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Graham Ellis - Regular updates - my diary

Links in this page:
THANK YOU - Christmas light event
Travelling home before Christmas
Welcome to December 2023
I am still free to speak
Assembly Hall - Friends' offer of support
By-election, South Ward
Will Town Council staff be allowed to share in future?
Council Agenda - what may interest YOU
Rail service - meeting with GWR
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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.

CONSULTATION - Walking and Cycling routes in Melksham

Here's a consultation that's taken me by surprise on walking and cycling routes in Melksham (and Calne) and we only have three weeks left to respond (by 22nd December). I'm amazed at how surprised I am ... and that it doesn't seem to line up with the neighourhood plan (where I am deputy chair) nor the local plan - maps showing "Melksham Develoment sites" including area that are ruled out of both plans. Some interesting routes included which I would NOT, and some sad ommissions - which (I suppose) is the purpose of a consultation.

I quote from the consulaltion at

Melksham Proposals

We have drafted new, aspirational walking and cycling route maps for Melksham.

We’d like your comments on whether the routes we are suggesting are the right ones, or if not, what needs to change and why.

Please leave your comments on the interactive map that can be found on the home page, or alternatively you can request a paper copy by contacting:

Below are the plans available for you to view in more detail. We have completed an initial prioritisation of routes which will be developed first. Once developed, the remaining routes will be developed. Priority routes can be identified by the orange route lines, whilst the secondary routes can be identified by the blue route lines.

I asked for this to come before the Economic Developement and Planning Committee tomorrow night, and it WILL do so - however it strikes me that the associated inforation base and public visibility is sadly missing.

Published Monday, 4th December 2023

THANK YOU - Christmas light event

It was wonderful to see the light switch on and fireworks Melksham last night, enjoy the entertainment by local groups, take in the atmosphere of the fair and the smell of fairground food and to see the bustling stalls both inside the Assembly Hall and out. There are many pictures online already that are far better than mine, so I'm going to share just a couple of those and more of the team behind the event and – wow - what a team!

Almost all of the Town Council's staff were there - not just on duty on the day, but throwing themselves into the preparations way ahead (and probably still doing the tidy up today - Sunday - as I write). Make no mistake - we had an excellent team last year, but we've also got an excellent events and amenities team this year too. THANK YOU to them.

Volunteers and contractors played a massive part in the event too - the lights are fantastic ;-), the fireworks were a spectacle and the security team did a great job. Others I would describe as "general helpers" on the day included experiences old friends and enthusiastic newcomers without whom we might have struggled. And then Santa and his elves were able to make it and see so many of the Children, to their delight. THANK YOU to them.

Your Town Councillors are volunteers too (I am one of them) and it was good to see the majority of them there - either helping (in some cases all day) or in a more relaxed environment with friends and family. Thanks to all of my colleagues who were there in any capacity with especial thanks to those (you know who you are) who were there when I arrived and were still there when I left.

The fun, food and fairground attraction and the fair stalls make so much of this event, as do the entertainers. From music to Morris dancing to Mac and Cheese, from Burgers to Candy floss to hook a duck and trampolines. Thank you to all the providers - whether you were doing in as a pleasurable voluntary service or commercially.

The Town Council is in no doubt that holding events such as the Remembrance Parade and the Christmas Lights cause some disruption to the Town Centre - to residents, to businesses, to visitors who want to drive through or park, and to bus users looking to go about their normal journeys. A big thank you to all of those people who's routine was disturbed, including those of you I met at the Town Centre bus stops and redirected to the alternative stops. I don't think anyone will have missed the bus.

And finally - a big thank you to YOU - the residents of Melksham Town, of the surrounding areas, and visitors from far afield who came along. It's use presence, and clear enjoyment, that makes these evens so worthwhile!

Published Sunday, 3rd December 2023

Travelling home before Christmas

If you're out partying in the evening (or just having a quiet social with friends), remember the late night public transport back to Melksham

Monday to Friday:
Train from Trowbridge at 21:22
Train from London (Paddington) change Swindon at 21:31
Train from Bristol (change Chippenham) at 22:00
Bus from Devizes at 22:10
Train from Swindon at 22:30 (earlier service at 20:13)
Train from Chippenham at 22:45 (earlier service at 20:29)
Bus from Bath at 23:15 (earlier service at 21:05)

On Saturday:
Train from London (Paddington) change Chippenham at 20:00
Train from Trowbridge at 20:15
Train from Swindon at 21:10
Train from Chippenham at 21:25
Bus from Bath at 23:15 (earlier service at 21:05)
Bus from Devizes at 00:25 (earlier service at 22:10)

On Sunday, the last bus services are much early evening:
Bus from Bath at 19:10
Bus from Devizes at 19:12 (does NOT pick up at intermediate stops)
Train from Trowbridge at 20:44
Train from Swindon at 21:34
Train from Chippenham at 21:49

Our local trains and buses run until 24th December as usual; London Padddington is, however closed after 23rd December (slower alternatives available). No public transport in this area on 25th or 26th - it restarts on 27th with Paddington re-opening on 28th.

Published Saturday, 2nd December 2023

Welcome to December 2023

Tomorrow, Santa is in town, and the Christmas lights will be switched on. The Christmas Market will be open from 2 p.m. in the Assembly Hall, there will we all sorts of things going on in the Market Place, and at 6 p.m. the lights will be switched on by the mayor. You'll find half a dozen of your Town Councillors out and about helping during the day, and almost all of the Town Council staff too - all arranged into rotas by our events and communications team.

With the Town Centre closed to vehicular traffic from midday to 8 p.m., buses will be diverted and I'll be found for most of the afternoon at the (out of use) bus stops redirecting people to ...
* Bud's for the Bowerhill and Devizes service
* The Fire Station for Trowbridge and Frome services
* The Bear for services to Bath
* Old Broughton Road for services to Chippenham, Corsham, and Bradford-on-Avon
... and I'm hoping that all the signage and pre-publicity will have made my job easier. I'll be around the wider area in the morning putting up signs on other bus stops to alert people there to changes.

Please stop by the bus stop and say "Hi" on Saturday. Pick up new Assembly Hall leaflets for January to March 2024 which will first appear at the event, and also pick up new train timetables which will be valid from next weekend until 2nd June 2024. I will not be spending every minute re-directing people, so please feel free to talk about the Assembly Hall, the Dog Park, other Public Transport Issues, the town's notice boards, clearance of leaves, the Neighbourhood Plan or other topics.

Published Friday, 1st December 2023

I am still free to speak

The most enormous sigh of relief last night when the full Town Council refused to adopt the proposed "Social Media" policy which as written was a travesty of freedom of speech. If adopted and enforced (and I have legal questions as to whether it would have been enforceable) it could have spelled the end of my blog ...I wonder if that was the intent?

An almost identical proposal had been brought to council in July, but timed out when the meeting had overrun. The following month, I had documented my concerns to the Town Clerk and spend considerable time in the Town Hall explaining my issues. I was livid that the proposal had come back with only 2 changes ("Twitter" to "X" and an extra sentence saying that concerns expressed in public on social media would be answered by private message rather than in public) and not even the courtesy of an explanation of why my concerns were rejected.

The vote to reject the proposal was unnanimous, with a group of three of us councillors who actually have experience of this sort of thing getting together to make proper suggestions for a social media policy, rather than a media suppression policy which was what we being asked to adopt without discussion. My comments on the original are ((here)) but I suspect we should start afresh.

* I am delighted that a motion requiring video recordings of public meetings to remain available for at least 18 months was passed. Legally, meeting minutes become the definitive record once approved - however it is useful to be able to look back and see in detail what was said as projects move on. It is very common for councils to leave recordings on line, and indeed it's only recently that Melksham's had been deleted once approved.

* My apologies to members of the Environment and Climate Working Group who I did less than justice to last night - I was so concerned at the threat to our local democracy that it rather took me over the last week.

* Last night, an emergency motion was proposed and passed to remove the dog agility equipment from the park pending resolution of safety issues. The Town Council is also investigating how we got into this situation. I have made little comment during this saga - plenty of other people have done so, and I had no new ground to add on a facility looked after by a working group I do not sit on, in a different ward to to the one I represent. Please be assured I would have spoken if I'd had anything useful to add.

* The staff team at the meeting last night was less than able to address questions on various questions such as the two mentioned above. Neither the Town Clerk nor the Locum were present, and we did not have a deputy Town Clerk at the moment. I find this an unsatisfactory state of affairs, and note that the staffing committee meets tonight.

Published Tuesday, 28th November 2023

Assembly Hall - Friends' offer of support

Those of you who were at the Quiz Night at the Assembly Hall last Thursday will know that one of our deputy Hall Managers, Kevin Farrow, is moving away from the area and will be leaving us in 2 weeks. Kevin has been one of the keys to the operation and support of the Assembly Hall since I became a councillor some two years ago, and will be sorely missed. I would like to thank Kevin for all the hard work he has done, and wish him well in his new location.

We have some excellent staff - but we (as a Town Council) no longer have the multiple dedicated (to the role) team members we need to run the Assembly Hall every day. Kevin's departure will leave significant operational gaps in an already-stretched schedule, and holes in who's doing a number of the jobs behind the scenes that he has been undertaking, some of which have a significant influence on the future. Bearing these concerns and the longer term view in mind, key members of the Friends of Melksham Assembly Hall met last week, and this morning I have sent the following positive email to the Town Clerk and Head of Operations offering practical support to them and the team in the short, medium and long term.

The December QUIZ NIGHT takes place on Thursday, 14th December and I look forward to seeing lots of teams there with unpronounceable or innovative or festive names. If you are NOT part of a team, come along anyways - we make up scratch teams along the way, and it's often these teams with a mixture of interests that do the best. Hall and bar open from 18:30, quiz starts 19:30.

Dear Linda and Hugh,

Key active members of the Friends of Melksham Assembly Hall met last week to consider short, medium and long term issues and support for the Assembly Hall and adjoining properties. I am charged by the group to offer you our ongoing support, including significant skilled volunteer help, through and beyond changes. The Friends have a wide variety of experience which many of us are committed to bringing to bear for the future of public provision in Melksham.

1. We understand that one of our deputy hall managers (Kevin) is leaving in the coming weeks, and that for the time being we will be short of dedicated staff to open, close and run the physical hall on a day to day basis. The Friends would like to offer volunteer support to you and the wider team to help overcome the gap Kevin's departure will leave; there is a great deal of knowledge with Kevin and whilst Bruce and others who help are aware of a great deal, they cannot easily provide the availability to staff the hall on a daily basis.

2. We are also offering to help address maintaining future bookings and publicity. Whilst the Assembly Hall has a variety of events booked over coming months, there is a need to continue to encourage bookings by both those running things in the hall, and those attending, for the provision to continue as the currently booked events and attendees come and pass.

3. The direction of the Assembly Hall, and how the provision is improved for the future with the potential extension of the Blue Pool, is very much something we need to focus on too. Needs surveys for the Assembly Hall and Cluster 1, and other requests asking people to come forward and tell us what they want and would use, have informed us well and it's now the time to move on and actually develop ideas as to how we can practically best meet the needs, then go ahead and do so. This is a major project beyond the staffing resources we currently have in place, and The Friends offer both our support and our members expertise in helping you ensure that an excellent team is in place and assisted as we move forward.

4. Finally, we are minded of the longer term future of the hall and provision for Melksham with a similar time frame to that of the neighbourhood plan. That includes operational, structural and financial elements of a business model which need strategic consideration. Once again, we have members of the friends who offer help and indeed may take key roles over the coming decade. We note and learn from other models and experienced in Frome, Salisbury, Trowbridge and Devizes, for example.

Linda and Hugh, the short term offer is very much to keep The Hall rolling into 2024, with reliable volunteers able to step up to tasks short term. Please call on us for that. Then there is very much a need for the booking, marketing and management to be done by someone who has the time, the motivation, and the skill to do so. Please do make use of these offers to help over coming weeks and months.

for Paul, Geoff, Terri, Howard, Clive, Pat and myself who were at last week's meeting, representing the much wider team of Friends of Melksham Assembly Hall

Graham Ellis

Melksham Town Council, South Ward
Blog at
Email policy statement at
Facebook at
I only visit other social media occasionally.

Email: or
Phone: 01225 708225 / 0797 4 925 928
Home: 48 Spa Road, Melksham, SN12 7NY

Published Monday, 27th November 2023

By-election, South Ward

There will probably be a by-election in the South Ward in the next couple of months. Following Colin Goodhind's resignation from Melksham Town Council, the returning officer for Wiltshire asked residents if we wanted an election and the requisite 10 people signed up to say they did - so that means that the council will NOT be co-opting to fill the post for the remaining term until May 2025.

Very soon, there will be calls for nominations. If just one is received, that person will be elected unopposed. If multiple are received, there will be an election, with voters in the South Ward choosing a new councillor to sit alongside Jacqui Crundell, Jon Hubbard and myself. I look forward to working with the new councillor, whoever he or she might be.

I know of one good candidate already, but I'm waiting to see who else is standing before offering any comment on voting - I'm hoping for multiple good candidates so that I can choose the one I consider best. I am minded that we are voting for a local representative not a regional or national one, and will be making my personal selection based on the individuals local profile rather than the colour of any rosette he or she is wearing.

Published Sunday, 26th November 2023

Will Town Council staff be allowed to share in future?

This FUEL information brought to via the Town Council yesterday may be one of the last pieces of public service information the Town Council shares is the new social media policy is adopted on Monday. A social media policy makes sense, but the one proposed is ill considered. I have been attempting to understand some elements of the proposal and to draw my concerns to the attention of the Town Clerk, but having failed to learn over a number of months, so I have sent the following email and will be speaking against implementing the policy as written. Having been critical of how we've got to where we are, I'm very much looking forward to an opportunity we would have with the right social media policy.

Dear Simon,

Our Town Council needs modern public communication guidelines for the social media and electronic age. A proposal was put forward for a Social Media and Electronic Communication Policy on pages 147 to 150 of the full council agenda published on 10th July 2023. But we did not have time to consider the motion.

Understanding it would come back at a later date, I raised issues of major concern with the clerk, documenting those issues and meeting with her in August to explain and help to improve the proposal. I have asked about the policy progress and how we are moderating social media since, but have not received satisfactory answers or follow up to the August discussions. The policy has, however, returned on the agenda published in the last few days for us to consider on Monday evening. There have been three minor changes made since July (helpfully highlighted) but my main concerns have not been addressed by any changes, nor do I have any explanation behind the clerk's decision to not make updates based on my inputs; she may have good reason, but I would have appreciate being filled in. No answer though from the clerk or locum this week just gone when I raised my concern at the return to the agenda without issues being addressed.

So where are we now?

In July we were asked "To review and adopt a Social Media and Electronic Communication Policy".

In November, we are asked "To adopt a Social Media Policy", now without review.

It is so important we get this right, and I do not believe that the proposed policy does so. That view comes from considerable and current experience. But yet we are in desperate need of a set of published guidelines so that everyone knows where we stand. It is also important that we have a policy that the staff who implement it on a day by day basis, who have considerable social media experience, are happy with. My understanding, though, is that they have not been consulted.


A friendly amendment - that we review (and don't just adopt without review) a set of social media guidelines to be adopted after the staff who will be implementing them have had the opportunity to review their practicality and we update them as we agree.

That in the meantime we look to follow the draft guidelines as a framework. Staff, though, to be aware of issues such as:

1. They should not post material which they know to be incorrect (surely they would not anyway, but this would be a good re-assurance to the public and is not covered by the draft policy)

2. They MAY post material where we are allowed to do so under its copyright, even if we do not own the copyright (the proposal talk of us owning the copyright, and we do not OWN the copyright of anything we share; that rules out many posts in the future)

3. Subject to the necessity to remove or update for overriding reasons (many listed in the proposals), information should not be deleted or materially altered in our social media feed, though it should be made clear where something is no longer current.

Simon, we have a real opportunity to use our social media to help us build positive public links. But by putting the policy as written into place, we risk leaving the public wondering why we are not openly sharing, and we risk imposing rules on our staff that prevent them doing their jobs in a way in which they are motivated.

Graham Ellis

Melksham Town Council, South Ward
Blog at
Email policy statement at
Facebook at
I only visit other social media occasionally.

Email: or
Phone: 01225 708225 / 0797 4 925 928
Home: 48 Spa Road, Melksham, SN12 7NY

Footnote - the Town Councils does not own copyright on ...
* Wiltshire Council reports, road closure maps, etc
* Publicity picture supplied to support Assembly Hall events
* Police and other reports that go into agenda packs
* Post / pictures from FUEL, ActivTrowbridge, etc

Further background

My detailed concerns as of 16th August with updates on 21st
at /lib/smec_mtc_notes_2.pdf

Correspondence from Town Clerk (copied to all councillor) explaining deletions of our comments from Facebook
at lib/bgz.pdf

Published Saturday, 25th November 2023

Council Agenda - what may interest YOU

The 82 page agenda pack for next Monday's full council was published yesterday. I have not yet had a chance to fully digest it, but it includes the following line items that may be of general interest - my filtering out of headlines - pack as a whole can be downloaded ((here))

k 7 Virements Requested by Head of Operations
k 8 Budget 2024/2025
* 9 Biodiversity Policy
k 10 East Melksham Community Hall
* 11 Blue Pool/Assembly Hall
k 12 Splashpad
* 13.1 Motion on Social Media Policy
* 13.2 Social Media Policy
u 14.3 Staffing Committee
k 15.2 Recommendation of Environment & Climate Working Group
k 15.3 Terms of Reference
? 17 Melksham Community Support (MCS) Service Project
? 18 Operation Awake
k 19 Melksham Carnival
+ 20 Appointment of a Representative to Wilts & Berks Canal Trust

+ - Know about this; likely to be me
? - What is this
k - I know roughly what's going on / am informed
u - unable to comment; too much information withheld
* - I feel under-informed even though I may have been involved - QUESTIONS!

Not on the agenda - members of the public may wish to ask questions and / or they may have recently been covered in other committees and / or may come up in the mayor's announcements
* By-election in South Ward
* Dog park / agility equipment.
* Assembly Hall staffing, and general staffing update
* Christmas lights / event day
* Neighbourhood Plan
* LCWIP Consultation

Published Wednesday, 22nd November 2023

Rail service - meeting with GWR

Meeting at GWR / Tuesday 21st November 2023 ... things do not move quickly on the railways (some trains excepted) so please read this as a status report rather than something to be followed up with answers to everything by Christmas. BUT some things do get updated and it's a miracle to look back and see how much has changed in the last decade, and look forward to the next decade.

My objectives / personal notes (though nothing confidential in here)

a) To learn and be informed with the intent of being supportive of passengers (and that means being supportive of GWR into the future

b) To help inform GWR of local feedback including issues and opportunities in such a way that I / we explain confirm practical strategic and practical tactical ways forward

c) To ensure a continuing good working relationship such that we are able to raise issues in either "direction" into the future, making effective use of each other's strengths and resources when we do do.

Issues on my agenda include
* Car Park at Melksham Station, and buses and hub cafe and support.
* Reliability Issues (and how to flag up information on them to minimise damage)
* Connections at Trowbridge and Chippenham - suggestions made
* Who is in charge and what are TransWilts plans?
* Ticketing future across West Wilts
* Avoncliff - evening gap
* Dilton Marsh - compulsory stop or Lochluichart solution?
* Train and track capacity, electrification, rolling stock futures
* CPM - MKM - WEY connections - also AVF - WEY
* Learning - who's who (line and station and NR managers)
* Note 28th. Speaker(s) for 29th confirmation; 8th December confirmation.
* Positive / "Thank you" to ensure GWR are aware of typically excellent operational staff, and acknowledgement of so, so much that DOES work.

Published Monday, 20th November 2023

Thank you for voting Graham Ellis onto Melksham Town Council

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