I moved to Marlborough from Harare, in 2002 – attracted by the beautiful countryside and St John’s School, which provided my son with a first class education. Over the past 16 years I have made many good friends and enjoyed both socialising and campaigning with them on various environmental and political issues, however I now have decided to move to the beautiful ‘Remain’ city of Edinburgh.
It was the result of the EU Referendum in 2016 that first made me start reflecting on the kind of country that we are now living in. Many of the values that I thought I shared with the majority were suddenly being called into question. Both of my non-white children have reported a rise in racist comments since the referendum.
As someone who cares deeply about human rights and progressive politics, I am tired of living in one of the safest Tory seats in the country. Not only has the Devizes constituency voted for a Tory MP ever since 1924, most Wiltshire Councillors are Tory too. This means that it is extremely difficult for anything to change for the better. In fact some of our elected councillors have been determined to prevent us from improving the environment or from having fun.
For example, Wiltshire Council effectively closed the Sunday Community Market in 2014, made it impossible for the world famous, international Jazz festival to continue after 2016 and has turned a deaf ear to residents’ calls for a reduction in traffic congestion and the associated air pollution in the town.
I’m also concerned about the lack of diversity in Marlborough: Poor public transport and the lack of low-cost housing in Marlborough means that many young people leave the town as soon as they leave school. Meanwhile there seems to be an ever increasing number of homes for the elderly being built. This is leading to an ‘hour-glass’ shaped, demographic profile, with a large group of school age children at the base and an even larger group of over 55s at the top, with a small and declining group of young working adults in the middle. Increasing numbers of elderly people will inevitably increase pressure on the local health service.
I fear growing old in a town where I will feel isolated due to a lack youthful activities and the absence of public transport which would enable me to visit friends and family. I am also concerned about the creeping privatisation of the NHS in England. It would be ironic if I ended up paying for medical treatment in my old age after being among the first to get free orange juice and cod-liver oil, as a baby!
Of course I will miss all my wonderful friends in Marlborough (they know that they will always be welcome to stay with me in my new abode!) and wish everyone well. I am looking forward to living in a dynamic city with lots of fun things to do, a fully integrated public transport system, politicians elected by proportional representation who actually listen to their constituents and helping in the campaign for an independent Scotland, if the Tories get their way in forcing through their hard/no deal Brexit.
Dr Sam L J Page
Editor’s note: This letter is in response to our request to Dr Page to let us know the reasons behind her decision to leave Marlborough