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Graham Ellis - Regular updates - my diary

Links in this page:
Bristol Airport - Melksham by bus
Melksham Town Council - precept for 2024/25
Popular shows support the Assembly Hall
Assembly Hall - my Forbidden Nights experience
Renewing Victorian Pipework
Can YOU help?
Draft Budget 2024/5
Ongoing Town Council projects
Homes for Ukraine - 2 years on
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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.

What's Happening in Melksham?

What's happening in Melksham. Already covering the Town Hall, the Assembly Hall, the Campus and opening hours for the Tourist Inforation Centre, the Post Office, the Parish Church and more. Link to my councillor page at for a current list. Also happy to cover events that the public are invited to at other places in the ward I represent such as the Rachel Fowler Centre, the United Church, That Meeting Place, Queensway Chapel, St Anthony of Padua, and so on. Please let me know for those and any other venues in the ward.

The South Ward includes most of the Town Centre, but not the north side of Bath Road (which is in the Forest Ward), the Town across the river (which is in the North Ward), nor the newer parts of the town out to the east (Eat Ward). Until Easter, I am running this "what's happening" to see if it is useful and used; it takes time to enter and update the data and as we get into Spring and Summer it will get harder to maintain with more happening and opening hours changing as we hit a myriad of public holidays. I will review the data feed in mid March, and I promise to run it at least up to and including the Quiz night on Maundy Thursday, 28th March 2024.

Should I continue with this after March, I'll be asking each event organiser to update their own data, and to let me know if weekly hours change. I will also look to enabling people to look further ahead; my committment at that point will be until the lead up period (6 week purdah) to the local election in early May 2025. Until this March, I am planning to stick with South Ward; should I carry on beyond, with the support of ward councillors I would be happy to extend to include facilities and events useful to all residents - looking at things like the Shambles Festival, opening hours of the Splashpad and the Cafe in KGV, the River and Food Festival, events at Spencers and the Forest Community Centre, public transport changes and roadworks, etc.

My background is in IT and I have done lots of dynamic web site work, so setting up the structure for this sort of thing is easy enough for me - with four cautions:
1. The first 90% of the work takes the first 90% of the time. The final 10% takes the second 90% of the time.
2. Keeping the data up to date and having changes notified is often a nightmare
3. I am NOT an artist and my pages are loaded with functions and information but rarely pretty
4. I have not considered the future beyond my current council term.

Published Thursday, 25th January 2024

Bristol Airport - Melksham by bus

From Melksham to and from Bristol Airport, there is good public transport available. Bus into Bath (the 271, 272 or 273) then the A4 to the airport which runs 7 days a week.

Here is an example prepared for a guest arriving into Bristol Airport - flight schedule in at 09:00. The example applies any day (times vary a bit on Sunday) until Easter. More general detail further down.

I don't know how long you will take to collect luggage and clear customs and immigration. Buses on route A4 leave at 09:30, 10:30, 11:30 to Bath - travel to the end of the route at Dorchester Street, which is just across the road from the Bus Station. The buses arrive at 10:43, 11:43, 12:43.

Cross the road into the bus station. It's bus stand number 7 or close to there for the 271 to Bowerhill or the 272 or 273 to Devizes which leave at 10:45, 11:15 and every 30 minutes. In Melksham, the three routes all serve the Town Centre and Bowerhill, with the 271 and 273 also serving Melksham Forest and the 272 serving Spa Road.

The bus fare from Bristol Airport to Bath is £16.50 and from Bath to Melksham is £2.

The high cost from Bristol Airport is because of airport charges, and the fare from the Airport Tavern stop (show with the green pin on the map) into Bath is just £2. Bus services from that stop may be tracked at the bustimes web site . It's exactly the same bus and it calls there 2 minutes after leaving Bristol Aiport.

More generally - first bus from Bristol Airport on a Monday to Saturday with a connection at Bath is at 06:00 and last bus at 22:00; the 23:00 from the airport arrives in Bath after the last Melksham connection has left. On Sunday, only buses at 09:00, 11:00, 13:00, 15:00 and 17:00 from the airport offer connections to Melksham.

Travelling TO Bristol Airport, buses leave Melksham Market Place from 06:57 (07:15 on Saturday and 09:40 on Sunday) until 22:42 (17:40 on Sunday) with connections onward to Bristol Airport, calling at the Airport Tavern (£2) just prior to the airport (£16.50). By way of example, the 06:57 bus connects into the 08:00 bus from Bath, getting you to the airport at 09:24 - slow because of peak hour congestion. The 22:42 from Melksham will get you to the airport for 00:55.

Regular concessions are not shown in my pricings. Senior cards are not valid in and out of the airport, but are valid between Bath and the Airport Tavern. There are child rates and some other concessions too. See (here) for the Melksham to Bath bus and (here) for the Bath to Bristol Airport bus.

Published Wednesday, 24th January 2024

Melksham Town Council - precept for 2024/25

Melksham Town Council approved a precept of £1,047,270 for 2024/25 last night at a public but unbroadcast / not available online meeting. That is a 3.96% increase on the precept for 2023/24, and represents an increase from £169.00 to £175.69 per band D household for the year.

A massive amount of work in the last week has gone into putting this budget into place by a few of us and staff, and indeed changes were made last night by full council too. This is the third year in succession in which we have kept the rise below the rate of inflation, and we were a cheap town when we took over anyway- any other town in Wiltshire you'll be well over £200 by now. Much is to be said for being prudent, but that can be taken too far and we can end up not providing services that our residents want, not helping the town plan for the future, and not having the tools to keep people properly informed.

The vote on the precept was (at my request) a recorded vote. Nine councillors voted in favour of the 3.96% rise, five were absent when the vote was taken, and I am recorded as abstaining. I believe that the people I represent want to have information available to them (open democracy), and a council that has a strategy beyond the next year for ourselves as a council and for our residents, businesses, and town as a whole. This is NOT all about money - it's largely about having our own house planned and forward looking, but I feel we have oversqueezeed. I would have added between 10p and 15p (ten to fifteen pence) per week to the household bill (not per person - per household) and used the extra to deliver a strategy so we know where we are going, and information and IT so that people can easily find out what's going on.

However, this is a democratic council and as you see I was a lone voice. Two of your other south ward councillors voted for the 3.96% and the other had left by the time we got to the vote because it had gone on so long. So I will work with and support them, though increasingly frustrated by the lack of vision and communications.

Illustration - the Christmas light and associated turn on event, one of the very few areas where our planned expenditure increases (modestly) next year.

From my Facebook feed this morning - I wrote:

A very full Town Council last night - so full that we didn't get to a substantial number of agenda items.

It was a delight to see seven members of the public present in person, but less so that they matters they had to raise in public had a commonality of "why haven'y you ..." type implied criticism. Natural I suppose, but an indication of what needs attention in case we did not know. We DO do a lot of good, have some excellent members and staff, but "some" is not really enough, and we need to join up the holes and get information out to the public.

We also saw members of the public appear on Zoom but due to "technical issues" the Zoom session cut out and after some time spent trying to restore it, the decision was made that we carry on anyway. "There is no legal requirement to broadcast" we were informed, and that is correct. But having advertised and encouraged people to attend remotely, some with questions about "minor topics" such as next year's tax level and what we plan to spend it on, and others wanting to see how we represent them in the parish, it is in my view unfortunate in the extreme that they got cut out. As a member of the council, I apologise. As just one of 15 councillors, I can report back as I'm doing here but I cannot fix the problem (we know exactly what happened!) alone.

I am all about communications (well - a third. Add equality and the environment) and I comment you to my home page at where you can find out what is going on today and for the next few days, and links to those things and to my blog. Or follow my Facebook page at . For my own (shared) ward, the South Melksham Ward group at is new this year - just starting up with "anything South Melksham" legal, decent, honest in , correspond, explain - but please note this all takes voluntary time and I do not have either a magic wand or an authority.

Thank you for reading. Sorry about the lack of access last night. Write ups following during the day and if you come back to those pages listed above by this time tomorrow, you should be able to read more.

And my comment follow up:

From last night's unbroadcast Melksham Town Council meeting, I've noted the following:

To be written up ...
* Budget
* What is wrong with web site and zoom
* Assembly Hall and Blue Pool
* Econ Dev
* Well
* ECWG and unconstitutional winding up
* Visit Wiltshire App
* How long recordings are kept
Not writing up the confidential session in the middle where we chucked the press out (sorry, Joe!) - delighted you made it back afterwards.

Not covered:
* Neighbourhood Plan
* Council straregy
* Who want to be mayor next year

None of this is panic stuff; I can characterise the evening as "some sanity returned" or "not as bad as it could have been" on many of the issues and the general outcome as positively forward even if we have only a limited idea of where we are going.

Published Tuesday, 23rd January 2024

Popular shows support the Assembly Hall

I posted the Assembly Hall newsletter to the Melksham Community Group ((here)).
To my suprise, a reply from Nick Holder, who lives in the ward. In public, he writes "I’m so disappointed the programme is fundamentally no different from any other year. Tribute bands and male strippers. No wonder the assembly hall loses money:. That's very worthy of a full answer, with some further information; basically, The Hall is a public service that would require a much greater subsidy without tribute bands - so Nick seems to be suggesting the very reverse of what we should be doing.

Edit to add - Nick has messaged me to make ask me to make it clear that the comment above is a personal one, and I am happy to confirm that here for you. Nick is a local politician who's role and residence are matters of public record. I have deleted his role from the above, at is request made in public, to confirm that this is purely his own view.

Let me reply:

"Oh, Nick - it's the one-off, once-a-year events that need the extra publicity that you're highlighting in the leaflet. A big house - such as we had on Friday night - consistently brings more income than we spend. There's so much more on - regular events which neither need such publicity, nor bring an excess of income over expenditure. Events like the previous evening, or the following one are happening, and with accounts you'll find that they are supported by the positive balance from the headliners.

In other words, that hall full of people dancing to original or tribute acts is supporting so many other events. One you're familiar with, for example, was the fund raiser evening sponsored by our MP (Michelle Donelan) for Melksham Free Dining; I've not got the finances to hand, but I do know that the balance sheet for the hall was nothing like as good for the Assembly Hall as "Forbidden Nights".

But thank you for raising your concerns - I agree with you that we should be widening our program and we are doing so. Covid decimated much, but we've largely rebuilt - come along to Quiz night on Thursday this week, or get in touch with Geoff Mitcham for his Rock and Roll for Saturday. There's the Model Car Club and Senior Film Group too. But, yes, more people to many of these events, and more events - local performers; much being done. Our mayor writes in the election case of Gillian Elson, for whom you were one of the proposers, "Gillian's practical ideas for ... saving the Assembly Hall are precisely what we need". Good - we should all be working together; the Town Councillor Role is a volunteer one so even though not elected, other candidates can help. Only 15 months to the next election, so what a great opportunity for us all to achieve something together.

Another thought - we are showing "Eating our way to extinction" on 8th February. In your role as Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change in Wiltshire, may I invite you to help us promote this evening, especially as you live in the ward. Would you even be prepared to add a keynote speech and Q&A session?

Published Sunday, 21st January 2024

Assembly Hall - my Forbidden Nights experience

What a learning experience - or rather a confirming one. I went along (pre-arranged) to "Forbidden Nights" at the Melksham Assembly Hall on Friday evening to help as a volunteer with checking tickets as people arrived in reception. I have learned a great deal about the hall in the last couple of years and nothing surprised me - but there were a number of confirmations I will share with you to inform you as we look ahead.

1. The event (like so many) was very popular and everyone was excited and good humoured as they arrived. Audiences vary depending on what's going on - in this case predominantly female but then this show is exceptional in that gender bias of who it attracts

2. Talking with some of the people as they arrived, as I would have expected there were people from Melksham more than anywhere else, but also a lot from other towns - I recall Corsham, Westbury, Warminster, Calne, Chipping Sodbury, Swindon. A number had made use of other facilities - businesses - in the town before they came along for the show.

3. A number of earlier first time arrivals were putting their head around the door to make sure they had found the right place. Later on (and in the freezing cold) we had a queue waiting outside and it was much clearer.

4. The scanning system worked spectacularly well, with the vast majority having tickets with their QR codes on their phones or on paper. The system was/is such that the person checking in attendees has a couple of alternatives for those who have purely their booking referencer rather than the code.

5. Access to the only public door (yes, emergency exits clearly signed) was behind what I believe were staff / act / artists vehicles. By the time that people come along for an evening out, yes, they will have booked and queue / walk between vans and cars, but the impression given is not a good one. The artists would rather not be leaving their vehicles in amongst the audience/revellers either.

6. The loos were outside the reception area making it difficult (with around 300 coming in) to ensure all tickets were checked. Long queue for the ladies - many had travelled from neighbouring towns, wanted to be checked in then power their noses. We changed the gents into a ladies too, and redirected any of the handful of men in the audience to the accessible loo.

7. Want a smoke outside? Again - go out past reception and stand around between vehicles and mixing with the arriving audience. Good job that we had a lovely lot of people in the audience and had an experienced security team - yes, these days you have to check what people are bringing in.

8. The whole bar counter was crowded and queues to purchase drinks - the whole frontage of the bar in use, and staffed all along; any more staff and they would have been falling over each other. I was not working the bar (I was scanning tickets) but understand that dual keying is needed to key in to the tills and to re-enter onto the credit card machine being passed around.

9. People had heard of the event in a variety of ways; much of the business was word was regulars who come every year (and different people for the most past from those who will come to Rich Hall, AbbaMania, Quiz night, Roller disco, Maker's Market) but some of the new - and they will come back - was from door to door leafletting; wider coverage there is possible, though with some shows we are approaching full house / capacity limits. We need to maximise the number of events, have staff who want to book and cover all of those, and look to sorting out the bottlenecks.

10. I have left the most important to last. A really good team on the night. Some of us learning, all with a good rapport with the punters. The hall itself is great for this audience; we manage in spite of the front of house limitations which are pushed to the limit and at times prevent us maximising best use of the rest of the facility - pinch point to be removed?

Published Saturday, 20th January 2024

Renewing Victorian Pipework

Tomorrow's "picture of the day" on the Melksham South Ward Facebook page is the old (Victorian) pipework that has been removed from the corner of Spa Road, Coronation Road and Warwick Crescent. The picture alongside this article shows the Wessex Water access hatches to the new pipework that has been installed - a couple of days ago now; the road surface has been largey re-installed as I write.

I was chatting with the site supervisior about the works being done, and in addition to replacing life expired pipework, the layout has been changed. Rather than a pipe from out of town headed into Coronation Road, and a pipe from in town headed into Warwick Crescent (two unconneced "L" corners), we now have a crossroad of pipes. For the future, this means that in the event of any water supply problems far smaller areas will need to be isolated - making for a more reliable water supply.

Published Friday, 19th January 2024

Can YOU help?

"I want to help" ... I have done a lot of campaigning over the years and found that the recruitment of people volunteering to support with an excellent cause hasn't been a problem. Much more difficult is harnessing that help and making good and effective use of it help achieve campaign objectives, especially where the campaign isn't going to be a "quick win" one.

Last night, I was at a Town Council meeting. Set up by council officers, all 14 councillors invited, it Started with four other councillors present. Three more arrived from 5 to 50 minutes late. "Campaign Fatigue" if you like to call it that; two of the five present at the start were those newly elected last year in by-elections and only one was from the "class of 2021". What is lacking is pastoral care and motivation for volunteers, and indeed for staff. And what is lacking is systems to make their contribution demonstratble rewarding.

The comment to me on Facebook which I read as "I want to help, but you don't make it easy" has truth in it. I am not going out of my way to get people to get involved with something only to be find they have a hostile reception as they help, or they are sidelined to the extent that their help is ineffective, and they get put off the whole idea of helping.

The public - those of you who read here for example - are bright. But at times you jump to critical conclusions because you are not aware (and why should you be?) of reasons. I am happy to explain - please ask. A classic example from a number of years ago was criticism for failure to promote summer rail trips to Weymouth. "We only heard about the trips after they had finished. Awful Marketing. Your marketing person should be fired". Hmm - I did the marketing. The train was full ... and had I turned up the promotion, I could have flooded it out and left people standing at stations along the line; my judgement is that it was just about right. And in following summers we have longer trains.

Illustration - Westbury Station, 8th December 2023. A celebration of how everyone - rail industry, local and central goverment, user groups and community partnerships and volunteers have come together to bring a 25 fold increase (3,000 journeys per year up to 75,000) to trains to and from Melksham, aided by a rise from 18,000 to 247,000 on the line in total. It's taken ten years and would not have happened without community support - that said, I am keeping my tinder dry on this one and there is no call for more volunteer help this winter. There will be, once there is something worthwhile to pick up.

Published Wednesday, 17th January 2024

Draft Budget 2024/5

Update revised agenda now published (still dated 15.1.2024, though referring to updates made on 16.1.2024 and received for Friday 19.1.2024) - ((here))

Received yesterday (15.1.2024) for informal council meeting this evening (16.1.2024) - draft budget for Melksham Town Council for next year, proposed by - well, it's come from our staff team with various inputs. Looking to get my head around the headlines from 27 pages full of figures edit to add ... many of which were changed in the early part of the evening when I was there

Income if unchanged from this year:
£1,000,000 from precept
£88,000 from Assembly Hall receipts
£48,000 from Solar funds
£13,000 from property rentals
£6,000 from MWPC for shared public loo costs
£5,000 from allotments
£4,000 from interest on investments
£4,000 from "Amenity services" (?)
£2,000 from Town Hall bookings
Total £1,170,000 - actual is £1,177,000 - rounding and smaller incomes.

Proposed expenditure ...
The majority of our costs, but made complex by staffing review that's underway and perhaps because we have saved money this year because so many staff have left us.

As the suggested were the majority of the current precept and without a clear understanding and plan for them, estimating other items is all very well but a hostage to fortune.

Biggest other expenditures might be things like
£65,000 on play areas and open spaces - equipment, grass cutting etc
£50,000 on grants
£44,000 on Amenites team - vehicles, uniforms, street furniture, equopment
£43,000 on Town Hall (rates, repairs, services and utilities)
£38,000 on Assembly Hall (rates, repairs, services and utilities)
£38,000 on insurance
£34,000 on HR consultancy, accountancy, legal fees
£33,000 on Assembly Hall operational supplies and serviceand splash pad servicess
£32,000 on KGV and splashpad
£24,000 on Market Place and Bath Road toilets
£24,000 on leasing and running ameneties Depot
£16,000 on Pavillion
£12,000 on Age UK Project worker
£11,000 on Christmas Switch on event
£11,000 on Floral Displays
£10,000 on LHFIG (Highway and footpath improvements)

Those add up to £485,000 in total

And, yes, I note the total absence from the above of major projects ... there is a cut from £15,000 to £5,000 in biodiversity planting, and a cut from £15,000 to £0 (yes, zero) in Town Development. A cut of £3,000 in expenditure on newsletter for the town, removal of the Melksham Art project, etc.

Please note - rushed article as it's time dependent. I will come back to correct any significant errors. I have come back and edited - some items updated while I was there and I had to leave for another council meeting - update in the morning

Published Tuesday, 16th January 2024

Ongoing Town Council projects

There are many ongoing projects in Melksham in which the Town Council is involved and I have always found it difficult to keep on top of where they all are - which are completed, which are under way, which have not yet started, which have been terminated. Our "Teams" system is/was supposed to provide our staff with a system to help keep them up to date with such things but has fallen by the wayside - at least the accessabilty to councillors has. An alternative lighter system was proposed by Councillor Westbrook and (I think) unanimously agreed to bring an update on all running projects to the Finance, Admin and Performance Committee; an early first report cane to the 20th November meeting, and it is on the agenda for this evening:

5. Project Plans
To provide an update on all current open projects.

Here is my own list of ongoing "projects" that I would like an update on:

East of Melksham Community Hall
Lighting to the Forest Centre
Sensory Garden
Notice Board in Church Street unreadable
Lighting, WiFi and CCTV in KGV
Splash Pad - dates and hours for 2024
Water in dog park
BMX Track
Wedding Venue
Communications Policy
High Pavement
Maple Close / Sandridge Road
Resurfacing of Splashpad
Repointing of Roundhouse
Repair of Assembly Hall Roof
Neighbourhood Plan - analysis of November consultation inputs
Pavillion Cafe - is it open and running?
Virtual Hub project / replacement if any?
Staffing - who's in what role - reponsible officer and Assembly Hall booking
Architect input and work on the future of Blue Pool and Assembly Hall
Dog Walk - what now on agility?
Budget for 2024/25 - Precept due by 18.1.2024
Assembly Hall - future management
Implementation and support for enviromental issues
Planting for biodiversity
Allotment audit and resultant updates to tenants and facilities
Memorial Benches - including P and M Blackburn
Yellow Lines on Waverly Gardens
Action Plan
Clackers Brook Improvements
Remarking of coach parking in King Street

Many of these issues noted last September and ongoing ((here)) on a blog at the time.

I will come back and update this post later in the week to reflect what I learn this evening.

Published Monday, 15th January 2024

Homes for Ukraine - 2 years on

It's coming up for two years now since the "Homes for Ukraine" scheme to provide for refugees from war in Ukraine was launched, to what was (I suspect) an uptake far beyond what our government anticipated. I am proud of the response of our people in this country, and in Wiltshire, and in Melksham for opening their hearts and doors. Here is an update to sponsors from Wiltshire Council, dated 11th January 2024.

Dear sponsor

We would like to say Happy New Year to you all from all of us at Wiltshire Council.

We hope that you have had a lovely break and want to thank you for continuing as a Homes for Ukraine sponsor into 2024.

Please find below information about the Thank You payments, applying for a visa, biometric residence permits, STEP Ukraine and other workshops and the Ask Hanna app, plus an appeal for clothing to be sent to people in Ukraine.

Currently Wiltshire has welcomed 1,570 guests. Ukraine hosts can claim a monthly sum of £350 by the government from the date that the guests initially arrived in the UK. This payment will increase to £500 a month for those who are hosting guests who have been in the UK over 12 months, up to a period of 36 months.

There are currently 402 guests (219 families) in Wiltshire who are still in active sponsorship. A further 265 families have moved into private rented accommodation, whilst the council's Homes for Ukraine team has secured rematches for 117 families with new hosts from within Wiltshire. Forty-two families have been matched into Wiltshire from other local authorities. This is a mixture of community led, independent and Homes for Ukraine facilitated matching.

Six families have moved into a Local Authority Housing Fund (LAHF) purchased property on a long term basis, with a further four families moving into LAFH properties as temporary accommodation.

We appreciate any feedback on the newsletter. For any comments please email us at and put Sponsor Newsletter Feedback in the subject title.

Thank you.

The move for many of our guests from Ukraine in the late spring and early summer of 2022 could be described as an emergency one. In the most extreme cases, people fled from their homes with bombs dropping around them. In many other cases they left as the likelihood of such situations approached them. Few of them had any connection with the Melksham area or had even heard of Wiltshire; and many of them spoke little or no English. Our local community reached out and it's been heartwarming to see just how well the scheme has worked. People signed up for six months and that gave a window of opportunity to establish an ID in the UK and for all parties; many initial pairings then moved on to something more suitable for years rather than months.

Two year ago we were looking out for UKRAINIAN people. A commonality in a nationality and national situation. Many of those people are still with us (see the stats above but they are now very much PEOPLE who are Ukrainian. And people just like all of us with different issues. There is a still a commonality of issues like "what next" but there is also the moving on through life. Primary school children are becoming teenagers. Older children are leaving home. Others are settling down in accommodation or closer relationships with one another and indeed with people they have met here who had no previous connection with Ukraine (and probably couldn't even have pointed to it on a map).

So where do we go from here? The initial plan - or was it a dream? - or was it rhetoric? - of a return to Ukraine within the three years to rebuild and carry on life as before seems improbable for most. Such a return and a rebuild may happen for many, but not likely within the three years, I'm afraid, nor will / would life be as before. So the first thing incumbent our government should do is to help to provide a path of stability such that the three years of permission can extend for as long as the appropriate for the personal future of each guest. I'm not sure that they will - something that sounds good may happen in the next few months prior to a general election, or a decision may be left until it's perilously close to the end of the three years and the election is out of the way.

And it then comes down to each of the families who are living with us - for them to make longer term decisions as to where they would like to be in 1, 5, and 15 years from now. In very few cases will those decisions be clearcut or easy; for those of us remaining as hosts in the "Homes for Ukraine" scheme, we can be (and are) around to help, as are many good experts on the ground here in Wiltshire. That raft of expertise and help is now much wider and more thinly spread than it was - the headline is that we are living with and helping support people, and indeed those people are very much a part of our wider community and family and very much now helping and giving to our society as much as we help and give to them.

Facebook Group posts seeking sponsors

This section written 27th January 2024

Next month is the second anniverary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. During the early months of the war, many guests from Ukraine fled as refugees, with many of them ending up here in the UK. And it is our personal delight to have welcomed a family into our home, and to have helped many others in our area welcome guests too.

Lisa and I helped match people up, both in posting requests for help in this group and through a matching database - pairing up potential hosts and guests and helping explain and navigate the systems that were new to almost everyone. We are proud of the work we did and delighted with the help from John, Martin, Stuart and others, and from the folks who helped with admin on the Facebook group. We have made very good friends.

Times have changed, though. There are now very few new hosts available, and chance of someone who posts their story finding a host is, frankly, slim. For those with friends, family, contacts in the area there *may* be a chance, but that chance is better working through them than with a general post. There are also many of the remaining people seeking shelter in the UK who are posting to any groups which will accept their posts. I know that 2 years ago such posts were effective, but that is no longer the case and unless posts make specific mention of our part of England, I am starting to decline them. Call me "hard hearted" if you like. Or call me realistic, not building up hopes for people for whom there is little practical chance of finding a home.

Please may I add a clarification. Our current guests (who will read this) including family members remain welcome. As do new guests with connections and where there is appropriate host capacity. Our guests may have arrived as stangers but they are now, lifelong, friends.

Published Saturday, 13th January 2024

Thank you for voting Graham Ellis onto Melksham Town Council

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