There have recently been some interesting discussions on the Wiltshire Times website about the way in which councillors are elected and Trowbridge Town Council works. The town’s Mayor, Councillor David Cavill FRSA has issued a response.
“I moved to Trowbridge 14 years ago, and have grown to love the town and our wonderful county of Wiltshire itself. My business and interests are nationally-based rather than locally, so I only became involved in local politics (by invitation) three years ago, although I had been a District Councillor in the 1980s. I served as Chairman of Environment which even then interestingly had a significantly larger budget than Trowbridge Town Council, so I’d like to think I am no stranger to politics.
“I was proud to have been elected as a Town Councillor in 2017 and in Trowbridge have found my fellow councillors of all parties to be very good people, both committed and hard-working. It’s important to remember that they do not receive any kind of monetary allowance – unlike many other large town councils.
“As I have said publicly on several occasions during my Mayoral year, I have admired the way in which members work together for the good of the town and the majority of decisions presented to us hardly need a vote as most agree on the best way forward. The most controversial matters are often just differences in personality, and perception or misunderstandings – but such problems are not confined to councils or parties.
“There are still, however, political differences: the vote on the precept (how much funding we as a Town Council need to run our services) is an example.
The current Town Council is one where there is no overall control (NOC) so no single party has a majority. If you think about it, any group of people, however elected, will have their own opinions about these and other issues so it would make very little difference how they were elected. By the same token, we have councillors who have ‘pet’ hates, projects, ideas and issues which they pursue, sometimes relentlessly, on behalf of Trowbridge. I think any group of people with their own personalities and interests would, rightly, do exactly the same – and why should they not?
“I was a teacher – my ‘pet’ projects are Trowbridge Museum, the Town Hall, the Civic Centre as a venue for the arts and entertainment, and developing charitable and leisure interest organisations in the town – many of my fellow councillors do no not think they are especially important for a town council (even if it is the county town), but they still gave support to my idea of the ‘Celebrating Trowbridge’ event in association with the Town Hall last February – a fine example of how we can work together for the well-being of the town.
“However, controversial issues understandably make the headlines and as the publisher of a successful, national weekly newspaper I have some understanding of the way in which ‘news’ works and know, whether we like them or not, we have to accept the views, opinions and judgements of the community often based on those headlines. As Churchill said of democracy ‘It is the worst form of government but is at least better than the others’.
“So, however councillors came to be elected, the problems of running this and other councils will be the same and will raise the same problems. Because we cannot know the future, the suggested solutions offered by officers and elected councillors will inevitably vary and there will be disagreements which, by their very nature, will create a ‘political’ divide: I think we would be exactly where we are today.
“As I have said to my colleagues on a number of occasions: we are where we are – we were elected and it is the decisions we have jointly made which have got us here. We cannot go back – we must look forward and make the best possible decisions for the future and hope that our discussions and votes make the life and the well being of the people of Trowbridge better. That has to be our objective. If you are unhappy – stand for election and encourage all those on the electoral role to get out and vote – your next opportunity is May 2021 – see you there, I hope! In the meantime, ‘Stay Safe'”.
Councillor David Cavill FRSA
Proud Mayor of Trowbridge, the County Town of Wiltshire.