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Consultants to get £50,000 of our money

(February 10, 2009)

COUNCILLORS in Warminster are pressing ahead with their proposal to spend £50,000 of public money on consultants to help them develop a town plan.

At a meeting of the town council’s transport and environment sub-committee members agreed to find the last £13,000 to give the proposal the green light.

Half the money will come from Wiltshire Council Council but it will all go to one of three consultancy firms who have been asked to tender for the job.

On 9 March all three firms will be invited to give a presentation to members of the town plan working party who will decide, over lunch, which of the firms will be allowed to hitch up to the gravy train.

“We have been assured that the work being done by the town council will lead the rest of the county,” said committee chairman Tony Nicklin.

“Everybody will benefit as we need to do something about the transport problem in the town,” said Mayor Veronica Burden.

Only Councillor Fryer asked what possible benefits could spending all of this money bring.

He didn’t receive a satisfactory answer.

“It is shocking to find the council sanctioning spending such money on outside consultants who will be employed to tell us what we should want,” said former county councillor Steve Dancey.

“Councillors are supposed to have a community leadership role but instead they want hire a highly paid group of outside consultants, who are able to waffle in correct jargon, to do the job.

“No doubt they will promise to consult with the community but it will be a very superficial consultation - it always is.

“We all know that Warminster is expected to find 1,000 new homes in the next few years and there is no debate about that or even where they will go no matter what these consultants come up with.

“Strategic planning has been in a state of flux in recent years as county structure plans have been replaced by regional spatial strategies and district local plans replaced by local development frameworks.

“I’ve no doubt that 2010 will bring a Conservative government which is already pledged to abolish the regional assemblies and that will massively change current strategic planning systems which will all need to be rebooted.

“On top of that we are in the worse economic depression for decades so many of those 1,000 dwellings will simply not get built in Warminster between now and 2026.

“My fear is that the consultants will be asked to find answers to the challenges of the past and come up with pie inthe sky ideas.

“Still £50,000 will get us another lovely glossy brochure to gather dust in the library as it rapidly becomes irrelevant and our of date."
(Consultants who were engaged last year for a 'scoping study' listed our good rail links to London as one ofthe town's strengths !!!!!! and talked about the closure of 'A&E'  (sic) at the hospital !!!!)

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