The people of Wiltshire – of all political persuasions and of none – can be justly proud and pleased that the leader of Wiltshire Council, Councillor Jane Scott OBE should have been elevated to the peerage in the Dissolution Honours List. It is a tribute to Jane’s lifelong commitment to the public service; to her deft reorganisation of Wiltshire into one Council; to her skilful provision of outstandingly good local services, despite constant downward pressures on central government grants; to her freezing of Wiltshire’s council tax for many years; and to her outstanding devotion to duty in the county. Through her it is also a tribute and honour to one of the best counties in England - our beloved Wiltshire. Who could possibly want to live anywhere else?
A learned constituent in Sherston rightly points out the ‘perfect storm’ currently facing the world. Climate change and its consequences, together with endemic poverty and starvation in the developing world; the stresses and strains between the prosperous northern and poverty-stricken southern hemispheres first predicted by the Brandt Report some thirty-five years ago; the instability, warfare, death and destruction throughout much of the Middle East and north Africa which is a direct result of it all; and the vast human refugee tide sweeping into Europe; these are the very visible and immediate consequences of that perfect storm. Just think what the world will be like in 2050 if we don’t do something about it.
In contrast to all of that, I was much heartened by the funeral in Royal Wootton Bassett of my old friend Ken Scott, a 99-year-old veteran of the Normandy landings. He attended each of the repatriations in his electric buggy, and then collected up the flowers and the tributes after a decent period, gathering them into a scrapbook of remembrance; and took endless trouble tending the flowers and poppies around the War Memorial. Quiet, modest, dedication to the service of his fellow man. I loved the music - the call of the lapwing as the coffin arrived in St Barts Church, the call of the skylark as it left. What wonderful way of marking a true Wiltshireman and a lover of his garden and the countryside.
And what a reminder of all that is at risk if we do not heed warnings about 2050. The call of the lapwing and of the skylark. Clarion calls for action.
Jane Scott, my constituent from Sherston, and Ken Scott from Royal Wootton Bassett have service to mankind as their watchwords. They have answered the call of the lapwing and of the skylark.