It was fun to spend a couple of hours on Friday morning at that outstandingly good Special Needs school, Springfields Academy in Calne. I was with the Squirrels Group - 5 and 6 years old - and was much impressed by all I saw. They knew all about Big Ben and were keen to show me round the excellent outdoor facilities which they can enjoy.  Springfields specialises in Autistic people, who can be amongst the most challenging (and the most rewarding) of any school students. I salute the wonderful work which the committed teachers do and was glad to hear of their satisfaction at every little improvement in every single pupil.

There was a real contrast between that dedication and commitment, and the ‘spin’ over the local government election results I had to listen to on the car radio on my way home. It was certainly not a good election for we Tories- at least not in London, although we look like having increased our seats here in Swindon. It was a good night for Sinn Fein (and I worry about the end consequences of their likely victory); Labour and the Lib Dems were little better than holding steady, which is a poor result for a mid-term election, especially after the difficult time we have been having lately. So it really was not a triumph for any of the Parties.

But to hear Sir Keir Starmer, Sir Ed Davey and our Chairman, Oliver Dowden, on the radio, spinning like tops, you would think that it was a great night for all of them.  I feel sorry for those hard-working councillors (of any party) who have lost their seats, very probably through no fault of their own. I congratulate those who have won. But I have to say that I find it hard to get too worked up about it either way round. I happen to think that Conservative run councils (like Wiltshire and also Swindon) offer better services at a more affordable Council Tax cost. But I daresay there are some perfectly competent Labour run authorities too. And please don’t tell my Whip, but a good number of my friends are Labour Councillors, and indeed Labour MPs as well. They are decent people wholly committed to serving their electorate, often doing so with precious little thanks or recognition to show for it. So I thank them all.

If truth be told, I am not a terribly party-political person.  I hanker after the days when local government was strictly non-political (as many of the town and parish councils in this area still are), those elected being committed simply to doing the best for their local people, no matter what their political views may be.

Everywhere I go I find the same thing- dedicated and kindly people giving up their time and their money to run a whole spectrum of local groups and societies and services. The Guides, Brownies and Scouts; the Air and Army Cadets; Churches of all kinds; St John Ambulance, school governors, those who run the Royal Wootton Bassett Carnival; these and a thousand more like them are just committed to the wellbeing of their local area, to helping local people; and to having a good deal of fun while they do it. It is of these people that Community is truly born.

Councillors of all kinds- County, District, Town and Parish do a great job, no matter what their politics might be; they alongside the kind and dedicated teachers and assistants in Springfields Academy in Calne, and volunteers of all kinds throughout the area, are the people who use their energies and expertise to make this a thoroughly decent place to live our lives and bring up our families. I salute and thank you all.