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Call to MP to explain U-turn

DEVIZES Member of Parliament Claire Perry recently tweeted: “I would not block No Deal. Painful and ignominious as it would be.” Three years ago she said: “I can’t find one credible source that suggests quitting the EU would be anything other than damaging for British jobs and British workers.”

All of us change our minds; no problem with that. But elected representatives owe their constituents explanations for extraordinary about-turns like this one.

We have written to Claire Perry asking her to reveal what new evidence she has for risking a No Deal outcome. We have seen none. To the contrary: dire warnings from people who know what they are talking about have become a daily diet. The Confederation of British Industry says No Deal is “a tripwire into economic chaos.” The National Farmers’ Union thinks it would be “catastrophic.” The Chancellor of the Exchequer reckons it might cost the country about £90 billion.

Politicians like Boris Johnson and Claire Perry who refuse to block No Deal may well deliver precisely that outcome whether that is what they really want or not. Bringing down the curtain on the long-running farce of Brexit by crashing out of the EU will diminish the UK. And it will do so with all the national ignominy and individual pain that Claire Perry herself anticipates.

It is a tragedy that Devizes now lacks an MP willing to stand up for her own constituents, none of whom voted to be poorer. Though Devizes is a rural constituency, Claire Perry refuses to fight even for farmers. In a No Deal scenario, many of them will find their exports to continental Europe competitively disadvantaged by heavy tariffs.

About 70% of food imports come from the EU. A crash-out Brexit will stoke food prices. If they stoically put up with ignominy, will Devizes constituents endure pain with equanimity as they shuffle anxiously towards the fictitious sunny uplands of post-Brexit Britain?

We remain convinced that there is no deal better than the UK already has as a member of the European Union. That’s why Devizes for EU will be joining March for Change in London on 20 July in order to say NO to Boris, YES to Europe. Come and join us!

Kate Freeman, Chair of Devizes for EU

Is Plan pointless?

IN November 2011 Urchfont Parish Council enabled the setting up of a Steering Group to produce a Neighbourhood Plan. Detailed in its visions and objectives was a statement ‘Local people have access to a home they can afford’ which was backed up by a further statement ‘Develop sufficient land for small-scale market affordable housing to meet local need.’

A housing needs survey produced for the Neighbourhood Plan indicated that the community wanted 1, 2 and 3 bed houses, with over 50% requiring 2 bed houses. The housing section of our plan indicated ‘Support will be given to development proposals on appropriate sites which: a) make efficient use of land, b) show a predominance of 2 & 3 bed houses and/or include small scale housing units for older people.’ Great – that’s what the community said they wanted and voted for when the Plan was adopted in April 2017.

To date 9 houses built on allocated sites have been sold, or are for sale, at an average cost of £690,000. A further 2 sites with 9 more houses have been approved by Wiltshire Council which will probably bring the average cost of new houses to approximately £600,000. Included in these 18 houses are just two 2 bed houses and a pair of semi-detached 3 bed houses. The semi-detached houses were marketed at just under £400,000 and based on similar prices per square metre the 2 bed houses will probably cost £300,000 plus.

It appears to have been pointless. At Urchfont Parish Council meetings our Wiltshire Councillor has told us that we cannot tell developers what we want them to build and there will always be a natural conflict between Neighbourhood Plans and statutory planning rules which are paramount.

One must ask why we bothered.

Richard Hawkins, Peppercombe Close, Urchfont

Let’s be civilised

IT is right that people should be allowed to change their minds, and that is not my bone of contention. Rather, it is the main reason behind the People’s Vote campaign’s existence - that we are all stupid bigots who didn’t know what we were voting for.

I would love a more civilised discourse as much as anyone, but it goes both ways, and until people realise that most of us did know what we voted for, and voted how we did because we have problems with how the EU works that we don’t think can be reformed, then that civil discourse isn’t going to happen because people like me will hit back when we are patronised in such a way.

We’re not fascists and we’re not trying to destroy the country, and people would do well to remember that.

James Bools, Melksham

Back crossing plea

Thank you for publishing a report in your newspaper of the presentation of a petition for a pedestrian crossing in Marlborough High Street. Councillor Nick Fogg, who will present the petition to the County, would, be pleased to receive any further support. Please can anyone who is interested to lend their support to the petition send a letter to Cllr Fogg at the Town Council Office in Marlborough.

Vera Hamblin, Marlborough

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