Friday, November 03, 2006
03/11/2006 Residents warned over development of Old Swimming Pool site.
Residents in St Edmund Ward are being warned about an important meeting to discuss the development brief for the old Swimming Pool Site.
The meeting of the City Area Planning Committee will take place on Thursday 9th November 2006 at 6pm in The Alamein Suite, City Hall, Salisbury.
Cllr Paul Sample says: "This is an important meeting. This Committee has already voted (by 9 votes to 6) to say that it favours retention of the site for recreation or leisure use. The Committee is almost unique in having a fair-minded Lib Dem/Labour majority. The Conservative Councillors voted en bloc against the use of the site for leisure and recreational use."
Between now and Thursday, residents are being asked to lobby as many City Councillors as they can. They can refer to the Salisbury District Council website for e-mail addresses of the councillors. "If you care about the future of this area, you should phone them, e-mail them and write letters to let them know your views. Residents can also turn up at the meeting and speak, if the Chairman allows, about the future use of the site," says Cllr Sample.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
28/10/2006 Second homes problem hurts South Wiltshire
Salisbury's Liberal Democrat Leader, Cllr Paul Sample, has attacked the Government's lack of action over rising second home ownership, which is forcing many local people out of the housing market in South Wiltshire.
His comments came in response to figures released by the Halifax showing a steep rise in house prices since 1996. Cllr Sample says: "These figures show the growing divide between the haves and have nots in Wiltshire.
"Locally, I believe first time buyers are being priced out the market and are unable to stay in the villages and towns where they grew up. The huge rise in second home ownership is a major part of the problem.
"The increase in second homes, in places like South Wiltshire, is clearly boosting the housing market but having a detrimental impact on communities. If the Government were serious about this problem, they would give local authorities the power to tackle excess second home ownership. They have totally failed to discourage this practice, and must act now."
Sample tops the poll!
Cllr Paul Sample, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Salisbury District Council, has topped the poll in an election for Vice Chairmanship of his Party’s councillors and campaigners organisation. Cllr Sample took 41.7% of the vote, beating his nearest rival, Manchester Councillor John Commons.
Cllr Sample said: “This is the first time I’ve stood in a contested internal election within the Party since 1988, so it was good to win this election so convincingly. My job will be to help the Party prepare nationally for the local elections next May.”
28/10/2006 Council Leader refuses to debate Affordable Housing with Lib Dems
In an exchange of e-mails, published on this website today, he says he will not allow Cllr Paul Sample, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Salisbury District Council to speak in a State of the District Debate on Affordable Housing later this year. The exchange of e-mails has been going on for some weeks (and are published in reverse order - and unedited - here).
A link to the Liberal Democrat policy on housing is provided here: http://www.libdems.org.uk/media/documents/policies/policy_papers/69affordablehomesinsafer,greenercommunities.pdf.
You won't get an opportunity to hear about how the Liberal Democrats will provide more affordable housing in South Wiltshire, from Cllr Sample:- but you will get an opportunity to hear the Conservative point of view! That's democracy, folks!
SAMPLE: What a shame that you are frightened of debating things with me.
BRITTON: No Paul. I well remember at last year’s event Kevin had to intervene to stop you making political statements. He said something like “This is not the forum to be trying to make political comments”. It seems unlikely that any intervention you might make at my event would be any different. I am planning for my event to be an intensely practical day offering real, practical, down-to-earth information, advice and guidance to those looking to solve a housing need or problem. Your particular kind of contribution would not be helpful in furthering that objective.
SAMPLE: Richard, Will you allow me to speak at the State of the District debate, or not?
BRITTON: Good Morning Paul, According to the Constititution I am responsible for the content and conduct of only two types of meetings: Cabinet and one State of the District debate each year. As far as Cabinet is concerned I invariably allow any Councillor who attends to speak. (And by the way the media does still attend.) Outside Cabinet meetings any questions which reach Cabinet are answered fully. I am not aware of anyone getting “the brush off”. If they have been so treated they only need to refer the matter to me and I shall ensure their queries are dealt with fully and promptly. I am always disappointed when questions are asked of Cabinet members (either in Cabinet or Full Council) by people who have clearly not read the papers. Nevertheless questions are dealt with fully and in detail. With regard to the State of the District Debate, if you are asking me to replace Affordable Housing with a more general debate the answer is No. The subject is far too important to be replaced by a more general debating session which some Councillors will only use as a political grandstanding opportunity instead of making a constructive contribution to the District’s affairs – and particularly the business of helping people find homes. How you run the State of the District debate when you are Leader is a matter for you. Outside those meetings for which I am responsible I can only repeat my view that formally the Constitution contains all the mechanisms necessary to allow any Councillor to raise any subject of concern. Additionally I will contiunue to ensure that questions raised with Cabinet members continue to be given proper attention.
SAMPLE: Richard, Why are you disappointed? I raised the issue with David because (as CEO) he is my advisor on matters relating to the Constitution, not you. I agree with your comments about affordable housing and I welcome a debate. Are you going to let me speak at your State of the District debate, then? Richard, there are lots of issues facing the District. Members of the Council, and the public, should have the opportunity to have an annual wide ranging debate which allows and enables them to speak about issues of concern. You have chosen to go for Panel discussions. I have asked David to tell me how, under the constitution, that could happen. Clearly you would prefer one debate on one subject, chosen by you. I would favour an open debate, involving all members of the Council, about whatever THEY want to raise. As Leader of the Council, I will allow that to happen. Are you going to allow that? Your comment about the Cabinet is wide of the mark. People don't attend because their views are ignored. Even the press have stopped going. That should be telling you something. Obviously not. Whenever I raise issues with Cabinet members I get a brush off. I've heard the same from many others, including several within your own group. Your final point is just silly. Clearly you think anything which even mildly disagrees with your point of view is political point scoring. Maybe you would reflect on some of your recent leaflets and your (still unprinted) letters of reply to comments made by me in the local press. I agree that residents deserve something better - and they'll get the opportunity next May.
BRITTON: David Crook has suggested that it would be more appropriate for me to reply direct to your questions of him regarding the State of the District debate. I’m disappointed you didn’t feel you could address the question to me personally. Affordable Housing is high on our political agenda and, as I hope you will agree, it is entirely right that the annual State of the District debate be given over to that really important subject. I am also arranging for the event to be linked to other displays and presentations by appropriate bodies – aimed especially at First Time Buyers. I do not wish such a vitally important event to be replaced by something less focussed and, as far as homeless citizens are concerned, less useful. I am sure you would agree. I am entirely satisfied that the Constitution provides ample mechanisms for Councillors to raise any questions of concern either in Full Council or at Cabinet. I am reassured that few such matters are raised and that so few Councillors attend Cabinet or send written questions. Outside the formal mechanisms I encourage Councillors to raise questions at any time either with me or the appropriate Cabinet member. I hope you will agree that it is more important for the routine administration of the district’s affairs to proceed smoothly and effectively, rather than allow ourselves to be distracted by attempts at political point-scoring simply because there is an election in six months’ time. I believe our population deserves better.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
15/10/2006 City Area Committee say Old Swimming Pool site should be retained for leisure use
At Salisbury City Area Committee on Thursday night (12th October 2006), the Committee discussed the consultation exercise to consider the future of the old swimming pool site. Cllr Paul Sample (one of the two members for St Edmund Ward) said:
“My own view is that Wyndham Park was bought for public leisure use and it should be retained for public leisure use. The park was bought backing the 1920s, to provide leisure and recreation for people in the City. Over the years, there has been a lot of public concern over the future of Wyndham Park. In the 1970s there was a big dispute over the building of the swimming pool, and particularly the fact that the Council wanted to use some of it for car parking space. In the end, it was argued that by building a swimming pool, it could be retained for public leisure use. I think there is a strong moral argument for saying that this site should be retained for recreational purposes – as City fathers intended.”
Cllr Sample then moved that “This Committee favours the retention of the Old Swimming Pool site for leisure and recreational use.”
Several Conservative Councillors spoke against the motion. Sheila Warrender argued that St Edmunds was already very lucky to have such a lot of leisure facilities and parkland. She favoured the use of the land for offices or housing for older people.
Cllr Culver, the Cabinet member for the Office project, said that by coming to a view, the Committee was prejudicing the outcome of any future discussion on the use of the site. The Conservative Group asked for a recorded vote to be taken.
Several members of the Labour Group spoke in favour of the motion, including Cllr Clive Vincent and Cllr Steve Fear. Cllr Sample's motion was then put to the vote. All of the Conservative Councillors voted against the motion. Labour and Liberal Democrat Councillors voted for the motion, which was carried.
Afterwards Councillor Sample said: “I am delighted by the vote. The City Area Committee has spoken very clearly in favour of retaining the land for leisure and recreational use and I am confident that this will be the overwhelming view of local residents. The land is probably worth £2 - £3 million land if it is developed for housing – but you can’t put a price on the value of parkland for future generations. I just hope the Conservative will listen to what local people are saying, this time, and call off plans to redevelop the site.”
Friday, October 13, 2006
13/10/2006 Salisbury District Council claim "No Contact" from Railwaymen's Social Club
Salisbury District Council claim "No Contact" from Railwaymen's Social Club
Salisbury District Council has denied receiving an approach from the Railwaymen's Social Club over use for the Old Swimming Pool site at Wyndham Meadow, behind Bourne Hill. In a memo from Acting Chief Executive David Crook to Cllr Sample, dated 9th October, he says: "Further to our conversation re: the above, neither Debbie [Dixon] nor John [Crawford] are aware of any approach, but will inform you if one is made. Cllr Sample has asked for a list of all organisations which have expressed an interest to Council Officers in the use of the site.
Monday, October 09, 2006
09/10/2006 Manor Road Development should be called "Chick Place"
A new development of Manor Road, Salisbury, should be named after one of the heroes of the 1906 Salisbury Railway Disaster, according to the local Councillor.
Cllr Paul Sample, who represents the St Edmund & Milford Ward, says that the new development provides the perfect opportunity to recognise the hero of the train disaster, during the Centenary year.
“Sidney Chick was just one of many heroes on that night. In this centenary year, I believe he should be recognised formally by the City,” says Cllr Sample.
At the moment, developers apply for permission to name a new development. But Councillor Sample believes that this leads this is having a detrimental effect on remembrance of the City’s past heroes and achievements.
“I believe we should have a list of names which we, as a community, want to put forward. The Council should work with local community groups, historians and local history groups to draw up a list of eminent people, and local names of geographical significance, from the City’s past. We should have a positive approach to naming developments and new roads which reflect our local history and traditions..
“Seth Ward Drive, Wordsworth Road and Pembroke Road are all typical examples of what I’m talking about. They were named after local personalities.”
Cllr Sample has raised the matter with District Council Chief Executive David Crook, and Cllr Sample has been promised that the matter will be brought as a report to a future meeting of the City Area (Planning) Committee.
07/07/2006 Liberal Democrats respond to Salisbury District Council cuts announcement
Liberal Democrat Leader Paul Sample has responded to today's SDC budget cuts announcement.
"I welcome the Conservative administration's announcement that there will be no closures to public facilities. I believe that the pressure brought by local people, including the demonstrations, petitions and letter-writing campaigns, has had an effect. In particular, I pay tribute to this publication for highlighting this important issue and enabling local people to make their opposition to the cuts known.
"The Conservatives inherited a debt-free local Council from the Liberal Democrats and they have taken only a handful of years to bring it to it's knees again. My Group firmly believes that the Council Tax is a bad tax which is incapable of meeting the needs of local people. We would like to see a local income tax introduced - based on the ability to pay. I question whether the Conservatives can genuinely find the savings that they are looking for. I predict even bigger financial problems next year."
"The message is now going out from the Conservatives that they have "saved" the leisure centre from closure. But, when it comes to the election, residents should ask themselves who put the leisure centres in jeopardy to begin with!"
"The fact remains that if you give the Conservatives and "Con"dependents an overall majority to run your Council, you will get financial crises like these as a result. The reality of the old Conservative slogan - "good housekeeping" - actually means "crisis housekeeping." By so doing, they threaten the quality of life in places like this."
03/03/2006 Thoughts on 15 years on the Council
I have just completed my fifteenth year on Salisbury District Council and am now the longest serving member and “Father of the House” (at the relatively young age of 45). Over the weekend, I was contemplating the changes which I have seen. For one thing, the faces have changed. I have served for 8 times longer than the new Leader of the Council!
The outgoing Leader of the Council, Cllr Kevin Wren - and his deputy John Collier - worked hard to keep the Conservative Group united. Kevin just about managed to keep the lid on the divisions.
However, the Council is now on the verge of financial chaos. There has been a significant increase in the number of staff employed by the Council, massive spending on propaganda and spin, and big rises in the Council Tax to pay for it all.
The Housing Wardens scheme for elderly people has been destroyed and the villages have been penalised by cuts to leisure provision. The Tories have tried to blame this on the Government – but it has been down to their own poor management really.
The only way in which this is going to change is if new, fresh faces come forward from the rural Wards next May to stand as non Conservative Councillors.
You get the Council you deserve and if you are angry about the way the Council performs, you need to get in there and change it.
The best that can be said of the new leadership is that the Tories have at least elected a competent Deputy Leader in Fred Westmoreland. Fred is a likeable man and has friends on both sides of the Chamber. I don’t think anyone knows much about Cllr Britton. He simply hasn't been around long enough - which is probably why they picked him.
The one major embarrassment from his perspective, so far, was on rural transport for teenagers. Britton was put in to box at the State of the District debate last year. In response to a reasonable - but repeated - question about whether he would put money into supporting transport schemes which helped local young people get into towns to use the local leisure centres., he said: "Yes".
He now denies that he said it, but too late, we all heard him say it. It was a simple case of being backed into a corner by the radio interviewer (the always professional Ceri Jones), who wasn’t going to let go. “Are you going to do anything about it, or not?” Answer: Yes!. Nothing has been done. It is probably a County Council responsibility anyway.
I'm now beginning to feel the Lib Dems provide a sensible alternative. We put a budget amendment this year, and forced it to the vote. It was council tax neutral. Cuts to the budget for spin. Cuts to salaries for Cabinet members. Cuts to the number of high paid directors.
Of course, over the years there have been many changes to the structure of local government. My own view is that Cabinet Government at the local level doesn’t work. It ttakes power away from ordinary elected Councillors and gives it to a small elite of Councillors chosen by their party. It therefore increases the power of the political party at the expense of local people and local accountability. Of course the Labour and Conservative Parties just love it!
Liberal Democrats want to devolve power and give it back to local people in local villages. We trust the people more than we trust the Party! That, at the end of the day, is one of the reasons I'm still happy to call myself a Liberal Democrat after all of these years!
02/06/2006 Sample blows Council figures out of the water
Cllr Paul Sample has blown apart new figures which the Conservatives are claiming prove they have made significant financial savings at Salisbury District Council.
Cllr Sample says: "The new Leader of the Council, Cllr Britton, has been on the Council less than 4 years and is now claiming credit for saving £1 million. I don’t think people are taken in by this sort of nonsense and I suspect even members of his own Group realize he is talking rubbish.
Questions which need to be asked:
1. How much are these savings in real terms?
2. How much did it cost to achieve the savings?
3. How much will be offset against the deficit over the coming three fiscal years?
"I think these are questions which residents need answering. I fail to see how you can save on staff sickness costs while, at the same time, allowing the number of Council staff to rise steadily year on year. There are now over 760 members of staff for a Council serving just 110,000 people in South Wiltshire?
"This is an administration which is about to spend at least £12 million, and probably more, on a Council Office development which no-one seems to want. Cllr Brown-Hovelt talks a lot of rubbish, but at least he had the good sense to suggest a more economical use of public buildings rather than splashing out more on new build Council Office developments.
"Cllr Britton has a real cheek to tell us that he is saving £1 million. I don’t believe a word of it. I’ll believe it when I see it in my Council Tax demand – which has risen year after year despite Conservative promises that they would cut tax. We are all now paying much more Council Tax under Conservative Councils at County Hall and Bourne Hill – not less. But services are being cut back year on year. This year’s battle to save Tisbury and Durrington Sports Centres is evidence of that.
"I believe that the Conservatives are truly on the run now and I sincerely believe that they and their Condependent supporters are going to get a shock next May. Their claims will get more and more outrageous and unbelieveable as polling day approaches."
"They Work For You" is fast becoming one of my most favourite websites.
Liberal Democrats in the Nadder Valley, near Salisbury, are forming themselves into a new Branch, following the election of Sir Menzies Campbell as Leader of the Liberal Democrats.
Nadder Valley Organiser Mike Lennard, says: "We have decided to call the new Branch "Liberal Democrats Nadder Valley Branch". We are hoping to launch on Tuesday, 25th April at Elizabeth Hall, Tisbury."
Salisbury Liberal Democrat Leader Cllr Paul Sample is to attend the meeting, and County Councillors Ian West and Bobbie Chettleburgh will also lend their support.
Cllr Sample said: "We are in very good spirits after the election of our new Leader and the Dunfermline West by-election, where we won a seat from Labour. This move is confirmation that the Party is aiming to win in the South West of the County next May.
"I am hoping for Liberal Democrat gains in this part of the District as part of our campaign to take back control of Salisbury District Council. The Conservatives and Condependent Councillors have let local people down badly in this area."
Commenting on a the publication of the Transport Select Committee's Report into parking charges, Salisbury’s Liberal Democrat Leader, Cllr Paul Sample, said: “In Parliament my Party has released research which shows that since Tony Blair was elected, England's parking charges have increased 82%.
“In the last year alone, charges went up 6%. England's motorists are now being charged almost £1.2bn a year. The Government clearly sees motorists simply as a cash cow. I welcome the interest shown by Parliament in the issue of car parking regulation.
“However there needs to be a much higher level of government support for our local transport schemes. It is inappropriate for local councils to become so dependent upon parking charges and fines for so much of their income.
“There needs to be a much higher level of investment by central government in local public transport particularly schemes like Park and Ride. Such schemes encourage commuters to leave their cars at home.
“I would also like to see central government giving greater support to community transports schemes, post buses and the cycling infrastructure. We have to provide serious alternatives to commuting if people are to switch away from car use.”
Councillors vote developers contribution for road calming scheme
District Councillors have voted to ask developers to contribute towards the cost of a 20 mph limit in the St Martins area. At a meeting of Salisbury’s City Area Committee on Thursday night, Councillors approved the development of 11 flats and 13 houses on the old Tintometer site, in Waterloo Road.
The City Area Committee decided that they would approve the plans, but would ask the developers to contribute towards a 20 mph speed limit scheme shelved by the County Council last year because of lack of funds.
Cllr Brian Dalton, who represents St Martins on the County Council, said officers had not been ambitious enough in negotiations over the development. He wanted to see more money for transport and highways schemes in the area.
Cllr Paul Sample spoke against approving the development, but agreed that more money should be requested from the applicants. He said: “Residents in the St Martins and Milford area have requested traffic calming measures for many years. A scheme was drawn up when I was still County Councillor for the area. But it has been shelved in recent months by the ruling administration because of an alleged lack of funds.”
“This development will add to traffic and vehicle movements in the area, it will contribute to parking problems in the vicinity of Waterloo Road. This is a way in which we can begin to bring some benefit to the area. The 20 mph scheme should now be resurrected and a developers contribution from this scheme would put it back on the agenda.”
Two years ago the District Council specified that developers contributions from the new Tesco development should be used towards traffic calming in the Milford area. Cllr Sample now hopes that the money can be used to make the 20 mph scheme a reality.
District Councillors vote through landmark office building
District Councillors have voted to approve plans for a new landmark office building on London Road, which will form the new HQ for Salisbury Solicitors Trethowans.
The building, at the London Road roundabout near Hampton Park, Salisbury, is close to the new Park & Ride site.
The development was approved at the City Area Planning Committee on Thursday night.
Speaking in favour of the development, Cllr Paul Sample said: “This is a landmark development at one of the gateways to the City. It is a hugely important site and the architect has risen to the occasion by bringing forward an attractive building which will be a credit to the City. This is a modern building and it is right for this site.
“This is the sort of site, and the sort of development, that the District Council should be considering for its own office headquarters. My only regret is that the District Council didn’t choose a site and a design like this for its own office building. Instead it has chosen to build on a wholly inappropriate place like Bourne Hill, where a modern glass building will be totally out of keeping with its surroundings.”
Councillors on Salisbury’s City Area (Community) Committee have welcomed plans for a Freeride BMX facility in the City.
Speaking at the City Area Committee last night, Cllr Murial Tomlinson (Harnham West), said: “This is an excellent project and I support it wholeheartedly. I don’t think money will be a big problem. Neither will the support of this committee. The obstacle to this happening, if there is to be an obstacle, will be from objections by local residents. My advice to the organisers of this project is to speak to local residents in the area and get them on board. It would make a lot of difference to this project if it had the support of the local community.”
Cllr Paul Sample (St Edmund & Milford), said: “I fully support this project. It is an excellent idea and I hope it will go ahead. Young people in Salisbury need something like this and I believe it will be a big success. The one thing missing from this report is a recommendation on funding.
“In my view, the City Area Committee should provide an initial grant of £1,000 now from capital funds to help get this project off the starting blocks. That way the organisers can go to other potential funders and say that Salisbury District Council is putting its money where its mouth is. £1,000 isn’t enough to do the whole project – but it is enough to get things moving and there is nothing to stop the organisers coming back for more funds in due course.”
Cllr Sample moved that a £1,000 grant be given immediately, but this was defeated on a vote. Now the organisers have been told that they are to go away and prepare a more detailed proposal. Liaision and consultation with local residents is also due to take place.
Speaking on the application to build 31 houses on a site at Queen Alexandra Road, Cllr Paul Sample said:
“I am opposed to this application because of the impact on local services – like schools and roads. The additional traffic from the site will have a detrimental impact on Queen Alexandra Road, which is already congested with parked cars. It is already busy enough without this new estate.
"I am also concerned about the children coming onto the estate. Can our local schools cope with the extra influx of up to 20 children? I am unhappy that the social housing on the planned estate is all to be grouped together – creating a social housing “ghetto”. It is important that in all new developments like this, we should properly integrate social housing alongside private dwellings.
"We should strive for effective mixed ownership developments. Social housing should not be isolated in the way planned for this development.”
Cllr Sample said he was also concerned that, if the development went ahead, the developers were not contributing significantly enough to so-called community gain.
“I do not believe our Council is sufficiently robust in asking for payments from developers for community projects. When we threw this out a few months ago, the developers were offering £34,000. Now, after further negotiation with our Council, they are being asked for £28,000. Salisbury District Council is being seen as a soft touch."
Commenting on a public consultation over the future of the Old Swimming Pool, at Wyndham Park, Liberal Democrat District Councillor for the St Edmund & Milford Ward, Paul Sample, said:
“The strong impression given by the ruling group, up until now, has been that they want to demolish the old swimming pool and maximise the sale of the site.
"I hope that this public consultation exercise does not turn into another farce, in the same way that the consultation with local residents over the Office extension was a farce. People round here are pretty cynical about this exercise already.
"Salisbury District council has got a reputation for making its mind up and then consulting the public – rather than the other way round. I hope residents will not feel limited in giving their views, and the Council should be open-minded about a solution to the site.”
I have always ended election campaigns with hundreds of samples of casework. This is a big part of being a councillor, so it is important to keep it organised. Some of us prefer doing a good job for our local residents through casework and community leadership, rather than getting into the rough and tumble of committee politics. It takes all sorts!
The first time I had to deal with a lot of casework, I used my word processor to fire off hundreds of letters, each on a separate topic, to each of the various officers. Some of them, the highways department for example, received dozens of letters from me. It took me days to write all of the letters, and weeks for the officers to respond. A phone wouldhave saved a lot of hard work.
The next time I stood for election, one of the departmental secretaries rang me to arrange a meeting for the day after the election. "Just bring round all of the casework and we willl go through it together," she said. What a star!
Today, Wiltshire County Council is still in the dark ages when it comes to support for members. We do not even have PCs for members – let alone secretaries or political assistants. My business has grown, and I now have my own secretary and support staff to help. The kindly advice provided by that secretary has saved me, and her, a lot of work in the long term.
So, before you sit down to write a mountain of letters, ring the council and find out if they provide secretarial support to members, email facilities, PCs etc. If they do not, ask for a personal meeting with the relevant department, to discuss your casework, and how to get through it together. They may be able to help more than you think.
And never, ever, think casework does not matter. You can make a huge difference to the quality of life for local people by doing it well. It would be one of the few things I would miss if I was not a councillor.
Salisbury District Council will shortly be publishing Members' Attendance Figures 2005/2006. Cllr Paul Sample commented:
“These figures only look at one aspect of the life of a Councillor and should not be taken out of context. They don’t take account of the work done by Councillors attending outside bodies on behalf of the Council. Neither does it reflect the fact that some members, particularly in rural areas, attend lots of parish and town council meetings.
"The role of members with heavy casework loads, working in more deprived areas of the District, is also not reflected. I comment on this issue in an article for the IDeA: (www.idea.gov.uk/idk/core/page.do?pageId=73327) In addition, there are Councillors who serve on other Authorities, like the Police Authority, Fire Authority and County Council who lead busy lives.
"Some of us also lead hectic lives in community organisations, action groups and charities. Most of us already put our work on the Council before our home or business life. Mere attendance at Council meetings proves nothing.
"I’ve seen Councillors turn up at lots of meetings, and never say a word about anything on the agenda. I’ve even seen one Councillor, who shall remain nameless, who turned up at every meeting and then went to sleep.
"Certainly, in the 16 years I’ve spent on the Council, I’ve seen a decline in attendance by members of all groups. That has a lot to do, I’m sure, with the new Cabinet system, which gives all of the power to a tiny minority of 9 Councillors, and deprives the rest other 80% of any real say in the running of the District.
"For me, the key issue is not how many meetings you turn up at – but how well you use your time as a Councillor to fight for the local people who sent you there. Attending Council meetings are an important part of that, but they are not the only measure.
"Take my case, if I turn up at a meeting and speak out, as I invariably do, about some of the things that the ruling group want to do, I get howled down, heckled and told to pipe down by the chairman. If I don’t turn up at a meeting, the opposition asks where I am. Either way, I can’t win.
"Ultimately, if these figures prove anything at all, it is that you can prove – or disprove – anything you want to with statistics.”
LETTER TO THE SALISBURY JOURNAL (www.thisissalisbury.co.uk)
Your report “ Application for fifth park and ride” states “the planning application seeks to permanently close Petersfinger Road to all traffic, cutting off a popular short cut for drivers trying to avoid traffic queues on the Southampton Road in and out of the City Centre.”
The report adds: “The closure of Petersfinger Road will stop drivers trying to get into Salisbury City Centre by going through Milford and Laverstock or getting to the main London Road at St Thomas’ Bridge by avoiding the city altogether.”
For what its worth, I have knocked on hundreds of doors in the area over the years in my capacity as a District Councillor. Just as there are many who want to see the road remain open, there are also lots of residents who feel that Wain-a-Long Road, Bourne Avenue, Milford Mill Road, Milford Manor Road and Laverstock have become rat-runs.
This has adversely impacted on road safety for residents and other road users, and affected the quality of life of local residents. Many have asked the Council to do something about traffic volume and speed.
I am by no means “anti car” but I do think this might be an opportunity to take action to help local residents living along the rat-run. There are two sides to every story and I would welcome hearing from anyone who might be affected by this planning application.
Cllr Paul Sample
St Edmund and Milford Ward
Salisbury's Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr Paul Sample, is named today as one of over 60 leading Councillors who have declared their support for Simon Hughes MP in the Lib Dem leadership race.
Cllr Sample said: "It is becoming clear that Party activists and Councillors are, in the main, backing Simon Hughes for Leadership of the Liberal Democrats.
"I've know Simon since he was first elected back in the early 1980s and I know him to be an honest and sincere individual.
"I think it is fair to say that there is still quite a lot of anger among activists who feel that the parliamentary party stitched Charles Kennedy up. Simon was loyal throughout and had nothing to do with that. It is one of the reasons why people are backing him."
Salisbury District Council’s Liberal Democrat Leader, Cllr Paul Sample, will welcome Lib Dem Leadership Candidate, Simon Hughes (www.simonhughes.org.uk), to the City on Thursday 2nd February.
Mr Hughes is coming to the City at the invitation of Cllr Sample, who is one of his leading backers. The MP will meet District and County Councillors, visit the new Park & Ride site at Britford, see plans for relief of Stonehenge and Winterbourne Stoke, and meet local Lib Dem members.
Visit starts at 12:41 and finishes at 14:40. Photo and interview opportunities are available.
Salisbury District Council’s Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr Paul Sample, has welcomed the election of Sir Menzies Campbell as Leader of his Party (www.mingcampbell.org.uk).
Cllr Sample, who supported his friend Simon Hughes MP during the election campaign, said today: “I am obviously disappointed that my good friend Simon Hughes was not elected. But he fought a good and honest campaign stemming from deeply held Christian principles and he will remain the most respected candidate among activists and Councillors.
“Ming Campbell is well known to many of us in South Wiltshire. He accepted an invitation to visit Salisbury to support my parliamentary campaign in the early 1990s. He and his wife Elspeth toured Tisbury, Harnham, Salisbury City and Durrington one Saturday while they were staying with Jane and Paddy Ashdown in Somerset. They won many friends in Salisbury and I know many local Liberal Democrats voted for him in this election. I am not surprised by his victory. He was always the one to beat.
“The election campaign has generated a lot of interest – particularly among young people and I have seen an upswing in mood in the local party, and among local Liberal Democrat supporters, over the past couple of weeks. The fantastic result at Dunfermline West, where we took a seat from Labour, has boosted our fortunes and I know Ming will benefit from this upsurge in support. I think the events of December and January are now well behind us. I am confident that, with a new Leader, the Liberal tide is coming back here in Salisbury. It is too early to predict that we will take Salisbury back – but I am more optimistic now than at any time in the last couple of years.”
HRH Prince Charles: …My great, great, great grandfather, The Prince Consort, indulged himself wholeheartedly in a kind of architectural hypochondria as often as he could.
Osborne and Balmoral are, of course, the most obvious examples of his personal involvement with the design of buildings but he also busied himself with the design of farm buildings and the interiors of houses. No detail seemed to be too small to escape his attention and, as a result, we have been left with a series of buildings which never fail to fascinate and which display great individuality. (Although always inspired originally by some earlier style of architecture.) Embellishment appears to have been a vital ingredient, as far as Prince Albert was concerned, to any building and the more symbolic it was the better.
I sometimes can't help wondering whether planning permission would be forthcoming nowadays for some of his designs. But with the present, welcome reaction to the modern movement, which seems to be taking place in our society, it would be forthcoming. For at last people are beginning to see that it is possible, and important in human terms, to respect old buildings, street plans and traditional scales and at the same time not to feel guilty about a preference for facades, ornaments and soft materials. At last, after witnessing the wholesale destruction of Georgian and Victorian housing in most of our cities, people have begun to realise that it is possible to restore old buildings and, what is more, that there are architects willing to undertake such projects.
For far too long, it seems to me, some planners and architects have consistently ignored the feelings and wishes of the mass of ordinary people in this country. Perhaps, when you think about it, it is hardly surprising as architects tend to have been trained to design buildings from scratch - to tear down and rebuild. Except in Interior Design courses students are not taught to rehabilitate, nor do they ever meet the ultimate users of buildings in their training - indeed, they can often go through their whole career without doing so. Consequently a large number of us have developed a feeling that architects tend to design houses for the approval of fellow architects and critics, not for the tenants. The same feelings, by the way, have been shared by disabled people who consider that with a little extra thought, consultation and planning, their already difficult lives could be made that much less complicated. Having said that, I am told that the Department of the Environment is preparing an amendment to the Building Regulations which will mean that in future buildings will have to be designed so that they are accessible, which in turn will make it easier for architects who are working for clients. This is excellent news and could ultimately transform the lives of over two million people throughout the country.
I want to take this opportunity too, to express my gratitude to the President of the RIBA for his willingness to join with a group of architects, planners, government officials, journalists and disabled people who came to lunch with me in March to discuss this very problem. I would also like to say how impressed I am to see how the RIBA has overcome the difficulty of access to their HQ in London by means of an ingenious combination of steps and ramps. I know that many architects are now fully aware of the needs of disabled people and of their understandable desire to live as near "normal" a life as possible. Because of this increasing awareness on the part of architects and planners, I am sure that there will be considerable progress in the field. But there is a particular problem to overcome and that is the fire regulations which apply to all public buildings.
Selwyn Goldsmith wrote about this in his 'Designing for the Disabled', which the RIBA helped initiate in 1961. Referring to building hazards to disabled people and the demands that exist for strict controls, he says: "For those who administer fire regulations the easy way out is always to say, 'yes, we must impose more controls because we are bothered about people dying'. The more difficult alternative is to say, 'no, we shall not, because we are concerned about people living'."
To be concerned about the way people live; about the environment they inhabit and the kind of community that is created by that environment should surely be one of the prime requirements of a really good architect. It has been most encouraging to see the development of Community Architecture as a natural reaction to the policy of decamping people to new towns and overspill estates where the extended family patterns of support were destroyed and the community life was lost.
Now, moreover, we are seeing the gradual expansion of housing cooperatives, particularly in the inner city areas of Liverpool, where the tenants are able to work with an architect of their own who listens to their comments and their ideas and tries to design the kind of environment they want, rather than the kind which tends to be imposed upon them without any degree of choice.
This sort of development, spear-headed as it is by such individuals as a Vice-president of the RIBA, Rod Hackney and Ted Cullinan - a man after my own heart, as he believes strongly that the architect must produce something that is visually beautiful as well as socially useful - offers something very promising in terms of inner city renewal and urban housing, not to mention community garden design.
Enabling the client community to be involved in the detailed process of design rather than exclusively the local authority, is I am sure the kind of development we should be examining more closely. Apart from anything else, there is an assumption that if people have played a part in creating something they might conceivably treat it as their own possession and look after it, thus making an attempt at reducing the problem of vandalism.
What I believe is important about community architecture is that it has shown 'ordinary' people that their views are worth having; that architects and planners do not necessarily have the monopoly of knowing best about taste, style and planning; that they need not be made to feel guilty or ignorant if their natural preference is for the more 'traditional' designs - for a small garden, for courtyards, arches and porches; and that there is a growing number of architects prepared to listen and to offer imaginative ideas.
On that note, I can't help thinking how much more worthwhile it would be if a community approach could have been used in the Mansion House Square project. It would be a tragedy if the character and skyline of our capital city were to be further ruined and St Paul's dwarfed by yet another giant glass stump, better suited to downtown Chicago than the City of London.
It is hard to imagine that London before the last war must have had one of the most beautiful skylines of any great city, if those who recall it are to be believed. Those who do, say that the affinity between buildings and the earth, in spite of the City's immense size, was so close and organic that the houses looked almost as though they had grown out of the earth and had not been imposed upon it - grown moreover, in such a way that as few trees as possible were thrust out of the way.
Those who knew it then and loved it, as so many British love Venice without concrete stumps and glass towers, and those who can imagine what it was like, must associate with the sentiments in one of Aldous Huxley's earliest and most successful novels, Antic Hay, where the main character, an unsuccessful architect, reveals a model of London as Christopher Wren wanted to rebuild it after the Great Fire, and describes how Wren was so obsessed with the opportunity the fire gave the city to rebuild itself into a greater and more glorious vision.
What, then, are we doing to our capital city now? What have we done to it since the bombing during the war? What are we shortly to do to one of its most famous areas - Trafalgar Square? Instead of designing an extension to the elegant facade of the National Gallery which complements it and continues the concept of columns and domes, it looks as if we may be presented with a kind of municipal fire station, complete with the sort of tower that contains the siren. I would understand better this type of high-tech approach if you demolished the whole of Trafalgar Square and started again with a single architect responsible for the entire layout, but what is proposed is like a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend.
Apart from anything else, it defeats me why anyone wishing to display the early Renaissance pictures belonging to the gallery should do so in a new gallery so manifestly at odds with the whole spirit of that age of astonishing proportion. Why can't we have those curves and arches that express feeling in design? What is wrong with them? Why has everything got to be vertical, straight, unbending, only at right angles - and functional?
As if the National Gallery extension wasn't enough they are now apparently planning to redevelop the large, oval-bellied 19th century building, known as the Grand Hotel, which stands on the south west corner of Trafalgar Square and which was saved from demolition in 1974 after a campaign to rescue it. As with the National Gallery, I believe the plan is to put this redevelopment out to competition, in which case we can only criticise the judges and not the architects, for I suspect there will be some entries representative of the present-day school of Romantic Pragmatism, which could at least provide an alternative.
Goethe once said "there is nothing more dreadful than imagination without taste". In this 150th anniversary year, which provides an opportunity for a fresh look at the path ahead and in which by now you are probably regretting having asked me to take part, may I express the earnest hope that the next 150 years will see a new harmony between imagination and taste and in the relationship between the architects and the people of this country.
A former Mayor of Salisbury Cllr Paul Sample, has written to HRH The Prince of Wales, asking Prince Charles to visit Bourne Hill to see the plans for the Council’s £14 million extension.
Cllr Sample wants the Prince to meet local residents who are opposed to the new extension. He says the Council’s plans are a monstrous carbuncle.
“Highgrove is an hour’s drive from Salisbury. I have asked the Prince of Wales to come and see these plans for himself.
“I am sure he will agree that the new building will be a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much loved and elegant friend.”
The text of the letter to the Prince is below.
His Royal Highness
The Prince of Wales
17th June 2006
Ref: Bourne Hill Council House, Salisbury, Wiltshire
Please find time to read this letter personally because it concerns the fate that awaits an important Georgian building as a result of unsympathetic development.
I write as a former Mayor of the City of New Sarum (1997/1998), a Wiltshire County Councillor and member of Wiltshire Police Authority of 12 years standing and a member of Salisbury District Council for over 16 years.
Sir, may I draw the attention of Your Royal Highness to a speech which you delivered on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Royal Institute of British Architects Royal Gala Evening at Hampton Court Palace on 30th May, 1984?
For your reference, I enclose a copy of the speech. It has become famous for your criticism of plans for a new extension at the National Gallery as “like a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend.”
I too have much-loved and elegant friend in the form of a Grade 2* listed building in the grounds of Bourne Hill gardens at Salisbury, in Wiltshire. The building, which currently houses the local council, is very special and of great importance.
Surrounded by many mature trees, it was formerly a theological college, and has a unique “Secret Garden” in the grounds. There is an ancient scheduled monument close by.
In 1984, Sir, you said: “For far too long, it seems to me, some planners and architects have consistently ignored the feelings and wishes of the mass of ordinary people in this country.”
This is happening at Salisbury, where the District Council now proposes a £14 million council office development which will destroy the “Secret Garden”, remove 14 mature trees – including a Sweet Chestnut, and add a monstrous glass and stone Civic Centre extension. The new building will entirely dwarf the present Georgian building, the nearby St Edmunds Church, and the surrounding area.
Sir, the designs for the extension are generally regarded by local residents - and a majority of the City’s District Councillors - to be wholly at odds with the old building and the surrounding architecture. I have yet to meet one local resident who supports the plans.
The scheme has been condemned by the Georgian Society, and while English Heritage started by opposing the development, they changed their mind at about the time that negotiations re-started with Salisbury District Council over the Stonehenge visitors centre.
A petition against the development has been signed by over 2,200 of your most loyal subjects and not a week goes by without some mention of the opposition to the scheme in the local newspaper, The Salisbury Journal, and on local radio. Another petition is doing the rounds as we speak and local people are lobbying the local government planning minister to call the decision in.
Sir, when the Council recently applied for planning permission, the City’s Area Committee voted by a majority to throw out the scheme. They felt it was out of character with the Georgian building. They felt the extension was too large, the destruction of the 14 trees was unacceptable and that there would be an adverse impact on parking and traffic flows in the surrounding residential streets.
A week later, the Council’s ruling Group, composed primarily of Councillors who do not live in the City, overturned the decision and they are now pressing ahead with the plans.
The cost of the scheme has doubled in three years and, with local elections and local government re-organisation planned by the Government, this hasty decision could spoil the character of an important building forever, and for no good reason.
Your Royal Highness, I have been on the Council for over 16 years and I cannot remember local residents being angrier about a planning issue. There is a widespread feeling that the Council are acting against the wishes of local people by giving themselves planning permission for a development which they would not have approved if it had been proposed by a private developer.
Given the refusal of the Council to listen to local people, I am petitioning Your Royal Highness to make an official or unofficial visit to the site and to meet the local residents and see the plans for yourself.
I know that you are an exceedingly busy man, with many important engagements to attend to. I am confident, Sir, that when you see Bourne Hill for yourself you will see parallels with the National Gallery extension all those years ago. Like then, some important heads need to banged together on this matter, Sir, and you are the man to do it!
It is only an hour and fifteen minutes’ drive from Highgrove to Salisbury. I am sure that you could find a few hours for this important mission. I am confident that you would be given a most welcome reception in Salisbury and your presence would give great heart to your most loyal subjects - who love this fine old Georgian building, the wonderful trees and exciting Secret Garden.
At the very least, Sir, I am praying that you will find the time – if only a few minutes – to raise this matter with the Prime Minister and his Government. Someone, somewhere, needs to step in and draw this madness to a swift conclusion
I have the honour to remain, Sir, Your Royal Highness's most humble and obedient servant.
Cllr Paul Sample
District Councillor for St Edmund & Milford
Mayor of New Sarum 1997/1998.
Cllr Paul Sample, Salisbury District Council for St Edmund and Milford North, attended the launch of Salisbury Civic Society’s “Streets for All” (www.salisburycivicsociety.org.uk) document last night and welcomed the document at the meeting:
“The Civic Society is to be congratulated for undertaking this survey. I agree with about 85% of their recommendations. But not all of them. There are two issues where I take issue with Civic Society:
Firstly, many of the improvements they have asked for will cost a great deal to achieve. They make no suggestions as to where the additional funds might come from. I don’t think it would be right for the money to come out of the schools budget, or the care budgets for elderly and disabled people. So where would it come from? If the Civic Society’s proposals are ever to be put into practice, they need either to campaign for more government funding, a fairer system of local taxation or an increase in the Council Tax.
Secondly, they highlight a number of items of street furniture which they say are displeasing to the eye. They cite, for instance, bollards in Guilder Lane and Pennyfarthing Street and ask for them to be removed. But the reason these bollards have been put into place is because local residents were walking out of their front doors onto the pavement and into the path of cars which were driving on the pavement. In some cases cars were being parked in such a way that residents couldn’t get out of their front doors at all. This had to be stopped and the bollards do that very effectively.
“Just because the Civic Society doesn’t understand why a piece of street furniture in place, doesn’t mean to say that there isn’t a perfectly good reason. All they had to do was to knock on a few doors and ask the opinions of the local residents.”
Simon Hughes to visit Stonehenge and Salisbury - Thursday 2nd February 2006
Liberal Democrat Leadership contender Simon Hughes MP (www.simonhughes.org.uk) is making a whistle stop visit to Stonehenge and Salisbury tomorrow (Thursday 2nd February). You, or your representative, are cordially invited to attend.
His itinerary is:
1300 hours: MEET at the new Park and Ride TERMINAL BUILDING at Britford (Harnham), for a briefing on Park and Ride transport schemes from Salisbury District Council officers and Councillors. Simon will then ride into town on one of the new Park and Ride buses (your opportunity to hitch a lift and ask him questions!)
Approx 1325 hours: Simon Hughes arrives on Park and Ride bus at New Canal. More photo opportunities meeting local people:
1340 hours: MEET at Stonehenge Visitors Car Park, Stonehenge for a briefing on plans for the World Heritage site, the A303, Winterbourne Stoke by-pass and the West/Mills Transport Consultation from Cllr Ian West. Then Simon Hughes will visit the stones themselves with Cllr Paul Sample. Afterwards there will be a short opportunity for pictures and more questions back at the Visitors Centre before returning to Salisbury Station.
1441 hours: Simon Hughes leaves.
At 4pm dozens of local residents will descend on Salisbury City Hall today (Wednesday), as public pressure grows to stop Conservative-led Salisbury District Council (www.salisbury.gov.uk) spending £12m on a new Council Office development at Bourne Hill, Salisbury.
The demonstration will take place at 4pm today (Wednesday 7th June), outside City Hall, Salisbury, off Fisherton Street (in the area at front of the Salisbury Playhouse). The District Council’s Cabinet will make a final decision on the business case for the development at the meeting.
Over 1,000 people have signed a local petition against the development and there have been hundreds of letters of objection from the local residents.
If the project goes ahead, objectors claim that a Grade 2 listed Georgian Building will be ruined, 14 mature trees will be lost, a “Secret Garden” by a leading gardener of the 19th Century will be lost and traffic/parking chaos will be caused to local residents. The total scheme is already costing £12 million and the costs could soar.
The plans were turned down by the City’s Area Planning Committee a few weeks ago, but then passed by the Council’s Planning & Regulatory Committee, which has a Conservative majority. The plans have caused outrage in the local community and residents are lobbying the Secretary of State, Ruth Kelly, to intervene.
Local District Councillor Paul Sample, who represents the Ward which is most affected, said: “Although the local planning committee supported residents and turned down the scheme, the Conservatives used their majority on another committee to force the plans through. Local residents are angry that the Council has ignored their objections and is pressing on regardless.
“This move will result in destruction of trees and open spaces, and desecrate a fine Georgian listed building. If he knew about it, Prince Charles would be against it because the plans will put a Carbuncle on the house. This development, by a Conservative Council, makes a mockery of his claims to be going green. Cameron needs to crack the whip and reign the Salisbury Tories in. They are off message.”
Sample’s guarded welcome for Key’s remarks
Local Liberal Democrat District Councillor Paul Sample has given a guarded welcome to comments made this week by Salisbury’s MP, Robert Key (www.robertkey.com), which show that Mr Key is unhappy with the destruction of the Secret Garden, which is proposed at Bourne Hill, Salisbury.
Cllr Sample said: “Robert Key has taken an interest in the Council House development project at Bourne Hill. He has held a meeting with concerned local residents and made representations on their behalf. I welcome his comments about the adverse impact of the development on the local environment.”
Mr Key wrote to a local resident on 9th June to say: “I regret that Salisbury District Council has been driven to a conclusion that development on the present site is the best option. I have taken considerable trouble to read their documentation and the business case. I am in no doubt that there is indeed a good business case for location on that site. However, I am very skeptical about the wisdom of destroying such a wonderful corner of central Salisbury – particularly the distinguished garden planned by one of our most famous landscape architects.”
The letter was passed b a local residents to Cllr Sample, who then wrote to Mr Key asking him to make his views on the Bourne Hill project know. Mr Key has now agreed to his views being reported.
Cllr Sample added: “The cost of the project has risen from 7 million pounds to over 14 million pounds in just three years. It is quite likely that the project will continue to rise significantly as the estimates come in, the specification changes, and project creep sets in. I believe the final cost could top 20 million pounds. Many ordinary Councillors from the rural areas will be wondering where the Cabinet is going to draw the line. We cannot write a blank cheque.
“Similarly, is it really wise to spend 20 million pounds on a new HQ building when Government is committed to total reorganization of local councils in the next few years. This is a massive project and it could turn out to be a huge white elephant. Budgets are being cut left, right and centre on services to local rural areas, so why blow all of this money on a Council Office and get crucified at the elections in May next year for the sake of a building which may well be surplus to requirements after local government reorganization.
“Robert Key has highlighted the real damage which will be done to this area of Salisbury City Centre and his comments about the Secret Garden are especially to be welcomed.”
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11/09/2006 Mobile one-stop shops get Lib Dem support
Cllr Paul Sample has supported the concept of mobile one-stop shops for the District Council. Speaking at a meeting of the District Council’s Resources Overview & Scrutiny Committee on Monday night, he was critical of the Council’s half-hearted attempts to set up one stop shops in rural areas.
“As a District Council serving a largely rural area, I think we need to do more to take the services to the people. The Council is spending millions of £££s on new offices in central Salisbury. They are expecting people to come to see them.
“That is not the way it should be. I want to see less money spent on grandiose schemes in the City of Salisbury, which gets more than its share of investment, and more in the rural areas. Villagers and people living outside Salisbury should not bee seen as second class citizens by the Council. We need to put more time and effort in setting up and promoting one-stop shops in rural towns and larger villages. The attempts so far half been half hearted and of limited success.
“I think we could probably provide mobile information points for the rural areas, with the minimum of investment. The rural mobile library service is already set up and running. It is really popular. The service is well established and people in villages have come to trust and use the mobile libraries. I’d like to see if there are ways of Salisbury District Council and Wiltshire County Council could work closer together to use the mobile libraries as mobile information points. We could perhaps consider putting payment and information points into the mobile libraries, when they are replaced.
“I’d also like the Government to relax the rules on what Post Offices in rural areas can and cannot do. It would be great if the District Council could use the rural post office network to take more services to the people. It would also provide an additional revenue stream for rural postmasters.”
16/09/2006 Liberal Democrats plan election year strategy
Liberal Democrat opposition Councillors on Salisbury District Council will meet at Cricket House Hotel, at Skew Bridge, on Saturday 16th September to plan their strategy for the coming election year.
Group Leader, Cllr Paul Sample, said: “Lib Dems are in good spirits locally. The Conservatives have made a real mess of runing the Council and we are confident of making significant gains at the next Council elections in May.
“The cuts to leisure services in rural areas, mishandling of the housing wardens scheme, reductions in grants to arts organisations, and recent financial crisis show that the Conservatives are unfit to lead the Council. We are also finding a lot of unhappiness about the way in which they have forced through the new Council House development.”
Cllr Sample said the aim of the meeting on Saturday was to review Lib Dem policies and set a election strategy in place for the coming year. “We will be aiming to put a more listening, caring, administration in place after next May,” he said.
“Personally, I believe other key issues will be support for rural public transport schemes, affordable housing for young people in the area - and the need to put more bobbies back on the beat.”
05/10/2006 Sample stands for Vice Chairman of Liberal Democrat Councillors
Paul Sample, 45, has been nominated as a candidate for Vice Chairman of his Party's national Councillors Organisation - the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors.
Cllr Sample, who leads his party on Salisbury District Council, said: "It is a terrific honour to be nominated for a leading role within my Party.
"I am a Liberal first and last. I believe the influence of Ministers should be curtailed. Central Government has become too powerful. Parliament should limit itself to international issues - Defence and Foreign Affairs.
"At the sub-national level, major strategic issues should be decided by directly-elected regional assemblies. Locally-elected Councillors should exercise as much responsibility as possible. I believe in the abolition of the County-tier of government and the creation of unitary authorities.
"The nonsensical Cabinet system of local government, which puts power in the hands of the few, should be abolished. Area Committees should be given a bigger role. The powers of Town and Parish Councils should be enhanced. ALDC has a great part to play in taking our message forward."
The result will be announced in late October.
07/10/2006 Welcome to refurbishment of The Greencroft Play Area
Welcome to refurbishment of The Greencroft Play Area
Cllr Paul Sample, District Councillor for St Edmund & Milford Ward, has welcomed plans by Salisbury District Council’s City Area Committee to upgrade and refurbish The Greencroft play area, opposite Bourne Hill.
The City Area Committee has agreed to release “R2” financial contributions (commonly known as community planning gain) for new recreational facilities in the area.
The cost of the project at The Greencroft will be met from “R2” contributions from developer contributions arising from building projects in the area.
In March 2005, the City Area Committee voted to spend £40,000 on the project at the Greencroft, but in a report to members Planning Officer Kevin Jones told City Area Committee members that a tendering exercise had now been carried out and that the costs would be higher than predicted.
The project at The Greencroft has risen from £40,000 to £51,000, now that tenders are in.
Mr Jones added in his report: “There is a significant adjustment in the cost of the Greencroft and Pinewood Way schemes. The reason this occurred was due to the fact an almost standard value is used when highlighting the need to refurbish a play area. At this point the aim is to flag up that a project needs doing rather than giving the exact costs. Once approved in principle more detailed surveys are conducted to identify the extent of the work needed at any given site and send tenders out. In this instance more of the existing kit at Pinewood can be kept and repainted, whereas more of the Greencroft kit needs outright replacement – hence the adjustment of costs.”
Councillor Sample, who represents the area, told the meeting: “I welcome this work. This seems like a lot of money to refurbish a play area, but it will come out of contributions from developers – not out of the Council Tax. The reason that the Greencroft is in such dire need of refurbishment is that it is very popular with local children and has taken quite a lot of punishment. Parents come with their children from all over the central City area, and sit down on a bench while their children use it. It is one of very few for City Centre people to use.
“Parents tell me that they would like this refurbishment o go ahead as soon as possible. They also want to know how long it will be out of action while the work is done. The refurbishment should happen during the winter months – avoiding school holidays if possible. There also needs to be good advance notice of when the Council is going to undertake the work.”
02/10/2006 Assurances sought on "visual clutter" from wheeli bins
Assurances sought on “visual clutter” from wheelie bins
Cllr Paul Sample has spoken out against brightly coloured wheelie bins. Speaking at a meeting of the Environment & Overview Scrutiny Panel on Monday 2nd October, Councillor Sample, said:
“I support the introduction of wheelie bins into the Salisbury District. I have for a long time used a blue wheelie bin which I bought from a local surplus store. It is more convenient than a dustbin. However I have done a lot of travelling in this country and abroad, and some of the wheelie bins I’ve seen are an eyesore.
“I’m making a serious point here. I’ve seen are very bright and garish bins - green ones, yellow ones, orange ones. We live in a relatively sober, medieval City, with a large rural area, and it would be terrible if we polluted the local landscape with brightly coloured plastic bins. I’d like an assurance that the bins we purchase aren’t brightly coloured red, yellow or green.
“However, I’m very aware that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and even my blue bin might be a bit too bright for some. I’d be happy to change if anyone objects.”
Cllr Sample later inspected the bins which the Council intends to purchase, which were on display at the meeting: black.
09/10/2006 Sample opposes mandatory retirement at 65 for Council Officers
Cllr Paul Sample has spoken out against mandatory retirement at 65 for Council Officers. He spoke out at a meeting of Salisbury District Council’s Resources Scrutiny Panel, at Bourne Hill, on Monday 9th October.
The Council’s Head of People and Organisational Development, Anne McConkey, had produced a paper on Age Discrimination at Salisbury District Council which warned the Council that new legislation makes it illegal to discriminate against employees in relation to their age.
The report continued: “It is anticipated that the new legislation will not include a mandatory retirement age. Employers will be able to adopt a mandatory retirement age, which if is less than 65, must be justifiable. It is unlikely that we could justify a retirement age of less than 65.
“If a mandatory retirement age is not adopted then employees will be able to work for as long as they wish or are fit enough to do so. If a mandatory retirement age is adopted this must be applied consistently. Employers will also have to give six months notice of retirement to individual employees and consult fully with those employees prior to the retirement taking effect.”
The report added: “The council will need to decide whether to introduce a mandatory retirement age. Some of the advantages of setting a mandatory retirement age are as follows:
· The council can undertake better succession planning if we know that someone is going to retire at 65.
· The employee can plan better if they know that they will not be employed after the age of 65.
· The knowledge that an employee is going to be retiring within a few years has sometimes been used to avoid addressing performance issues. If we do not have a mandatory retirement age then these employees may stay with the organisation indefinitely.”
But Councillor Sample told the meeting: “I do not think we should impose a mandatory retirement age. I know lots of older people, aged 65 and over, who are a real credit to our society. Older people who are bright, intelligent, energetic and who have a great deal to give. By not having a mandatory age limit we would be able to retain skilled and experienced workers – and it wouldn’t stop them leaving at 65, or even earlier, if they choose to.
“Many older people are working part-time or full-time because their skills and knowledge are invaluable – and because they are doing a great job. We would be shooting ourselves in the foot if we imposed mandatory retirement at 65 against the wishes of our employees. We should find out what they feel about it.”
Cllr Sample pointed out that District Councillors could serve on the Council into their 70s, 80s and 90s, if local residents voted them into office every four years.
“If Councillors can serve their community into their 70s and 80s, we should enable our employees to do the same. Just because a member of staff might be over 65 shouldn’t make any difference. The key issue is not age, but capability and performance. If an employee can do their job well into later life, they should not be forced to retire. Retirement should be a personal decision. We shouldn’t have one rule for Councillors and another rule for employees.”
The meeting agreed to two proposals from Councillor Sample:
To consult all employees, through their Trade Union, to find out what the views of the staff were on the issue, and;
To take into account the views of staff when making a final decision on whether or not to introduce mandatory retirement at 65.