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Cllr Pauline Church is Wiltshire Councillor for Wilton and Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Salisbury Recovery

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

At last normality is becoming the norm!

After the most extraordinary year Salisbury and Amesbury are at last getting back to business as usual.
Last week Boots in Amesbury was handed back following testing and cleaning by specialist teams. 
This is welcome news for local people as we know that this store is a popular local facility, and it will reopen soon following some maintenance work.

Only two sites; the Sergei Skripal’s house and Charlie Rowley’s flat are still undergoing cleaning by the specialist teams.
All the other affected sites are now either back in use, or will be very soon.
All I can say is thank goodness - after a challenging few months we can at last focus on the future and how we will rebuild confidence in Salisbury and Amesbury.

Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport visits Salisbury
The ongoing support of government ministers will help us to rebuild this confidence.
Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport visited last week and gave his commitment to support the recovery programme; particularly the redevelopment of the Maltings and the creation of a new cultural quarter that will bring together the arts, theatre, entertainment and heritage as an exciting new attraction for visitors.
This year has seen several ministerial visits and all have pledged their support.
This can only be a good thing for Salisbury and Amesbury as we know that it will take time, funding and effort to make our city and town better than they were before the incidents of March and June.

How Salisbury is seen in the future is something we can all get involved in and have our say.
All of us that live, work, study or visit the city are invited by Visit Wiltshire to share our views on what would make Salisbury even better and help to promote it to visitors and tourists across the globe.
The survey is available here. I have my views and have already completed the survey.
Please get involved. It’s vital that we look to the future and we do all we can to attract and encourage visitors to our beautiful city that has so much to offer and, with the redevelopment plans, will have even more!

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Bourne Hill update

Seeing the reception at Bourne Hill busy with customers is usually nothing out of the ordinary – its people going about their business, coming in with their queries and issues and speaking to our council staff and Wiltshire Police colleagues.

But, after seven months of the building being closed, the main reception in the ‘new’ extension re-opened to the public this week. That regular, nothing out of the ordinary sight was very welcome illustrating that we’re getting back to normal business.

It’s a credit to council staff and Wiltshire Police that customer services were maintained seamlessly while part of Bourne Hill was closed. Our customer services operated from the register office in the old building and the police were based at the library and Five Rivers Health and Wellbeing Centre. 

Getting back to normal is what we all want to see as we know the number of people coming to the city and the town dropped, particularly after the second incident and the latest figures put footfall at 12.5% lower than this time last year. 

Encouraging people to visit both Salisbury and Amesbury needs new and different offers. Next week’s Salisbury Literary Festival (17 – 22 October) is a vibrant festival packed with events, workshops and activities across the city including the cathedral; library; Playhouse; Sarum College; Fisherton Mill and the Guildhall. This year’s headliners are best-selling crime writer Val McDermid; Matt Haig and Jonathan Coe. A feature of the festival is the Salisbury Greats talk which focuses on a renowned writer with a link to Salisbury. This year it’s focusing on crime writer Dorothy L Sayers who went to school in the city and I’m sure will be both interesting and popular. Events like the literary festival are helping to bring visitors, shoppers and local people back into the city and to Amesbury. I hope you’ll enjoy the festival and show your continued support to the city.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Salisbury Food and Drink Festival

It was so good to see so many people in the city centre for the food and drink festival on Sunday. If ever there was an illustration that Salisbury is getting back to normal, it was seeing hundreds of people enjoying this vibrant, lively event on a beautiful autumnal day.
It was heartening to see so many locals, visitors and tourists visit the Guildhall and Market Place to see chefs Paul Dankin, Levi Roots and BBC Masterchef’s 2016 winner Jane Devonshire. The Market Place was filled with stalls and there was a positive and friendly atmosphere as people enjoyed themselves. 

On the theme of food; last week Salisbury also welcomed three leading food bloggers from New York who have 176,000 Instagram followers between them. Their visit was organised by the government’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and GREAT as part of a foodie tour of the country stopping at our beautiful city. Bloggers @gilliehouston, @girleastsnyc and @mslindsays were given a foodie tour of the city and also visited the cathedral. They’ve been posting from their visit, helping to spread those much needed positive images of Salisbury across the globe via this powerful social media channel. Let’s hope this helps to rebuild confidence in Salisbury as a place to visit and enjoy.

As we look forward to this year’s Christmas season, which traditionally has always a busy time in Salisbury, we recognise that local businesses and traders continue to need a boost. Wiltshire Council has agreed to provide free parking after three in all the council’s car parks in both Salisbury and Amesbury and at the five park and ride sites all day Monday to Saturday from 1 October until Christmas Eve. This Christmas we need to encourage and attract visitors and shoppers and to boost the city’s popular Christmas market there will be the added attraction of an ice rink in the Market Place, creating a winter wonderland of seasonal festivities, which I can’t wait to see. See you on the ice!

With Best Wishes

Photo credit: Salisbury food and drink festival pictures courtesy of Salisbury City Council.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

The right headlines…

It’s been another eventful week in Salisbury and Amesbury. Since March we’ve experienced highs and lows and last week certainly followed that pattern.

The incident at Prezzo was a worrying moment which as we have all heard is now being investigated by the police as a possible hoax. Hard to believe, I know. As our local MP John Glen said it’s certainly not in the least bit funny and I couldn’t agree more.

The relief that what happened is in no way connected to any nerve agent is reassuring and I hope that everyone will continue to focus on getting back to normal.
Last week there were a number of positive milestones. The last of the Salisbury City Centre sites, Zizzi, was handed back with a clean bill of health to its owners. This means all the affected sites in our city centre have now been returned and will be back in normal use by the end of the year.

The only remaining site in Salisbury is the Skripal house in Christie Miller Road where the clean-up has now started. And, last weekend there was also good news in Amesbury when the clean-up got underway at Boots pharmacy in Stonehenge Walk, Amesbury Baptist Church and Charlie Rowley’s home in Muggleton Road.

While the Prezzo incident may have dominated the media headlines for a few days, the real headline is that we’re moving forward and making good progress in returning to business as usual. This week international and influential food bloggers will visit our beautiful city to help promote what makes it so special and why people should take the time to visit. Now that’s the media headlines we want and need right now and I hope is a sign of more highs and a lot fewer lows…

Monday, 10 September 2018

Six months on and normality is becoming reality

We’ve been living in extraordinary times since March and last week was truly an extraordinary week.
We’ve all known that, behind the scenes, the police have been working painstakingly and meticulously to find out what happened on March 4, six months ago, and who was responsible.
Just how involved, challenging and difficult the work was became clear to all of us last week when the UK’s counter terrorism police and Crown Prosecution Service announced that two Russian agents had been identified and charged with the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
That despicable act also seriously injured DS Nick Bailey and, ultimately, caused the tragic death of Dawn Sturgess and injured her partner Charlie Rowley.
It was surreal, shocking and extraordinary to see the CCTV images of the alleged attackers at our city’s station and streets and it highlighted the magnitude of the investigative work that has been quietly but urgently been going on.
I would like to add my voice to the many others and say thank you to the police for their hard work and diligence to reach this position.
The communities of Salisbury and Amesbury continue to show determination to reclaim their city and town.
One by one the sites affected have been cleaned up and handed back helping the Salisbury we know and love to get back to normal.
After the dramatic news last week, we were also updated that work to clean-up the Skripal home in Christie Miller Road was under way.
The residents of Christie Miller Road; particularly those within the inner cordon, have endured six months of disruption, inconvenience and media attention.
They have been stoic and patient and I’m sure they will welcome the clean-up and while it’s likely to take some time, it is another illustration that Salisbury is turning a corner and normality is becoming reality.
Let’s hope that in six months from now we will have put this extraordinary time behind us and our focus will be on a positive and buoyant year ahead.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Six months on...

The Maltings
Can you believe it’s been six months since our city was thrust into the international spotlight in a way that none of us could ever have imagined.
Following the dreadful attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal we began the long process to get Salisbury back to normal and we were making good progress when the second incident occurred that also impacted on Amesbury.
Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess fell seriously ill after finding a bottle that we now know contained a nerve agent. They had visited several places in Amesbury and Salisbury and tragically Dawn died on 8th July.
This week marks six months since the 4th March incident and a period when two communities have had to deal with so much. It’s time now to take a breath and reflect.
The fabulous Lift Off! festival over the bank holiday weekend was a great example of that attitude. As part of this festival I attended an amazing opera in St Thomas’s Church call PUSH, the story of Simon Gronowski. As a young boy his life was saved by his mother pushing him off a train bound for Auschwitz. The moving performance of 120 local singers coming together fuelled with emotion and the three words “I forgive you”, sung to the Auschwitz guard in the most sweetest way by baritone James Newby, gave us all a heartening assertion of the goodness of the human spirit and its will to survive.
It’s clear to me how determined and focused we are on reclaiming our city, our town and our communities. Life will never be quite the same, as we won’t forget, but six-months on its time for us to look forward.
Every cordon that comes down, every place, area, facility that’s handed back and re-opens is a positive step forwards. Last week’s opening of Lizzie Gardens was a real boost. Now we’ve been told The Mill will be open again for business by Christmas and Zizzi’s will be handed back shortly. All this is getting us back to normal life.
Over the bank holiday the city was packed with more than 13,000 people enjoying dance, music, theatre and crafts. It was a weekend filled with colour, vibrancy, fun, happiness and it sent the strong message that Salisbury’s confidence is returning. It was a true celebration of this creative, beautiful city showing the world that we don’t intend to just survive, but to flourish.

The Tour Series Cycling Grand final

Samba fun at the Tour Series Cycling Grand final
The Tour Series Cycling Grand final
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visit Salisbury
Queen Elizabeth Gardens
Umbrellas on Salisbury's High Street

Theresa May visits Salisbury

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Queen Elizabeth Gardens reopening

HOW good it was to see Queen Elizabeth Gardens re-open last week and being enjoyed by the community over the August bank holiday weekend.

If ever there was a sign that Salisbury is getting back to normal, it was this. It made my week – Lizzie Gardens re-opening will make such a difference to the city centre. I drove past on Friday and it was so good to inhale that sweet smell of freshly cut grass!

Lizzie Gardens is an important part of life in Salisbury and it was missed by so many while it was closed. It’s a hugely popular community space and every day so many people enjoy the park and all that it offers; particularly in the summer holiday period. Its closure definitely impacted on footfall into the city centre and its closure for almost two months during the hottest summer we’ve had for years, was hard and understandably caused some frustration. Some people have questioned why it has taken so long for the park to reopen. The safety of the public had to be the priority and it did take time for local and national agencies and specialist teams to carry out meticulous searches, including in the river. It was complex, challenging work in demanding conditions and we can now all be reassured that our much-loved park comes back with a clean bill of health. This is good news for all those families who use the park regularly and can now continue to do so knowing that it is safe for them and their children to enjoy as they always have.

The re-opening of the Town Path last month, the news that the Mill Pub is handed back for refurbishment, and now having Lizzie Gardens reopen for public and community use is another significant and positive step forward in Salisbury well and truly getting back to normal and that’s something that we all want to see.