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Graham Ellis - Regular updates - my diary

Links in this page:
People like us - Unite to Survive
Environment Working Group - MTC
Who do I contacts about ...
Public Transport - Melksham - October 2023
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
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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.

Questions to Melksham Town Council for 30.10.23

Tonight's a Full Town Council meeting. Members of the public may turn up and ask questions; councillors are required to submit questions they have in advance. Here are questions I submitted on 24th October for this evening. In addition I will be addressing various matters that are on the agenda during the course of the meeting. My questions:

Update - 31st October 2023 - Answers cut in. Please note that the answers given are at present my interprettaion of what was said. You can watch the recording of last night (until it is deleted) and in the longer term these answers should be in the minutes.

1. Progress on Electronic Communications and Social Media Policy
1.1 Will this policy which was lost from council business on 17th July be brought back?
1.2 Will any suggested updates be applied prior to re-tabling?
1.3 What policy are our staff working to at present?

Answer: Yes, it will be brought back, but there has not been the resource available to do it. The staff are not working to any policy at present. However, I challenged that having had one of my own contributions to social media deleted, and I understand that in reallity there is no written policy at present, with staff acting to "moderate" as they feel appropriate.

2. Freedom of Information
2.1 Does the Town Council keep a register of Freedom of Information requests it receives?
2.2 Does it publish the requests and the responses, and if so, where?
2.3 How many requests have been received in the past 12 months?
2.4 How much officer's time has gone into handling FOI requests in the last 12 months?

Answer: No, the council does not keep a register nor publish the requests and responses. Just two requests have been received in the last 12 months. So those must be the ones from the MIN on KGV lighting on 8th August and on the one earlier in the year which was referred on to the Melksham Historcial Association even though they are not subject to FOI. Officer's time - 23 hours.

3. Blue Pool and Assembly Hall report
3.1 When will the structural survey and options reports be available to councillors and public? (1)
3.2 Have quotations been received for fixing leaks in the AH roof and when will this be done? (2)

Answer: The structural survey has been made available in the last week. Quotes have been received for the Assembly Hall roof too. They are included later in the agenda. More to follow elsewhere on this

4.1 Are we making an offer on the Cooper Tires site?
4.2 How are Melksham Town Council providing local support to potential bidders for the Cooper Tires factory site and other land holdings for sale?
4.3 Is Melksham Town Council taking any active role in the sales of these sites - for example forming part of a bid group of developers or ecological interests looking to obtain the flood plain?
4.4 At what point of involvement would/do individual councillors need to declare an interest and have any done so?

Answer: There is no intsruction from council to officers to make any offer. It would be inappropriate for Melksham Town Council to provide local support which is being done by Wiltshire Council's economic redevelopment team, but having said that we do and have been assisting and working with that team though the neighbourhood plan. It is up to individual councillors to decide when they need to declare an interest.

5. Locum Coverage
A locum is by definition a temporary stand in role
5.1 Our current locum is excellent, but when will a permanent setup be provided?
5.2 How is cover arranged for leave - do we as a Town Council ensure that at least one of Town Clerk, Deputy Clerk, and Locum Clerk can deal with urgent matters each normal working day?

Answer: There is a staffing review underway and a permanent setup will come as an outcome from that. It is normal for at least one of the qualified clerks to be available on a working day. However, unprecedented staff changes mean that we have new staff who's prior leave plans must be respected so we have had gaps. It was stated that the clerk has always been available remotely, and that she has been contacted while on leave.

6. Allotments
I note an audit being undertaken.
6.1 What are the parameters for the audit?
6.2 Are we gathering information from allotment holder and those who want to inform the audit?
6.3 When will outcomes be addressed?

Answer: The numbers, type and use will be audited. Our officer interfaces with the allotment holders to address issues.

7. KGV Park
7.1 When will the inner gate to the dog park be moved to open onto the hard surface? (3)
7.2 When will the derelict maintenance shed be removed? (4)

Answer: The gate will be moved in late November or early December 2023, the exact dates being weather dependent. The maintenance shed will be removed during November.

That's almost a week ago. Of course, a lot can be answered in a week. I have heard back from the head of operations, quoting my email, as follows:
(1) A structural survey report has been received and added as an agenda supplement
(2) Quotes have now been received and will be at council as an agenda supplement
(3) "At the end of November"
(4) I have been given a schedule and it's very soon.

These questions are following up things I have been asked. If you are one of the people asking, please watch for my follow ups, or come along / watch tonight

Published Monday, 30th October 2023

People like us - Unite to Survive

Yesterday, I went into Bath to the "Unite to Survive" event which was organised by Extinction Rebellion in support of the aim of bringing the environment to greater attention and looking to get that attention joined up to help get more effective action to deal with problems which are now commonly accepted and which some are suggesting are so bad that we may have gone past a point of no return.

I was heartened to see Victoria Park buzzing with stalls and people - some exotic but many just like you and I who are sufficiently concerned to have gone along and be seen supportive of the need to raise profile, and to take away that support and actively act on it away from the couple of hours in the part. I was hearted to see positive, polite and thinking interaction all around, and that included between the organising co-ordinators and the police. But not everything was so positive.

The groups at the event are so disparate - each with their own view of how things should be done, and without being linked it's hard to see how they can produce a notable effect; the theme of the day acknowledged this as "unite to survive" and appreciating that there is an issue to be addressed is the first step towards solving it.

I looked around at the stalls and with some found it difficult to work out their message and even who they were; chatting with people resolved that to some extent, but the focus and promotion left a great deal to be desired, the enthusiasm for the cause draining away through holes in the delivery. That may not be as bad as these written words make out; you have to try things and only some of them succeed, and if a stall brought even 1% of people who passed by into active association with the group concerned, it's a positive impact.

Individual action is unlikely to make an impact on the climate - governments need to co-ordinate and be committed. It was good to see booths promoting Green Party approaches and Labour Party approaches - though from a Bath and Wiltshire viewpoint I would like to have seen people telling us what the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are doing and advocating. Current thinking in some of the circles I listen to is that our current government and mainstream politicians are set on winning elections and that their policies to do so are far from what's needed in the longer term - some are actually discouraging environmental care at the present time, with no signs of change once elected.

There is strength in numbers. 1 + 1 = much more that 2. I would probably not have gone on my own yesterday. With a colleague from the Environment and Climate Working Group, I went. His presence gave me the impetus and courage to go, and his company gave me a voice to discuss things with through the day; it helped us both make the best of the day, and rationalise what we were learning.

In this text, I criticise groups for not being joined up and I could do the same for ours here in Melksham. So let me invite you along this Tuesday to the informal meeting of the Environnment and Climate Working Group at 18:00 here at 48, Spa Road. And I comment above about the strength of the support of being with and thinking with others. We are all concerned friends here - even if you come alone, you will not be left feeling alone.

Published Sunday, 29th October 2023

Environment Working Group - MTC

Our natural environment is key to life, and the way we look after our planet (or have been failing to) has moved - belatedly - to being of general interest and accepted as a priority by many. Of 9 environmental measures of the health of our planet, only three are in the "green" zone. The other six are at, or beyond, what is sustainable.

The previous Melksham Town Council created an environment working group (in 2019), with a great mandate and aspirations. Your new Council, elected in 2021, carried on the group; I was and remain a member. But, sadly, motivation seemed lacking and while the group did do a few things, they were tantalisingly few and several councillors including the group chair and a number of community specialists / experts left. I can understand their frustration. But the environment is too important for us to give up on it. The group has had a rebirth and is intended to be much more effective in what it can achieve. I see a massive enthusiasm and I call for more people to join us.

* We are now meeting formally every 3 weeks - at 18:00 on Tuesdays, for one hour before the Economic Development Committee of the Town Council. In addition, we meet informally on most other Tuesdays (same time, different location) from 18:00, without town council support staff.

* Where there was just a handful of people left around the table six months ago, we now have a much healthier number, and next Monday we will be asking full council to let us formally enrol several of our new community members who are committed to be a regular part of the group.

* We will also be asked to change our reporting structure so that we report direct to full council, but we will have one designated councillor on each committee so that matters relating to the environment are considered at all stages, but do not delay Council process as they get referred around the system between committees that meet just every 3 months.

* We are able to invite guests to our meetings (though they are not public meetings) and will be setting up a mailing list of associates who are very much our supporters but cannot make a commitment to come along to most meetings. These associated will be very welcome at meetings - just please let the us know ahead of time.

Plans ahead ...

* Urgent - an update on planting from the Town Council, delayed from the last opportunity until this November. Planting needs to be seasonally done to give new trees and other permanent shrubs the best opportunity of "taking" and still being there in 2025 and beyond.

* October 30th - Full Council changes as above. And encourage other councillors (including those who left the old group feeling it ineffective) to rejoin. We are much stronger and more effective now.

* Then - Review our terms of reference and get those ratified at a subsequent full council meeting. Current terms (here).

* Review our master plan spreadsheet - the Environment is such a massive topic that we need to maintain our overall direction.

Both of these two things are well underway (terms of ref and master plan)

* In the New Year, start working towards ClimateFest 2024. This is one element in our informing of the community of environmental issues and should be seen as a part of what we're doing and not as a means to an end in itself.

There is so much else on the plan too - this post is no more than an update, a statement of direction, an an encouragement to my fellow councillors and others who would like to be part of our inner weekly group to get in touch.

Image - It's not just about warmer temperatures - it's also about extreme weather and the damage it causes and natural resources such as water. Ironic picture showing too much water at the wrongs place and time. And how that can damage infrastucture.

Published Thursday, 26th October 2023

Who do I contacts about ...

Who is my local councillor? Which Council do I need to contact?

Please note that for day to day issues, you should contact the appropriate council directly. For Wiltshire Council issues, you are encouraged to report cases via and for the Town Council, email

* - Wiltshire Councillor
+ - Town Councillor
*+ - serves on both councils

Melksham Forest Ward (Melksham Forest and south to Clacker's Brook and Lowborne)
*+ Jack Oatley
+ Pat Aves
+ Claire Forgacs
+ Sue Mortimer
+ Tom Price

Melksham North Ward (Melksham to the North West of the River Avon)
*+ Phil Alford
+ Saffi Rabey

Melksham South Ward (Most of the Town center south to Western Way)
*+ Jon Hubbard
+ Jacqui Crundell
+ Graham Ellis
+ Colin Goodhind

Melksham East Ward (East from roads off Snowberry Lane and Blackmore Road)
* Mike Sankey
+ Gary Cooke
+ Simon Crundell
+ Charlie Stokes
+ Jennie Westbrook

If you get the wrong councillor, don't worry - most of us will happily redirect you; within the town councillors, most of us have our own areas of interest and we know one another to help by passing things on.

Published Wednesday, 25th October 2023

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

Thank you for voting Graham Ellis onto Melksham Town Council

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