I start my column this week needing to refer to the saddest news since I took office and I am sure few in Salisbury could fail to be deeply impacted by the tragic death of seventeen-year-old Horatio Chapple in Norway last Friday.
I know the love and prayers of many thousands in this city will be with Horatio’s parents David and Olivia and brothers Titus and Magnus as they come to terms with the enormous loss of their much loved son and brother in such heartbreaking circumstances.
I want to pay tribute to a young man who, although I only met him once, was by all accounts a great character who had already given so much to so many and had a bright future ahead of him.
On Tuesday I attended another meeting on parking at Five Rivers Leisure centre with the leaders of Wiltshire Council and representatives of the city’s business community and residents.
The imminent re-introduction of a one-hour parking band was the key decision. I welcome this judgement as it was abundantly clear that the impact of the recent change was having a hugely negative impact on the business community, particularly the retailers in Salisbury.
I think it will be necessary to look creatively at what further steps can be taken to stimulate the local economy at a special meeting in late October.
I welcome the proactive attempts by Wiltshire Council to do this and to Cllr Richard Clewer in particular, who has taken the lead to try to put right this unfortunate decision.
Nevertheless, as was mentioned at the Area Board last Thursday evening, all actions have consequences and, although I agree with the constructive contribution from Cllr Paul Sample that without reversing the decision the people of Salisbury would have suffered in terms of lost jobs and revenues, we must also acknowledge that reversing the abolition of the one-hour charge will cost money (£540,000 is the figure quoted). The source of this saving has not yet been identified.
As someone who sees a whole range of needs at all levels and the way non-statutory grants by Wiltshire Council have been maintained to this point I only hope that the wider impact will be minimised. Politics is never straightforward – Tuesday’s meeting reinforced the tough job the council has in an economic environment where the massive deficit impacts every aspect of our life locally and nationally.