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Our formal objection to the town council's megaloan

(February 01, 2010)
VFW's formal objection to the town council's loan application has been sent to the Wiltshire Association of Local Councils, the Government Office for the South West, Wiltshire Council and the Public Works Loan Board


Dear Sirs,

We are writing to object to an application made by the town council in Warminster to seek approval for funding of £800,000 to enable the council to move to the Assembly Rooms.
We are of the opinion that the proposal does not have widespread public support and has not been the subject of any significant public consultation.
We note that four letters have been written to the Warminster Journal from life-long residents of the town objecting to the idea and just one has been published in favour.
We understand that the newspaper received an unprecedented 14 letters on this subject in one week..
Our plan is to request a parish poll on this matter in order to give townsfolk an opportunity to make their views known. This is especially important as councillors have an unprecedented six year term of office due to local government reorganisation.

We would also note that there has been no attempt at public consultation.
In other parts of Wiltshire there have been many examples of public involvement in decision making.
In Ludgershall where there is a long-standing proposal to replace the existing Memorial Hall and build a new Hall in Deweys Lane, there have been two well attended public meetings. In this instance no public money need to be raised from the Public Works Loan Board.
In nearby Tidworth the plan for a new community centre on Wylye Road, led by the development trust on land owned by the town council, was the subject of a day-long consultation exercise.

Yet in Warminster we have been excluded by the town council even though its plans will result in us paying £70,000 a year for the next 25 years.

We formally object to the town council's application until such time as the local population had been properly consulted via a parish poll organised by Wiltshire Council.

We have one further point concerning the town council.
Last year at the annual parish meeting the town council took the opportunity of handing out grant cheques to a variety of local clubs, societies and good causes.
In more than 20 years of attending parish and town council meetings we have never seen council business transacted in this way at an annual parish meeting. (I have spoken to numerous experienced parish clerks and the latest version of Charles Arnold-Baker).
Such meeting are solely about the right of the electors to question those running the parish or town.
We would be grateful if you could inform the town council in Warminster that they should abide by the rules on this matter in future or they could be headed for trouble.
At last year's meeting the hall was full of people who had received large cheques and questioners said it no longer felt right to ask searching or lengthy questions.

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