Bike man peddles democracy among the books(February 14, 2009)
DROPPING into the town library most weeks brings a surprise or new discovery each time, writes Paul Macdonald.
A Friday visit on the way to the market found a leaflet catching the eye of passers-by announcing that a local councillor is offering to spend a hour each week at a drop in session for the public.
The surprise was that Paul Batchelor is a leading member of the Liberal Democrats but the leaflet gave the impression that something sensational had happened politically as it said 'Paul Batchelor is your local independent county councillor'.
This confusion which could have been a political bombshell in local circles, which his party made the feature of a national press release when he won a by-election, was quickly cleared up
"Oh dear!" said Paul when asked by visionforwarminster whether he was another councillor who had fallen out with the LibDems after a very high profile case in Trowbridge last month.
"It was meant to indicate that I am not a member of the ruling group at County Hall. I will have to get that changed."
The new discovery is that Cllr. Paul Batchelor, who is also a busy small businessman being the third generation of his family to run the town cycle shop, provides coffee and biscuits and a listening ear each Friday starting at 10am.
"I've being doing it for four weeks now," said Paul speaking on his way back from his second shop in Trowbridge. "I started after the busy Christmas period for both the public and myself was over."
He said that this was the third time for him to run the drop-in sessions and that other county councillors had drifted in and out of it.
"It all started after local democracy week and the town librarian said he would be happy to let councillors have the use of the building," explained Paul.
"It's building up nicely. This morning the issues were on the town centre. There were a couple of different views. One on the narrowing of the road. The other on the widening of the pavements.
"How long the roadworks were taking. The town hall with pigeons. You know, the general sort of back of the Warminster Journal stuff.
"I totally support the drop-in session idea as it shows that not all councillors are 'you only knock on our doors when you want our vote'."