Marlborough Town Council’s responses to the recent Local Government Boundary Review (LGBR) are very illuminating for those living in Manton.
The Town Council have issued a response to the LGBR recommendations (that propose reducing the number of county council seats in the Marlborough area from four to three) stating it objected to any proposal that combined urban and rural parishes. Their comment stressed that it would result in ‘a deficit of democratic representation’ and echoes the well defined needs of an urban council striving to meet urban issues.
In the light of their comments, I would expect the Town Council to be in support of Manton’s efforts to restore its pre-1934 status as a standalone parish council.
For some time it has been clear that the wants and needs of a town pursuing a regeneration and amenity agenda have been at odds with the quite different pressures on the village. Because of the Town’s focus on its urban agenda, Manton’s village identity at County level has been all but wiped out.
This needs mismatch has also come at some significant cost to residents. 2017 saw an MTC precept rise of nearly 17% and the average over the 5 years 2014-2017 has been nearly 9% – while inflation over the same period has averaged around 2.4%.
Manton’s recent efforts to gain more visibility at County level has produced few results and what can only be described as distracted performance from the Town Council. And years in the making and at some considerable cost, the Marlborough Area Development Plan has no representation from Manton.
Fortunately, Manton has a very strong self help spirit and there is currently a campaign in progress to invoke a Community Governance Review for the village to seek its own parish council status. After a very positive response to an initial pamphlet introducing the concept of Manton forming its own parish council or merging with the adjacent Preshute Parish, a village meeting is planned in early December to discuss the pros and cons.
Manton has always been a village with a strong identity. So I would agree with the Town Council’s Boundary Review reaction that the individual interests and identities of the Town and our village should not be diluted.