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Parish poll a step nearer as dozens sign up

(February 27, 2010)
THE decision to display plans to spend £1.7million refurbishing the Assembly Rooms at the Mayor's Community Day brought protesters to those very same doorsteps handing out leaflets and led to the MP agreeing the 'debate' was needed.
One visitor to the event in Warminster accepted the protest leaflet and was asked by campaigner Paul Macdonald to take a look at the plans on display and 'please make up your own mind independently of me'.
"You are being so polite about expressing your views," she said. "If it was me I would have been shouting at them.
"This is a very civilised protest."
The campaign is currently calling for the Mayor to call a parish meeting to vote for a parish poll.
"I think we must have this," said Warminster resident Maureen Hiscock. "I want to sign up. I am on my way to have a go. If you hear police sirens then come and rescue me!"
Throughout the morning Paul explained he had the signatures that they needed which they wanted to present. Dozens more signed up.
At the event co author Paul Macdonald struck up a conversation with Andrew Murrison MP.
After agreeing what a good event the community day was the MP showed a keen awareness of the issue of the future of the Town Hall, Assembly Rooms and Dewey House and talked them through with him.
He explained that it is not the only town in his constituency with this issue.
"I explained that Warminster is not like most other towns," said Paul.
"You are right that the debate needs to be held," said Dr. Murrison.
At another time Paul was collared by Cllr. Andrew Davis who proposed borrowing £800,000 which will cost either £1.3m or £1.7m to repay and a frank exchange of views took place.
"It is not a definite done deal. You do know that don't you?" said Cllr. Davis repeating his previous assertion that the loan application was only to 'test the water'.
"You have the planning permission, you have put in the loan application, you are now using this event to seek public approval, that is why we are here and why we want the parish poll," replied Paul.
"I am quite happy for the parish poll to go ahead but I have concerns about the question that will be put," he said.
"It will need to be a proper vote as well," he claimed.
Paul explained that it was part of the 1972 Local Government Act and the referendum would be run by Wiltshire Council.
"If you are expecting a high turnout there are no polling cards sent, the location of the polling stations is for election officers to decide, and the vote takes place from four until nine," added Paul.
The councillor nodded that he was happy for the parish poll to go ahead and offered a town council questionnaire as his final riposte.
"A lot of residents are up in arms about this," said former Mayor May Law. "It is the number one talking point at meetings I attend. You must get to more meetings to explain this."
*Richard Phillips, another former Mayor, is on the list of those who wish to sign up to call for a parish meeting

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