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I am the Wiltshire Councillor for Downton and Ebble Valley. I am the Cabinet Member for Corporate Services, Heritage, Arts and Tourism...
General background and experience
My degree is in Military History (War Studies from Kings London) and I currently run a Wargames Figure company based at the top of Lode Hill in Redlynch. Before that I worked in London as a Marketing/Management Consultant for two companies, KAE and TARP. Most of my work there was with large multinational companies, Amex, BA and Vodafone taking up most of my time. I left London to help my parents running their school, Sherborne House Prep School in Chandlers Ford as Bursar. After my father was diagnosed with cancer I helped my parents to sell the school. I didn’t want to return to London so started a business importing and manufacturing wargames figures (basically toy soldiers for adults). Before University I took a gap year during which I served with the 17/21st Lancers on a Short Service Limited Commission based at Tidworth. It was during that time I decided that the Wiltshire Hampshire border, particularly around Salisbury, was an ideal place to live and we moved here twelve years ago.
At heart I am a country person. I enjoyed living in London while I was younger but when it came to raising a family I wanted to make sure that we were in a village with the closer community that entails. I was fortunate to attend Winchester College, at the time my parents were not well off (they had just sunk everything into buying their first school) and my time at Winchester was partly funded by a government assisted place scheme. I have never forgotten that and it is one of the things that has driven me to try to give something back.
Family is vital to me and I couldn’t do the job I do as a Councillor without the support of my wife Zoe and our two children, Edward (age 14) and Kate (age 12).
I guess (five years ago I would have been certain but the more I have worked in service delivery the more complicated it has got) I would say that education is the most important aspect of politics to me. I have spent a great deal of time and effort helping my children get to a position where they can achieve their own potential. I also think we should prioritise education as a society, in my role as Portfolio Holder for housing I often deal with cases around social housing and in so many cases better education would have prevents problems for people which place them in vulnerable and difficult situations.
Housing also has to be a major interest and priority for any Councillor. What housing we build and where is of huge import to people, particularly in a rural setting. While central government may impose relatively crude housing targets, Councils are responsible for working out how to actually build them in a way that does not damage existing communities. Also the provision of Social Housing as a support and safety net for people whose lives have become difficult can be a literal life saver. Making sure we have Council owned social housing to provide support for people when they really need it is a vital service.
I was first elected to Salisbury District Council in 2007. I stood for election to Wiltshire Council in 2009 and was rather surprised to win the St Paul’s seat (it was not a seat that was seen as one where a Conservative was likely to win). I held my seat in 2013 with an increased majority.
I have been Portfolio Holder for Youth and Skills and am currently responsible for Housing and Libraries. I chair the Wiltshire Housing Board looking after our Council Housing in the county and the Salisbury Operational Flood Working Group. I am also Chairman of the Area Board. I was responsible for the refurbishment of the Salisbury Market Place after the first proposals met with massive public opposition around the removal of the trees.
Most of my community work has revolved around the Council and my role as a councillor, primarily because it takes up most of my time. I served as a Parish Councillor in Whiteparish until I was elected to Wiltshire Council. I help with my local church in supporting the Trussel Trust getting food donations to them. We also help with the village fete on years when work does not keep us away.
Help and advice
If you have any issues, problems or questions please do get in touch. I try to respond as soon as I get an e-mail or phone message (I can’t promise to check e-mails every day over a weekend or on the rare occasions of a holiday). The best ways to contact me would be by mobile phone or e-mail.
Richard's Latest Projects
I work with the Southern Flood Working Group as well as chairing the Salisbury Flood Working Group. Flooding is very difficult to prevent, especially around Salisbury where the greatest flood risk comes from a rise in ground water levels. We have been working with the Environment Agency for several years to improve our defences and information gathering. I have been working with residents from Coombe Bissett to make sure that the Environment Agency and Wiltshire Council are aware of all the houses which flooded two years ago. The more evidence that the Environment Agency can gather the greater the chance that they will be able to put in flood defences as a greater priority. We have also been able to include new modelling of how the River Ebble reacts when water levels rise, as part of a larger Salisbury project, which will also help us to access funding for defences over the next couple of years.
On a practical level, I would urge all you to look at the gullies and drains on the roads and if any are blocked up please report them both to me on my e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and via the Wiltshire Council App which you can download on any smartphone. It may seem like a small thing but the timely clearing out of gullies improves the drainage of heavy rain and can prevent small scale flooding (we prevented several houses on Mill Road in Salisbury from flooding by doing this a couple of years ago).
I am currently the Wiltshire Council Portfolio Holder for Housing which means I am responsible for the Council Housing owned by Wiltshire Council and am Chairman of the Wiltshire Council Housing Board. I have been working recently with residents from Castle Meadow Sheltered Housing scheme in Downton to resolve problems with the grass cutting service, to ensure that the proper supported waste collection is in place, to look at providing more Residents Parking for the scheme and making sure the washing machines are updated. I am very proud of the fact we still run our own Council Housing in Wiltshire. Thus provides a vital safety net, especially for the most vulnerable people in society. As a country, we are not building enough social housing, However, in Wiltshire, we are increasing our social housing stock by 5% in the next two years through the building of over 240 new Council houses, including some in Coombe Bissett.
One of the first issues raised with me when I was selected to stand for Downton and Ebble was the state of the C12 road running from Nunton to the A338. The damage to the road surface, particularly on the bend as you leave Nunton, was in desperate need of repair. I have added my voice to Julian’s raising the state of the road with Officers at Wiltshire Council and am delighted to be able to report that it will be completely re-surfaced in this financial year (i.e. by April next year). I am pushing for this work to be undertaken as soon as possible. I would urge all residents to report any potholes to the Council using the Wiltshire App (which you can download on any smartphone). Even if someone else has already reported the pothole, please send your report as well. I have found that the more times a problem is reported, the sooner it gets resolved.