Graham Ellis - Regular updates - my diary
Where should we spend your money next year?
I have read comment that your (Melksham) Town Council hasn't really progressed on various fronts in the last year. And it certainly true that "big ticket" items that have been in the works for a while have slowed. That's part of a natural cycle with a new council on which only 2 councillors were re-elected and you have 13 of us new - big projects aren't instant. We have delivered on the Neighbourhood Plan, taken on the Friend's Garden, combined the roles of leader (chair of the council) and mayor (ceremonial and public representative) and reduced our senior staff / expert headcount by two. We have also been learning and planning, and are now looking ahead to our budget for next year - what we plan to do, and how it will be funded.
Here are upcoming major expenditure
• Up to £80,000 was approved late last month for a sensory garden in KGV park, on the higher ground under the trees alongside the A3012 Calne Road (pictured) ; multiple expect companies will be asked to design and bid based on consultations and ideas already mapped out.
• The maintenance shed in the KGV park, where the Town Council stored all its equipment, needs to be replaced and we've been told to look at a £200,000 demolitions and rebuild cost, with major extras on top of that for design, planning, project management and inflation.
• The Cricketer's [Cafe] was closed all summer, with catering in KGV limited to a van. A consultation is underway and realistically we're looking at a major spend there if we re-arrange and re-do the place in a big way - let's take a guess at £100,000. Hard to put a price on that until we know what's wanted, and the question has been asked as to whether we should be working with the Melksham Adventure Centre (charity no. 276692, with whom we have been engaging informally) and / or looking to a linked project with the maintenance shed.
• It is proposed to build a new East of Melksham Community Centre as a facility for the newer housing that largely comprises the East Ward, and estimated for that were a little over £800,000 taken from similar costs from Melksham Without for their new Berryfield Hall, but will almost certainly rise from that with planning, surrounds and inflation issues.
• If we choose to buy free parking for blue badge holders from Wiltshire Council, it will cost around £15,000 per annum, or free parking for all would be around £150,000 per annum.
I will now look to paint a broader picture, picking up figures from this year's budget
Staffing costs for this year are estimated at £225,000 for the central (Finance, admin and performance) team and £300,000 for Assets and Amenities, including parks and amenities; those are pure salary and National Insurance and pension contributions and a further £123,000 is spent on Town Hall costs ranging from accounting and insurance to computer hardware and licenses to gas, electric and rates. There's also about £150,000 of amenities costs - ranging from grass cutting to maintaining play equipment, leasing a depot while the maintenance shed is out of use, and so forth. While looking at this year's expenditure to see what other "continuance" items there are for next year, the council paid out £62,000 in grants to other organisations, £10,000 on community development projects and £54,000 on Economic Development, including CCTV, Floral displays, and highways projects.
Other major items in the current year's budget but which are not necessarily annual include: Play equipment maintenance £50,000; Assembly Hall maintenance £12,000; Skate Park Extension £10,000; also expect £34,000 to be paid out for the ecoloos to be installed soon in KGV park.
Total - £2,104,000 (or £2,219,500 allowing 12.5% inflation)
indications are an overrun of around £80,000 each on maintenance shed and east of Melksham village hall, bringing us up to around £2,380,000 allowing for inflation
What income can we anticipate?
From figures for the current year - budget figures
£966,204 from the precept on Melksham Town taxpayers
£82,250 from Assembly Hall bar, food and snacks
£45,000 from Assembly Hall Events
£38,500 from solar farm project
£38,000 from Assembly Hall Lettings
£13,000 from property rentals
£7,500 from Melksham Without towards cost of Market Place toilets
£5,000 from allotment rental
£4,000 from amenity services
£1,500 from letting KGV pavilion / cafe trading rights
£1,000 from Town Hall bookings
£1,000 from Melksham Maker's Market
Total income £1,203,000
I will comment further on these income levels in a further post.
Roughly a million pounds shortfall - however, £800,000 relates to the East of Melksham Community Hall where CIL / Developer funding brings in much of the funding and only the difference needs making up, and that will be income in the year in which the build is done. Our thanks to Melksham Without Parish Council who actually collect this CIL money (as the development was in their parish when planning permission was granted), but have formally agreed to transfer the money to us as the developments to the East of Melksham have now transferred to the town.
Income v Expenditure - projection from 2022/3 budget
As a council, we are here to provide a service to our residents and the town, and not run a business for profit. It is, however, instructive to look at each element of our activities and look at what they cost the council tax payer. (The cost per precept column tells you how much you pay if you are a Band D council tax payer)
|21600||7500||-14100||£2.47||0.38||Market Place Toilets|
|2500||6000||3500||-61p||2.40||Art House Cafe|
|1700||6900||5200||-92p||4.06||31 Market Place|
|733000||197250||-535750||£93.71||0.27||Assets and Amenities overall|
Published Saturday, 3rd September 2022
Is there a conflict of interest?A question was asked about comments made by councillors in the Melksham News, concerning the future of the Assembly Hall. We should remember that both the Town councillors quoted (ref Councillors Alford and Hubbard) are all unitary (Wiltshire) councillors too. And as they are unremunerated in their town roles, but receive public money for fulfilling their unitary roles (rates at the end of this article). It is reasonable to ask where their interests lie when the two roles do not align.
Melksham Town / Wiltshire Unitary
And there's a difference of interest between Wiltshire Council and Melksham Town Council - although they often work in parallel, they are not the same authority and have different mandates and objectives, and different ways of working towards their objectives which sometimes conflict. I am very concerned about individuals of any political colour who are on both councils, especially where the hold significant positions on one of them. Are they bound to have a conflict of interest?
From a Wiltshire Council viewpoint, it would be excellent news if the Town Council were to lease Melksham House from them, and sell the Town Hall and Assembly Hall, combine it with the Blue Pool site and have that new combination redeveloped for residential use by private new owners.
From a Melksham Town viewpoint, we have a significant resource that's a massive benefit for the town - and we need to look at the way forward with only due (not total) regard to what will be convenient for Wiltshire Council but perhaps not for the Town or Town Council.
May I suggest it would be a good idea if our three (volunteer) town councillors who are also (remunerated) Wiltshire councillors were to declare an interest and recuse themselves from this matter; the total remuneration between the three is over £60,000 per annum - no small change.
We were fed three options at the meeting last month - "Status Quo" at the Assembly Hall, A move to Melksham House, and a new build on the Library site. There ARE better ways for Melksham - a community that thrives on its spirit and volunteers, and we can (and I hope will) make a real success of the hall within the community, as per examples in Frome and Devizes and those options need to be investigated and offered; those of us who are Town but not Unitary councillors owe it to our voters not to tricked into chosing one of three options when a fourth could be better.
Unitary Councillor allowances: From https://cms.wiltshire.gov.uk/mgGeneric.aspx?MD=Members%20Allowances
The Basic Allowance
The basic allowance is intended to recognise the time commitment of all councillors, including such inevitable calls on their time as meeting with officers and constituents and attendance at political group meetings. It is also intended to cover incidental costs such as the use of their homes. Allowances are set following recommendations by an Independent Remuneration Panel.
The basic allowance for 2021/22 is set at £14,075 per annum. Up to the end of the period 2024/25 the Council has adopted the annual pay award to council staff as the index by which annual adjustments will be made to the basic allowance.
Special Responsibility Allowances (SRAs)
As specified in Appendix 1 of the Allowances Scheme Councillors holding specific roles will receive an additional allowance to recognise the significant additional time commitment and responsibility required in undertaking those roles. With the exception of the Group Leader Allowance, no councillor may receive more than two SRAs.
Cabinet Member - £21,112
Other allowances include travel and subsistence allowances as detailed in Part 13 of the Constitution.
"Councillors do not get paid a salary, however they do receive an annual allowance which reimburses them for time they have spent on council duties, as well as telephone and other office expenses"
"Councillors are generally taxed and pay National Insurance on their allowances. Travelling expenses and other expenses incurred as part of a Councillors duties, including mileage and subsistence allowances are paid to levels agreed by the Council and are not taxable."
Published Thursday, 1st September 2022
Car Parking - Campus, Blue Badge, etcA. ON CHARGING for parking at THE CAMPUS
B. ON CHARGING for parking in disabled bays with a blue badge
C. ON CHARGING local council tax payers to let blue badge holders park free
D. ON HOW YOU CAN STILL PARK FOR FREE, Courtesy of Melksham Town Council
Feedback from Wiltshire Council is that the have taken the authority to be able to charge but won't be doing so unless people abuse the system. However, there was no note to that effect (that I could see) in the 70+ pages of data we had for last night's meeting which talked of charges that WILL be charged from 1st September (WILL, not might). If I were cynical, I would be worried that someone's waiting for an opportunity to slip the charges in. There is still no definition of what they mean by people abusing the system. Is it ...
1. A few people are observed parking there and not using the Campus
2. People are parking there and not using the Campus to the extent that Wiltshire Council are loosing significant income from other car parks
3. People are parking there and not using the Campus to the extent that there isn't enough parking available for legitimate Campus users
Charging for parking in disabled bays will start on 1st September. The question has been asked as to whether the provisions for payment are legal under the equalities act of 2010 - the machines are mounted high, not easy for disabled people to access, etc; over to Wiltshire Council, who's car park it is.
Melksham Town Council has been offered a "buyback" on the disabled spaces. The cost quoted is almost £20 per year for each residential property in Melksham Town; we could of course ask surrounding parishes such as Melksham Without to contribute, as it seems perverse for payment for parking to be paid by the residents who are most likely to walk or cycle because they live so close. At that sort of price, and not budgeted by the Town Council, this has been referred to full council next month.
News! Many people do not realise that you can park for up to two hours "for free" in Wiltshire Council car parks in Melksham. You pay at the machine, get a second part to your ticket which you take into a local shop in the scheme, and get your money refunded. The shop claims back from the Town Council. Of note:
1. This is open to ANYONE, not just blue badge holders
2. There is money in the Town Council budget to cover this
3. The budget will cover the raised rate from 1.9.2022 in full - still free
4. The cost to council tax payers in Melksham Town is tiny compared to the cost of buying spaces back - you could say that Wilts Council are looking to charge us a lot more for a lot less in their space leasing offer.
Pictured – parking stubs from my car. The fact I don’t have a Melksham one rather confirms that as a town resident, I don’t actually park in our town very often – though I do walk there multiple times every week.
Published Tuesday, 30th August 2022
Assembly Hall - looking forwardA frank look at where we are and where we might have been with the Assembly Hall last week. Notes from the meeting - thank you Howard Jones - at http://www.fomah.org.uk/fomah_notes_20220825.pdf . For background, the slide set I put together prior to the meeting (here) . And as a follow up, a very rough draft of what should go in a constitution a href=http://www.fomah.org.uk/fomah_consitution.pdf>(here) . Big thanks to Howard, Julie, Geoff and Paul for their inputs and follow up activities to be undertaken by each of them. I will be taking follow up actions too.
This is a £384,000 question set. £64,000 each for
•"what is needed",
•"where should it be provide",
•"who should provide it",
•"how do we harness the enthusiasm of users and community",
•"how do we ensure it is affordable to users and the community" and
•"how do we get to what is needed".
There is much to be said at times for "if it ain't bust, don't fix it". This is not, in my view, one of those times. Fees have been revised (long overdue) but than has been a jolt, and perhaps a terminal one, for some hires. Events are being planned, advertised and cancelled due to equipment failure and double booking. And there's an uncertainty into the future which further puts people off, and makes the current arrangement - well - in my view (and I believe it's a near universal view) bust and needing fixing. Views of how it should be fixed, though, are far from universal and some difficult decisions need to be taken very, very soon. Some compromise will be needed as they are taken, but with an innovative ideas the need to give way in compromise can be reduced, and the enthusiasm for a successful new start will be rich.
Next dates for your diary - 8th, 13th and 20th September - those in addition to the events at the hall and around Melksham. Join the FoMAH Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/fomah to be alerted / updated.
Published Monday, 29th August 2022
ClimateFest - 17th September 2022It's one of the most serious matters we face today- the future of our environment - including resources, pollution and climate. We have seen this summer the extraordinary weather changes which can only get worse unless we do something about it. And following on from that we have a drought water resource concern. As we deplete fossil fuel and it becomes otherwise unavailable to us, prices of all energy rise and we have serious economic and shortage issues.
But how do these issues relate to YOU in Melksham? How can you both help the environment AND help yourself? There are many ways from small to lifestyle changes which will help both the environment and your lifestyle, health and bank balance too. But it's a very complex area indeed!
ClimateFest Melksham 2022 on 17th Septmeber brings together lectures, stalls and demonstrations to help inform you, and we hope to make it a fun day too, on these important matters. It's overspilling from the Market Place into the Assembly Hall, with speakers through the day in the council chamber in the Town Hall. There's even an electric bus service showing what the future may bring. And the whole day is free.
See Facebook announcement and my share of this
Perhaps one of the most important town events coming up. Please come along; it'll only cost you a few hours, and it may help you see the way ahead for a lifetime.
Published Saturday, 27th August 2022
Planning for Melksham Town for next yearIt may only be August, but I'm already looking ahead to what the Town Council should be doing next year, and indeed beyond. Our first budget working group meeting was earlier this week - sadly, only Councillors Aves, Mortimer and myself attended (the group is supposed to be 7 of us) were there. It has got the three of us thinking, and listening carefully to the staff who were there as we looked at the Community Development Budget to help us understand if and how to update funding to help them in their roles.
Some questions ... on method
* How do we avoid budgetting so tight that we constraint our team from delivering fully. We don't want to have them spend needless hours looking after every last penny, costing us pounds in there time in doing so.
* How do we avoid budgetting so lax that our team's looking around for ways to spend it. We don't and to precept the council tax payer for pure frivollity
* How do we motivate our teams and enable innovation, allowing measured risks rather than stifling progress just in case something goes wrong.
Some questions ... on the way forward
* What do we want to achieve over the next three years? Ten years? How do we plan and fund it?
* How do we address / budget for issues we currently have where we seem to be so short staffed for what we are doing (or trying to do) that we fall short of time to do what we want, and our team is burning up more resources in fixing things that should not have needed fixing, or have been left so long that they are panic / expensive fixes?
* How do we ensure that resources are doing something, not simply lying out of use?
* How do we address inflation in planning, especially asymetic inflation where some things go up far quicker than others?
Some questions ... how do we measure up?
* Internal and external auditors (I must learn how they work)
* How do we ensure that our office and information systems work efficiently for our team, our councillors, our businesses and our residents?
* How does our bottom line compare to other Wiltshire Towns? Are we scrimping on precept so much that we're orchestrating that social media suggested idea that we do nothing - table below shows the precept for Wiltshire towns for this year.
* How do we get ourselves a good name so that we get re-elected (if we want to!!) in 2025
* How do we persuade more councillors than Pat, Sue and myself to get involved in the budgettng?
|Town/City||Tax Base||Precept||Band D Tax||Increase|
on previous year
|Royal Wootton Bassett||£4,713.35||£1,021,005.00||£216.62||2.36%|
I'm noting that Amesbury, Tidworth and Ludergershall are special cases in that they are MOD towns, where so much provision around is part of what the Army and Air Force do in the area.
The Band D council tax in Melksham is made up as follows:
£1638.16 (£1445.04 basic + £193.12 adult social care levy)
£241.27 Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon
£79.43 Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority
£169.00 Melksham Town
I'm also noting a wide range of year-on-year rises from zero up to 27% for this year over last. Is there a case for a significant step up in Melksham of the Melksham Town element - from 45p per household per day (which it is for a band D houshold this year) to, say, 59p - which allows for 10% inflation and around 14% real additional service spend.
Here are some of the "big ticket" items - very very roughly in order of the amount of money they could cost
* Staff Costs
* new East of Melksham hall
* Taxes, insurance, etc
* "Free" Blue badge and other car parking
* Maintenance Shed
* Utilities and building maintenance
* Assembly Hall
* Sensory Garden
* Organisation grants
* Neighbourhood and other planning
- a far from complete list.
* Solar farm benefit
* Community Infrastructure Levy
* "Section 106" developer funding
* Hire and bar income from the Assembly Hall
* Income from building hire
* Could be an income from investment of reserves
* Allotment rental
* Where we are investing long term capital, we have an option to borrow
- again, this may not be a complete list.
The graphic illustraing this article is from a totally different council at the same level as us - included here to give you a picture of just how important certain aspects are, and no matter how much we scrimp and save, or expand, some of the smaller items we will make little "bottom line" difference, even if we may make a huge difference for the community
Published Friday, 26th August 2022
Assembly Hall - new start friends meeting - 25.8.2022 Friends of Melksham Assembly Hall. On Monday (22.8.2022) evening, the Town Council accepted the terms of reference for the new Assembly Hall Working Group (AHWG), extended from the initial draft for us to include representatives from outside organisations and and individuals in our meetings. The Working Groups next meets on 8th September.
There is a grown realisation amongst Town Councillors that they need to look at options beyond running the current hall themselves. So now is the time to look at:
1. Where we are now
2. Where could we be going forward (overview)
3. Appointment of a committee and setting meeting date
I posted the other day to hold Thursday evening (25.8.2022) for a 19:00 meeting - on Zoom (codes below) or in person. I am offering my own meeting room at 48, Spa Road, SN12 7NY, and we have plenty of parking space (arrive from 18:30?).
The way this goes forward will depend very much on the FoMAH group and meeting. As chair of the AHWG and other council positions, I can fill you in and give you strong ideas. I can probably sit on your committee, but really should not take an officers / management role.
If you can't make it but would like to be considered for an ongoing role, please let me know and I can pass that on to any setting up committee.
Graham Ellis is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Friends of Melksham Assembly Hall
Time: Aug 25, 2022 19:00 London
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 892 4873 7637
One tap mobile
+442080806591,,89248737637#,,,,*797458# United Kingdom
+442080806592,,89248737637#,,,,*797458# United Kingdom
Published Tuesday, 23rd August 2022
Melksham Campus - resident questions12 Questions from residents asked of me, passed on last week to the Melksham Campus team. Big thanks to Alex and Will for addressing all 12 questions (links jump you to answers below)
Q1: Are newly planted trees dying through lack of water ...
Q2: The entrance gate from the Market Place is narrow ...
Q3: The sign in the Market Place pointing to the Campus is reported as obstructing the view ...
Q4: About where is cycling allowed and not allowed on the site
Q5: I have been asked for an estimated date as to when the cafe will be open ...
Q6: I have been asked for an estimated date as to when the electric car charging points ...
Q7: Booked and paid, why do I still have to queue to sign in?
Q8: In the wet changing ... the lack of an obvious "Exit" sign ...
Q9: Comment was made about a lack of hooks in the showers ...
Q10: Recommendations, please, for facilities that were promised in early designs
Q11: Special Events and historic displays in the Library - what's planned and how to book
Q12: General Leaflet / Travel plan on how to get to the Campus
* Some of these answers include links to other documents supplied to me - please ask me if you would like copies
* I have very carefully written that the questions have been "addressed" rather than "answered"; in my opinion, some answers are good, others provide background, and others have answered subtley different questions or raise further queries.
* The Melksham Campus is a Wiltshire Council undertaking and not a Town Council one - however, many residents have been asking me (as a Town Councillor) questions about the newly opened facility, and I have correlated these and passed them on to Wiltshire Council, who have replied to them all.
1. It has been suggested to me that newly planted trees are dying through lack of water, even though they have a "watering jacket" / tank installed so that you can fill them up from time to time. Is there a watering schedule / can you fill me in / water if need be?
WH – There is a watering schedule in place as part of the build contract where the new planting is watered once a week from April through Sept. Our landscape TA (technical Advisor) has noted that the beds are all mulched which will prevent some of the evaporation and that plants will shed their leaves as a defence mechanism when under stress (such as extreme heat) and may well recover when the weather normalises. He did note that some plants may not recover, but it is too soon to tell at present. He will schedule a site visit for the end of September when the air will be moister and advise the contractor of any plants that may need replacing at that stage and another visit in the spring to identify any further replacements that may/may not be required. Ultimately it will be the contractor’s responsibility to replace any dead plants at the end of the 12 months defects period. However, we instructed weekly watering and we have been in a period of extremely high temperatures for an extended period of time so there may need to be a ‘reasonableness factor’ if it becomes an issue.
We already know some of the turf will require replacement but there is little point doing that until the autumn.
We could instruct additional watering, but the heatwave has now broken and temperatures should be returning to more sustainable levels. Arguably there is a moral issue here too – in near-drought conditions, should the council really be using gallons of water on the plants when the advice to the public is to conserve water wherever possible?
2. The entrance gate from the Market Place is narrow (we knew it would be) and I am relieved to see that pedestrians can walk in alongside the Assembly Hall and through a new gap in the wall - however, there is no direction pointing them to do so, and it's not obvious. Could you add a sign with a couple of direction arrows to help people? Pedestrians on the road between high walls with no pavement look like an accident waiting to happen. Which entrance are cyclists supposed to use?
WH – There is temporary signage installed directing pedestrians to the footpath route alongside the Blue Pool, rather than walking in the road. With regards to cyclists; normal road use applies. Cyclists can choose to use the road access or dismount and use the pedestrian access.
3. The sign on the triangle on the Market Place pointing to the Campus has been reported to me as obstructing the view for traffic exiting onto the roundabout - in particular it is difficult at some positions to see traffic arriving from King Street. Do you consider this an issue, and if so can you fix it?
WH – The Highways team are investigating this and will confirm their findings on whether they feel the sign needs to be relocated.
4. It is lovely to be able to cycle into The Campus and indeed alongside the building to the rear path, which is excellent to the south and narrow to the north from your west corner. There are no "no cycling" signs for anyone passing by the campus headed west, but there are from both the south and the north. Is cycling allowed in one direction only? If not, what's the situation?
WH - The ‘no cycling’ signs that are referred to I believe are the north and south entrances to ‘Melk 20’ which runs through the campus from Hazlewood Road / Cedar Close, to the left side of St Michael’s Church & on towards St Michael’s Court (See attached). The reason for this is because the Melk 20 is a pathway, narrow in places, but also with restricted lines of sight, especially from the St Michael’s end, hence the metal barriers forcing cyclists to dismount. These signs are legacy signs and have been there for some time prior to the campus being built. Access to the campus from the south west (from Orchard Gardens) does not have any ‘no cycling’ signs. Access is on a pedestrian footpath straight into the car park, with good lines of site and all round visibility, however I would suggest that there needs to be some common sense applied here. There are no plans to install additional signs from Orchard Gardens, but like most pavements cyclists shouldn’t really be riding on them.
5. I have been asked for an estimated date as to when the cafe will be open. Can you help me answer, please?
WH – we are out to tender for an operator of the café at the moment. I would think the process will be complete in the next month or two.
6. I have been asked for an estimated date as to when the electric car charging points will be available, and whether they will be able to deliver a significant top-up in just an hour or two for customers using the swimming pool, gym or library?
WH – ECPs are part of a larger county wide project delivered by Wilts Council. Installation date is still tbc however it’s likely to be announced when this known. Users of the campus will be able to top up during their use of the campus, however ultra-fast rapid charging points won’t be installed for a number of reasons. Please see attached word doc. that provides some overview on the ECPs.
7. I personally booked my swim online, but then found I still had to queue to sign in. Will you be providing some sort of code (e.g. QR code) to allow people who have booked online to come in without the need to join a queue or require staff attention?
Alex - This is being worked on and is what the gates are installed for. It's the first time we've used these in any leisure centre though so we've had a few challenges with the programming of them. The intention is as you say though, that people with booked activities or gym sessions will be able to check in at the kiosks and then enter through the sliding doors, by-passing reception entirely if they choose too.
8. In the wet changing ... I personally noticed the lack of an obvious "Exit" sign on the exit door having finished my swim and changed. I am notoriously blind, so there may be a sign there (and this was over a week back now, so you may have added one).
WH – There is no ‘Exit’ sign at present. The reason being is that the changing room is set out in a circular route from the entrance / exit with motion activated automatic doors. These doors are also the only ‘ large double’ doors in the changing area. We may consider placing a single exit sign above the door, however to date this is the only comment received.
9. Comment was made about a lack of hooks in the showers (wet side?) onto which to hang things like bottles of shampoo. "Looks over usability" was a comment I got.
WH – There are no plans for additional hooks in the shower areas. Experience has shown us that they tend to break or be broken in a leisure centre environment. This in turn impacts on the tiling and requires ongoing maintenance and repair, which is both costly and requires the area to be out of use for periods of time.
10. Do you have any recommendations for people looking for indoor bowling, squash, snooker, or climbing wall which promised initially but dropped from plans during the time it has taken to design, redesign and build the campus?
Alex - As you mention, the plans and options for the campus have changed over time according to different input. We do offer squash courts at other local centres including Devizes, Corsham and Trowbridge and there is a climbing wall at the Springfield Campus in Corsham. There are other climbing wall options elsewhere with the new climbing facility in Chippenham being most local and obvious option. In terms of snooker, none of our other centres offer snooker tables but I believe there are tables at the Melksham Liberal Club as well as further afield in Trowbridge and Chippenham at Trowbridge Snooker Centre and Woods Sports Bar. I'm not sure if we will have short mat green bowls available in the sports hall to be honest - I have not seen the equipment list for the campus but I'll try to find out for you.
11. One of the "selling points" of the new library and moveable shelving was that part of the space can be used for special event / historic displays. Do you have any of these lined up as yet, and what is the mechanism for booking them?
WH – Yes the shelving units are on wheels and can be moved to create open spaces in the library. There are no special events planned at the moment, but if and when there are it’s likely to be advertised on the Campus social media pages and probably in the library / Campus reception. If someone wanted to organise / book their own event it’s probably best to pop into the library reception to discuss requirements.
12. Do you have a general leaflet (I didn't see one) that people can pick up with things like opening hours through the week, where to go / book online, how to get to the campus (on foot including side entrances, buses to the Market Place, etc) and/or a general URL I can point people to for that information?
Alex - We have tried to limit the amount of printing of information leaflets / timetables etc and move to a more online system. There are posters up in reception giving people URL's and a QR code to take them to the centre homepage where you can find info on opening hours, pricing, memberships, timetable and booking. However I appreciate that not everyone wishes to use this methodology and we did provide 400 membership information leaflets over the first 2 weeks which gave people both the information and weblinks for more information. For future use, the best weblink is www.wiltshire.gov.uk/leisure-melksham. From there you can access all of the above information.
Published Monday, 22nd August 2022
Melksham bus and car park price changes from 1.9.2022
Jump to BUS PASS changes
Jump to CAR PARK charge changes
Jump to BLUE BADGE CAR PARK changes
Jump to PARKING REDEMPTION scheme reminder
From 1st September 2022, holders of ENCTS cards (that's a posh name for Senior and disabled bus passes) will be able to use them to travel at no charge on the buses at any time of day, all week. This is being done to encourage you back onto the buses - it represents the removal of the not-before-09:30 and not-after-23:00 restrictions and will apply until 1st April 2023.
Melksham Town Centre has main bus stops where the red pins are shown. Get here
On service 14 from Melksham Forest, Queensway, and North Melksham
On service 15 from Berryfield and from East Melksham
On service x34 from Chippenham, Lacock and Beanacre
On service x34 from Trowbridge, Hilperton and Semington
On services 68 and 69 from Corsham and from Holt
On service 68 from Staverton
On service 69 from Bradford-on-Avon
On service x76 from Calne and Bromham
On service 271, 272 and 273 from Bowerhill and from Bath and Atworth
On service 271 from Whitley
See (here) for most timetables. Timetables for routes 14 and 15 are (here).
Listen out for more "Catch the Bus" month messages ...
Extracted from around 30 pages of information the Town Council has received:
Wiltshire Council Car Parking charges as from 1st September 2022, which I understand apply from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day of the week.
Bath Road Car Park: 1hr - £0.50, 2hrs – £1.40, 3hrs - £2.50, 4hrs - £3.10, 5hrs - £4.10, 8hrs - £6.60 and All Day - £7.30
Church Street Car Park: to 1hr – 0.50, 2hrs - £1.50, 3hrs - £2.60
King Street Car Park: 1hr - £0.40, 2hrs - £1.30, 3hrs - £2.30, 4hrs - £3.10, 5hrs - £4.10, All Day - £6.00
Lowbourne Car Park: 1hr - £0.40, 2hrs - £1.30, 3hrs – £2.30, 4hrs - £3.10, 5hrs - £4.10, All Day - £6.00
Union Street Car Park: 1hr - £0.40, 2hrs - £1.30, 3hrs - £2.30, 4hrs - £3.10, 5hrs - £4.10, All Day - £7.70
To change the current Season Ticket charges as listed below:
Bath Road Car Park: 12 months - £848, 6 months - £424, 3 months - £212, 1 month - £71
Church Street, King Street and Lowbourne Car Parks: 12 months - £669, 6 months - £335, 3 months - £167, 1 month £56
Union Street Car Park: 12 months - £892, 6 months - £446, 3 months - £223, 1 month - £74
A copy of the Orders can be obtained via email request to TrafficOrders@wiltshire.gov.uk
Roadside, other and private car parking in Melksham is not covered by the above; we have at least three significant car parks which some parking free of charge. The accompanying map shows the car parks listed in the charges in blue, and other parking you may wish to use as an alternative in cyan. Bus stops are in red.
The changes on 1.9.2022 also remove the exemption from charging for disabled badge holders, invalid carriages, vehicles in lieu of invalid carriages and drivers with a severe disability issued with a note from Wiltshire Council.
There has been particular concern at the loss of free parking for blue badge holders, due to the difficulty some of those affected will have using any of the available payment methods, due to the extra cost on those affected, and due to the likely outcome of badge holder causing congestion by parking for free on yellow lines which (subject to some limitations) thet able to do.
Melksham Town Council has just receive a quotation from Wiltshire Council offering us the ability to buy back annual spaces in the Central Car Park for an annual cost equivalent t a parking season ticket - so that's £669 per space. Variously, councillors are suggesting that we do not do this, that we "buy back" just three of the spaces, and that we offer to pay Wilts Council a one-off payment to make the ticket machines easier to access. I don't like the idea of a partial buy-back as this would make the whole thing even more complex ("WHICH blue badge space did you use?") and lead to ongoing upset ("I [W/C]COULDN'T park there because the free space has all gone"), and in any case it's far too late in the day for the council to meet and do anything - just 10 days to implementation!
The Melksham Parking Redemption Scheme is still in operation - you can reclaim the first hour (I think it is) of your parking from traders signed up to the scheme, and they can claim back from the Town Council who subsidise the scheme from the precept.
Published Saturday, 20th August 2022
A350 NOT to be national strategic route?
This month, the Department for Transport are due to rule on the inclusion of the A350 in major strategic road development. Rumours are around; here is an actually sourced report from Dorset. The A350 in Dorset is a very different road to the A350 in north and west Wiltshire, and this look is purely at really long distance traffic. So it may be limited as to implications for Melksham. Shared to inform, but please note that caveat of mine.
This has just come via CPRE Dorset from 2 DC councillors
North Dorset roads reprieved from major expansion.
The Department for Transport, in consultation with Dorset Council and The Western Gateway Sub-National Transport Body, have ruled that the A350/ C13 will no longer be included in plans for a major strategic road development running from Poole to the M4 corridor. This is a good outcome for residents of north Dorset. This decision is the culmination of a longstanding campaign by local Councillors Sherry Jespersen and Jane Somper to defend the A350 and C13 from massive expansion. The Councillors’ case has always been that this was not a suitable route for a new, strategic highway. The technical challenges would have added £200m to the project cost and the damage to the valued landscape and village communities would have been unacceptable.
Councillor Sherry Jespersen said: “I have been fighting this proposal for several years. The technical difficulties were always going to make this route financially unviable, and I was never convinced by the suggested economic gains – businesses in north Dorset would rather see investment in better broadband and well-maintained A roads. Significant housing and other development would have been needed to recoup the government’s investment and this would have damaged the environment, particularly the AONB, and would not have been acceptable to local people.”
Councillor Jane Somper said: “Building a strategic highway through the AONB would have met with opposition across the board. The landscape of north Dorset is treasured by residents in all our villages and hamlets who would have been significantly negatively impacted by this largescale road project, and we have a duty to preserve the rural nature and environment here for future generations. I will continue to work with officers and fellow councillors on important road improvements along the A350 and C13”
Other routes for the strategic north/ south link, including rail freight, will continue to be explored by DfT who are funding the studies. The A350 remains an important route for local traffic and will continue to be a priority for Dorset Council.
Published Friday, 19th August 2022