Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry
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pre-Inaugural briefing - Melksham Community Area Partnership

14th July, Semington Village Hall - the sort of inaugural meeting of the Melksham Community Area Partnership (see about CAPs and about Wiltshire's new structures).

I wondered why Semington Village Hall for a "Melksham" meeting - Semington Village has been made an awkward place to drive to due to road restrictions forcing visitors from Melksham to drive all around the Semington bypass and approach from the other end, and it seemed odd for a Melksham meeting. It became clearer.

Joanna, on short term contract to the council, explained what the Community Area Partnership was, handed out questionnaires with about a dozen statements about CAPs and asked us to choose "True", "False" or "Don't Know" - a good way to set the subject / theme and get the discussion running. And she introduced Laura who assists these partnerships throughout the authority area, and Abbi who is a council officer, with a role to support the Melksham Area Board.

Many of the 40 or so faces at the meeting were very familiar to me, and deeply involved in local politics - so knew what an CAP was. But many of us did not / could only make educated guesses, and so this priming was a healthy introduction, and lead to animated discussions through the evening.

At the end of the meeting, a roadmap for the formation of the Melksham CAP was drawn. 8 of the people present volunteered to form an initial steering group with a view to setting up the structure of the CAP and constitution, prior to a further meeting at which CAP steering group members would probably be elected, with the CAP (in whatever form it turns out to exist) then starting to function (or not). It was very interesting to see that even after a lukewarm reception to the idea, the 'usual culprits' quickly volunteered for the posts, sensing a powerful role on offer, whereas the more targeted / single issue / ordinary people present were left rather bemused by the whole process. Some excellent speakers who would have brought a breath of fresh air failed to come forward. I am not going to publish the notes I made listing the 8, but please feel free to email me if you want to know; officially, I guess, I should tell you to ask Laura, or Abbi.

What are the major issues of concern that came up.

1. That the country parishes will be swamped by Melksham Town. Villages of 300 or 400 people feel that their voice won't be heard fairly with the 21,000 of Melksham. Yet I would speculate that the county already spends more per member of its rural population on roads, on transport subsidy, on refuse collection ... than it does on its majority urban population. If everyone feel it's unfair, it's probably about right!

2. That the CAP will not be truly independent of the Area Board. Members of the area board seem to be under the impression that they can require cases to be made for expenditure by the CAP - "it won't be a problem if they do good work" said a current Area Board Councillor. But I worry about the area board withholding funding or making it awkward if it feels the CAP is not doing good work, or if it wants to spend money on non-CAP projects. I am also concerned of a conflict of interests if people are active on the CAP steering committee (with voting rights) AND are on the Area Board (with voting rights). There is already one such case and apparently (as anyone can be on the CAP), it's within the rules.

3. That some communities in the area are not naturally Melksham based and feel out of place. Poulshot look naturally to Devizes ... Steeple Ashton is 5km from Trowbridge, but 8km from Melksham and has direct public transport to Trowbridge - but not to Melksham (change at Trowbridge!) Are the people in these places really going to want to be on the Melksham CAP, and are the people who look naturally to Melksham as their centre really going to want to put money into Poulshot to Devizes issues?

4. That true consultations will not happen and it will just be "he who shouts loudest who gets heard"? With just a few people talking, a fear was expressed that the CAP could get taken over by a few vocal voices.

5. That the CAP will add another layer between residents and their councillors and area board, thus the councillors will not be so much in touch.

6. That there is no forum for cross-boundary matters. One gentleman was talking about public transport services, and it seems the CAP isn't going to be great for that - nor for other things shared over a wider area. I felt rather sorry for him being shushed by the chair, without an adequate alternative representation being presented. (Some readers who know me will be aware of my own public transport concerns - getting people around within the Melksham Board Area and to and from Melksham to help the whole economy of the place. I did not know the gent, and felt it best to keep my own concerns / case to myself in the Semington meeting, rather looking at other avenues.

7. That consultations inputs will be filed rather than being acted on with due weight. The role is to advise, suggest and plan. But it seemed clear that there is no guarantee (and I wonder what the expectation is) that what results will be given due weight. Past personal experience is that there are a lot of hidden agendas around in Wiltshire, and CAP consultations are another golden opportunity for a "we consulted" box to be ticked, without any consideration being given of the results.

8. That the CAP will conflict with the Parish Councils / Town Council. They should work together but with different boundaries / people, who knows?

9. That only the officially recognised bodies will get involved with the CAP Invites to the meeting had gone out to "160 organisations on our lists" (and it was good that 40 attended and 40 apologised for absence). But I would love to have had the meeting mentioned via editorial in the local papers, for example. I wonder who is on the official list. Chamber of Commerce IS, it seems. None of the rail campaign groups that I am involved with - and which are well known to people at council - was.

10. That the CAP will run amuck spending taxpayer's money like there's no tomorrow and have to be bailed out by the authority. This fear was expressed at Area Board level, with memories of Melksham First which may be biased memories. It may well be that the purpose of this fear was the start of an area board v CAP power play.

11. That the CAP area board will disregard all minorities, even including significant ones who's position should be considered.

I'm sorry that list looks so negative ... but let's take it as being careful to list out some of the pitfalls to be avoided; I chose personally not to put my name forward for the initial steering group. I was at the meeting by invite to represent Melksham Chamber of Commerce and did not feel it was my place without going to committee to put me / us forward for this body. Had I been there in a personal or other organisation committee basis or on dual invite, I might have taken a different view. But also - I am no expert at waste disposal, health and so many other topics that effect the area, nor am I a great organiser, so there are other things I can do with my time which are more suited.

There is an opportunity in the area board. And there are some excellent people on the steering group who could make an excellent job of the cards they have been dealt. They deserve our support and encouragement - I hope to be able to attend the formal launch of the formed body and to offer it appropriate support. Who knows - if the organisation ends up with specialist groups looking after areas with which I am concerned, I may find myself deeper involved. Just as the parishes fear being swamped by the town of Melksham, so the town of Melksham fears being swamped by the 'big three' of Salisbury, Chippenham and Trowbridge - the mantra that Council Officials seem to echo at county wide meetings on subjects from Budget to Tourism, from Policing to Development, and from connectivity to waste disposal. A strong CAP could ensure a fairer hearing for all, and I hope it works.

Footnote - why was the meeting in Semington? I don't know, but I'm guessing that it was a message to the parishes from whoever chose the venue to symbolically make them the more welcome.

[b]Update - December 2009[/b]. The inaugral AGM took place on 20th November, and I stood for / was acceped for the steering group for the next year. [report]. the first meeting of this steering group took place on 9th December; I have chosen NOT to file a report yet on my blog.
(written 2009-07-15, updated 2009-12-19)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Z301 - Current Affairs
  [3720] Melksham ATC - freedom of the town - (2012-05-05)
  [3646] Exploring Melksham with a film maker - (2012-03-09)
  [3467] Charities v Charitable. The cost of collecting your donation. - (2011-10-06)
  [3385] Do university courses teach the right things for life at work later on? - (2011-08-10)
  [3357] Business, priorities, and volunteering - (2011-07-14)
  [3347] The Anthony trial - Orange County, Florida. Thoughts on conclusion - (2011-07-06)
  [3282] The future of canal management and charities - Kennet and Avon Canal bias - (2011-05-08)
  [3265] Alternative Vote (AV) - cutting the crap - (2011-04-25)
  [3231] Footpath, Bridleway, Byway, Road used as Public Path - (2011-04-04)
  [3228] What can you take on a public footpath? Pram? Wheelbarrow? Dog? Shopping Trolley? Horse? Cycle? - (2011-04-03)
  [3183] Redevelopment on the banks of the Avon in Melksham - (2011-02-25)
  [3126] Car Parking in Melksham - thoughts on the proposed scheme, and wider thoughts too - (2011-01-09)
  [3030] Liquorice allsorts and Dolly Mixtures - (2010-11-05)
  [3028] VAT rise in January - it is really up 14% not just 2.5% - (2010-11-03)
  [2995] A river in Melksham is not just for boaters. - (2010-10-11)
  [2982] Travel, Transport and Tourism - A vision for Melksham, 2026 - (2010-10-03)
  [2904] Melksham Area Board meeting of last week - (2010-08-04)
  [2852] Atworth Village Fete - on the Melksham Community Area Partnership stand - (2010-07-04)
  [2776] Regional Spatial Strategy and the next 20 years - Whence Wiltshire under the new government? - (2010-05-22)
  [2666] Random thoughts on Melksham Town Planning and development - (2010-03-08)
  [2602] East of Melksham - Building Work Starts - (2010-01-28)
  [2574] Summary of Wiltshire Core Strategy responses - (2010-01-13)
  [2514] The road show has been - where now? - (2009-11-27)
  [2508] Community Area Partnership - inaugural AGM - (2009-11-20)
  [2128] Wiltshire - where everybody matters - (2009-04-13)
  [2112] Whatever next ... the joys of being an employer - (2009-04-01)
  [1987] One Cheer for Local Democracy - Asda in Melksham - (2009-01-11)
  [1960] Christmas Survivors - (2008-12-25)
  [1275] Incident in Melksham - (2007-07-24)
  [1214] New Serieses for the summer on TV - (2007-06-02)
  [614] News in Ireland - (2006-02-20)
  [377] A Strengthened City - (2005-07-14)
  [33] 10 Years of experience - (2004-08-30)

Z402 - Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  [4278] Future Swindon - Westbury train services. At current level into the future? - (2014-05-25)
  [4170] Herman Miller coming to Melksham - the Chamber of Commerce is briefed - (2013-09-10)
  [4164] Melksham Market - every Tuesday - (2013-09-03)
  [4151] Tell me a bit about Melksham - (2013-08-10)
  [4103] Questions from children about Melksham Campus - (2013-05-26)
  [4097] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - Report for AGM, 21st May 2013 - (2013-05-21)
  [4046] Over a hundred welcoming businesses - Melksham Town Centre - (2013-03-17)
  [4041] Report on the last year - Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Melksham Without Parish Council - (2013-03-11)
  [4014] Costa Coffee in Melksham - is it a good idea? - (2013-02-22)
  [4002] Images of Melksham you havent seen before - (2013-02-13)
  [3987] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - join us in our future - (2013-01-21)
  [3948] Quiet little town? Advanced Technology Centre? - (2012-12-08)
  [3889] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - whence in 2013 and beyond? - (2012-10-12)
  [3880] Chamber of Commerce - looking forward in Melksham and in Wessex - (2012-10-04)
  [3867] The difficult interface between the business, council and voluntary sectors - (2012-09-19)
  [3850] Bus times - Chippenham Station to Melksham, with London connections - (2012-08-25)
  [3818] Making things happen - litter and ASB and lost dogs in Melksham - (2012-07-25)
  [3812] The Melksham News - July 2012 - Part 1, Campus and Chamber of Commerce - (2012-07-22)
  [3787] Melksham Pride - the Chamber of Commerce, and the future - (2012-06-29)
  [3768] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - looking to our future shape. Pivotal meeting next Tuesday - (2012-06-19)
  [3767] How well do you know Melksham? - (2012-06-17)
  [3752] Melksham Visitors Map - Bus routes and train lines to and from the town - (2012-06-04)
  [3751] Public transport for international arrivals into Melksham - (2012-06-04)
  [3748] Not everyone has a computer - 9 more ways to learn about the Melksham Campus - (2012-06-03)
  [3739] Go green - business seminar in Melksham - (2012-05-21)
  [3732] Ten more visitors to your premises every day? - (2012-05-14)
  [3714] Just 12 winners? Or 371 or more? Town Centres. - (2012-04-30)
  [3710] Encouraging business in Melksham and its neighbourhood - keep business local?? - (2012-04-27)
  [3706] An exciting Chamber of Commerce AGM - sound like an Oxymoron? - (2012-04-25)
  [3700] Why do people use chains rather than independent traders? - (2012-04-18)
  [3697] Events in Melksham - read all about them, and tell us about yours - (2012-04-15)
  [3696] Melksham government and business organisations - (2012-04-14)
  [3693] Wiltshire Business Support Service - (2012-04-11)
  [3682] Melksham Business Newsreel - (2012-04-03)
  [3677] Some advise for guest speakers at meetings - (2012-03-31)
  [3672] Melksham Train Service - please support the TransWilts case for regular trains - (2012-03-25)
  [3663] Changing shops and organisations - Melksham, the last and next five years - (2012-03-21)
  [3627] Meeting Report - Tuesday 21st Feb - to Melksham Chamber of Commerce from Shadow Community Operations Board - (2012-02-27)
  [3598] Melksham Civic Awards - report and pictures - (2012-01-29)
  [3560] Melksham, Month by month through 2011 - (2011-12-23)
  [3527] Melksham - changing times, an opportunity for the future - (2011-11-23)
  [3496] Melksham - Business to Business Speed Networking - build ahead for 2012 - (2011-10-26)
  [3495] Looking forward - Chamber of Commerce has 2012 and beyond on the agenda - (2011-10-26)
  [3492] Upcoming events in and about Melksham - more dates for your diary - (2011-10-22)
  [3481] Some thoughts in answer to some Melksham Campus questions - (2011-10-14)
  [3475] Havant - Shop Frontages. - (2011-10-12)
  [3470] Currently pictured in Melksham - (2011-10-09)
  [3438] Melksham to become a part of Trowbridge? - (2011-09-13)
  [3427] What is on the Melksham Agenda? - (2011-09-09)
  [3423] 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 12? - (2011-09-07)
  [3420] Making best use of the new enthusiasm for Melksham - (2011-09-05)
  [3383] Are people who walk into Melksham being asked to subsidise parking? - (2011-08-09)
  [3380] Melksham Jelly - An Occasional Office for Home Workers - (2011-08-06)
  [3343] Summer Sunday Train Service Starts - Swindon Chippenham and Melksham to Weymouth - (2011-07-03)
  [3340] Summer Sunday Timetable - TransWilts Trains - (2011-06-30)
  [3334] A lesson from the sporran market? - (2011-06-25)
  [3325] The Olympic Torch, and Melksham House - (2011-06-14)
  [3307] Melksham Community Radio launches - (2011-05-28)
  [3299] Presidents Report to Melksham Chamber of Commerce, 24.5.2011 - (2011-05-24)
  [3279] Letter to The Editor - (2011-05-06)
  [3275] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - grows to appoint new Press Officer. Welcome. Sam - (2011-05-02)
  [3272] Melksham Car Parking - current charges and limits - (2011-05-01)
  [3249] Events - Spring and Early Summer 2011 in Melksham - (2011-04-17)
  [3246] Melksham - the way forward. 26th April, Well House Manor - (2011-04-13)
  [3217] Vandalism and riot from the minority - the effect - (2011-03-28)
  [3214] Melksham Campus - any last minute inputs from Melksham businesses? - (2011-03-26)
  [3193] Melksham Campus - what, why, questions, concerns and how you can input - (2011-03-04)
  [3188] What proportion of the British Workforce still works a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, week? - (2011-03-01)
  [3173] What is the Melksham Chamber of Commerce? - (2011-02-18)
  [3172] On consultations, car parking, and Melksham town centre - (2011-02-17)
  [3162] Keep your business customer-friendly! - (2011-02-09)
  [3141] Wiltshire Rail services - a golden opportunity - (2011-01-21)
  [3117] Opportunities for Melksham - new businesses in the town - (2011-01-01)
  [3113] Trowbridge and Melksham to Chippenham - more roadworks, even slower journey over the winter - (2010-12-30)
  [3088] Melksham - two many councils? - (2010-12-16)
  [2959] A Melksham news roundup - (2010-09-18)
  [2957] Welcome to Countrywides new Melksham store - (2010-09-15)
  [2932] Getting into and out of Wiltshire towns .. a.k.a. Car Parking? - (2010-08-23)
  [2891] Wiltshire Council ask how they can help businesses - (2010-07-27)
  [2883] Melksham Oak - photos of the new community school - (2010-07-22)
  [2872] Moved - Melksham Lorry Park - (2010-07-15)
  [2867] Cycling in Melksham, and looking forward - (2010-07-11)
  [2853] Transport in Wessex - today and into the future - (2010-07-04)
  [2837] Lorry Parking in Melksham - (2010-06-29)
  [2827] Melksham - a gem in Wiltshire - (2010-06-26)
  [2782] Tell the Melksham Chamber or you only have yourself to blame - (2010-05-26)
  [2779] The history and future of Melksham Chamber of Commerce - (2010-05-25)
  [2770] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - Presidents report to AGM - (2010-05-19)
  [2725] How do our tactics help us meet the strategy, for the greater good? - (2010-04-16)
  [2683] Car Parking in Melksham - (2010-03-18)
  [2640] How is your tax pound spent? - (2010-02-18)
  [2594] Melksham Area - your community view is sought - (2010-01-23)
  [2568] Forums for your Melksham and open source discussions - (2010-01-09)
  [2546] How well do you know Melksham - a quiz for Christmas - (2009-12-21)
  [2544] Vision for Wiltshire - (2009-12-20)
  [2540] Rock and hard place .. and the relaxing right one won - (2009-12-18)
  [2531] Melksham - new Tuesday Market - (2009-12-09)
  [2521] Melksham Market - Tuesdays, 09:00 to 14:00 - (2009-12-01)
  [2495] Planning the future of Wiltshire - (2009-11-07)
  [2487] Melksham Forum - (2009-11-01)
  [2465] Melksham Town - asleep or awake? - (2009-10-21)
  [2459] New Web Site for Melksham Chamber of Commerce - (2009-10-18)
  [2437] Wiltshire Unitary News - Chamber of Commerce Intelligence - (2009-10-04)
  [2328] Melksham - no trains, no southbound buses through the town - (2009-08-08)
  [2288] Wiltshire Community Area Partnerships - (2009-07-15)
  [2260] Important - the future of Melksham / Chamber of Commerce - (2009-06-28)
  [2220] Melksham Traders - where do we go? - (2009-06-05)
  [2194] Melksham Business Map - Chamber of Commerce, Tourist Information and Town Council - (2009-05-21)
  [2181] You cannot please all of the people all of the time - (2009-05-14)
  [2119] Make your business a DESTINATION business - (2009-04-05)
  [2111] Business Networking for Melksham - 23rd April - (2009-04-01)
  [2095] Blue Ridge and Melksham Chambers of Commerce - (2009-03-21)
  [2043] Confidence, Customer Service and Tourism in Melksham - (2009-02-15)
  [1979] Looking forward, in Melksham, in 2009 - (2009-01-05)
  [1934] Lidl opens in Melksham - (2008-12-11)
  [1904] Ruby, Perl, Linux, MySQL - some training notes - (2008-11-23)
  [1892] Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry - (2008-11-17)
  [1881] Wiltshire Council says - part 1 - (2008-11-13)
  [1880] Melksham Chamber of Commerce, or the FSB - (2008-11-12)
  [1792] All the pieces fall into place - hotel and courses - (2008-09-10)
  [1748] Hotel room prices - Melksham, Wiltshire - (2008-08-11)
  [1642] Summer! - (2008-05-15)
  [1633] Changing a screen saver from a web page (PHP, Perl, OSX) - (2008-05-06)
  [1507] Comments on proposed Asda Superstore for Melksham - (2008-01-14)
  [1504] Flooding by Asda-s proposed new supermarket - (2008-01-12)
  [1476] Shopping for Christmas and looking forward - (2007-12-17)
  [1432] Wiltshire County Council - Budget Consultation - (2007-11-15)
  [1429] Remembrance day - inside a church and inside the day - (2007-11-11)
  [1250] Business speed networking - a place tonight! - (2007-06-28)
  [1223] Asda opening large new store in Melksham - (2007-06-08)
  [717] A customer service company - (2006-05-11)


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Opening and reading files - the ruby fundamentals
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pre-Inaugural briefing - Melksham Community Area Partnership
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Great new diagrams for our notes ... Python releases
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