SALISBURY’S former member of parliament and stalwart Conservative Robert Key will be supporting Independent candidates in the upcoming local elections.

Mr Key told the Journal that he wants “local democracy to be stood on its head”, as “politics has gone wrong for us at local government level”.

Independent candidates will provide a “refreshing” and “brave” voice to council agendas, he added, as they will represent and bring forward a different understanding of Salisbury, without the consulting and restrictions of politics and higher powers.

Mr Key, who is now Freeman of the city, believes Salisbury should be a unitary authority as a “one-size-fits-all” approach for the whole of Wiltshire does not currently work.

Describing the city as “unique in its geography and history”, he said: “If you can run Salisbury effectively from anywhere else they lose out and we lose out, we look in different directions.

“Our creaking constitution allows local councils to do only what the law permits. The party in control at Westminster decides on policies and regulations that councils must implement. For the whole of Wiltshire these are agreed by a cabinet of just eight out of 98 councillors.

"Council staff have been slashed. Consultation is inadequate. ‘One-size-fits-all’ will never work for Wiltshire’s diverse towns and villages.”

Referring to when Wiltshire was split into two authorities in the 90s - Wiltshire and Swindon - Mr Key added: “Everything has changed since then, with the internet and social media, and that is good.

"We have now got the political parties and councillors scrapping about who does what.

“It’s too late to change the system [before the 2021 election] but I will support people who are looking to make change. There is nothing revolutionary about this - we have tried how it is, and it doesn’t work.

“Let’s have some brave politicians come forward and see them holding the county to account.”

Issues that Mr Key would like to be brought to the forefront of Salisbury campaigning includes creating a bypass around the city, as he says it would be cost effective and would tackle traffic problems on Southampton Road, and improving the bus system in central Salisbury.

“We used to manage without party politics stifling local representation. I am a paid-up Conservative but I conclude it would be better for all of us if our councillors did not have to slavishly obey their London Party HQ line,” he said.

“If public-spirited people, who understand Salisbury, stand for election as Independents, I will support them and still be a traditional Conservative.

"I will vote to elect people who are free to use their fresh, clear thinking and strong voices to campaign for things we actually want, like a bypass, to speak truth unto power at Wiltshire Council and to restore a new district council for Salisbury.”

The local elections will be held on May 6.

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