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(May 25, 2010)
WILTSHIRE Council comes across more as a bullying, blackmailing leech rather than a respected and caring provider of local services - the hallmark of its predecessor authority, Wiltshire County Council.
Warminster Town Council, which has been paying 36,000 pounds a year to retain two hours' free parking in two public car parks, had been thrown a last minute  ultimatum by the Trowbridge council that it must pay double for just one hour's free parking.
This amounts to four times pro-rato the sum Westbury has agreed to pay to provide free parking while places such a Bradford, Melksham, Mere and Amesbury are paying nothing.
At their meeting three town councillors who also serve on the county council had to withdraw because of a conflict of interest but the remaining members decided to offer 50,000 pounds for two hours - take it or leave it.
Former mayor Tony Nicklin said there had been no realistic negotiation and no straightforward explanations from anyone accountable at County Hall.
''We need to know how their figures are arrived at - they seem to have been plucked out of the air,'' he said.
''They simply want to scrape the funds out of our account and put them into their account.''
In proposing the 50,000 pounds, which is well short of the Wiltshire Council demand, cllr Chris March said it is time to take a stand. ''The town isn't dead at the moment but it is not very lively. The town centre is the lifeblood of the town and needs a good mix of national and independent shops.''
But last time charges came in he said takings dropped by 30 per cent in some shops and in the current economic climate  a repeat of that could kill it.
Mrs Veronica Burden said every town should be treated equally and fairly by the new council.
* The threat to remove bus services, hitting elderly and infirm people, was repeated by portfolio holder cllr Dick Tonge at the Warminster Area Board last week.

RIP Wiltshire Council 'Where everybody matters'

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