THE People Have Spoken! Well, a few of them anyway.

A combined total of just 88 turned up at the six community consultation events aimed at giving us a say, via a Neighbourhood Plan, on how we’d like our city to develop.

Whether the rest of Salisbury’s residents are too disillusioned with having their views ignored by Trowbridge, or whether they just can’t be bothered to get off their backsides to go to the Guildhall once they’ve sat down in front of the telly, I don’t know.

Faced with such apathy, one might feel tempted to echo the view of that old French philosopher who said: “Every nation gets the government it deserves.”

But I don’t agree with him. For example, I’ve not done anything to deserve Boris Johnson, a spoiled, smirking overgrown schoolboy who can’t keep his trousers on. It’s not fair.

Anyway. Let’s take a selective look at what those who did make the effort actually said, bearing in mind that the first rule of the exercise was that they mustn’t disagree with anything that Wiltshire Council planning policy dictates.

Which rules out a lot of stuff, but apparently didn’t stop some folk expressing the view that Wiltshire doesn’t understand Salisbury and that we suffer from a lack of joined-up leadership. (Ten out of ten for observation!)

“Nothing here for young people,” was one recurring theme. Not quite true, but there’s not a lot for the late teens and early twenties, which is why so many move away. That tied in with “losing employment sites for housing” and “lack of good employment”. Absolutely crucial if Salisbury is to become more than a haven for commuters and retirees.

“Too much housing for the elderly” was raised more than once, with the threat that we’re becoming a “silver city”.

Just for information, I asked Wiltshire how many old people’s flats have been built here lately.

It only had figures up to March 2018 but the answer was 47 on the bus station, with another 305 in the pipeline in former offices in Castle Street, on the youth hostel site on Milford Hill and the Old Manor Hospital.

Oh, and they do count towards the government’s house-building target, as long as they are self-contained.

So although these developments are highly visible, the numbers aren’t enormous, given the whole nation’s ageing population.

In fact, since their occupants free up family homes for the younger generation to take over, maybe we need more? Although not in converted business premises as a substitute for jobs.

Other comments tie in, such as: “Re-use city centre retail buildings for housing, small enterprises, the voluntary sector and young people.”

Despite the disappointingly low turnout, the initial report on these sessions reveals many thought-provoking suggestions, some of which I’ll explore in future columns.

In the meantime, you can find out more on the city council website under ‘Salisbury Neighbourhood Plan’. It’s worth a look.