The map of local responsibilities is changing under the coalition government’s legislation. At community level the Marlborough Area Board is commissioning a new plan for the whole Marlborough area.
This work is being done by the Marlborough Area Development Trust (MADT) and consultations with the public have begun. The plan will become part of the government’s localism and ‘Big Society’ strategies and feed into Wiltshire Council’s wider plan.
The new plan replaces the one published in 2004 that was supposed to run till 2014. But it had no proper way to measure results or anyone to monitor whether it was being effective.
MADT chairman, Martin Cook, describes the new plan as “a document that details the concerns, aspirations and priorities of everybody who lives in the community area.”
It must also take notice of those who come into the area to work, and of concerns that cross through the area – such as transport links, rivers and wider organisations.
The plan will not authorise policies or projects. It is advisory.
But Martin Cook stresses it is essential that people in our area do express their priorities so those higher up the chain of government, right up to Whitehall, can act on them and finance them. If an issue is not logged in the plan as a priority it may well be ignored and be denied the necessary resources.
However, it’s as well to note that this is not a ‘planning permission’ exercise. It will not decide where new housing or new roads will be. It’s not about someone’s plans to build a garage too close to your kitchen window. It is about overall priorities.
If you think Marlborough is big enough and needs no more housing – say so. If you think it needs a rail link – say so.
Martin Cook is passionate about the consultation process. Originally a farmer in south-west Australia, he’s taught at St John’s for twenty years and is now the school’s Director of Logistics. He not only knows the area very well indeed, he teaches geography so he’s well versed in the problems of rural communities.
The consultation’s main feature is its on-line survey www.marlborougharea.org. The site is now live. By using it your priorities are taken into account just as you enter them – without interference from anyone else.
You just log in with your name and e-mail address (the site is absolutely secure.) There are paper surveys available – from the library. And there will be three consultation meetings – at St John’s School, in Aldbourne and in Lockeridge. (See Marlborough News Online What’s On section for details.)
It is expected the plan will be published by the end of January 2012.