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Graham Ellis - Regular updates - my diary

Links in this page:
Enough to pedestrianise?
More Ward metrics
Ward metrics - digging in the census
Facebook Group - Melksham South Ward
Car Parking at Melksham Campus from 8.1.24
Ideas for 2023 awards
Looking ahead to 2024
Who's who into 2024, Melksham Town Council
Car parking consultation - my response
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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.

Learning while travelling

When I travel, I often find myself thinking "would this work in Melksham?". Rarely could things just be transplanted, but there is often food for thought. There are also many ideas which are "great but we are too late"

How about an umbrella of solar panels above car parking spaces - dual use of space for parking and for generation of electricity to charge those cars, or for other purposes. Will also provide shelter in the rain, and could be used for water collection too - as seen at Reggio de Calabria.

Rubbish - or not quite rubbish. Sorted recycling in public - as seen in Madiera

Some simple obstacles in the park to entertain your dog - as seen on Gran Canaria.

Roads with lanes for cars, for cyclists, and for pedestrians - as seen on Lanzarote

A cannon - not so much for defence these days, but in memory of times gone. We used to have one of these in Melksham, but it got dumped in the river during a protest.

Turn off your engine while waiting in a traffic jam - as seen in Gibraltar

A tour bus to show people around the area - as seen in Lisbon

Hydroelectric on the river - as seen at Leon

Railway line improvements including a double track - as seen near Oviedo

Electric trains - as seen at Aviles

Published Wednesday, 10th January 2024

Enough to pedestrianise?

The utter quiet of Spa Road yesterday and today is lovely. Road works have turned a dull background sound of constant through traffic into something much more pleasant. And so often I walk through the Town Centre, I love almost everything is there except the traffic so often queueing from one end to the other. Heavy vehicles are already "access only" in the High Street. Should we take that further and make the Town Centre Access Only, or limit it to public transport, or indeed pedestrianise it?

We have a wide range of facilities and places people want to go in Melksham - and I'm looking purely at the South Ward here:

Public Buildings and facilities to visit
Melksham Campus / Library, Swimming Pool, Gym, etc
Post Office
Tourist Information Centre
Melksham Larder
Town Hall
Assembly Hall
Friends Garden
Rachel Fowler Centre
Masonic Hall
Conservative Club
Melksham Hospital

Pubs and drinking places
Hiding Place
Parsons Nose
Market Tavern
Kings Arms
The Grapes
The Bear
West End

Cafes and snack bars
Costa Coffee
(in Campus Cafe)

Restaurants and Takeaways
Golden Falls
Kings Gourmet
Charcoal Grill
Melksham Tandoori
Peking Chef
Davana Thai
Chop Suey House

Religious Buildings
St Michael and all angels Church
United Reform Church
Good News Church
Queensway Chapel and Hall
St Anthony of Padua Church

So that's ...
Eleven Takeaways, some with restaurants
Seven pubs and drinking places
Six Religious community buildings
Four Cafes

... and there also ...
Five children's play parks
Three petrol stations
Three Supermarkets
Three Electric Car charging facilities
Three ATMs
Three gaming / gambling shops
Three opticians
Two paid Wiltshire Council car parks
Two Dentists
Two vets
One set of public toilets
One Doctors surgery
One Chiropractor
Not to forget general stores, estate agents, building societies, barbers, hair dressers, funeral directors, employment agents, chemists, tattoo parlours, nail bars, travel agents, youth centre, primary school and the list goes on.

14 bus stops, 9 roundabouts, 6 sets of traffic lights.

This isn't a total Melksham Town list, of course - there's a small proportion of the Town Centre in the Forest Ward too, and some just across the river in the North Ward (where you will also find the Railway Station).

Published Tuesday, 9th January 2024

More Ward metrics

Published Sunday, 7th January 2024

Ward metrics - digging in the census

One role of a parish council is for [him/her] to know his parish or ward, to represent the people, and to speak for the people. All wards are not alike - even within a small town such as Melksham. Theres's nothing like living and breathing in a ward for getting to know its metrics, but things like the census data don't half help! The Office of National Statistics website offers the ability to compare not only ward by ward, but also across the UK. What does it tell me about Melksham (South)?

We have an older population here. Less people than the national average right up to the age of 50, but from that age up we have more people. Look at how different we are to the neghbouring ward of Melksham East, which has lots of young people but fewer golden oldies. Drilling into the figures, 36.7% of us in Melksham South are aged 60 or over, but just 16.3% of you in Melksham East. The national average for England is 24.2%

We have more homes without their own private motor transport. It's 18.7% in Melksham South, but just 8.1% in Melksham East. The England averge is higher still - 23.5% but then you would express less vehicle ownership in the centres of big cities.

We have a lot more single person households - over a third at 34.7%, against just 22.4% in Melksham East. The national average is 30.1%, so the two wards are on opposite sides of the mid-line and need different provision.

Of course, there's no hard line between the various wards, and as a councillor I work very much for the town and area as a whole, but never the less I need to understand "my" people and ward and press - for example - for excellent public transport for those who don't have a car, and for a community that works with and looks after its own far more than in some of the other areas. There are perhaps less issues here with school and play area provision and I happily support the latter bing more in places like KGV.

• Please note that although the data for "Melksham South" is geographically accurate for the ward, there are some discrepancies on the other areas defined on the ONS database, not exactly aligning with the wards / parish. I don't think this makes a huge difference to the stats quoted. I have shown compatative data for all neighbouring wards except Melksham North, for which the stats take in a great deal of the next parish and I don't feel confident in a comparison.

• There are some 28 stats available on the ONS database; I will post other next week.

Published Thursday, 4th January 2024

Facebook Group - Melksham South Ward

The Melksham South Ward (Facebook) group is a new group for residents, businesses and visitors with a positive interest in the area of the South Ward of Melksham Town. You'll find the following below and I'll fill in more specific detail over coming days.
* Who can join the group and what you can post
* What area we cover
* What to do if you spot something wrong
* Who administers this group

Who can join the group and what you can post

• Anyone with a legal positive interest to the area specifically.
• Anything legal, decent, polite and honest specific to the interests of the area and within a reasonable posting level
• Please note that you are responsible for what you post, and for the consequence thereof.
• You are requested not to delete / edit / lock your contributions in such a way that they change meaning of the thread. Corrections should be marked as such.
• You are encouraged to post in English and where there is good reason to use a different language, you are asked to provide an English translation.

What area we cover

• The South Ward of Melksham Town Council, which is most of the Town Centre out to the bypass / Western Way
• Beyond the South Ward, you are welcome to overlap into neighbouring wards (of any parish) where appropriate

What to do if you spot something wrong

• Let the admin(s) know. The group is monitored, but you can help by flagging concerns as it's a manual process

Who set up this group and why

• Initially set up at the start of 2024 by Graham Ellis who you elected as an independent Town Councillor in May 2021.
• Set up to provide a forum for discussions of all the matters described above with the published guidelines.


• The group and content is visible in public, but to post or comment you need to be a member. The administrator(s) will look to do "admin light" but never the less will look to avoid spamming, flooding, aggressive posting and posting which is illegal in any way or encourages illegal activities.
• The administrator appreciates that mistakes can be made and guidelines accidentally overstepped, and first time issues will be handled gently. Repeated issues from an individual posted may result in stronger actions and sanctions from the administrator
• The decision of the admin team is final; this is a privately run group and there is no mandated freedom of speech.
• Where the admin expresses a personal view, that will be made clear; it must not be taken as an official view of the group, nor of any body on which the admin may serve, such as the Town Council.
• Please do not block any administrators; if we cannot communicate with you we are likely revoke your membership

Version 0.9 of 2.1.2024 - initial launch of the group

Initially, this group requires approval to join and to edit posts. That is to avoid us being quickly overrun with out-of-area posts and schemes - there are other placed on Facebook for those and I'm looking to keep this group clean to the Melsham Area

Businesses based or with offices / branches in the area or delivering locally are welcome to post - OCCASIONALLY. Let's say no more than once a month initially, but with an exception made for breaking news.

The next 3 weeks are likely to be politically very busy in the South Ward with a by-election coming up on 18th January. Posting is welcome, but please keep your posts positive and be accurate. Personal attacks are outside the group ethos, and will be removed.

I have been adminstering online public groups for a number of years; what follows here is a more detailed definition of the above.
You agree, through your use of this group, that you will not post any material which is false, defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, invasive of a person's privacy, adult material, or otherwise in violation of any law of England or bylaw or advocates the breaking of such. You also agree not to post any copyrighted material unless you own the copyright or you have consent from the owner of the copyrighted material. Spam, flooding, advertisements, chain letters, pyramid schemes, and solicitations are also forbidden.

Published Tuesday, 2nd January 2024

Car Parking at Melksham Campus from 8.1.24

Car Parking limits will be introduced at the Melksham Campus as from Monday 8th January 2024. - see (here). It's in "Customer Update" so I suspect the text will change)

The announcement says:

This will limit users to 3 hours parking between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday, and will help to increase the number of spaces available to campus users. Special arrangements will be in place to support any clubs, group bookings or events that may be affected by this. Please contact us directly at the campus if you require support with this.

The car park will continue to be monitored to ensure that it remains a facility for campus users, and we may look to bring in other changes in the future to ensure this remains the case. There are no plans to introduce any charges at this car park.

I am - relieved - that the restrictions do not apply in the evenings, even though the TRO (Traffic Regulation Order) which has been suggested, consulted on and taken allows then to be applied 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Campus Car Park (in my SCOB days) was planned to support town centre leisure activities around the site, including the Assembly Hall. I am aware that Wiltshire Council shunted the SCOB into a siding to rot away, then narrowed many visions including ones working with the other public bodies on the public facilities. No police hub, no doctor's surgery, no post office, no Citizens Advice, no seniors wellbeing or youth facilities aside from sport - all of which were on the table in SCOB days.

We are saved, in this decision, in having the absurdity of people attending evening events at the Assembly Hall - where they will typically be for just over 3 hurs - being unable to use Campus Parking and instead having to park at the Kings Street or Central Car Parks, both operated by Wiltshire Council, and both also free of charge in the evening. The decision on what is implemented is a sensible one, even if powers taken are somewhat more than needed.

As asides, I note that the "special arrangements" described do not list staff parking. I wonder if Wiltshire Council staff, and others working based at the camus as contractors or public servants will be considered special too ;-). I also wonder how parking across the whole site will work come the opening later this year of the special needs schooling at Melksham House which will draw its clients from a wide area and for whom public transport may not be viable.

Published Monday, 1st January 2024

Ideas for 2023 awards

There are many people in Melksham to celebrate. We have a great town, with lots of wonderful volunteers who give their time for free. And at the turn of the year, we look back at the year just gone and say "Thank you" to those people with not one but two sets of awards.

The Melksham News "person of the year" is described at ((here)) and ther are individual and group caterories. These days, the judging is by a panel rather than a popularity vote, so there's a real opportunity to thank an unsung hero. A short timescale for submissions - must be in by 8th January

The Town Council's "Melksham Civic Awards" are described ((here)) - community service, enhancing Melksham and acheivement awards, and unlike "Person of the year" there can be (usually are) multiple awards in each category - so this one is not a competition but a chance to say "Thank you". Although the text says "Made to any individual or organisation ..." that's qualified in the small print, so do have a careful read. Longer timescale for submissions - you have until 4th February.

I am going to mention some ideas.

* In 2023, we lost some excellent Town Councillors who - remember - are unpaid for all they did, and some excellent staff too, many of who went beyond the call of duty and are still very much around in some cases in new roles. Reading the rules of the Civic Awards, they clearly are worded to exclude current councillors and staff, so you could nominate previous holders of those roles. And nothing I see in the "Person of the year" category with the Melksham News excludes past or indeed current councillors or staff.

* Behind the scenes, but known to some potential nominators, a number of people worked really hard through 2023 on the Neigbourhood Plan - the volunteer members of the steering group and task groups, and the enormous work put in by some staff over and above the call of duty. A rich vein of people deserving of recogition, and I note that the Civic awards allow the nomination of councillors and staff with other public bodies.

* The Friends of Melksham Assembly Hall, and so many of the individuals there have done a great deal. No longer any permanent closure talk. Parkrun has gone from strength to strength. Melksham Free dining has blossomed. The first Shambles festival and it organiser did amazingly. The Larder ... The Food and River Festival ... or you could try nominating the Melksham News to the Town Council of the Town Council to the Melksham News!

Published Sunday, 31st December 2023

Looking ahead to 2024

I'm making plans, not resolutions, for 2024. "Plans" strike me as positive, whereas "resolutions" have a flavour of giving up things. For sure, some things will be given up, but the focus is on looking forward.

I'm writing this from on board "Iona" with just over 5300 other passengers - coming up The Channel and into Southampton tomorrow after a semi-break for Christmas; New Year at home. We've only been semi-away - news flows here via TV and Internet, so batteries recharged but yet no big restart needed.

This (December 2023) month we celebrated 10 years since the restart of a useable train service calling at Melksham, and it was wonderful to see so many old friends and colleagues - some of whom had jobs that put them at odds with our campaign and to see what we have achieved. But yet that task of supporting public transport is far from over and this celebration was much more a "checkpoint" and far, far from the end of anything. 2024 will bring more and not less activity that relates to public transport - there is work to be done; the current setups are a long way from perfect and it's just about the most hostile governmental environment for public transport - rail especially. Others have pulled out and there is a gap to be filled.

If it's 10 years since the trains started calling at Melksham during the day again, it's coming up to 18 years since the "First Great Western Passenger Forum" - the "Coffee Shop" where we chat through passenger and rail aspects was formed. I remain the host and webmaster, with a wonderful team of people as admins and moderators on this public website keeping it friendly, clean and on topic though being there with the people and not typically as web police. The forum has gained us a significant audience, including not only passengers but operators and decision makers - even "the man from the ministry". 2024 brings a "steady as she goes" approach though there are always updates and considerations which you'll see over coming months.

All the work done in running the "Coffee Shop" has trained me well in public interaction and social media interaction - something I am very comfortable with. It's set me in good stead for working wider. It's taught me that clear guidelines, and full, correct and easy-to-find answers and data and explanations. That's the opposite of a "need to know" philosophy which, rather sadly, I have found prevalent in Town Council work, where public enquiries seem to be treated as malicious attempts to find fault but then that is magnified when answers are incomplete and given to different questions than the one asked. 2024 brings an ongoing situation ... to be continued.

This year gone took us by ship from Southampton to Mexico and the USA, and now (as I write) to the Azores and the Canaries. Within the UK, leisure travel also took me around the Severn and Solent area during the summer. 2024 will bring Interail travel as in 2022, and we have a further trip (much shorter than the Transatlantic one) from Southampton. Many meetings will be attended remotely, but archaic laws and staff and operational issues all reduce what I can do for the Town Council on Zoom, and I will plan around vital meetings. That's not a problem - except when "emergency" extra meetings are called and - yes - I did put the word "emergency" in quotes because at times it's assumed that volunteer councillors will drop everything in their personal lives to make meetings planned at staff convenience. Let's see what the next year brings.

In 2022, one of my councillor colleagues asked if I would stand for mayor, but she moved on to support a different candidate in the 48 hours I had asked her for to consider it. In 2023, a different councillor asked me if I would stand, but the following conversation lead me to believe that he may just have been fishing to find my plans. At the annual doling out of committee places and chairs, I declined to take any chair. Public meetings are "lively" to put it mildly, and with my lack of directional hearing I am not a good candidate to chair such meetings. 2024 may bring the question again. But it already shows signs of being a year of aggressive campaigning for re-election. For the greater good of Melksham, there is a need for a strong mayor for the final year of this council with us all supporting him or her. Unless there was a massive change of character by certain of my colleagues in the council, bringing us all together for the common good, I am not the person for the role.

In 2023, we took the Melksham [Town Council] Environment and Climate [Working] Group forward by leaps and bounds. I am delighted and privileged to have been asked to chair it - it's friendly and effective with some marvellous people all looking at similar but enormous issues. We've taken to meeting every 3 weeks ahead of the Economic Development and Planning Committee (this connexion being that it's convenient and efficient for staffing). And many of our members and others meet up away from the working group to progress things too. 2024 will bring a great deal more activity; as individuals we can only make a small difference but as informers, instigators and example setters we can do so much more. Watch this space - it's a biggie!

The future of the Melksham Assembly Hall was very much in question a couple of years ago as we recovered from Covid and look at the financial drain it had put on the Town Council's ratepayers during that period. I am delighted to report that the public voice has been heard, that there are full houses, that the hall is in use for an astonishingly wide variety of tasks and that a fabulous team of volunteers is helping to a limited extent and are ready to do so more. 2024 starts with a complete replacement of the employed (non-casual) staff and with that the loss of our in-house experience that will make the year a challenge. We do have a good person new in the role, and I very much hope the support she needs is there; for my part, I offer that support but it remains to be seen how that works out wider. The repair of the roof starts next week (at last!!) and that should ensure that the hall remains watertight and operational.

Adjoining the Assembly Hall is the Blue Pool and it shares a wall. It's owned by Wiltshire Council but they no longer need it, and have offered it to the Town Council as an asset transfer. The idea is mighty attractive, with multiple good-looking business plans widely covered elsewhere. 2024 will take us forward with those plans and I would anticipate there being progress. Experience over the past 9 months suggests that everyone will have different views and my fear is that short term popularism to get re-elected in 2025 may bias the position some take - short term tactics taking precedence over the best long term strategy. I also fear that we may not have the expertise we need; I hope we take on appropriate project management resources which we need beyond the time available from our staff, even if we have the skills on our team.

In 2023, I helped run the Splashpad - one shift a week through the summer and I thoroughly enjoyed doing so. 2024 may see me back on the Splashpad or on other volunteer tasks, but there's so much more (see above) that I wouldn't be sure of having the time. Sitting at the Splashpad and keeping an eye on things does, however, give me a chance to meet with people, understand what we are doing, and in quieter times get on with "paperwork".

The Joint Melksham Neighbourhood Plan has been a massive job this year. I have joined the steering group to represent the Town Council, and am vice chair. Amazing credit to the chair and the clerk of our sister council - Melksham Without - for their huge support. 2024 should see the plan going forward through legal process of being checked out and to a local vote so that it can become a valid legal planning consideration. Important work, finishing off the bulk of what was done over the last two years.

At the start of this year, we had three guests from Ukraine living with us as part of our family. Brother and Sister arrived this year, and the other three have moved on. We love having them with us - people say we are heroes but, no we are not - it's a pleasure. 2024 is a whole year and I have no idea where we will be on this 12 months from now. Yes, of course Lisa and I will be willingly there to support our wider family. But yet this is a transient situation for these people, so we will see where we are by next Christmas

Last, and certainly NOT least - a big thank you to Lisa for being my partner this year. 2024 - I look forward to the year together and with the hope that we can both do so many things.

Published Saturday, 30th December 2023

Who's who into 2024, Melksham Town Council

An update to my blog of last May. How the Town Council works is described on the website at which also includes links to services offered by other organisations - "Melksham Town Council is not responsible for the following, please [visit that page and] click the links and you will be redirected to the correct website page: Council Tax, Refuse, Garden Waste, Recycling, Public Transport"

Active Melksham Town Council Staff at Christmas 2023 and onwards well into 2024
Other staff members may become available or have been available. I will edit this list if and as appropriate over coming weeks.

Office and admin staff team:
Andrew Meacham - Committee Clerk
Gloria Delves - Events and Communication Officer
Mel Rolph - Finance Officer
Sarah Askew - Communications Officer

Assets and amenities staff team:
Hugh Davies - Head of Operations
Dave Elms - Amenities Team Manager
Sara Land - Assembly Hall Manager
Gary Dougherty - Amenities Assistant
Stephen Randall - Amenities Assistant
Karl Harvey - Amenities Assistant

The Town Council has a general email address from where your email will be forwarded as appropriate or answered directly. As from 2nd January, the Town Hall will be open during the day to visitors without appointments on Monday to Thursday. Visitors are also welcome at public meetings - you can find a diary via the Town Council's web site at The Town Hall can be reached by phone on 01225 704187.

Councillors in office:
PAv - Pat Aves - Forest Ward
PAl - Phil Alford - North Ward, also Wiltshire Councillor
GC - Gary Cooke - East Ward
JC - Jacqui Crundell - South Ward
SC - Simon Crundell - Mayor - East Ward
GE - Graham Ellis - South Ward
CF - Claire Forgacs - Forest Ward
JH - Jon Hubbard - South Ward, also Wiltshire Councillor
SM - Sue Mortimer - Forest Ward
JO - Jack Oatley - Forest Ward, also Wiltshire Councillor
TP - Tom Price - Deputy Mayor - Forest Ward
SR - Saffi Rabey- North Ward
CS - Charlie Stokes - East Ward

There is a vacancy in South Ward. A by-election is to be held on 18th January 2024
For East Ward, your Wiltshire Councillor is Mike Sankey who is not a Town Councillor
All Town councillors sit on the full council, which meets about once a month

Town Councillors can be reached by email [forename].[surname] and other contact details for some are available at

Published Friday, 29th December 2023

Car parking consultation - my response

Left - the previous car park rates • Right - the proposed Wiltshire Council rates

I applaud Wiltshire Council's intent to continue to provide car parking at Melksham Station now that the TransWilts CIC has ended its lease on the Cafe and Car Park at Melksham Station. In their official TRO paperwork, Wiltshire Council say:

"The car park has previously been operated by a third party on a lease basis which is due to expire. Wiltshire Council would like to continue with its operation as a Pay and Display car park with the legal Orders to support this. The tariffs are set to encourage use of the train as an alternative method of transport."

My response to the official consultation:

I am concerned that the proposed tariff appears to offer little consideration for people parking at Melksham Station for overnight business and leisure trips, including weekends away. There is a gap in tariffs offered from the "all day" rate (expires midnight?) at £3.60 through to the one month season at £41.50. Please provide a way to enable the use of the train for such trips; I note that your proposal does not offer the £12.50 option of the previous operator. Although you state that you encourage the use of the train as an alternative means of transport, your tariff regime does so only for day trips; for longer trips the lack of longer term parking provision encourages these travellers to drive out of Melksham (perhaps all the way to their destination) rather than take the train.

From Wiltshire Council (should you choose to respond)

See the consultation details here

Closing date for comments
This consultation will close on 2 January 2024. Please send your comments to arrive with us before that date to ensure they are considered.

How can I comment?
Anyone commenting must include their name and address - without this we cannot accept any comments.

Comments on the proposal together with the reasons for which they are made should be sent by post to reach the Traffic Order Team, Sustainable Transport, County Hall, Bythesea Road, Trowbridge, BA14 8JN allowing 7 days, by email to or using the response form on the website at to reach the Sustainable Transport Group quoting reference LJB/TRO/MELKos3.

Published Thursday, 28th December 2023

Thank you for voting Graham Ellis onto Melksham Town Council

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