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Fools prevail if voters do nothing

(April 27, 2013)
East ward resident David Smith writes: -

I wrote to the WJ at the weekend, a copy of the letter sent following, and this letter, in part, was published in the edition which hit the newstands yesterday. The last two paragraphs were cut by the editor prior to publication. In the same edition were two more letters in a similar vein, an illustration of further discontent. The parish pump politicians we currently have were, essentially, elected the last time on a very low turnout caused by the indifference of the local electorate. The last two byelections did not produce more than one candidate each, thus the councillors involved were "elected" by default. As far as parish council governance is concerned, I care not a jot for any allegiance to one political party or another but do believe that competence in the job is vital, even for a parish council. I believe the members of the current council, with one or two exceptions, do not have that competence and that we deserve a change. That opportunity will present itself next week. I do hope people will turn out and vote for we have seen the penalty for previous indifference in the extravagance, incompetence and self serving abuse of power of the current parish council, which is what it is, despite its higher sounding name.
All this is required for fools to prevail is for voters to do nothing.

The letter in full

Some months ago you reported that Warminster Town Council had maintained an unchanged precept for the year 2012/13 and that the precept would generate funds to allow a net expenditure of £453,318 "to provide services for residents". Councillor Nicklin was reported as being "pleased". A figure of this magnitude converts to an average expenditure of around £8717 per week. I must say that, as I look around the town, I see little evidence of the results of this expenditure, with the possible exception of the former Assembly Hall.


Recently, I received a booklet from Wiltshire Council entitled "Your Council Tax Explained 2013/14". On page 21 of this booklet is displayed the information that in 2012/13 Warminster Town Council, out of a gross revenue of £509,178, spent £218,771 (42.96%) on administration. One could be forgiven for assuming that the Town Council supplied this information to the unitary authority and is satisfied with its accuracy. One could also be forgiven for being concerned at the seemingly high costs of running this council and pondering whether this is the reason for so little evidence of a weekly expenditure of £8717 per week being visible, apart from the probable exception of the former Assembly Hall.


My understanding is that Warminster Town Council is, despite its high sounding title, in statutory terms, a PARISH council, with its authorities and responsibilities defined and restricted by statute. In statutory terms, there is, I believe, no requirement for a parish council to even exist. It is an optional authority. For an optional council with very limited responsibilities and authorities, Warminster Town Council seems to be high on grand gestures and low on recognizing its true place in local government.


I now propose to investigate my own option of declining to fund this optional organization as I have never been asked for my views on its optional existance.

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