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Graham Ellis - Regular updates - my diary

Links in this page:
IOU - Blue Pool and Assembly Hall update
Say "Hello" at the Splashpad
Wiltshire draft local plan for Melksham
How green are our walkways?
Project Assembly Hall and Blue Pool
Council questions and payment procedures
At the Splashpad this summer
Full Council - meeting notes
Wiltshire bus passenger headlines, 26.6.2023
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Some other pages on this site:
Home page and • town diary
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.

Out of the box ideas

I've been visiting Weymouth (again!) today - taking a group but at the same time looking and learning. Some unconventional ideas for exhibitions, museums, ClimateFest, etc - modern (and replacable) objects that say "yes please, touch me" to attract a broader range of visitors including the young, and to engage with visitors and make it a memorable experience. Simple display boards that show not only the complex principles, but also how you are employing them.

Published Saturday, 8th July 2023

IOU - Blue Pool and Assembly Hall update

IOU - our residents - an update on matters Assembly Hall, Blue Pool an so forth - or on matters such as providing potentially for booking, indoor bowling, cafe area, citizens advice, civic centre, climbing wall, community base(s), community meeting place, community room, creche, enquiry desk, entertainment venue, exhibition area, first aid room, gift shop, heat-pump, hub, kitchen, lecture room, lido, loos, lounge, maintenance, mosque and support rooms, museum, OAP games room, polling station, pop up bank, public WiFi, rainwater collection, safe space, solar generation, stage, storage, support room, ticket sales, town hall car parking, venue bar and youth centre. That's from people want - Needs Assessment last December, the Town Centre Masterplan, Priority for People, as well as the other more empirical data like what people are saying and asking, and also work done in the life of the previous council. There's a frightening number of elements, options, and data sources. And the Blue Pool has now been declared as surplus to Wiltshire Council's requirements ...

On Monday of the week before last, the Town Council voted to take a very serious look at the possibilities offered by the Blue Pool and Site - through an enhanced working group to involve the Friends too On Tuesday just gone, the Friends Committee met, with councillors invited, and on Thursday both councillors and key friends toured the pool. The group I was with included friends people with significant technical knowledge, and we took a good look at the detail of the building, condition, measurements, etc.; we really have an excellent and committed bunch of volunteers and there are other key people who could not make it at short notice but for whom further access can be arranged. And it comes back for full council a week on Monday (17th). I don't know what the outcome will be, but I know we have a superb team and the outcome will be well through through both in what's done short term (within the life of this council) and for the long term (target date 2038 like the neighbourhood plan?) - looking at what is does for the community and its sustainability for the community.

This is something of an interim - holding - public message to let people know what's going on. Please - by all means - comment and engage. Anything I have missed from my "benefits" list above, tell me. But if I have anything to do with it, there will be real public input as we go through with this, but then decisions made and we'll all follow the emerged best path and get it done.

Finally - a big "thank you" to everyone more widely involved, including those in official posisition who are behind the scenes, for helping us start this process; we are delighted to be working with you.

Published Friday, 7th July 2023

Say "Hello" at the Splashpad

Spashpad - open. I've been on external course, trained internally, and can now open, close, and test and make daily adjustments. Of course, the Town Council has a team of people doing this to help ensure it's open, 7 days a week, until the end of the school holidays. The role is a safety one, making sure that the water is safe through the day, and maintaining records of that. We (those of us who do this) job are not, however, lifeguards and it's the responsibility of parents and guardians to look after their own charges.

Water tests are made every 2 hours, and in between those tests I am more than happy to chat with folks. With the absolute understanding and proviso that the pad's operation and safety come first; please do not think me rude if I need to walk away from a conversation. Others who on duty at other times will probably not have the same ability to stop and chat, as the Council's team has many other tasks around the park to perform which are beyond me, and which are a part of their jobs.

Please say "hello" if you're here on Wednesday of next week (12th July) or Thursday the week after (20th July) - 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or if you're quick today as I'm passing over to others at 2 p.m. and going off for a tour of the Blue Pool - but that's another story ...

Published Thursday, 6th July 2023

Wiltshire draft local plan for Melksham

Wiltshire Council have just published (as a draft in cabinet papers) their local plan for each of the towns in the county for the next decade. I have mirrore it at - and note that Melksham is on pages 394 to 468. Map from the document illustrates this article and I quote:

"What development is proposed?

"Sites 1 and 17 are considered more than capable of meeting the scale of residual requirements for both new homes and employment that should be planned for."

Huge amount in there over Melksham as a whole.

The Local Plan covers all of Wiltshire. The NEIGHBOURHOOD Plan look at other more local issues and development, and ouf neighbourhood plan team has been waiting for this document to that - as required - we can fit around it. As deputy chair of the neigbourhood plan steering group, I have a very great deal of reading in to do - in particular in relation to our own site selection.

At this stage, the local plan is a draft only. Your Wiltshire Councillor can make inputs to the cabinet (or directly at the cabinet meeting on 11th July if he sits on there ...

Published Monday, 3rd July 2023

How green are our walkways?

How much should we be clearing road and paths of weeds, and how much should we appreciate the greenness, the softening of hard edges and the environmental benefits it might bring? But then when do we get to the point of things being overgrown, interfering with sight lines, and in the case of brambles and nettles being distinctly antisocial when brushed against?

There is a complex setup of county, town and neighbour responsibilities for keeping the roads clean, and wide options as to what the most appropriate level is - for greenery, remaining footpath and road space, and for the consequential leaf mould and how that should be dealt with.

Walking to the station yesterday morning, brambles are encroaching onto both footpaths on Bath Road and overhanding the path down to the underpass. Something I haven't noticed in previous years. Is this because they haven't been trimmed as much as usual, because they're growing stronger this year, or because I have not been around as much or as observant in past years?

Published Sunday, 2nd July 2023

Project Assembly Hall and Blue Pool

What's happening? - Let me share an email just sent

Invites to:
- Town Councillors (14)
- FoMAH Committee (15)
- MTC Officers (7)
- If you are reading this on a public copy (where the Zoom code is redacted) but would like to be involved, please let me know. In particular, I am aware that the FoMAH group nominated its team quite a number of months ago, and since then staff changes at Melksham Town Council have meant that a number of people who love Melksham and have skills as volunteers we would welcome.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Graham Ellis is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
(This email in my role of hosting the Zoom meeting)
Topic: Friends of Melksham Assembly Hall and Assembly Hall Working Group informal meeting
Time: Jul 4, 2023 19:30
[redacted from public copy]

2. Small Groups to see / examine / measure Blue Pool property
Time: Jul 6, 2023 14:00 and 14:30

3. Week of 10th July and leading to full council on 17th July 2023.

Last Monday (26th June 2023), the Town Council voted to reform the Assembly Hall Working Group with an additional remit to look at the future involving both the Assembly Hall and the Blue Pool as well as the ongoing business of price setting and marketing for the Assembly Hall. The Working Group will report to Full Council, and will consider not only the idea of (and ideas developed from) the proposal of 22nd May 2023 at and similar options of meeting those and other needs by updating exiting infrastructure, but also other options of building anew on the whole site, and "do nothing". The way I proposed it, the working group will have very strong community representation; that to be formed / developed from the Friends of Melksham Assembly Hall. There is a great ensuring enthusiasm and experience there in the volunteer community and let's use that as part of the Melksham team.

Part of the proposal I put last Monday was a combined AHWG and FoMAH Committee meeting next Tuesday (4th July) - carefully timed to allow statutory notice of meeting to be issued, yet as promptly as possible bearing in mind our nervousness that the Blue Pool building could be demolished by Christmas. Re-assurances from Councillor Alford, who's also the Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Housing, Strategic Assets and Asset Transfer, that it will NOT be demolished until we have had time to consider and that it could be "even be years" take a little off the panic, and it was Councilor Alford's friendly amendemnt to my proposal that was passed unanimaously. But for FoMAH committee members, and with an invite to all Town Councillors and staff, we'll meet at 19:30 on Tuesday as proposed

[zoom invite link redacted from public copy]

There is an enormous decision for the Town Council coming up with regards the Assembly Hall. That could just be that we walk into doing nothing - but far better if "nothing" is the answer that we do that with knowledge. If we pick up an alternative, then we do so with planned knowledge, and I am delighted that the coucil has allocated a budget of £10,000 over the next three months to get full structural and archirect's ideas evaluated, and of top importance to look at the options and business cases to help ensure that what comes out of this are possibilites that will work, and in a sensible time, and in a sustainable way, for the community - joined up thinking. At the early stages, ideas and inputs welcome - as a member of both FoMAH and AHWG I can feed them in but better YOU join in if you have an idea and want to help us carry it through to realisation and sustinance over coming years.

In order to work out the art of the possible and practical, we all need to know what's where in the buildings concerned, what condition it's in, and what is structural and what's fixtures and fitted within. In following up meetings prior to last week, our Town Clerk has expressed an interest for us to Wiltshire Council, and conveyed our request to them to gain access to look, learn and survey; we asked to borrow a key - thank you to our clerk who has been able to arrange two tours on the afternoon of Thursday 6th July for a maximum of five people on each. The invite went out at 4 O'Clock yesterday to councillors, and I passed it on to key FoMAH people; we have put forward a project specialist, a building specialist and a marketing and promotion specialist. Councillors Pat Aves and myself have also expressed an interest, which leaves five more places for councillors and (I would suggest) one or two key members of staff.

On Tuesday, we should all introduce ourselves, plan for what we need to achieve during our Thursday visit, look to the setup of the AHWG/FoMAH for confirmation at the next full council. We should recommend routes forward to help and inform town council staff - work in such a way that we maximise the effectiveness of the work done and use of experts an miimising the load on staff - purpose to help ensure best outcome. We really should be setting up a management overview structure and GANTT chart in parallel with structure to full council.

I am not presuming any steps beyond next Thursday until we have met on Tuesday, but I would welcome the early adding to the calendar by the council staff a formal AHWG meeting that will lead to its consideration and refinement for full council to confirm on 17th July.

I look forward to seeing FoMAH committee members and Town Councillors should they wish on Tuesday evening.

Graham (Ellis)
E&OE :-)

P.S. I will have a couple of slides on Tuesday looking at Project Frameworks and much more - far better explained than in a document like this that is already getting long

Melksham Town Council, South Ward
Blog at
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I only visit other social media occasionally.
Graham Ellis -

Email: or
Phone: 01225 708225 / 0797 4 925 928
Home: 48 Spa Road, Melksham, SN12 7NY

Published Saturday, 1st July 2023

Council questions and payment procedures

Questions asked on Facebook in answer to yesterdays's blog (scroll down to read that blog)

1. "What would be good is if when questions are asked by the public, which more often than not get a ‘we will respond in writing’ answer that those answers are actually published so everyone knows the answer given - if they are already I’ve never managed to spot any."

2. "What’s worrying is seeing ( on last Mondays now deleted meeting ) a Councillor asking a pretty valid question about the signing of cheques / payment authorities being potentially rushed through and not actually checked by the signatories which is presumably the entire point in that system, being told he’s wasting people’s time by the mayor for questioning it."

1. The answers / follow ups do usually happen and are copied to relevant councillors (sometimes all of us). The team (councillor and staff) are aware that for most people to stand up and ask a question in public is quite a challenge and they're unlikely to let something go if they then don't get an answer. So the team will look to answer to the satisfaction of the enquirer. Sometimes, that is indeed a written answer that's published but sometimes it transforms into an explanatory meeting or a phone call. Sometimes, where there are multiple questions asked, there has been a tendency for our team to answer the easy bits and perhaps hope the more difficult bits go away, and at other times some things take so long to research and answer that the connection between question and answer is lost - there is an answer, but is it identified as being an answer?

Where a relevant councillor gets an answer, (s)he is able to share them / publish them in most cases and although you've "never managed to spot any", they are sometimes out there. For example, which I felt worth passing on as general interest. But there is so much data out there that it doesn't prove possible (not just a council thing) to ensure the right data reaches the right person and is noted and taken in at the right time. We (team) can try and do better - to a very great extent this blog's intent is an attempt to help; ask any relevant question and I will tackle it - though time is limited (and freely given) and the answer may be "I don't know and don't have time, nor do our team have the time, to take it further".

One of my fellow councillors proposed, and got through council, and we implemented, a tracking system - went live last summer. But almost all the staff who were trained, involved in setting it up, and running it, have left the council. I'm an IT person and I found it a difficult system and from what I can see it now contains a view of how things were a while ago. I am open to correction on that. I do feel that a straightforward live tracking system that's routinely kept up to date and fed as an automatic part of process, and that has a "push" facility to inform people of changes and updates rather than have interested parties having to keep coming back to see if there's been an update would make sense. More work? Only a bit if properly done, and the savings on time spent answering councillors and members of the public would more than compensate. The problem (if you like) is how we get to this from where we are today, and how we update our work ethic to trust one another and share data rather than feeling that everything we say is a risk, and the more we say (as I'm doing here), the less others will trust us out of the fear of their actions being questioned in detail. Sorry - I have gone off on a tangent there!

Anyway ... answers are there sometimes. And although the questions are asked in public, the answers may not be; even if they are, the answers may be lost in a flood of data or posted un-noticed. I *try* to come back where I have noted a question so if anyone comes back after the answer's there - example at - but clearly I'm failing to be noticed or satisfy if you never manage to spot anything.

2. I was a "cheque signatory" until last December, at which point I stepped down from that role having been informed that my availability was insufficient. We have had a system in which far too much time passes between an invoice being submitted and payment being made, and the latter stages of that involve two councillors attending at the Town Hall and going through the paperwork, initialling the paperwork for each payment in two places and signing if it's a real cheque rather than a BACS payment too. It's a process that takes a number of hours, and very often it's been late in the process so some of the payments are urgent / overdue.

Each payment ... the invoice comes in to the officer responsible for the expenditure, and is signed off. It goes to the finance officer who sanity checks it and puts it on the internal system. Two councillors then go through the paperwork and each sign it off. If the payment is by BACS, it's then entered into the bank's online payment system by the finance officer and councillors who are authorised for online banking are invited to go on and press the green button to have the payment actually made. In my view, there are sufficient steps in there is it's properly operated to safeguard the system, and all evidence is that my fellow councillors are trustworthy in how they enquire into odd things they spot. I know that when I was in that checking and signatory role, I asked questions; the answers usually satisfied, the common point where they did not was "why has this bill taken so long for us to pay?". BUT - it would be impractical / overbearing to understand every line item on every invoice. There's a degree of pragmatism here; I compare this, perhaps, to checking train tickets - sometimes it happens, and the security of the system is in never knowing when it will happen, so the passenger getting it right (for the most part) in the first place; in the case of putting through bad payments, if someone tries it and gets caught, the penalties are high enough to dissuade them.

We do have a number of spending / payment elements I would question, though:
• Some of our expenditure looks for actions / solutions that add elements to satisfy every councillor and bring them on board. Good, except that often things get so complex that the price goes up, the utility goes down, and the time taken is way beyond the original thought if it even gets done.
• It's good that the process as described above goes through a series of checks, but it can take far too long. An expenses cheque for a volunteer that was submitted in February arrived with that volunteer last week (I'm writing on 30th June). Most bills are paid much quicker and staff expenses are typically "fast"tracked - but that very fast-tracking is itself a risk; one I am happy with because the amounts involved are small.
• Routine payments need review from time to time, and my personal view is that in a couple of areas, payments that were set up a while back should be reviewed. Suppliers and grant recipients need an assurance and a continuity (to employ staff and buy capital resources) and the decision in the very early days of this council to protect for the life of the council, with an annual report, was fine in principle. But there are one or two that I personally feel have gone a bit soft. My own view, I must emphasise; enquiries suggest it is a minority view.

Image - an old cheque, on display at the British Museum. Perhaps we should have a banking section in our museum to reflect the long history of banking in Melksham?

I am surprised that last Monday's meeting is no longer online; whether it has been deleted or the link changed, I don't know. It was my understanding that meetings should remain online until the minutes have been approved at a following meeting.

Council meetings are long ... and in the cut and thrust, comments on the fly about "wasting time" may be made which could in review be seen as inappropriate. I'm sure our mayor does not consider himself perfect, and I know I did far worse when I chaired meetings at a committee level. Of course a system of checks and balances is important; as I recall, what was meant that it was something that should be looked at in the finance committee rather than have the entire council working the minutiae. I know it didn't come across that way - the comment I'm answering has also been echoed to me by someone else.

Congratulations to anyone who has read all of this! A classic illustration, perhaps, of too much data and whilst the content is important, it's hard to see the wood for the trees. Please feel free to ask me further questions if you dare.

P.S. Time take to answer the above takes (my) volunteer time away from allotments, lighting, assembly hall, buses, virtual hub alternative, blue pool, local transport plan, museum, climatefest ... not so much a grumble from me, but rather a flag of just how much falls onto a parish councillor's plate if (s)he chooses to let it.

Addendum - public minutes from Monday's meeting just published. To give readers an idea of just how seriously we take our financial role, I going to quote here the vote on the accounting statement for the last year. This from 5 pages of printed notes, with the votes of suffient concern in two cases for it to be a "recorded vote":

Accounting Statements 2022-2023

Members requested to approve, by formal resolution, the accounting statements as outlined in Section 2 of the Annual Return. The Annual Return must be signed by the Town Mayor, Councillor S Crundell, or in his absence, by the appointed Chair of the meeting. The document must also be signed by the Town Clerk/RFO. Full statement attached.

It was proposed by Councillor Oatley, seconded by Councillor Alford and

RESOLVED to approve the accounting statement.

There was a recorded vote on this item as follows.

Councillor Alford – For
Councillor Aves – For
Councillor Cooke – Absent
Councillor J Crundell – Absent
The Town Mayor, Councillor S Crundell – For
Councillor Ellis – For
Councillor Forgacs – Absent
Councillor Goodhind – Abstain
Councillor Houghton – Absent
Councillor Hubbard – Against
Councillor Mortimer – Against
Councillor Oatley – For
Councillor Price – Absent
Councillor Rabey – Absent

Totals. For 5, against 2, abstain 1.

We are sometimes asked to make difficult calls; my own vote in favour was made with an element of trepidation in that there are a couple of technical issues which are not ideal but pragmatically we should be moving on. The amounts involved are a tiny proportion of the budget, but I can understand accountants on the council being never the less strongly concerned. There was no indication of any intentionally naughty stuff, nor of any council failure to meet obligations.

Published Thursday, 29th June 2023

At the Splashpad this summer

Want a chat with one of your town councillors in an informal setting? Thursdays throughout July and August, I will be on volunteer duty at the Splashpad in KGV Park. My primary role there will be a safety one, including the monitoring of the operation of the pad and the regular testing of the water, and if we're chatting and a check is due, I must break off from our conversation to do that job.

Safe operation of the Splashpad is critical. It requires not only the correct mechanical working of the water flows, but also the correct quality of that water too, and for this latter is so important that the automated gauges in the equipment room are backed up by manual tests every couple of hours. That's the same way it is in a swimming pool. I have already watched, and practised under supervision, multiple openings of the Splashpad and many water tests, and I have multiple closes booked as well. And next week I'm on an offsite training course "STA Level 2 Award in Pool Water Treatment" with an onsite element. Assuming I pass (gain the award) I'll then be doing a further supervised day before running the pad on my own - though even then with emergency phone contacts, and if in any serious doubt at any time, I would shut the pad.

I am not the only one getting the above training. This summer, if you use the Splashpad you will meet others running and checking it who you have not seen in that role before. They are excellent people all going through a program of learning in a similar way to a similar level. Between us and our managers, we plan that the Splashpad will be routinely available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily to the end of August

The Splashpad operating person is NOT a lifeguard as you would have in a swimming pool, and perhaps at the seaside, and it is the responsibility of parents and guardians to keep an eye on those they are responsible for. However, the Splashpad operator does have the safety of those at and around the pad in mind at all times, and can and will direct users, including limiting access, if needed.

Background - from the public minutes of the Melksham Town Council Staffing Committee of 15th June 2023:

"Amenities Team/Town Hall Team Recruitment

"The Town Clerk updated the Committee on the recruitment process and the interim plan to ensure the business of the town council continues. Roles based at the town hall were currently being evaluated.

"Members did offer their services to assist the Amenities Team where possible; offers of help will now be included in a work plan.

"The committee commended Councillor Ellis who had volunteered to work one day a week at the Splashpad and previously for the sterling efforts of Councillor Mortimer and Goodhind who had litter picked around the skatepark and removed the dead leaves.

"A progress report on other staffing matters was made, the actions and advice were noted. (Confidential notes dated 15.6.2023 refer)"

My helping at the Splashpad this summer is a temporary arrangement. It's in the interest of users of the facilities of the park - keeping it open and safe for them. It's also an opportunity for me as a councillor to learn a little more of the job our team does, to support them, and to meet people around the town. Those benefits of learning and meeting could prove so useful that I look to reproducing the opportunity in the future, but not at the expense of tipping the balance between paid and voluntary roles. Please ask me if you have any questions.

Published Wednesday, 28th June 2023

Full Council - meeting notes

Last night, some of your elected representatives met in a full and very long council meeting. A lot of the length related to last year's accounts and assets, and I will admit to only understanding parts of the technicalities on what are very large sums of money. Insurance value (rebuild cost), what we paid for something and how much money we could get if we sold it are different, but it's far from clear to me which was which in the data presented. Some things simply could not be sold - someone else would have to be paid to take them on, because restrictions mean that little could be done them, and they need maintenance to keep them safe. I value the expertise in these matters in some of my fellow councillors, and our accountants, and there integrity, and on that basis I'm in the minority of councillors who supported the adoption of some financial papers for filing from last year.

With just 5 out of 14 elected representatives saying "yes" (3 against or abstaining, and 6 absent) this was scarcely a decision that's going to inspire public confidence. Full and final accounts were not presented for the year just gone, because a few things need to be moved around, so we noted the draft figures. There are areas where things really were not done as they should have been last year, but now is not the time to pile loads of resources into going back through that are passed; in my view it's time for a pragmatic move on. Getting a half of one percent of our turnover into the right box - at the expense of not doing things for the town, and costing more than that half of one percent in officer's time to do so, would be an irresponsible "jobsworth" approach in my view. What we have done is learned a lot, and this current year from 1st April 2023 should not be subject to the same mistakes. Let's move on.

We moved on to look at the Assembly Hall and Blue Pool site(s). A relief that your councillors are taking this very seriously. They extended their meeting to reach a decision on the next step. They allocated a budget to actually working out what's the best thing to be done. They empowered the "Assembly Hall Working Group" to report to full council and not just to a committee, and have allowed all councillors a vote there if they wish. They have set a three month project timescale for this work. My plea for expert volunteer help to have a place at the table has been glossed over and they have been diluted into insignificance. My plea to let those of us who have already worked into this help by taking the load off staff have been steamrolled, and I really don't know how the Town Clerk is going to have the time to do the job along with everything else on her plate. My (I felt) very, very clear statements that this was a starting point and all options need looking at seemed unheard by other councillors who seemed to thinks that the little group who put together the first suggestion were set on THAT as being the outcome - no, we are desperately plea-ing to simply being given an opportunity to look around ("borrow a key") so that we can help move this forward.

Councillors are right that this is massive for Melksham for the next 20 years and we need to get it right. As a negotiation with Wiltshire Council is a key element, I feel that the councillors who are on both councils (receiving money from Wiltshire Council, unremunerated by the Town Council) should step back from taking an active role at the Town Council on this, tempting though it is for them to be involved and have their names showing as key positive movers as this moves forward towards the 2025 elections. In some ways, money involved in the "transfer" or "purchase" of the Blue Pool - if that's the outcome - from one public owner to another would be a paper transaction, but on the other hand it needs to be cleanly done. Back to where I started, perhaps, with the concerns over last year's accounts where I started.

Today - a la Monty Python - something completely different. You will hear about it over coming days or weeks. And with Melksham and its people at the heart.

Published Tuesday, 27th June 2023

Wiltshire bus passenger headlines, 26.6.2023

Here's the latest update - as at this morning (26.6.2023) - on Wiltshire buses

* After the end of this week, ENCTS card ("senior bus passes") will revert to being accepted only after 09:30 on Mondays to Fridays (a few exceptions on infrequent rural routes where they will be accepted a little earlier) and any time Saturday, Sunday or public holidays

* The £2 single fare for any journey on a local bus now continues until 31st October 2023. There is lots of advertising around to tell you it's "Until 30th June" but that has been extended. From November 2023 for 12 months, the single fare will be £2.50, up from £2.

* Wiltshire Council has been awarded £2.1 million in "BSIP+" funding - a significant sum for them. However, it is not yet clear what the Department for Transport will allow the money to be spent on, nor whether it must be spent by the end of the current financial year. An update is expected on this in the next few days; it looks likely that modest service improvements may be possible, but there's a question as to where the bus operators will get the drivers from, and perhaps whether they'll have enough vehicles. There's also an open question as to how any improvements could be continued next year.

* Bus services are expected to continue broadly unchanged until Spring 2024. Consultants have been engaged and are doing various surveys and analysis to look forward. There is a consultation out to key stakeholders at present - 80 responses to date - and a public survey is planned over 12 weeks summer / autumn. Wiltshire Counci Officer referred back to the 2016 public consultation, which was their second biggest ever in Wiltshire, and they are preparing for a massive response again.

The above comes from a bus update at this morning's Wiltshire Enhanced Partership (bus) Forum. I am sharing initially via my Melksham Town Councillor blog but it applies right acrosss the county. On public transport, I have a far wider interest, and sat there this morning alongside bus professionals - from operating companies and from local transport authorities. I attended with my Option 24/7 (passenger group) hat on - http:/ needs a fresh lick of paint though, which will be coming soon; Facebook group at though that tends to get lots of posts from other nearby areas. Further writeups to follow for campaigners / partners / people taking an active interest - above news is headlines for all bus users.

Published Monday, 26th June 2023

Thank you for voting Graham Ellis onto Melksham Town Council

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