‘Your Wiltshire’: is it your Wiltshire or is it their Wiltshire?

Written by Jo Carroll.

Some time in the last week or so, Wiltshire Council’s magazine dropped through our letterboxes.  It is entitled ‘Your Wiltshire.’ Do you dump it straight in the recycling, along with most of the dross that arrives these days?  I don’t blame you.

But, for once, I thumbed through it.

Oh how proud our council is of its achievements!  Its Sports Awards, its Health Fairs, its tips for driving in severe weather.  There is even a reminder to use our market towns to do our Christmas shopping.

I don’t want to knock the Council for blowing its own trumpet occasionally.  We all need a little praise occasionally, even if there is no one else around and we have to pat our own backs.

But what irks me about ‘Your Wiltshire’ is that is doesn’t reflect the whole picture.  Like every other Council in the country, Wiltshire has suffered cuts.  But I can find no angst about that, no soul-searching about the implications to small charities who have lost funding, or vulnerable people who suddenly find they no longer qualify for social care.

In fact, the Council even suggest that they are proud to have made savings of £25.5 million and yet continue to protect front line services.  Yet anyone dropping tins into a food bank trolley outside a supermarket knows that this isn’t true.  Anyone with a frail relative and fighting for funding for carers knows it isn’t true.  Anyone who lives in a village and has seen bus services cut knows it isn’t true.  Anyone working with local charities competing for funding knows it isn’t true.  Anyone who sees the closed Marlborough youth centre knows it isn’t true.

And so, if the Council cannot tell the truth about the cuts, why should I believe them when they jump up and down about successes?

For all their tub-thumping, ‘Your Wiltshire’ isn’t my Wiltshire.

My Wiltshire has some wonderful corners.  There are kind, generous, hard-working people here.  And it has some difficulties that need thinking about.  There is poverty and loneliness and there are inconsistencies that need addressing.

If the Council cannot provide evidence that they are trying to tackle the most challenging issues, why should we not consign their self-congratulatory twaddle to the recycling bin?

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