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Graham Ellis - Regular updates - my diary

Links in this page:
Town Council Answers, 5.11.2023
Open Consultations - YOUR inputs requested
Councillor Vacancy in South Ward
Questions to Melksham Town Council for 30.10.23
People like us - Unite to Survive
Environment Working Group - MTC
Who do I contacts about ...
Public Transport - Melksham - October 2023
Seeking comment on the JMNPII Framework itself
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Some other pages on this site:

Graham Ellis - blog and • blog index
Graham Ellis - background and • views
Philosophies of working as a town councillor
The Role of the Town Council and Councillors
How YOU can help and • Contact me
Links to other web sites and • pictures
Through April 2021, I posted most days. Thereafter (elected) you hear from me here at least once a week.

Blue Pool & Assembly Hall - Looking Ahead

Survey - Blue Pool and Assembly Hall - what do YOU want?

The Melksham Assembly Hall, which is behind the Town Hall, has a seating capacity of 400 and has been full recently with events such as AbbaMania, the Monster Ball, the comedian Rich Hall, and kick boxing. The Melksham Historical Association and the quiz night both had their busiest nights last month, and car club, Tai Quando meet weekly. It was good to see the local "AmDram" group with big audienced over 4 performances, and to attend record fares, film showings, table sales, produce shows and much more. A wonderful bounceback from Covid, with much help from excellent hall staff, friends of Melksham Assembly hall, and you the public. But at times, it struggles. The entrance is cramped, access for acts is difficult, and there are queues for loos, and the bar, and to get in.

The old "Blue Pool" swimming pool is attached to the Assembly Hall. It was taken out of use last year by its owners, Wiltshire Council, who have offered it as an asset transfer to the Town Council. A structural survey on behalf of the Town Council has confirmed that the Blue Pool building is basically sound, and that it would be practical to join the two buildings into one.

The Assembly Hall Working Group, which comprises all the Town Council and the key commitee people from the Friends of the Assembly Hall met on Monday evening and overviewed the options for the site, with either existing buildings adapted, or a rebuild. We decided to give our list of desires / needs to architects for them to produce an outline of what may be possible. The architects are to be informed by a list generated from public input on the Assembly Hall last December, from the Town Centre Masterplan consultation earlier this year, and from the work a number of us did during the design work for the Melksham Campus, and from the "Priority for People" surveys. That's good, but in addition I would like to know what YOU reading this would like to see in the outcome.

Please indicate what you would like and what you would use.
Choose as many or as few as you like, ad then "Submit" at the base of the form

This Survey is now closed - thank you for your inputs. The comment section remains open so you may use the form at the base to send me comments, but the numbers are "in".

Like; Use; * - Art gallery
Like; Use; * - Booking office for Assembly Hall events
Like; Use; * - Break out rooms
Like; Use; * - Cafe area
Like; Use; * - Chain restaurant
Like; Use; * - Cinema
Like; Use; * - Citizens Advice office
Like; Use; * - Climbing wall
Like; Use; * - Community group meeting space
Like; Use; * - Community hub

Like; Use; * - Craft room
Like; Use; * - Creche
Like; Use; * - Darts
Like; Use; * - Doctors surgery
Like; Use; * - Escape room
Like; Use; * - Exhibition area
Like; Use; * - Extension bar
Like; Use; * - Game room for youth (Xbox, Nintendo, Lego, etc.)
Like; Use; * - Games room for adults (jigsaw puzzles, chess/draughts, whist, bridge, etc.)
Like; Use; * - General enquiry desk
Like; Use; * - Hot desks

Like; Use; * - Indoor bowls
Like; Use; * - Indoor Market
Like; Use; * - Lecture room
Like; Use; * - Lido
Like; Use; * - Loos for Assembly Hall use
Like; Use; * - Maintenance store and depot
Like; Use; * - Mosque
Like; Use; * - Museum for Melksham
Like; Use; * - Parking for Town Council
Like; Use; * - Photography exhibition
Like; Use; * - Picnic Area

Like; Use; * - Police hub
Like; Use; * - Polling station
Like; Use; * - Pop up bank
Like; Use; * - Public WiFi access
Like; Use; * - Public toilets
Like; Use; * - Reception (single for all MTC services)
Like; Use; * - Safe space
Like; Use; * - School art exhibition
Like; Use; * - Sculptures
Like; Use; * - Skating rink
Like; Use; * - Skittles

Like; Use; * - Smaller theatre and break out rooms
Like; Use; * - Squash courts
Like; Use; * - Staff offices
Like; Use; * - Studio for smaller performances
Like; Use; * - Support room
Like; Use; * - TIC gift shop extension
Like; Use; * - Ten Pin Bowling
Like; Use; * - Theatre
Like; Use; * - Wake faciities
Like; Use; * - Wedding Venue and event facilities
Like; Use; * - Youth facilities
- Please tell me your postcode (so that I know if you're a resident / where you will be accessing from)

The following are OPTIONAL and purely for my use - only complete if you want me to follow up:
- Your name
- Your email address or other preferred contact
- any additional areas?
- and any other comments?

Please when completed

Your help and guidance is very much appreciated - thank you.

* Inputs always welcome - this survey will be open at least until 15th November 2023, but I will be reading results as they come in

* Please get in touch / ask me about any of the things in that LONG list above if you want to ask or say more. I do appreciate there are duplicates, little and large asks, and some things which are impractical mixed in with necessities.

* Your inputs here are to me as a councillor and not to the Town Council as a whole. But I stongly suspect I'll be talking with the architects to help flag relative priorities!

Published Wednesday, 8th November 2023

Town Council Answers, 5.11.2023

An update - to answers questions, as at lunch time on Sunday 5th November 2023. A pleasant morning, a lovely walk around town, lots of people out enjoying the fresh air. Also lots of cars in the Town Centre, queueing back through King Street and up Spa Road.

1. Signage in KGV
I counted 12 hard surface entrances to the main park of "KGV". People have been asking about signage in particular in relation to dogs in the park. 5 have signage of various forms to tell people that dogs must be on leads. Full audit below.

2. Dog agility equipment
Councillors have been copied on a correspondence involving town staff and discussing the suitability and I note guidelines in there for fun agility equipment. I understand guidance signage may be in process, but due to resource limitations the correspondence has not (yet?) been précised into an overview for potential users. Personal comment - clearly it's down to the individual owner and knowing their dog to make a choice as to whether or not to use the dog park, and if they do whether to use the equipment in it.

3. Pavement at Church Street Corner
A section of tarmac which was put in as a "temporary" fix in the paving slab pavement was being fixed as I walked thought the town today. Good to see it being done - it's taken a long time and there has been a lot of nagging!

4. Gate to dog park.
Stones have been laid to combat the slip hazard inside the inner gate. This is a temporary fix; the gate will be moved to the end of the inner "trap" section so it opens on to the hard standing, and that work will take place at the end of this month or the start of next month, depending on the weather.

5. Provision of water in dog park
I'm not sure what's happened on this - need to check. It may have proven to be a nice idea that would have been very expensive - need to ask the Parks Working Group. On the subject of water, part of the park and part of the dog bark were flooded this morning, and a number of dogs enjoying paddling.

6. Demolition of old maintenance shed
This is due to happen this month. Due to the presence of hazardous material, you may see operatives walking around in protective clothing. This is for safety reasons while they are within the work areas and great care is being taken to ensure that there is no public danger.

7. Cutting back of brambles on Lowbourne
This was reported about a week ago - brambles growing out of KGV and Town Council amenities team has now cut them back, thank you.

8. Perspex in Town Council display board
One side of the notice board on Church Street has been reported as being fogged to the extend that the notices cannot be read. A resident has asked for the perspex to be replaced but has been advised "The Town Council has decided that we won’t replace this panel at the present time". I confirmed this morning that the notices are unreadable, and will make enquires as to whether it's to be left like that, or if other action (such as polishing the damage surface) is being done instead. I noted that it is possible to see the notices when the panel is wet.

UPDATE - 9.11.2023 - I understand our staff team is taking a look at the current condition of this panel to review the decision, and has promised to get back to the original enquirer.

9. Removal of traffic bollards in Market Place
Over a year since The Campus opened, and there are still big red and white "temporary" traffic bollards in The Market Place. I don't know why they are still there, nor how much longer they will be. I would guess they may be remaining until the need for HGVs to access Melksham House wok site continues.

10. Repair of Assembly Hall Roof
A contractor has been selected and works are scheduled to commence on 2nd January 2024.

11. Melksham Station Cafe
The Cafe closed in May though there are still signs pointing to it, the pagoda has gone, the weeds are growing and I see adverts looking for any reasonable offer for their storage container, noting it must be gone by Christmas. I hear rumours that the lease by TransWilts is to be released at the end of the year, and the activities I see would tend to confirm that. I have a meeting on 21st with multiple people, one of whom is a director of TransWilts and I will take it up with him. I am looking to confirm whether car parking will still be provided at the station, and whether there is a community opportunity. The railway station has done well over the 10 years since services were improved, and forms a key part of future Melksham plans in both the local plan and neighbourhood plan.

12. Cycle Maintenance Station in the park
The first station was installed beside the Town Hall several years ago and has been a huge success. The second one - to be installed in the park is long awaited but was promised "within the next two weeks", one week ago. So just days now?

Park Sign Audit
1. Lowborne - Bylaws, September 2021, low on gate
2. From dog park - clear sign that your dog must now be on lead
3. From Union Street - flooded but looks to be old bylaw sign
4. Beside the poplars from Bath Road - "Please keep your dog on a lead whilst in this area"
5. Beside the skate park - no signage
6. Along the river - no signage
7. From upriver walk - "Please keep your dog on a lead whilst in this area"
8. From back walkway past play area - no unobscured signage
9. Past the pavilion - no signage
10. Walkway requiring step over knee rail - no signage
11. Gate for vehicle entry - no signage (but locked shut)
12. Behind maintenance shed - no signage; frame where sign used to be.

Published Monday, 6th November 2023

Open Consultations - YOUR inputs requested

So often, we (you and me) miss consulatation requests because we don't hear about them until too late. There are a lot of consultations around at the moment - here are the important local ones, sorted by shortest dated first

Consultation until 10th November - Wiltshire Bus Review

Consultation until 22nd November - Wiltshire Local Plan

Open until 23rd November - request for byelection in South Ward

Consultation until 3rd December - Melksham Neighbourhood Plan

Published Sunday, 5th November 2023

Councillor Vacancy in South Ward

Ten days ago, we lost yet another committed Town Councillor - the third hard working volunteer to step down in the last six months, and once again the reasons given were not purely personal.

And now we have an official notice, letting people they may call for an election for the vacant seat; if 10 people or more ask, we have an election. Failing that, the Town Council can co-opt someone into the seat. A few months back, I wrote in support of holding an election for the first vacant seat. At the time, we were less than half way through this council's term and it made sense to democratically ask the electorate, with the new councillor having a substantial opportunity to make a difference. But I am now sitting on the fence - speaking neither for nor against an election. And come next year, should another councillor resign - likely, on current pattern - I would be speaking for a co-option for our final months before we all (or those of us who are left) start campaigning for the May 2025 elections.

The previous by-elections were in the East Ward - a very different mixture to the South Ward where I'm a councillor, and where the vacancy has arisen. I know several people who live in the ward and would make excellent councillors; should one of them stand or be willingly put up for co-option, I will offer support. I have actually spoke with people, however I have not sugar-coated the role (which could lead to a continued high drop-out rate) and respect "Thank you, but no thank you" responses from those excellent people. How sad that we have got ourselves into such a situation.

Parish works are not national politics. I am concerned when I see national politics quoted as part of a local manifesto, or hear my fellow councillors talk about how they are using the by-elections as practise runs for the upcoming general election. I acknowledge that if it's your priority to get elected, then you'll stand for a party - but then if you're elected, does your loyalty lie with the town or with your party?

Published Saturday, 4th November 2023

Questions to Melksham Town Council for 30.10.23

Tonight's a Full Town Council meeting. Members of the public may turn up and ask questions; councillors are required to submit questions they have in advance. Here are questions I submitted on 24th October for this evening. In addition I will be addressing various matters that are on the agenda during the course of the meeting. My questions:

Update - 31st October 2023 - Answers cut in. Please note that the answers given are at present my interprettaion of what was said. You can watch the recording of last night (until it is deleted) and in the longer term these answers should be in the minutes.

1. Progress on Electronic Communications and Social Media Policy
1.1 Will this policy which was lost from council business on 17th July be brought back?
1.2 Will any suggested updates be applied prior to re-tabling?
1.3 What policy are our staff working to at present?

Answer: Yes, it will be brought back, but there has not been the resource available to do it. The staff are not working to any policy at present. However, I challenged that having had one of my own contributions to social media deleted, and I understand that in reallity there is no written policy at present, with staff acting to "moderate" as they feel appropriate.

2. Freedom of Information
2.1 Does the Town Council keep a register of Freedom of Information requests it receives?
2.2 Does it publish the requests and the responses, and if so, where?
2.3 How many requests have been received in the past 12 months?
2.4 How much officer's time has gone into handling FOI requests in the last 12 months?

Answer: No, the council does not keep a register nor publish the requests and responses. Just two requests have been received in the last 12 months. So those must be the ones from the MIN on KGV lighting on 8th August and on the one earlier in the year which was referred on to the Melksham Historcial Association even though they are not subject to FOI. Officer's time - 23 hours.

3. Blue Pool and Assembly Hall report
3.1 When will the structural survey and options reports be available to councillors and public? (1)
3.2 Have quotations been received for fixing leaks in the AH roof and when will this be done? (2)

Answer: The structural survey has been made available in the last week. Quotes have been received for the Assembly Hall roof too. They are included later in the agenda. More to follow elsewhere on this

4.1 Are we making an offer on the Cooper Tires site?
4.2 How are Melksham Town Council providing local support to potential bidders for the Cooper Tires factory site and other land holdings for sale?
4.3 Is Melksham Town Council taking any active role in the sales of these sites - for example forming part of a bid group of developers or ecological interests looking to obtain the flood plain?
4.4 At what point of involvement would/do individual councillors need to declare an interest and have any done so?

Answer: There is no intsruction from council to officers to make any offer. It would be inappropriate for Melksham Town Council to provide local support which is being done by Wiltshire Council's economic redevelopment team, but having said that we do and have been assisting and working with that team though the neighbourhood plan. It is up to individual councillors to decide when they need to declare an interest.

5. Locum Coverage
A locum is by definition a temporary stand in role
5.1 Our current locum is excellent, but when will a permanent setup be provided?
5.2 How is cover arranged for leave - do we as a Town Council ensure that at least one of Town Clerk, Deputy Clerk, and Locum Clerk can deal with urgent matters each normal working day?

Answer: There is a staffing review underway and a permanent setup will come as an outcome from that. It is normal for at least one of the qualified clerks to be available on a working day. However, unprecedented staff changes mean that we have new staff who's prior leave plans must be respected so we have had gaps. It was stated that the clerk has always been available remotely, and that she has been contacted while on leave.

6. Allotments
I note an audit being undertaken.
6.1 What are the parameters for the audit?
6.2 Are we gathering information from allotment holder and those who want to inform the audit?
6.3 When will outcomes be addressed?

Answer: The numbers, type and use will be audited. Our officer interfaces with the allotment holders to address issues.

7. KGV Park
7.1 When will the inner gate to the dog park be moved to open onto the hard surface? (3)
7.2 When will the derelict maintenance shed be removed? (4)

Answer: The gate will be moved in late November or early December 2023, the exact dates being weather dependent. The maintenance shed will be removed during November.

That's almost a week ago. Of course, a lot can be answered in a week. I have heard back from the head of operations, quoting my email, as follows:
(1) A structural survey report has been received and added as an agenda supplement
(2) Quotes have now been received and will be at council as an agenda supplement
(3) "At the end of November"
(4) I have been given a schedule and it's very soon.

These questions are following up things I have been asked. If you are one of the people asking, please watch for my follow ups, or come along / watch tonight

Published Monday, 30th October 2023

People like us - Unite to Survive

Yesterday, I went into Bath to the "Unite to Survive" event which was organised by Extinction Rebellion in support of the aim of bringing the environment to greater attention and looking to get that attention joined up to help get more effective action to deal with problems which are now commonly accepted and which some are suggesting are so bad that we may have gone past a point of no return.

I was heartened to see Victoria Park buzzing with stalls and people - some exotic but many just like you and I who are sufficiently concerned to have gone along and be seen supportive of the need to raise profile, and to take away that support and actively act on it away from the couple of hours in the part. I was hearted to see positive, polite and thinking interaction all around, and that included between the organising co-ordinators and the police. But not everything was so positive.

The groups at the event are so disparate - each with their own view of how things should be done, and without being linked it's hard to see how they can produce a notable effect; the theme of the day acknowledged this as "unite to survive" and appreciating that there is an issue to be addressed is the first step towards solving it.

I looked around at the stalls and with some found it difficult to work out their message and even who they were; chatting with people resolved that to some extent, but the focus and promotion left a great deal to be desired, the enthusiasm for the cause draining away through holes in the delivery. That may not be as bad as these written words make out; you have to try things and only some of them succeed, and if a stall brought even 1% of people who passed by into active association with the group concerned, it's a positive impact.

Individual action is unlikely to make an impact on the climate - governments need to co-ordinate and be committed. It was good to see booths promoting Green Party approaches and Labour Party approaches - though from a Bath and Wiltshire viewpoint I would like to have seen people telling us what the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are doing and advocating. Current thinking in some of the circles I listen to is that our current government and mainstream politicians are set on winning elections and that their policies to do so are far from what's needed in the longer term - some are actually discouraging environmental care at the present time, with no signs of change once elected.

There is strength in numbers. 1 + 1 = much more that 2. I would probably not have gone on my own yesterday. With a colleague from the Environment and Climate Working Group, I went. His presence gave me the impetus and courage to go, and his company gave me a voice to discuss things with through the day; it helped us both make the best of the day, and rationalise what we were learning.

In this text, I criticise groups for not being joined up and I could do the same for ours here in Melksham. So let me invite you along this Tuesday to the informal meeting of the Environnment and Climate Working Group at 18:00 here at 48, Spa Road. And I comment above about the strength of the support of being with and thinking with others. We are all concerned friends here - even if you come alone, you will not be left feeling alone.

Published Sunday, 29th October 2023

Environment Working Group - MTC

Our natural environment is key to life, and the way we look after our planet (or have been failing to) has moved - belatedly - to being of general interest and accepted as a priority by many. Of 9 environmental measures of the health of our planet, only three are in the "green" zone. The other six are at, or beyond, what is sustainable.

The previous Melksham Town Council created an environment working group (in 2019), with a great mandate and aspirations. Your new Council, elected in 2021, carried on the group; I was and remain a member. But, sadly, motivation seemed lacking and while the group did do a few things, they were tantalisingly few and several councillors including the group chair and a number of community specialists / experts left. I can understand their frustration. But the environment is too important for us to give up on it. The group has had a rebirth and is intended to be much more effective in what it can achieve. I see a massive enthusiasm and I call for more people to join us.

* We are now meeting formally every 3 weeks - at 18:00 on Tuesdays, for one hour before the Economic Development Committee of the Town Council. In addition, we meet informally on most other Tuesdays (same time, different location) from 18:00, without town council support staff.

* Where there was just a handful of people left around the table six months ago, we now have a much healthier number, and next Monday we will be asking full council to let us formally enrol several of our new community members who are committed to be a regular part of the group.

* We will also be asked to change our reporting structure so that we report direct to full council, but we will have one designated councillor on each committee so that matters relating to the environment are considered at all stages, but do not delay Council process as they get referred around the system between committees that meet just every 3 months.

* We are able to invite guests to our meetings (though they are not public meetings) and will be setting up a mailing list of associates who are very much our supporters but cannot make a commitment to come along to most meetings. These associated will be very welcome at meetings - just please let the us know ahead of time.

Plans ahead ...

* Urgent - an update on planting from the Town Council, delayed from the last opportunity until this November. Planting needs to be seasonally done to give new trees and other permanent shrubs the best opportunity of "taking" and still being there in 2025 and beyond.

* October 30th - Full Council changes as above. And encourage other councillors (including those who left the old group feeling it ineffective) to rejoin. We are much stronger and more effective now.

* Then - Review our terms of reference and get those ratified at a subsequent full council meeting. Current terms (here).

* Review our master plan spreadsheet - the Environment is such a massive topic that we need to maintain our overall direction.

Both of these two things are well underway (terms of ref and master plan)

* In the New Year, start working towards ClimateFest 2024. This is one element in our informing of the community of environmental issues and should be seen as a part of what we're doing and not as a means to an end in itself.

There is so much else on the plan too - this post is no more than an update, a statement of direction, an an encouragement to my fellow councillors and others who would like to be part of our inner weekly group to get in touch.

Image - It's not just about warmer temperatures - it's also about extreme weather and the damage it causes and natural resources such as water. Ironic picture showing too much water at the wrongs place and time. And how that can damage infrastucture.

Published Thursday, 26th October 2023

Who do I contacts about ...

Who is my local councillor? Which Council do I need to contact?

Please note that for day to day issues, you should contact the appropriate council directly. For Wiltshire Council issues, you are encouraged to report cases via and for the Town Council, email

* - Wiltshire Councillor
+ - Town Councillor
*+ - serves on both councils

Melksham Forest Ward (Melksham Forest and south to Clacker's Brook and Lowborne)
*+ Jack Oatley
+ Pat Aves
+ Claire Forgacs
+ Sue Mortimer
+ Tom Price

Melksham North Ward (Melksham to the North West of the River Avon)
*+ Phil Alford
+ Saffi Rabey

Melksham South Ward (Most of the Town center south to Western Way)
*+ Jon Hubbard
+ Jacqui Crundell
+ Graham Ellis
+ Colin Goodhind

Melksham East Ward (East from roads off Snowberry Lane and Blackmore Road)
* Mike Sankey
+ Gary Cooke
+ Simon Crundell
+ Charlie Stokes
+ Jennie Westbrook

If you get the wrong councillor, don't worry - most of us will happily redirect you; within the town councillors, most of us have our own areas of interest and we know one another to help by passing things on.

Published Wednesday, 25th October 2023

Public Transport - Melksham - October 2023

Public transport and some connections from MELKSHAM. October 2023.

Numbers on map show journey time between towns

BOA - Bradford-on-Avon
BRI - To Bristol, Weston and South Wales
BTH - Bath
CAL - Calne
CPM - Chippenham
CSM - Corsham
DVZ - Devizes

LON - Reading and London
MAL - Malmesbury
MKM - Melksham
NBY - To Newbury via Pewsey
RWB - Royal Wootton Bassett
SAL - To Salisbury and Southampton

SWI - Swindon
TRO - Trowbridge
WEST - To Taunton and the West
WEY - To Frome and Weymouth
WMN - Warminster
WSB - Westbury

In Black - train services. Dashed lines - less that hourly.

Westbury - Trowbridge - MELKSHAM - Chippenham - Swindon - every 2 hours
(Bristol) - Bath - Chippenham - Swindon - (London) - 2 times an hour
(Bristol) - Bath - Trowbridge - Westbury - Warminster - (Salisbury) - hourly
Local (Bristol) - Bath - Trowbridge - Westbury - 2 times an hour
(West Country) - Westbury - (Newbury) - London - every 2 hours
Westbury - (Weymouth) - every 2 hours
Operated by Great Western Railway - (link)

In Purple - bus services at least hourly

Bath - MELKSHAM - Bowerhill (via Bathford and Whitley) - service 271
Bath - MELKSHAM - Bowerhill - Devizes (via Box and Shaw) - service 272
Service 273 replaces 271 and 272, evenings and Sunday
Chippenham - MELKSHAM - Trowbridge - (Frome) - service x34
Bath - Corsham - Chippenham - service x31
Operated by Faresaver - (link)

Chippenham - Calne - Royal Wootton Bassett - Swindon - service 55
Trowbridge - Devizes - Swindon - service 49
Operated by Stagecoach - (link)

Bath - Bradford-on-Avon - Trowbridge - Westbury - Warminster - service D1
Operated by First Bus - (link)

Chippenham - Malmesbury - Swindon - Service 99
Operated by Coachstyle - (link)

Devizes - Lavington - (Salisbury) - Service 2
Operated by Salisbury Reds - (link)

MELKSHAM Town - Services 14 and 15
Operated by Frome Bus - (link)

In Green - bus services at least 4 times a day
Corsham - MELKSHAM - Bradford-on-Avon (via Holt) - service 69
Devizes - Bromham - Chippenham - service 33
Devizes - Erlestoke - Westbury - service 87
Operated by Faresaver - (link)

Not Shown - Services just once a day
Trowbridge - MELKSHAM - Swindon - London - service 401
Operated by National Express - (link)

Marlborough - Calne - MELKSHAM - Bath - Royal United Hospital - service x76
Operated by Swindon's Bus Company - (link)

Not Shown - Tuesdays only

Seend - Sells Green - Bromham - MELKSHAM - service SB2
Operated by Seend Shuttle - (link)


For TRAINS from Melksham - there is a ticket machine at the station, but if that doesn't sell what you need or you can't work it out, ask the train manager. For long distance journeys, please book ahead or ask.

For BUSES from Melksham, pay on the bus. At present, it's just £2 a journey

For the COACH to London, book ahead on the web site.

Published Sunday, 22nd October 2023

Seeking comment on the JMNPII Framework itself

The draft Neighbourhood Plan was published and opened for public comment at the start of last week. It's a monumental piece of work, with a huge amount of input and consultation already gone into it. There's a log of all that consultation at (here) and - beware - it's many pages long.

The request for public comment is a request for comment on the plan. The plan's home page says "Give us your comments on the draft updated Plan ... by midnight on Sunday 3rd December" and it's exactly that - the listening and the hard work interpreting all the various inputs and coming up with a practical, effective and legal output has been done and you are now being asked "Have we got this right??" ... and if there are things that are not right, please tell us - this is a community plan.

To be effective, the Neighbourhood Plan needs to allocate places where new houses can be built, but at the same time not be so prescriptive that it makes it impractical for us to grow for the future in the way that it has been decreed from above that we must. Failure to be effective in this way leaves us with a situation where developers can only guess where to put housing, and it will be built in a less planned manner and without the associated infrastructure that's needed. Good develops will work well with plan, comfortable in the knowledge that it's what the community wants (or feels is the last worst way of meeting central government demands)

The neighbourhood plan steering group (where I am vice chair) reached a decision to follow a "Brown Fields First" policy in providing the extra housing we need to allocate in the greater Melksham (Melksham Without and Melksham Town) areas. There are many reasons for such a policy including:
* Future sustainability
* Keeping out town lively rather that having derelict sites around
* Providing a life style closer to the existing facilities
* Saving green space for agriculture, carbon footprint and biodiversity reasons
* Helping to clean up some of the life-expired elements
* Popular (or less unpopoular than alternatives) with the community.

The work we have done has gone on over years, but the Cooper Tires site has only recently become available for inclusion. Indeed - it is so recent that it missed out on the Wiltshire Local Plan that was published in July, and it has left the neighbourhood plan with a big decision and a golden opportunity (though not without risks) in our midst. And we have concluded that this is a nettle the neighbourhood plan should grasp.

If you read the advert, the land being sold by Cooper Tires would, they reckon, support around 620 residential units, as well as 85,000 square feet of commercial space (the equivalent floor area of another 90 or so 3 bedroom UK homes). The neighbourhood plan team has specified it encourages at least 150 homes there, and of the sorts indicated by the needs assessments. It does not (nor is it the neighbourhood plan's role) give tight details - it is the plans role to set a framework for others to make their suggestions, backed up by finance and business case, to work out what's to be done and take it through usual planning and build channels, but able to be secure in the knowledge that they have the support of the plan. That also applies to the Library site, and the 2 sites at Whitley, which are also proposed for housing.

It is wonderful to see all the interest here and elsewhere. For Cooper Tires, Old Library, Middle Farm and Whitley Farm, the neighbourhood plan provides a guiding framework and it's out of scope for it to be prescriptive. Never the less, inputs here, to consultations (which are then published) and on social media will be more that welcomed by the people who chose to take on the work of helping us move from outline thoughts on paper to communities it which people live, relax, work, and thrive.

Click on the image or (here) to jump to the plan and consultation

Published Saturday, 21st October 2023

Thank you for voting Graham Ellis onto Melksham Town Council

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