How the elections could affect the future of Salisbury

ON THURSDAY, May 6, the city goes to the polls, with elections for Salisbury City Council (SCC), Wiltshire Council and police and crime commissioner all taking place.

In a post-Covid world, the results of these elections could shape the future of the city in a big way.

Not only are a range of important decisions going to be made this year, there is also likely to be a different look to the city council come May 7.

From climate change to transport, from policing to people friendly streets, here are seven reasons why the upcoming-elections matter.

1. People Friendly Streets

Pictures by Spencer Mulholland

Pictures by Spencer Mulholland

In December last year, SCC voted to report the reintroduction of the controversial People Friendly Streets scheme, after it had been “indefinitely suspended”.

This came after £1.3m of funding for the project was transferred to a scheme in Chippenham.

After the vote, Wiltshire Council said it “will consider” reinstating the scheme, with councillor Bridget Wayman, Cabinet Member for Highways, saying the council was “pleased that SCC has debated and agreed a motion on this important scheme”, and that it “continues to support it”.

Cllr Wayman: “We will look to revisit this scheme in 2021, and will consider reinstating it with continued support from all stakeholders in the city.”

The support of SCC will remain an important factor in the future of the scheme going forward, and leaders of Wiltshire Council will be keeping an eye on the make-up of SCC once the elections are over.

If the council remains in favour of PFS, we may well see its return in some form later this year.

2. Housing

Artists impression, land off Church Road

Artists impression, land off Church Road

Potential housing developments in and around the city continue to divide opinion.

Planning applications in both Laverstock and Britford drew fierce criticism, as responses were drawn up to the Wiltshire Local Plan Review.

The Local Plan would only recommend areas for development but it would make construction at earmarked sites much more likely in future.

The debate will rumble on for some time yet, and councillors elected to both SCC and WC could shape the future of the city with how they vote on these plans.

3, Salisbury bypass

A36 Churchill Way East Picture by Spencer Mulholland

A36 Churchill Way East Picture by Spencer Mulholland

MP for Salisbury John Glen has said “radical solutions” to Salisbury’s traffic problems – such as a bypass – “must be considered”.

It came after the city council voted to oppose calls for a relief road or bypass as part of its response to Wiltshire Council’s Local Plan review.

A change in make-up at both city and Wiltshire level could see a change in direction in policy on this issue, will is surely due to rumble on for many more years.

4. Policing

Salisbury Police Station at sunset on the day it closed - June 27, 2014

Salisbury Police Station at sunset on the day it closed – June 27, 2014

All four declared candidates for the role of Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner say they see fighting off the County Lines drug dealers and scaring hardened criminals away from the county’s borders as one of their top priorities.

The role was created to replace police authorities, and those elected are meant to give communities a voice in local policing to reflect what they want.

Police stations in Salisbury – or a lack thereof – has been a hot topic in recent months and years, with several of the candidates committing to a review of this.

The current PCC is Angus Macpherson.

5. River park / Maltings

Salisbury Library DC8960P3 Picture by Tom Gregory.

Salisbury Library DC8960P3 Picture by Tom Gregory.

The first planning application was submitted for the River Park project recently.

The application was for proposed developments at Ashley Road Open Space and Fisherton Recreation Ground, and land at The Maltings and Central Car Park.

It will see flood defences installed, as well as wildlife and amenity improvements and associated works.

The council say it will also enable the delivery of its wider regeneration goals for the Maltings and Central Car Park site and protect future development in the city centre – some of which have been put on hold.

So could this plan change the face of Salisbury in the long run and ease the need for new homes elsewhere in the local area?

6. Future High Street Fund

A design drawing for how the Future High Streets Fund could transform Fisherton Street in Salisbury. Credit: Atkins

A design drawing for how the Future High Streets Fund could transform Fisherton Street in Salisbury. Credit: Atkins

On Boxing Day last year, Salisbury was awarded more than £9m as part of the Government’s Future High Streets Fund.

But at the Area Board meeting in January, “disappointed councillors” said the grant may not be enough to transform Fisherton Street.

Around £14.3million had originally been requested for the city, in its bid to connect Salisbury Railway Station to the rest of the centre in a more attractive way.

But because the city received less money than it asked for, decision makers are having to think about what they can achieve with the Government grant.

Much could depend on who those decision makers are, and what they think should be done with this money.

7. Less party politics?

The city council could look different this year, with a new independent group hoping to shake up the city’s political scene.

Understanding Salisbury is standing eight candidates across the city, and the group says that “traditional party politics and infighting at the Guildhall have let the city down”.

They say that putting Salisbury first “will be at the heart of everything they do”, as well as “listening to local people and standing up for them when Wiltshire Council needs to be challenged”.

The group has already received support from former MP for Salisbury Robert Key.

Former Conservative cllr Frogg Moody is also changing allegiance, and standing as an Independent.

Keep an eye on the Journal website over the coming days and weeks for everything you need to know about the election and its results. 

  • For a full list of candidates standing in the Salisbury City Council elections, click here .
  • For a full list of Salisbury candidates standing in the Wiltshire Council elections, click here .

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Salisbury Journal | News