ON Friday, both my husband and I received impertinent letters from Wiltshire Council, basically disenfranchising us as follows: “I am of the opinion that you are not entitled to remain registered at this property for the following reason – your name has been crossed off the Household Enquiry Form for this property. Please note that if you fail to appeal in writing within 14 days of the date of this letter, and/or fail to provide a reason as to why you should not be removed, then I will take steps to have your details removed from the Register of Electors at the earliest opportunity.”
After my initial shock I felt inclined to embrace a conspiracy theory that, since we are not among the council’s greatest admirers, steps had been taken to prevent us from voting in future elections.
However, as we have lived at our present address for 14 years, it was clear a mistake had been made and it is, after all, easier to seek forgiveness than to ask permission. (Dr Carlton Brand, Electoral Registration Officer, please note!)
This lack of due diligence on the part of one council department led me to ponder on others, most notably planning. Wiltshire Council has consistently failed to protect the integrity of Hilperton Marsh’s most valuable asset, the Hilperton Gap, which is the beating heart of the village. 
Attempts by developers to obtain permission to build on the area have been consistently shelved, presumably to give the applicants more time to amend their applications, rather than refuse them outright. 
One of the most cogent objections is its variance with the Wiltshire Core Strategy. Would it be disingenuous to suggest that moves to re-name it the ‘Wiltshire Local Plan’ provide a convenient opportunity to move the goalposts by stealth? 
There is, by the way, a six-week consultation process under way so you can make your views known.
No one would argue that new homes are needed almost everywhere, especially the ‘affordable’ variety. But affordable for whom? Most people, surely, will need to obtain a mortgage if these new homes are to be saleable? 
And, make no mistake, developers will not build what they cannot sell so they seem to have the upper hand. 
It’s rather like a Rubik’s Cube which is frantically twisted and turned in attempts to solve the puzzle by eventually producing a logical outcome. Very few people achieve this (without cheating, that is!).
So while I wait (probably to no avail) for my apology from Wiltshire Council, I continue to hope that communities throughout the county will take control of their own destiny by engaging with rule-makers to achieve the best outcomes.
Mary Tapping
Horse Road, Hilperton Marsh