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Graham Ellis - Regular updates - my diary

Links in this page:
Connected Wards and Parishes
Assembly Hall Melksham, Thursday 8th February 2024
Where people travel by train from Melksham
Thank you, Melksham News - my budget vote
LWCIP - Local Walking and Cycling Infrastucture Plan
Behind the scenes - Assembly Hall and Blue Pool
What's Happening in Melksham?
Bristol Airport - Melksham by bus
Melksham Town Council - precept for 2024/25
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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.

Splash Pad - Opening days and hours for 2024


The Splash Pad will be open in 2024 from Friday 29th March to Monday 15th April, and from Friday 24th May to Sunday 16th September. Opening hours will be from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on all operational days. The Splashpad is a weather dependent feature and will not be open during inclement weather - at which times (in any case) few if any people want to use it.

Fine print:

Tne Splashpad will be resurface in late March. That work is weather dependent, and if there is a problem it will be postponed to the closure period in late April and early May, opening for Easter with the old surface.

Note that the Splashpad will open and close in 2024 an hour later each day than it did in 2023. Mornings are often cold and customer numbers have been relatively low, but people have been disappointed at having to leave the facility when it's closed in the late afternoon on warm summer days. The Town Council hopes that this change will align the opening more closely with what people want whilst not increasing council costs. During term times it will also allow people to use the pad after school.

Should the weather forecast suggest a top temperature below 11 degrees for any particular day, the splashpad will not be open and we would let you know the day before. The number of people wanting to use the pad on such days is very low indeed on historic data. There is a safe operating temperature for the pad itself too - it’s a few degrees lower, but we could be close to that limit at opening time if the high for the day might not even be in double figures.

During periods of heavy rain, high wind, or thunder storms, the splashpad is closed for safety reasons. And should the water quality or other technical issues cause concern, the pad will be closed while the issues are resolved. This is at the discression of the staff on duty and their managers who between them make the final decision. All staff who look after the splashpad while open are trained. Staff, however, are not lifeguards and it is the responsibility of parents of guardians to ensure the safety of their own charges. There is a limit on the numbers who can be in the splashed at any time, and on really busy days you may be asked to wait to use the facility - that’s pretty rare - it only happened a couple of times last year, but please be aware.

We are aware that there may be periods of good weather between 15th April and 24th May and if such good weather is forecast, the managers at Melksham Town Coucil will consider opening the pad at two or three days notice, subject to staff availability. We also plan a soft opening on 28th March that will include staff revision and the pad may be available on and of during the day.

Updated information on opening will be posted on a board at the pad, and on social media on a daily basis to help keep the public informed. In practise, unless there is extreme weather this summer, you should see very few closures.

And Also: (for those I met at the Splashpad last year)

I would personally be available some dates prior to 7th June and then more or less any dates from 27th June. However, councillor talk on Monday night was of "staff" rather than "staff or volunteer" operation. Whilst I (and there could be one or two others) am willing to be retrained, help and indeed be available at short notice, as I read it this is not a part of the plan. A pity personally was an opportunity for me as a councillor to meet a wider group of our residents, and a pity financially as the Town Council's officers have not been encouraged to make use of freely provided help. That said, there may be other concerns such as training and insurance issues that I am not privvy to and influnced their recommendations.

From the minutes - just published at confirming the above in council-speak:

Splashpad Opening Times for 2024
To confirm the Splashpad opening dates and times for the 2024 season.

Members were shown a spreadsheet showing usage details for last year. There had been comments last year about later opening and it was recommended that opening hours be changed to 11am to 6pm, with a decision on opening dates.

There was general agreement on opening times. There was discussion on opening dates and whether opening should be based on temperature rather than a date. DE noted that he had been advised there was a minimum operating temperature, below which there was a risk of damage to the machinery. How resurfacing work might affect opening dates was also discussed.

It was proposed by Councillor Hubbard, seconded by Councillor Oatley and UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that the Splashpad open for the Easter Holiday and then from half-term to mid September 2024, with officer discretion on opening between Easter and half-term. Opening hours to be 11am to 6pm.

Published Wednesday, 7th February 2024

Connected Wards and Parishes

Melksham South Ward is not an island. No changes of the rules as you cross the Town Bridge into the North Ward, and no passport checks at The Spa roundabout as you enter the neighbouring parish of Melksham Without. Here are some of the facilities lacking / minimally provided in South Ward but available close by:
 • N Railway Station
 • F KGV Park and Splashpad
 • W Secondary School
 • W Household recycling centre
 • W Rugby and Football
 • W Employment area
 • W Countryside walks
 • W Hardware and DIY stores
 • W Soft Play; gymnastics centre
N - North Ward of Melksham Town
F - Forest Ward of Melksham Town
W - in Melksham Without Parish

Just as us residents of the South Ward head out to use other facilities, without even thinking we are doing so, others come in and are very welcome - we are richly endowed here (being a town centre) which thrives on their visits.
* Assembly Hall with a wide range of events
* Rachel Fowler and Queensway Hall venues
* Petrol and diesel fuel stations
* Electric Car Charging
* Swimming Pool and leisure centre
* Library
* Town Hall
* Melksham Larder
* Post Office
* Tourist Information Centre
* Many religious meeting places
On the home page of my Councillor Pages I am providing (a three month experiment) details of the daily opening hours of the public places in that list.

Published Monday, 5th February 2024

Assembly Hall Melksham, Thursday 8th February 2024

Headline: If you come out just one evening this week, please make it Thursday. The environment (including the climate) and how we look after it - or fail to do so - are key to our survival, and we'll be showig the film "Eating Our Way to Extinction". Kate Winslet narrates this impactful, multi-award winning documentary, which lifts the lid on the food industry and explores how we can change ourselves and the world around us through our dietary choices.

The screening was arranged by the Environment and Climate Working Group of Melksham Town Council to whom it has been provided free of charge, and there is no charge for coming along on Thursday. All welcome. Please come along and support the team who set this up. There are many interlinked measures of how we are using (or abusing) the resources of our planet and if we continue to abuse them, we will send some measures past the point of no return. For our children and granchildren's future this is key stuff. I am not going to try to explain the whole thing here - please come along on Thursday if this is a concern.

Should it be a concern to Melksham Town Council? Yes, I believe it should - for our own assets and amenties, for us helping to inform the public, and for us to set examples. Individually your councillors and staff will make only a little difference. As setters of an example, we can influence rather wider. And in helping set the ambient view we can encourage regional, national and international governments - and it's at a government level that our structures are set to encourage us to do better locally. You've seen this sort of thing in action before with things like the public places smoking ban, seatbelts - and with schemes to encourage solar panels to generate your own power, and to encourage better home insulation. But I digress.

Please come along and support us on Thursday. The current Town Council's Environment and Climate Group is being disolved by resolution of the Town Council on 18th December last, and there are questions over the future of the council's attention to these matters. On 22nd January, the budgets for the next year for the group's work and also for a climate awareness event were zeroed out. The amount of money is small - 0.5p per household per week which was pretty derisory anyway - but the message is clear. It's also a slap in the face for the informed community specialists on the group - the town risks thowing away the goodwill and help of wildlife specialists, energy specialists, building specialists and transport specialists all of whom have given their time and their support for free.

The Melksham Assembly Hall is located just behind the Town Hall, off the Market Place. By all means drive into Melksham, but better to take public transort, walk or cycle. Over 40% of CO2 emissions in Wiltshire come from transport! There are hoops to which to secure your cycle just outside the hall (but usual disclaimers about it being "at your risk".

From Bath and Devizes, take the 273 bus; from Bath at 18:15 (and Atworth at 18:41), Devizes at 18:40 (and Bowerhill at 18:50, Melksha Forest at 18:57). Return buses at 21:42 to Devizes, and at 22:33 to Bath.

You can also get home to Chippenham and Swindon by train at 21:32 from Melksham Station, and to Trowbridge at 22:55. No buses on that route that late in the evening, but you can arrive in Melksham by train or using the x34 bus. Melksham Station is a 15 to 20 minute walk from the Assembly Hall. It is waymarked (though not very well) and people at the film show will be happy to direct you.

I have a busy week coming up ... public events in bold
Monday 5th - Assets and Amenities Committee of Melksham Town Council - 19:00, Town Hall
Tuesday 6th - Environement Friends, Melksham, 18:00, venue on request
Wednesday 7th - West Wiltshire Rail User Group, Committee
Thursday 8th - Eating Our Way to Extinction, public film, 19:30, Assembly Hall
Friday 9th - Friends of Melksham Assembly Hall - 18:00, venue on request
Saturday 10 - Kast off Kinks - 19:30, Assembly Hall

Published Saturday, 3rd February 2024

Where people travel by train from Melksham

Open Government is releasing lots of railway data that has not been available before. And I now have a breakdown of the 75,000 journeys to and from Melksham station pre-Covid, as well as for the 2021-2022 year during Covid. From 2 million lines of data, I have learned that Swindon and Chippenham were the top two desitnations, and whereas Chippenham journeys recovered quickly (up to 93% in the mid-Covid year), journeys to Swindon remained low.

This data is hugely valuable in talking with GWR and with the Department for Transport, looking at future service and connection tuning. There are a number of outstanding requests on this tuning outstanding - a couple of minutes adjustment, which will come up in a meeting with GWR timetablers next month. And we now hae additional evidence of the width of the flows involved.

More at - figures there for all the West Wiltshire stations, and a handful such as Chippenham and Swindon beyond.

Published Friday, 2nd February 2024

Thank you, Melksham News - my budget vote

A big "thank you" to the Melksham News for reporting on my abstention from the budget vote at last week's council meeting - the article is online ((here)). And a "thank you" to the editor for publishing my letter in which I explain some background as to why I took the decision not to vote in favour.

I remain committed to doing my very best to support the council, and its work for the residents and its staff. I hope my concerns prove groundless and I'll be working hard to try to be proven wrong in having those worries - you'll note I abstained, and did not vote against.

For the record, the text of my letter to the editor

Dear Editor

The town council set its precept for next year on Monday last (22nd January)- an increase of 3.96%, taking a band D property up from £169 to £175.69 per annum. For the third year running, this is well below the rate of inflation on the services that the council buys.

Alone of the ten councillors present who voted, I did not vote in favour.

This town council needs to be prudent, but at the same time we should maintain a minimum level of service. On Monday 22nd January at the full town council meeting, a member of the public brought the poor condition of our website up and councillors agreed that in its current form, it is not fit for purpose.

Also, that meeting on Monday 22nd January was billed as a public one, with participants welcome online. But on the evening, remote participation ended after 30 minutes. That is about the expiry time for a free Zoom account. Then, at that meeting, my fellow councillors cut a £27,000 budget for the current year for IT (hardware and software) to £11,000. We have excellent staff members who look after our "comms", but they need the tools to do their jobs, and to do so efficiently and enjoyably.

Had readers been able to see the proceedings on that Monday, they would have seen councillors and staff embarrassed when I pointed out that one of the first rules of budgeting is have a vision of what you want to achieve, and we lack vision. You would then have seen congratulations around the room at keeping the precept so low, but then is that because we lack ambition and goals?

We are building up problems for the next council which takes over in May of next year. That's something of limited concern to councillors who won’t be standing again, and of short-term benefit to councillors seeking a further four-year term as they kick problems forward.

My Dad, who would have been 100 this year, was wise even beyond his years. He ran a happy office with hundreds of staff and massive responsibility in the work undertaken. And his mantra was "if you say no, express regret, give reasons, and suggest alternative.” I do regret the budget decision. I have given by example my reasons.

My alternative for this budget year would be a precept in the order of £185.69 rather than £175.69 - that's 20p per household per week more. I would be happy (but would overflow my welcome on this letter page) to tell you how I might invest that. But I would start with staff tools and restored training funding to help ensure a continuing career motivated team and also clear open public information from those tools.

It could be done, perhaps even now - I don’t know who will be mayor from May, but I hope that he or she can take things forward in this spirit after a really difficult two years that Simon was dealt, and during which so much of our time has gone to our internal issues and continues on rebuilding.

Graham Ellis
A Melksham Town Councillor for South Ward

Published Wednesday, 31st January 2024

LWCIP - Local Walking and Cycling Infrastucture Plan

Back to my 4th December post - which (rather sadly) - was notable for the lack of feedback received both from my request and from Wiltshire Council too. They wrote.

"News on Calne and Melksham LCWIP

"Deadline Extended

"We recognise its a busy time of year for everyone, so we have decided to extend the closing date for the LCWIP consultation to the 5th of February 2024. We look forward to recieving your comments and hope you enjoy this festive season.

The Full Council and the Economic Development and Planning Committee have delegated drawing up a response to me, and I met with the Committee Clerk yesterday; in the absence of other local feednack to me or advice / suggestions from the Town Clerk, my proposal is to put the following to the committee tonight:

Dear Sirs,

Local Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan - on behalf of Melksham Town Council

General philosophes:

* To provide safe cycling and walking routes in and out of Melksham Town and also radially.

* To separate as far as practical cycle and foot traffic from busy and crowded motor vehicle routes, especially where those routes have a history of accidents or are clogged with traffic which at present emit CO2, particulates, etc

* To keep walking and cycling routes as direct as practical

* To provide good and consistent signage / waymarking throughout the routes and on maps and apps and wider promotion

* To provide secure and where possible dry facilities at destinations for cycles and for waiting for onward public transport; we already provide tools hubs in the Market Place and Park, and may be minded to add one at suitable other places such as the Railway Station


1. We endorse the response from Melkaham Without Parish Council with regard to footpaths and cycle ways making the route from The Spa roundabout and Pathfinder Way to the Semington Road Roadabout much more direct on foot and safer on cycle.

2. Our town is an old one with streets built for pedestrians, and horse and cart. They struggle to cope with the addition of cars, lorries, buses and cycles but cannot be widened with many historic buildings. We therfore look at altenative routes into the Town Centre for cycles and walking

a) from the East through Strattons Walk - the old "Abbots Way" to Redstocks and beyond. Already walkable on quiet roads and footpaths if you know the way. Improvements at Strattons Walk and better marking needed, and signage at least as far as Snowberry Lane. This will/would form a good alternative for cyclists and walkers off Spa Road which is a notorious accident black spot with limitations in widening to segregate traffic

b) From Semington Road Roundabout up via Hazelwood Road and through the grounds of Melksham House and The Campus to the Market Place, with a leg via Canon Square and Church Walk to Bath Road. This forming an alternative to King Street - again narrow and overcrowded with different traffic types

c) From north Melksham to the north west of the town via Scotland Road and from the North East via Murray Walk beside the river to Bath Road.

d) From Shunhold and the railway station via the Town Bridge.

e) From East Melksham via Clackers Brook to Lowborne. Potentially carrying on throgugh an access only for motor vehicles Union Street

All these to be in line with the Town Centre Masterplan, the Joint Neighbourhood Plan II, the Local Plan, and NPPF.

For specifics, please also find attached specific commnents on individual cycleways and footpaths / prepared in November at the time the consulatation opened. Please follow up with the author of this report if you need any clarification.

5.12.2023 to all councillors, clerk and locum:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have been taking a look at the (Wiltshire Council) draft cycling and walking network for Melksham from the current consultation that’s on tonight’s agenda for Econ Dev. Lots of comments, so rather than surprise you with them this evening, cycling map attached. In many ways the walking routes should be the same as the cycling routes, and with so many comments I’m making already on the cycling network, I don’t have even a solid foundation to start on the walking.

Two general comments
1. the big area marked “Development Sites” seems to take in a lot of land rejected by both the local plan and the neighbourhood plan!
2. Although marked “Melksham Town” key focus, Bowerhill and half of Berryfield is include
I understand this was considered by Melksham Without for their response last night.

We have a town centre road network from the days of the horse and cart, with historic buildings either side which constrain road widening and funnel all traffic into a narrow space. I look at other routes into the Town Centre, such as Strattons Walk, Church Walk, and through the Campus, and also over Scotland Road Bridge in addition to the Town Bridge, and wonder if the cycling network should be making full use of them. I also wonder if more radical consideration to reducing traffic would make sense - how well did the town cope on Saturday when the centre was pedestianised? Officer advice would be welcome.

MC01 - good
MC02 - very much long way round. What about National Cycle Route
MC03 - Spa Road is dangerous and tight inwards from Coronation - divert? MC51
MC04 - without
MC05 - ? not shown on map and community school IS on A365!
MC06 - Kings Steet dangerous and tight for cyclists
MC07 - ? double back via Snarleton Lane
MC08 - excellent for improvement (joint with Broughton Gifford parish?)
MC09 - good
MC10 - without
MC11 - good though cycling through Strattons Court may be an issue
MC12 - without
MC14 - good
MC15 - good
MC16 - good
MF01 - without
MF02 - does that mean Foundry Close - if so, good
MF03 - really should not be "future" - there already
MF04 - without
MF05 - good

A - MC50 - Windsor Avenue via Longford Road to Semington Road
B - MC51 - Snowberry Lane to give a route to replace inner MC03
C - MC52 - Scotland Road and Murray Walk
D - MC53 - National Cycle Route N403 - not ideal though!
E - MC54 - Hazelwood Road to Melksham Campus and Market Place to replace inner MC06
F - MC55 - From Hazelwood Road to Bath Road via Canon Square
G - MF60 - From Hazelwood Road via Challymead Bridge to Farmers Roundabout

Graham Ellis

Any inputs - please let me know a.s.a.p.; please let Wiltshire Council know by 5th February via

Published Tuesday, 30th January 2024

Behind the scenes - Assembly Hall and Blue Pool

The none-public side of the South Ward - this is the equipment in one of the rooms in the Assembly Hall which is something to do with the water system for the Blue Pool.

As of today (29th January 2024), the Assembly Hall is running for immediate day by day events surprisingly well. Both of our deputy managers, who have done a great deal for the hall and have put in a lot of heart, are no longer routinely available and other staff are standing in. However, I'm very conscious that they were employed mostly for normal office hours and not evenings and weekends and the stand-in should be considered short term unless they wish to carry on with "permanent shifts". They also have other jobs to do as well; each different and this is a general comment.

With this staff change, it's a miracle that only one event has had to be postponed - yesterday's record fair. The stall holders on the Town Hall books were let know, I understand, in good time and the posters updated to a new date - 25th February. In hindsight, more could have been done to let people know online and we could have had a notice of postponement prominently displayed at the hall. Many *were* reached, but my apologies to those who turned up having had it in their diaries for a while, or seen it in the general leaflet for the winter. With 5000 of those distributed, and the whole intent being to attract people, there are going to be a few who turned up. The real solution is Do Not Cancel

Looking ahead to the next few weeks, a handful of reliable long-standing and new volunteers are helping out. You'll see me or two or three others checking tickets and helping people get seated as you arrive for tributes like "Three Kings" or "Majesty", or for the "Kast off Kinks" - not a tribute, but the originals. And we have a good team of occasional paid bar staff who know the hall. It's also the winter, so the slack season for out outdoor amenities team. But - come the Easter holidays (and Easter is early this year) the current running system will become strained unless updated.

Those of you who attended the job fair a week ago will have seen Melksham Town Council there; the Town Council is looking for appropriate people to pick their vacant posts - it would be obvious (and I believe it is likely the plan) to let people move internally in line with their skills, career goals and personal lives / satisfaction and then fill the holes, and the MTC appearance at the job fair confirms a search in public. The public calendar also indicates an extra staffing committee meeting tonight - details hidden even from all councillors except those on the committee - but perhaps that's an indication of change.

So for the medium term - we need to be looking at hall management including booking ahead, maintenance, stock ordering, doing the accounts, future marketing and publicity, and so on. This is where a new appropriate person can come in and pick up the role as well as taking back many of those evening and weekend shifts that some of the others find themselves doing all the time at present, rather than just from time to time. How the role is filled / who is selected and what their background is will have an influence on how others fit around.

The longer term question - what about that equipment in the headline picture and the future of both the Assembly Hall and the Blue Pool building? Firstly, there is an overwhelming desire for the facilities to continue to be provided here. Whatever may be said in private by some, most councillors acknowledge that the public (their voters next year) do not want to see the facilities lost. There is also an understanding that leaving an Assembly Hall with minimum maintenance, and with an attached and undetermined Blue Pool building attached (and integrate services, you note) is not an option. That said, the building maintenance fund that was in the draft budget - £70,000 across the estate - was stripped out 10 days ago in order to help keep the precept rise below inflation and just about the lowest of any town around by quite some margin. So - what now?

For the next couple of months, the Town Council will do nothing long term as it deals with immediate issues of running the Assembly Hall and other services. And while it fills posts and gets new resources active to pick up the short and medium term operation. The plan is for that to release Melksham Town Council management staff to oversee the major project of planning and implementing our Assembly Hall future.

I am relieved to see the thought of a way ahead. I am unclear as to the exact staffing and mechanism of this, I am aware of the lack of funding in the budget for it, and I regret elements of messing people around asking for ideas and quotes for work that are on hold until the spring. It's good to see the repairs to the changing rooms being done - my fingers are crossed that the roof repairs to stop the leaks (and in this year's budget) are going to be completed in such a way that the new works are not damaged, and indeed that other damage through water ingress and lack of basic maintenance is stopped.

So - what for Friends of Melksham Assembly Hall? In the short term, we are just that - promoting the events, helping out where we can. Looking at the longer term, we continue to learn as we have done over the past year, and continue to float ideas as we continue to support the long term meeting of needs - of the current users, of people who do not use the hall because it does not provide what it could for them, and of the team that's running it.

Friends of Melksham Assembly Hall
Facebook group - ((here))
Web Site - ((here))
Document Library - ((here))

Published Monday, 29th January 2024

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

Thank you for voting Graham Ellis onto Melksham Town Council

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