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Graham Ellis - Regular updates - my diary

Links in this page:
Seeking comment on the JMNPII Framework itself
Cooper Tires and the Neighbourhod Plan
Neighbourhood Plan - open for consultation
Draft Joint Melksham Neighbourhood Plan II
Lighting in KGV Park
In planning, for land south of Melksham Town
Planning - for everything and anything
HS2 phase 2 cancellation - effect on Melksham
Planning - should we have looked across the road?
(Back to top of page)
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.

Public Transport - Melksham - October 2023

Public transport and some connections from MELKSHAM. October 2023.

Numbers on map show journey time between towns

BOA - Bradford-on-Avon
BRI - To Bristol, Weston and South Wales
BTH - Bath
CAL - Calne
CPM - Chippenham
CSM - Corsham
DVZ - Devizes

LON - Reading and London
MAL - Malmesbury
MKM - Melksham
NBY - To Newbury via Pewsey
RWB - Royal Wootton Bassett
SAL - To Salisbury and Southampton

SWI - Swindon
TRO - Trowbridge
WEST - To Taunton and the West
WEY - To Frome and Weymouth
WMN - Warminster
WSB - Westbury

In Black - train services. Dashed lines - less that hourly.

Westbury - Trowbridge - MELKSHAM - Chippenham - Swindon - every 2 hours
(Bristol) - Bath - Chippenham - Swindon - (London) - 2 times an hour
(Bristol) - Bath - Trowbridge - Westbury - Warminster - (Salisbury) - hourly
Local (Bristol) - Bath - Trowbridge - Westbury - 2 times an hour
(West Country) - Westbury - (Newbury) - London - every 2 hours
Westbury - (Weymouth) - every 2 hours
Operated by Great Western Railway - (link)

In Purple - bus services at least hourly

Bath - MELKSHAM - Bowerhill (via Bathford and Whitley) - service 271
Bath - MELKSHAM - Bowerhill - Devizes (via Box and Shaw) - service 272
Service 273 replaces 271 and 272, evenings and Sunday
Chippenham - MELKSHAM - Trowbridge - (Frome) - service x34
Bath - Corsham - Chippenham - service x31
Operated by Faresaver - (link)

Chippenham - Calne - Royal Wootton Bassett - Swindon - service 55
Trowbridge - Devizes - Swindon - service 49
Operated by Stagecoach - (link)

Bath - Bradford-on-Avon - Trowbridge - Westbury - Warminster - service D1
Operated by First Bus - (link)

Chippenham - Malmesbury - Swindon - Service 99
Operated by Coachstyle - (link)

Devizes - Lavington - (Salisbury) - Service 2
Operated by Salisbury Reds - (link)

MELKSHAM Town - Services 14 and 15
Operated by Frome Bus - (link)

In Green - bus services at least 4 times a day
Corsham - MELKSHAM - Bradford-on-Avon (via Holt) - service 69
Devizes - Bromham - Chippenham - service 33
Devizes - Erlestoke - Westbury - service 87
Operated by Faresaver - (link)

Not Shown - Services just once a day
Trowbridge - MELKSHAM - Swindon - London - service 401
Operated by National Express - (link)

Marlborough - Calne - MELKSHAM - Bath - Royal United Hospital - service x76
Operated by Swindon's Bus Company - (link)

Not Shown - Tuesdays only

Seend - Sells Green - Bromham - MELKSHAM - service SB2
Operated by Seend Shuttle - (link)


For TRAINS from Melksham - there is a ticket machine at the station, but if that doesn't sell what you need or you can't work it out, ask the train manager. For long distance journeys, please book ahead or ask.

For BUSES from Melksham, pay on the bus. At present, it's just £2 a journey

For the COACH to London, book ahead on the web site.

Published Sunday, 22nd October 2023

Seeking comment on the JMNPII Framework itself

The draft Neighbourhood Plan was published and opened for public comment at the start of last week. It's a monumental piece of work, with a huge amount of input and consultation already gone into it. There's a log of all that consultation at (here) and - beware - it's many pages long.

The request for public comment is a request for comment on the plan. The plan's home page says "Give us your comments on the draft updated Plan ... by midnight on Sunday 3rd December" and it's exactly that - the listening and the hard work interpreting all the various inputs and coming up with a practical, effective and legal output has been done and you are now being asked "Have we got this right??" ... and if there are things that are not right, please tell us - this is a community plan.

To be effective, the Neighbourhood Plan needs to allocate places where new houses can be built, but at the same time not be so prescriptive that it makes it impractical for us to grow for the future in the way that it has been decreed from above that we must. Failure to be effective in this way leaves us with a situation where developers can only guess where to put housing, and it will be built in a less planned manner and without the associated infrastructure that's needed. Good develops will work well with plan, comfortable in the knowledge that it's what the community wants (or feels is the last worst way of meeting central government demands)

The neighbourhood plan steering group (where I am vice chair) reached a decision to follow a "Brown Fields First" policy in providing the extra housing we need to allocate in the greater Melksham (Melksham Without and Melksham Town) areas. There are many reasons for such a policy including:
* Future sustainability
* Keeping out town lively rather that having derelict sites around
* Providing a life style closer to the existing facilities
* Saving green space for agriculture, carbon footprint and biodiversity reasons
* Helping to clean up some of the life-expired elements
* Popular (or less unpopoular than alternatives) with the community.

The work we have done has gone on over years, but the Cooper Tires site has only recently become available for inclusion. Indeed - it is so recent that it missed out on the Wiltshire Local Plan that was published in July, and it has left the neighbourhood plan with a big decision and a golden opportunity (though not without risks) in our midst. And we have concluded that this is a nettle the neighbourhood plan should grasp.

If you read the advert, the land being sold by Cooper Tires would, they reckon, support around 620 residential units, as well as 85,000 square feet of commercial space (the equivalent floor area of another 90 or so 3 bedroom UK homes). The neighbourhood plan team has specified it encourages at least 150 homes there, and of the sorts indicated by the needs assessments. It does not (nor is it the neighbourhood plan's role) give tight details - it is the plans role to set a framework for others to make their suggestions, backed up by finance and business case, to work out what's to be done and take it through usual planning and build channels, but able to be secure in the knowledge that they have the support of the plan. That also applies to the Library site, and the 2 sites at Whitley, which are also proposed for housing.

It is wonderful to see all the interest here and elsewhere. For Cooper Tires, Old Library, Middle Farm and Whitley Farm, the neighbourhood plan provides a guiding framework and it's out of scope for it to be prescriptive. Never the less, inputs here, to consultations (which are then published) and on social media will be more that welcomed by the people who chose to take on the work of helping us move from outline thoughts on paper to communities it which people live, relax, work, and thrive.

Click on the image or (here) to jump to the plan and consultation

Published Saturday, 21st October 2023

Cooper Tires and the Neighbourhod Plan

The sale details for the Cooper Tires site are now in the public domain - I have mirrored a copy (here). The draft neighbourhood plan revision - currently out for consultation - includes seven pages on the proposals for the Cooper Tires site. I have copied those pages for reference (here).

In sharing the sales details with the Joint Melksham Neighbourood Plan II team (where I am one of the Town Council reps), Teresa Strange, Clerk of Melksham Withut Parish Council writes "Having been asked about this already, I have replied that the policy for Cooper Tires in the draft Melksham Neighbourhood Plan looks to put constraints on any future planning application to reflect the wishes of the community, including the number of dwellings – and have encouraged support by the community to fill in the consultation. We continue to work (with Place [Place Studios - our specialist consultants on the plan]) with the various departments at Wiltshire Council (eg Planning and Economic Regeneration) to ensure that the site is viable for allocation in the NHP moving forward."

I couldn't have put it better - thanks Teresa. Please come along on 26th October (or a later opportunity) to look at and ask questions on the whole neighbourhood plan which you can find (here) - or ask me; I have been on the steering group for a while and know some answers and who to ask if I don't.

Published Thursday, 19th October 2023

Neighbourhood Plan - open for consultation

The draft reviewed / updated Joint Melksham Neighbourhood Plan has been published and is open for public comment until Sunday 3rd December 2023. Overview - website and links to the plan and the evidence base - are (here).

There will be public consultation events at the Melksham Campus on 26th October starting at 4 p.m. ans on 11th November starting at 10 a.m., and at Shaw Village Hall at 4 p.m. on 10th November. All welcome, and there will be members of the steering group and other members of the team at all three events. I'm a member of the steering and I'm planning to be at all three events - happy to answer questions and explain there or at other times / places if you want to get in touch.

The Melksham Joint Neighbourhood Plan II steering and specialist groups have been collecting evidence of what you, the public, want for the area up to the year 2038, and this is your oppotunity to read, review and make further comment on the resultant plans they have drawn up

Please find (below) the invite letters to residents and to statutory consultees that have just been sent out. And you will be hearing a lot more about this in the next few weeks. If you scroll further down, you'll come to my longer description of the Neighbourhood Plan and how it fits in.

Dear Resident

We are writing to you as someone who has asked to be kept up to date on the review of the Melksham Neighbourhood Plan.


Melksham Town Council and Melksham Without Parish Council has reviewed its current Neighbourhood Plan (adopted July 2021) for the Melksham Neighbourhood Plan Area. The reviewed draft Plan updates some existing policies and provides some new policies which, once adopted, must be used in the determination of planning applications within the parishes of Melksham Town and Melksham Without.

In accordance with the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012, Melksham Town Council and Melksham Without Parish Council are required to publicise the draft Neighbourhood Plan and invite comments. Copies of the Plan will be available for public inspection from Monday 16th October until Sunday 3rd December 2023 for a period of 7 weeks.

The draft Plan and associated material are online at:

A copy of all the material has also been sent to the Neighbourhood Planning Officer at Wiltshire Council.

Hard copies are available at:
· Melksham Town Hall, SN12 6ES
· Melksham Without Parish Council offices, SN12 6ES
· Melksham Campus (Library), SN12 6ES
· Spindles Café, Top Lane, Whitley, SN12 8QU

Drop in consultation events are being held on:
· Thursday 26th October, 4pm to 7pm at the Melksham Campus (past the Café area)
· Friday 10th November, 4pm to 7pm at Shaw Village Hall, The Beeches, Shaw, SN12 8EW
· Saturday 11th November, 10am to 2pm at the Melksham Campus (past the Café area)

Representations may be made in the following ways:
· Completing the online questionnaire at
· Downloading and completing the questionnaire and emailing to:
· Downloading and completing the questionnaire and delivering/posting a hard copy to Melksham Town Council, Town Hall, Market Place, Melksham, SN12 6ES or Melksham Without Parish Council, First Floor, Melksham Community Campus, Market Place, Melksham, SN12 6ES
· Completing a Questionnaire at any of the places where hard copies are available and dropping into the Comments Box
· Completing a Questionnaire at one of the drop in consultation events and dropping into the Comments Box

All representations must be received by either Melksham Town Council or Melksham Without Parish Council no later than midnight on Sunday 3rd December 2023. All representations will be publicly available* and will be considered by both Councils in producing the final plan, which will then be submitted to Wiltshire Council for Regulation 16 consultation and Independent Examination.

(*with personal information redacted). We will share information of who was contacted with Wiltshire Council to enable contact again at the Regulation 16 stage.

Please address all correspondence to

Yours faithfully
Melksham Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group
On behalf of the Qualifying Bodies: Melksham Town Council and Melksham Without Parish Council

Dear Statutory Consultee


In accordance with the requirements of Paragraph 1 of schedule 1 of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012, I am writing to let you know that the reviewed Melksham Neighbourhood Plan will be out for Regulation 14 Consultation from Monday 16th October until Sunday 3rd December 2023 for a period of 7 weeks.

The draft Plan and associated material is available at:

A copy of all the material has also been sent to the Neighbourhood Planning Officer at Wiltshire Council.

All representations must be received by either Melksham Town Council or Melksham Without Parish Council no later than midnight on Sunday 3rd December 2023. All representations will be publicly available* and will be considered by both Councils in producing the final plan, which will then be submitted to Wiltshire Council for Regulation 16 consultation and Independent Examination.

(*with personal information redacted). We will share information of who was contacted with Wiltshire Council to enable contact again at the Regulation 16 stage.

Please address all correspondence to

Yours faithfully
Melksham Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group
On behalf of the Qualifying Bodies: Melksham Town Council and Melksham Without Parish Council

Published Sunday, 15th October 2023

Draft Joint Melksham Neighbourhood Plan II

To Melksham Town Council, 10th October 2023

This evening's meeting was asked to approve draft JMNPII.

"Members here will be familiar with a great deal of the work done on this, but the public watching in the room and online less so. There has been a great deal of consultation on some issues but other elements have been discussed in confidence while we look at the merits of alternatives that will have significant consequences.

Planning policies provide protection against random development. They don't prevent us moving forward and growing, but rather they help us to do so in a co-ordinated way with thought and funding for infrastructure and service too. Without planning policies, you'll see developers grabbing at chunks of land to build on, without long term plans as to how those plans integrate. However, with plans they'll be much more informed and co-ordinated and they'll be guided as to what's wanted and where it's wanted - a "win, win" for both the community and those who want to help develop it.

The Wiltshire Local plan, out for consultation at the moment, places around 1500 new homes to the eat of Melksham, and invites a neighbourhood plan to fill in around 200 more. And it's the draft neighbourhood plan we're looking at tonight. Both plans also look at other infrastructure for employment, transport, leisure, countryside, heritage, the environment, and much more.

A huge amount of work has been put into the joint Melksham Neighbourhood plan. It's a community plan with community members in the majority on the steering group, and it's a joint plan between the two parishes of Melksham Town and Melksham Without. As well as steering group members task group member, staff of Melksham Without and Melksham Town, and our consultants have done a very great deal and have been and are a pleasure to work with. It has been a pleasure too to see early community engagement with things as diverse as green spaces, heritage and Town Centre master planning; I recall four of us expecting to sit quietly working in the Campus during a long early consultation in February, only to find we were busily and thoughtfully engaged all day and that input has helped inform us to make it really a community plan.

Tonight [spoken 10.10.23, remember], for the first time in public, we can describe the detailed proposals. they were published last week in your agenda packs and councillors have been briefed too. In summary, we are taking up the option of recommending around 200 more home locations rather than leaving them unplanned. The two councils have agreed on a brownfield policy, which means that although Wiltshire Council has specified its extra housing into undeveloped areas, our own extras are within the town on sites released from prior use.

Firstly, we are allocating the site around the old library on Lowborne for 50 homes, specifying that are to what are defined as "affordable" and for people over in later middle age or older. They will have good access to the town, facilities and transport and the site is well suited to the more mature people.

We are then allocating at least 150 homes on the site that's being released by Cooper Tires in the coming months. Initial estimated are that, were it pure housing, this site could take several times that housing, but the local desire based on the consultation earlier this year was for mixed use - looking also at employment, shopping, leisure and green space too and what's proposed is in line with that. It's very much broad brush strokes at this point and we are working vert closely with teams such as the regeneration team at Wiltshire council to help make this happen. Together to help move the old Avon site forward in coming years, and provide what's needed and wanted ... which is not a derelict site in the centre of our town for a generation.

The local plan also calls for a housing allocation in large villages, and there are 50 homes in Shaw and Whitley too. Well away from Melksham Town, I won't comment in detail save to say that a difficult set of choices was made there.

In and around the whole Melksham area, a large number of land owners have offered sites for growth to both the joint plan and the Wiltshire local plan, and the work on scientific evaluation on each of them has been massive. That has helped both the county and the steering group come up with what we believe is the best combination of planned growth for the next decade. A big "thank you" to all the land owners we have been working with. A few will be happy; mathematically far more space was offered that was needed of required, and I'm sorry we're disappointing the others. Our evidence base is available in public so you can read the details.

So - what now? I'm going to propose that after discussion this council accepts the draft plan to go forward to public consultation - opening shortly and running a little longer than legally required into early December. In the winter, updates will be made based on consultation inputs and in the spring the plan will go to examination under "section 14" and, passing that, to a local referendum.

This is an update to neighbourhood plan 1, which still hold some weight, though dropping off. Any our new evidence base is already useful in informing our inputs, and the decisions made, by planning officers and committee. By voting to accept the draft and pass on the the next phase tonight, ladies and gentlemen, you'll be helping strength our local input to planning for year ahead.

As a latecomer to the steering group and NP, a personal Thank You for making me welcome, and I commend to you the incredible work done thus far by the team. What they have come up with is - here's that work "incredible"ly good and I comment the draft to you for acceptance.

Thank you

Three edits were made to correct the text from the draft in the agenda, and after clarification of those the plan was passed to the next stage

Link - Melksham Neighbourhood Plan
Link - report pack including draft JMNPII - I will come back and add a link to the amended document

Published Wednesday, 11th October 2023

Lighting in KGV Park

The Town Council's Assets and Amenities Committee found itself between a rock ans a hard place yesterday evening as it took lighting in KGV park forward. We have decided to place festoon lights around the circuit, three lights up the back passage, and replace the light heads on the lights on the path by the adventure centre.

This has been a saga, worthy of Tolkein or Tolstoy, and we have managed to spend an incredible (excessive?) amount of our time, and that of people interested in installing lights, on looking at a whole series of schemes and options. I am emarrassed at the length of the saga and feel that the rules under which councils work make for a significant overhead which many councils, including ours, then exhaserbate by how they apply them. We have not been helped by having many and varied opinions on this project, with some councillors who didn't like the original decision working to get it reversed even after it was made. I get it, I happen not to personally wanting the circuit lit, but understand that the majority do and once that decision was made I have voted to progress the project.

Plan is that the installation will take part during the winter. I am being intentionally vague on dates still, but at least we're no longer in the middle of project planning - we're at the end of working out what we're doing an it will be "shovels in the ground" next, not that there are many earthworks!

Illustration - from the demonstration of some of the festoon lights as have been chosen for the circuit

Also KGV updates:
* Town Clerk re-assured us of proper consultation with experts prior to installation of dog agility equipment - member of the public question, written answer to follow
* EcoLoos after teething issues now working much better and much more eco than they were initially
* Sensory garden work to be undertaken largely(?) by our inhouse team

And also:
* Business case requested before we license the Town Hall for weddings
* Audit of allotments requested to ensure fair, sensible way forward for all sites
* Assembly Hall roof - quotes coming for 6/12/18/24 month fixes for the two major leaks - thanks to our volunteer for oiling the wheels and getting this moving

And finally a welcome to councillor Charlie Stokes who we look forward to seeing at future meetings too.

Published Tuesday, 10th October 2023

In planning, for land south of Melksham Town

Wiltshire Council refused planning permission for 210 new homes and a care home with 70 beds just across the road from the South Ward of Melksham Town on 27th April. An appeal has been lodged and will be heard in Melksham Town Hall from 10 a.m. on 24th October. Public welcome.

Although Melksham Town Council was not a statutory consultee, this application may be of interest to many of the residents of "my" ward being just across the main road from them. See (here).

I understand that a planning application (a lot earlier in the process) has just been submitted in detail for a primary school behind the new housing that's being built off Pathfinder way, and again this runs up to Western Way and so it's just across from Melksham Town, so once again we will not be a statutory consultee. Update Planning Application just submitted ... PL/2023/08046

The housing and care home application, refused and being appealed, is in the area indicated by the red dots on the map. The primary school is in the area indicated by the blue dot.

There is considerable merit in the plan for a primary school which is within easy walking distance of the Campion Drive / Burnet Close area; the recently added light controlled pedestrian crossing over Western Way brings the school close to home for families in those roads and the neighbouring ones. As even with planning for schools, road access for those who chose to take their children there but don't live so close will be an issue that I'm sure the planners, and Melksham Without, will look at, and it will be doubly an issue should the appeal for the next door site be upheld.

Published Monday, 9th October 2023

Planning - for everything and anything

150 people have clicked through to my "How does Planning Work" article and 180 to "HS2 - Phase 2 Cancellation" according to Google Analytics. Of those, over 80% are identified as being from the UK and that and other stats help assure me that each of those articles has really been brought up on someone's screen around 100 times. Whether they have been read is quite another question!

"How does planning work" was an interesting one and it used to baffle me - many elements of it still do, and I learn every day. And I become all the more aware that so many other elements - our entire lives, indeed, effect what we need to plan for. I wondered whether to write a whole series on planning:

1. Overview of planning
2. The National Infrastructure Commission

Then looking at the layers of general planning:

3. National Planning Policy Framework
4. The Local Plan
5. Neighbourhood Plan
6. Planning Applications

But then there are other elements linked to make the whole:

7. Environmental Planning
8. Wealth Planning
9. Population Planning
10. Transport Planning
11. Health Planning
12. Welfare Planning
13. Education Planning
14. Utilities Planning
15. Waste Planning
16. Security Planning

And a herd of elephants in the room:

A. Social Control
B. Operational Issues
C. International Matters
D. Unplanned events
E. Variance
F. Religion
G. Motivation
H. Staying at the helm

By background, I am an analyst and I fear I'm analysing things so wide here that I'm asking questions like "what and why is government" which is perhaps as far removed as I could get from my position on this page as a parish councillor.

How public finances work: [link]

National Infrastructure Commission: [link]

Image - from - under Creative Commons License 4.0

Published Sunday, 8th October 2023

HS2 phase 2 cancellation - effect on Melksham

Background: On Wednesday, the Prime Minister cancelled phase 2 of HS2 (the High Speed Rail link from London to the Midland and North) which means it is now planned to run only from London to Birmingham. At the same time, he announced the equivalent transport spend on other projects. A new body - "Network North" has been created and has had funding directed to it, including in spite of its name, some towards the South West. On Thursday, some of the other projects were withdrawn from the list, or were conditionalised so they are not certain to happen. And it became clear that some of that spend is a re-announcement of funding already in place - indeed some Wednesday schemes are even done already!

What does this mean for Melksham??

Very little obvious, but yet a great deal in reallity.

1. Use of HS2 as a transport link

Headed north from this area / constituency, we were set for a natural choice "change trains at Old Oak". Much less the case if the high speed line runs out at Birmingham - train travel to the is (and will probably remain) via Cheltenham Spa or via Oxford.

Let's face it though - from Melksham and Chippenham, headed north or to Scotland, most people drive or fly. Neither of which is good for the environment. Trains running from Old Oak to Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh at a competing speed with air, and pricable to compete because of the journey volumes, would have been a real environmental opportunity. The opportunity is not removed, but the marketing edge and competitive gain are lost - and in any case there's going to be less capacity which HS2 is really about.

2. Local works and contracts

Lots of contracts all over the county for HS2 work and that includes directly five companies based locally (in the constituency). The largest is Knorr Bremse, who make brakes for trains amongst other things; it is not clear to me yet how much cut back there will be on the number of trains to be made. Each of the other suppliers locally will have a potential impact, as will the services and suppliers down-chain to each of them. Perhaps there won't be as many people visiting Knorr Bremse to stay at the Travel Lodge and eat at the Milk Churn, or as many people working at the plant to buy local houses or their lunch at Greggs.

At one point, plans were for spoil from HS2 to be used to infill Quidhampton Quarry near Salisbury, with trains running from the construction sites via Melksham. The line, though, does not have the capacity and there was a window of opportunity for redoubling - back to where we were prior to 1967 - and with that extra capacity the side-effect opportunity to step local trains up to hourly; doubling would put capacity of trains though Melksham up from 2.5 per hour to around 12 per hour.

3. Trust in Government

Huge investment has already been made in HS2 and the government promised us high speed rail. And lots of decisions have been made and other plans made on that. They have now changed their mind and reduced HS2 to a shadow of what was planned. Readers may agree or disagree that HS2 was a good thing or not in the first place, but how sad it's been reduced to a trunk without the feeder branches. Perhaps the same mistake that Dr Beeching made in the 1960s, cutting off the feeders that in themselves were not profitable and so starving the centre core that had been.

But there's more to it than that. There is a pattern. Remember the our government was electrifying and modernising the railway from London to Oxford, to Bristol and to Swansea. But then halfway through they changed their mind. The Oxford electrification runs out at Didcot. The Swansea electrifiation runs out at Cardiff (though the Maliphant depot in Swansea has some very fine overhead electrics!), and the Bristol electrification runs out at Cocklebury Lane to the east of Chippenham, with some very fine half-built overheads and substation at Thingley a few miles north of us in Melksham.

It gets even worse. Our Prime Minister announced on Wednesday that the same amount of money would be spent on other transport projects as had been cut from HS2. Sounds good - but look carefully. "Other transport projects" includes road building, for which there is already an equivalent budget, so the net effect is to take a previously planned budget split between rail and road and skew it towards road. It gets yet worse. Many of these projects where alternative spending was shouted are making use of other funding already announced - there might have been an implication that money was bring transferred, but it has become clear that we may have been invited to draw that conclusion, but it's not the reality.

Can it get yet worse even again? Yes, it can. Projects touted on Wednesday were deleted from the government web site on Thursday. Amongst them, completing the electrification of the railway from Cocklebury Lane, Chippenham to Bristol. Projects such as the funding of the new station at Wellington in Somerset, which has been through so many stages of business case already, has had "subject to business case review" added on. Taking HS2 into Euston, restore to the plan on Wednesday, has had "if we can get private investment to help pay for it" added on.

I DO trust that the £2 flat fare on the buses, which was due to increase at the end of this month, will indeed remain throughout next year, and I applaud that; if the next general election doesn't happen until January 2025, I expect it will be extended again. And I do expect we'll see our incumbent MP standing in front of pothole-filing machines in Melksham and Devizes telling us of this local benefit from her government. And I do applaud road repairs and affordable bus travel. Other investment promises - whether real new money, or re-announced, sorry, I don't trust our government. I will work and walk forward in hope, but I'll always be doing a "what if" worst case, especially for spring 2025.

Illustrations, clockwise from top left
- an HS2 train, brakes from Knorr Bremse of Melksham
- a list of HS2 contractors in the Chippenham constituency
- HS2 contractor map showing wider area
- planned HS2 interchange station
- Abandoned electrification near Chippenham

Published Saturday, 7th October 2023

Planning - should we have looked across the road?

Your Town Council represents resident's views on planning applications in the town. Last night we considered two major applications for care homes (yellow pin) and are submitting our views (one objection, one OK but with conditions) to Wiltshire Council. But why, oh why, did we not take a look at the 300 homes proposed just across the road from the Water Meadow (white pin).

Three hundred more homes, some less than 100 metres from the pub, are or significant interest to residents of Melksham Town. On past form, new housing to the East of the town will get transferred into the town in due course, and in my view we should have taken a look. And whether we objected or accepted for the town, we should have specified the infrastructure elements we believe should have been specified to support the new residents and other residents in the vicinity.

I am - disappointed - that neither our staff nor the chair or vice-chair of the commitee brought this to the committee, and when I asked last night discussion was refused. I note in contrast that Melksham Without consider planning applications which are just across the road from their parish and which may have significant effect on them, and I commend them for that. We do have an opportunity at the next "Econ Dev" meeting which is a few days before the deadline, and I will be asking for it to be added to the agenda, together with any other planning applications within 100 yards of the town.

Published Wednesday, 4th October 2023

Thank you for voting Graham Ellis onto Melksham Town Council

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