I WAS appalled to read the report about Councillor Fred Westmoreland and his arrogant attitude regarding his unpaid council tax.

As a Wiltshire councillor, he should know that the payment of tax by all of us is important. If the council has to issue reminders, that is an unnecessary cost that has to come from ever dwindling funds.

I am sure there are many people who struggle to pay their bills, but nonetheless see it as their duty to do so. If he is not competent enough to manage his own affairs, should he be representing any of us at Wiltshire?

Susan King, Amesbury

Tax reminder

IF Councillor Westmoreland would like some help in paying his council tax, I have a nearly-new 2018 desk diary that he might find useful - once he has learned how to use it. The cost would only be £2,710, the sum that I take the trouble to pay the council without the need for a reminder, and I have already made an appropriate note of this requirement - in the diary! I would be grateful if he could let me have the money before the inevitable rise in payment for the next financial year.

Charles Jackson, Porton


It was interesting to read that a Wiltshire councillor can forget to pay his council tax due to an ‘oversight’.

Perhaps he isn’t aware, but Wiltshire Council partake in a direct debit scheme, whereby the council tax can be paid easily, either yearly or over 10 months, which is far easier for most people.

So no more ‘oversights’ especially as another article from February 1 (page 6) suggests a rise of 6 per cent in April.

Pete Matthews, Amesbury

Political spin

ONCE again our MP John Glen uses the Journal postbag to do his party politics spiel.

Dr Scott-Jupp versus John Glen on the NHS debate - who would you believe ?

Also strange how our MP manages to find time to reply immediately to any criticism of himself or his party in the postbag but can’t find time to write to constituents about life saving medication they require. (Joe Newman, Feb 1) Why is that?

Tim Adams, Middle Woodford

What email?

I was disappointed to read the claims from Joe Newman in a letter last week that I had not replied to his correspondence. I receive approximately 1,000 emails a week from constituents and do my very best to reply to all of them as soon as possible. My staff and I have searched extensively and there is no record of receiving any correspondence – either email or hard copy – from Mr Newman in the past year. Occasionally Parliament’s email filters will mistakenly block genuine emails from constituents before it gets to my inbox, but this is rare.

In addition to email, there are of course many other channels of communication available for constituents like Mr Newman. Residents across South Wiltshire are always welcome to call my office, meet me in my surgery, or send me letters by hard copy in the post. On the substance of Mr Newman’s question about the provision of a specific drug on the NHS, I am currently investigating with the Department of Health, and will respond to him in due course.

John Glen, Salisbury MP


AS a Salisbury Arts Centre volunteer some 15 years’ standing, I was bemused and angered to learn at a recent meeting with one of our new bosses that, as from February 1, the new Salisbury umbrella arts body was to be named “Wiltshire Creative”. When I asked who had decided on (what I consider to be an utterly ridiculous, inappropriate and misleading title) I was met by the query: “Why are you interested?”

As I was somewhat taken aback by this rather rude response, I failed to say that as a Salisbury resident, who is justifiably proud of our outstanding arts scene, that I wanted to know whom to blame. After being pressed by me, the gentleman replied in what I felt were imprecise terms, referring variously to one then three boards of trustees of the pre-existing bodies.

He had previously tried to justify the use of the word “Wiltshire” by claiming it would somehow facilitate greater outreach to the county and raise the profile of Salisbury’s professional arts providers. In my respectful opinion, this is utter nonsense. All three of those bodies are specific to Salisbury and have gained county-wide, national and indeed international recognition by reference to their location. What was wrong with a meaningful title, such as “Salisbury Arts”? (And surely “creative” is an adjective not a noun).

Maybe the real answer is to be found in the listing of Wiltshire Council as funders on Wiltshire Creative correspondence that I have since received. The very council that totally wiped out it’s funding of the arts centre. The gentleman was quick to deny that there was any linkage between the new name and the new funding. I’m afraid I am not convinced. I can just see “Call me Jane” and others at County Hall basking in the glow of the real people who are responsible for the outstanding arts offer in our city, and presenting themselves as generous arts patrons.

We were told at the meeting that the name “Wiltshire Creative” and the respective names of the three constituent bodies would be used “in tandem”.

“On yer bike!” say I, having just rung both the Playhouse and the Arts Centre only for someone to answer just “Wiltshire Creative”. It seems the only thing likely to be created is confusion.

Peter Mitchell, Salisbury


The topic of NHS funding is beset with claims and half-truths, but I respect the King’s Fund (an independent research organisation) for a reliable view.

It states in its paper ‘The NHS Budget and how it has changed’ that in 2016/17 the Department of Health budget was £122.5bn. This is a long way short of John Glenn’s quoted £144.3bn But given the way that the same money is re-announced, that’s not surprising.

The crucial point is that the King’s Fund also states that ‘This is far below what is needed to maintain standards of care and meet rising demand’. Our politicians should understand that. They are not feeding an insatiable monster, just a starving one!

We have only about half of the hospital beds we had in 1987/8, with the result that we didn’t have enough during the winter pressures of ‘flu etc. That, and the shortage of doctors and nurses, has many consequences in terms of waiting lists etc. So we must expect increasing problems as the population ages.

However, I was delighted to hear Salisbury’s chief executive, Cara Charles-Barks, say on BBC TV that ‘quality will be maintained’ in the face of our extraordinary financial pressures. Patients must feel safe in our NHS. Good for her and her team!

Alastair Lack, Coombe Bissett

Timeless poetry

In January 2011 you published a letter of mine about the sad state of the clock outside Blacks shop in New Canal.

Seven years on I wish to submit this follow up:

The out of Time-piece

Aint it a pity, in this fine ancient city

To find an old clock, which is such a crock,

For years it`s told lies, day and night on both sides,

One fixed at five to four, right twice in twenty-four,

While on the opposite face, It`s a much different case,

The hands on the dial, are in complete denial,

It can be somewhere near right, but of course not quite,

Several years have now gone, since I last carried on,

With no action taken, it just leads to frustration,

Will it ever see repair, or rust away in despair,

My life needs a will, but the clock remains still,

Am I to see the right time, in my allotted lifetime?

It reminds me of a line from an old Louis Armstrong song.

That old clock just keeps lying and lying, and WRONG!

Geoffrey Herbert, Salisbury

Hospital debt

The Journal reported that Salisbury District Hospital is £12.5m in debt.

Let’s be clear about this: the Trust is not overspent, it is underfunded. This situation has arisen because payments made to hospitals by purchaser organisations, as dictated by government policy, are not enough to cover the costs of care.

Most other NHS organisations throughout the country are in the same situation. Chief executive Cara Charles-Barks claims that the economies forced on the hospital will not affect patient care. I hope this is true, but the ‘efficiency savings’ already imposed over the past few years will make this difficult. Staff and managers have not been squandering public money.

In the same issue, John Glen MP responded to my earlier letter about inadequate NHS funding. Predictably he trotted out figures stating how much the government is giving the NHS. I could quibble about these, but the point is that whatever sum he quotes, it is simply not enough. Health costs have increased vastly more than general inflation because of better but more expensive treatments, people living longer, and the massive burden of caring for the frail elderly made much worse by swingeing cuts to social care. No-one who uses or works in the NHS thinks that current funding is adequate: except, it seems, Conservative politicians.

Dr Robert Scott-Jupp, Consultant paediatrician at SDH

Airfield plan

The three key reasons why Old Sarum Airfield was awarded conservation area status, by Historic England, are: the almost complete set of technical buildings, including Grade 2* listed hangars, the fact that it retains its grass airstrip, and that the airfield perimeter is virtually intact.
This combination makes our airfield unique and why any housing would nullify one of its key ingredients.
The airfield leaseholders also wanted to re-align the runway. That would result in different take-off and landing angles and no doubt create a new flying circuit guaranteed to upset many more residents – the opposite of the core policy aim. Their ownership is just one remaining hangar, which, unlike the other well maintained hangars, has been left to rot and is held up by a container and props. Their other hangar mysteriously burnt down, reported by the Journal as ‘suspected arson’. 
Wiltshire Council officers have twice checked to see if the remaining hangar is a dangerous structure. With any occupants now having to sign indemnity papers, perhaps it is time they paid another visit. It sounds dangerous to me.
If the hangar is dangerous, then Wiltshire Council has a duty to see that the owners repair it or, if not then compulsory purchase must follow. Having no other interest, there is no need for the airfield leaseholders to be given any planning permissions.
I would like to see a Heritage Group formed from anyone keen and able to put a case together for grants and look at other fund raising projects. This group would work with Wiltshire Council and the local community – including all those with an interest in the historic buildings - in order to produce and implement a management plan for the conservation area. Their aim would be to preserve, restore and enhance the airfield and its buildings and help the general public gain access and a greater understanding of early military flying.
Ian McLennan, Wiltshire councillor for Laverstock, Ford and Old Sarum

Permit costs
It is indeed proposed that residents’ parking permits will increase to £50 for the first permit and £70 for the second in limited waiting zones, and £80 for the first and £100 for the second permit in residents’ only zones.
It is also proposed that the hours of operation of residents’ permit schemes are extended from 8am-6pm to 8am-8pm. I have received representations that the previous 6pm end was causing problems for residents from early evening visitors parking there, making it difficult for the residents to find parking spaces near their own homes. I hope this will help. Visitors coming to the City are not penalised because our car parks are free from 6pm.
The cost of residents’ parking zones should pay for themselves. At the reduced rates that I am now proposing, there will be a small surplus in the first year, but this will be eroded as charges will not increase for 4 years while our costs increase.
Cllr Walsh conveniently forgets that there has been no inflationary increase in parking charges since 2011. From February 1, charges in the majority of car parks in Salisbury have risen by 20p for one hour, 30p for 2 hours, 50p for 3 hours, etc and 90p for all day parking.
Any surplus made by the council from car park charges is required by the Road Traffic Regulation Act to be ploughed back into public passenger transport, or a highway or road improvement project, or for the purposes of environmental improvement. Wiltshire Council chooses to support public transport because there are 28,660 households in Wiltshire with no car and over 80,000 households with only one car, leaving a lot of people, old and young, reliant on public transport. We are committed to keep supporting public transport while many other councils have stopped.
That is the explanation behind the options before people in the consultation that no increase in car park tariffs would result in a reduction in public transport support.
Bridget Wayman, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for highways and transport

Plan for city
It is a great pity that all the residents of Salisbury, who attended the public meeting about the ‘Fledgling Neighbourhood Plan’, have not yet realised that such opportunities are used by public officials to gather detail of the matters that irritate the public so that other officials can obfuscate and hide those very same matters.
Such practices have been going on for so long in Salisbury that anyone might expect the public to have wised-up. Seems that they haven’t. Which is why Salisbury has become an environmental mess!
The current works in Fish Row, Butcher Row, and around the Poultry Cross are a prime example.
The surfaces of the Market Place and Guildhall Square are a dangerous, slippery disaster. Many people, especially the elderly, slip over and incidents have been reported to the council. Public officials were warned that this would be the case by technical professionals prior to the refurbishment of these areas. Those professionals were ignored. Yet exactly the same surfacing is now being installed in Fish Row and Butcher Row.  Has anyone been consulted? Has there been a planning application?
Not that I can find . . . and the proposed ‘Neighbourhood Plan’ is only just fledging with exactly the same public officials in charge. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what will (or will not) happen.
Eric Hart, Salisbury

Council cash
Further to the letter from Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr Philip Whitehead, in last week’s Journal, I thought residents would be interested in the facts.
Cllr Whitehead is correct that payments from Wiltshire Council for 2018/19 reduce from £266,630 to £177,754 and these pertain solely to the Shopmobility and Maintenance contributions. The actual cost of delivering these two services to Salisbury residents is £931,000; there is a combined shortfall in funding from Wiltshire Council and an increase in costs to Salisbury City Council of £664,000 in the current financial year and of £753,000 in 2018/19. By 2019/20 Wiltshire Council will only be providing £88,877 to Salisbury City Council which means that the additional costs rise to £842,000, and when by 2020/21 Wiltshire Council cease all contributions the overall revenue effect of the asset transfer reaches £931,000.
These additional costs were in a small part offset by the Delegation Grant, a one of payment of £150,000 in 2017/18. Of course no such sum is receivable in 2018/19.
Simon Jackson, Chairman of Salisbury City Council’s policy and resources committee

Green light
AIR pollution in Salisbury would be greatly reduced if traffic did not have to queue at traffic lights which are badly synchronised or, in the case of the roundabouts and many junctions, completely unnecessary.
For example, at the junction to the park and ride on the Southampton Road, a roundabout would have been quite adequate, and at the Harnham Gyratory, Blandford traffic with a green light is blocked by Harnham traffic at a red. I put these issues to Wiltshire Highways several years ago and, although they agreed with some of my points, nothing has been done. When I said that giving Milford Street traffic just seven seconds of green is not enough, they replied that to given them more time would cause congestion in Brown Street. In the meantime we have new estates, more traffic, more pollution and the council stuck at a red light.
Richard Tambling, Salisbury

Helping hand
In support of the letter in last week’s Journal from Mr Hand, being a council taxpayer myself, we are led to believe this glass monstrosity costing us £5million plus in Bourne Hill was supposed to be state-of-the-art and centralising all council admin departments.
What on Earth is going on when claimants of council tax benefit, housing benefit etc are being hived off Salisbury Library, where, if you are not computer literate, you are left to seek the assistance of the library staff, who are apparently unaware of and untrained in the necessary procedure, which after all was the job of the qualified council staff, who could give personal guidance on any claim, which is important for the elderly or infirm.
Alice Morgan, Salisbury