A KEEVIL parish councillor has defended the village as a "wonderful" place to live.

He urged people thinking of moving to the village not to put off by the behaviour of some residents.

Malcolm Cupis said he was backing parish council chairman Ginny Sherman, who is standing down ahead of the May elections after suffering a tirade of personal abuse over a planning application decision.

Mr Cupis said: "Speaking as a fellow Keevil Parish Councillor, I'm happy to reassure people that Keevil is a wonderful place to live and the overwhelming majority of people in the village are a pleasure to know.

"The problems experienced by Ginny and other parish councillors emanates from a small but very vociferous group that has been engaged in a protracted campaign of unpleasantness.

"Their intention appears to be to drive all the decent people out of the parish council and to seize control of it themselves."

"I'm not sure what they think they are going to achieve by this - they will soon discover it is a pretty thankless task that is almost exclusively about facts and ticking boxes and very rarely about being able to act on your opinion. There is practically no budget to spend and there are very few things that you are able to spend it on.

"There is no compensation and it takes significant amounts of your time to be able to do it well. But it is a vital democratic function.

"The behaviour of this group of people is absolutely shameful and has been directed not just at Ginny but also at some other excellent councillors, all of whom have sacrificed an awful lot, been completely dedicated and deserve far, far better. Several others have already resigned in recent months after being subjected to this.

"In my experience a lot of bad feeling at parish level tends to emanate from the planning process and Keevil certainly is no different.

"People imagine that a parish council can throw out a planning application, just because residents don't like it. They can't."

Mr Cupis added: "Parish councils can only comment on applications and there are strict guidelines that determine what comments they can appropriately make. It is a matter of fact, not a matter of opinion.

"It is a statutory right to submit a planning application. Parish councils have to comment on what are known as material considerations.

"They can't just object to an application because somebody doesn't like it. If an application meets material considerations the parish council should not object to it and if they do that objection will be overlooked by the planning department at Wiltshire Council.

A parish council objection has no more weight or influence than a personal objection. So if a planning application is made that you don't like you are far better off objecting to it yourself than trying to influence your parish council to object to it.

"Much of what has been going on in Keevil emanates from a couple of planning applications that a few residents have objected to.

"It now seems common for those same residents to object to just about every planning application that is made in the village and then to express their outrage that the parish council doesn't object to them too.

"A few individuals sadly then seem to conclude that by not doing what they want them to the parish councillors become a legitimate target for abuse.

"This is a very sad state of affairs that stems from ignorance and it must stop."