at last week’s Guildhall meeting on relaunching the neighbourhood planning process.

“You know best what Salisbury needs,” the city council’s impressive consultant, Andrea Pellegram, told the assembled councillors, business and community group representatives and members of the public.

The impact of which was rather spoilt by her previous remark: “Unfortunately, planning is not a democratic process.”

Don’t we know it!

Whatever. We’re having a steering group of six city councillors and six community representatives to direct proceedings.

They’ll consult everyone about “local priorities and opportunities.”

Problem one: Most of the new housing going up around here lies officially outside the city, in neighbouring parishes which will trouser any cash coughed up by the builders to fund better facilities.

So when the People’s Priorities are identified, there may be no money for them.

What next? Consultants and Wiltshire Council will identify key themes for us to focus on. Yes, Wiltshire. Because we mustn’t ask for anything that isn’t in line with Trowbridge policies.

Then we can all get involved in writing topic papers and carrying out more consultations.

After that, the city council must hold even more consultations with the entire community, somehow.

Problem two: The same process applies to the ‘parish’ of Salisbury as to any tiny village, even though the city has many neighbourhoods.

The resulting plan will be submitted to Wiltshire, which will hold ANOTHER consultation and appoint an independent examiner to check it over.

Finally, there’ll be a city referendum. Two years hence, if we’re lucky. Phew!

I’ve been nagging for years about a Neighbourhood Plan, hoping it would give Salisbury a bigger say over development and countryside protection. I genuinely want it to succeed.

But with Ms Pellegram telling the meeting she “usually tries to steer clear” of transport issues, which many see as the city’s biggest problem, it would be naïve to pin too many hopes on the project.