At 23:24 Wednesday 31/07/2002, you wrote:
The Scrutiny Committee meeting was my first experience of the
method of local government, and quite an eye-opener. There's no doubt in
my mind that councillors not in the cabinet are very much cannon fodder.
As someone who has lived in Surrey and Reading, the locations of Berkshire
Record Office and Surrey Record Office are both historical.
Before Berkshire was divided up into Unitary Authorities, and was run from
Reading, it made sense to have the Record Office in Reading, being, roughly
central Berkshire, and on the M4/A329(M). I do not know logically where you
would move it as all the major conurbations in Berkshire are now, I
believe, Unitary Authorities. It is logical to have it stay put.
Similarly, for Surrey, Kingston-Upon-Thames was the Surrey County Council
Headquarters. Guildford now is, I believe. Looking at a map of Surrey,
Kingston is not central, is in Greater London and so logically the Record
Office should be moved I suspect to Guildford. As a graduate of Surrey
University (first year of graduates), and who has umpired Indoor Hockey in
its sports hall, I am probably biassed. Guildford is on the A3, maybe not
central, but easily accessible by road and rail.
The Wiltshire situation seems like a stitchup, and liable to legal
challenge which will not be liked by Wiltshire residents. The Cabinet style
of local government seems to lead inexorably to charges of internal
manipulation, prior agreement, much like the older system! Perhaps, you
pays your money and takes your choice. In the older system, a sub-committee
meets, often in camera, makes recommendations and the whole council rubber
stamps those recommendations, often without discussion.
In a well run council, the public has a chance to put points, and raise
issues perhaps not even considered by any councillor. Either system has its
good points and its bad points.
As I said in my earlier post, before the Tuesday meeting, if one is going
to travel from, in my case, NW Kent, by car, I guess, almost any town in
Wiltshire, can be accessed reasonably well. Chippenham happens to be on
the M4, the A303 is another well known route into Wiltshire, if going on to
Devon, Cornwall etc. I happen also to travel down the M25, M3, M27,
Ringwood, route as my sister runs a hotel the London side of Ringwood. We
are talking about a 100-150 mile trek each way, from SE London, NW Kent. I
am not sure that in the present climate that I want 'the train to take the
strain' if the chosen town has no railway station. Since I have been known
to travel to Alton Towers and back in a day, and taken in 9-10 rides also,
a trip to Trowbridge etc. would seem like a doddle! Similarly, Manchester
or Liverpool or Leeds.
I would leave it to local Wiltonians to vote with their mouths, and bombard
their local councillors and MP's. In addition, any Family Historians or
genealogists who use Wilts RO should also get their oar in too.
Mike, please keep us in touch with the RO situation. If I visit Trowbridge
in the next few months, I'll get in my tuppenceworth!