Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Lisa and Graham served on the executive committee of the Chamber of Commerce from 2000 to 2017

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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
Z402 - Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  [717] A customer service company - (2006-05-11)
  [1223] Asda opening large new store in Melksham - (2007-06-08)
  [1250] Business speed networking - a place tonight! - (2007-06-28)
  [1429] Remembrance day - inside a church and inside the day - (2007-11-11)
  [1432] Wiltshire County Council - Budget Consultation - (2007-11-15)
  [1476] Shopping for Christmas and looking forward - (2007-12-17)
  [1504] Flooding by Asda-s proposed new supermarket - (2008-01-12)
  [1507] Comments on proposed Asda Superstore for Melksham - (2008-01-14)
  [1633] Changing a screen saver from a web page (PHP, Perl, OSX) - (2008-05-06)
  [1642] Summer! - (2008-05-15)
  [1748] Hotel room prices - Melksham, Wiltshire - (2008-08-11)
  [1792] All the pieces fall into place - hotel and courses - (2008-09-10)
  [1880] Melksham Chamber of Commerce, or the FSB - (2008-11-12)
  [1881] Wiltshire Council says - part 1 - (2008-11-13)
  [1892] Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry - (2008-11-17)
  [1904] Ruby, Perl, Linux, MySQL - some training notes - (2008-11-23)
  [1934] Lidl opens in Melksham - (2008-12-11)
  [1979] Looking forward, in Melksham, in 2009 - (2009-01-05)
  [1987] One Cheer for Local Democracy - Asda in Melksham - (2009-01-11)
  [2043] Confidence, Customer Service and Tourism in Melksham - (2009-02-15)
  [2095] Blue Ridge and Melksham Chambers of Commerce - (2009-03-21)
  [2111] Business Networking for Melksham - 23rd April - (2009-04-01)
  [2119] Make your business a DESTINATION business - (2009-04-05)
  [2181] You cannot please all of the people all of the time - (2009-05-14)
  [2194] Melksham Business Map - Chamber of Commerce, Tourist Information and Town Council - (2009-05-21)
  [2220] Melksham Traders - where do we go? - (2009-06-05)
  [2260] Important - the future of Melksham / Chamber of Commerce - (2009-06-28)
  [2288] Wiltshire Community Area Partnerships - (2009-07-15)
  [2328] Melksham - no trains, no southbound buses through the town - (2009-08-08)
  [2437] Wiltshire Unitary News - Chamber of Commerce Intelligence - (2009-10-04)
  [2459] New Web Site for Melksham Chamber of Commerce - (2009-10-18)
  [2465] Melksham Town - asleep or awake? - (2009-10-21)
  [2487] Melksham Forum - (2009-11-01)
  [2495] Planning the future of Wiltshire - (2009-11-07)
  [2508] Community Area Partnership - inaugural AGM - (2009-11-20)
  [2514] The road show has been - where now? - (2009-11-27)
  [2521] Melksham Market - Tuesdays, 09:00 to 14:00 - (2009-12-01)
  [2531] Melksham - new Tuesday Market - (2009-12-09)
  [2540] Rock and hard place .. and the relaxing right one won - (2009-12-18)
  [2544] Vision for Wiltshire - (2009-12-20)
  [2546] How well do you know Melksham - a quiz for Christmas - (2009-12-21)
  [2568] Forums for your Melksham and open source discussions - (2010-01-09)
  [2594] Melksham Area - your community view is sought - (2010-01-23)
  [2640] How is your tax pound spent? - (2010-02-18)
  [2666] Random thoughts on Melksham Town Planning and development - (2010-03-08)
  [2683] Car Parking in Melksham - (2010-03-18)
  [2725] How do our tactics help us meet the strategy, for the greater good? - (2010-04-16)
  [2770] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - Presidents report to AGM - (2010-05-19)
  [2779] The history and future of Melksham Chamber of Commerce - (2010-05-25)
  [2782] Tell the Melksham Chamber or you only have yourself to blame - (2010-05-26)
  [2827] Melksham - a gem in Wiltshire - (2010-06-26)
  [2837] Lorry Parking in Melksham - (2010-06-29)
  [2853] Transport in Wessex - today and into the future - (2010-07-04)
  [2867] Cycling in Melksham, and looking forward - (2010-07-11)
  [2872] Moved - Melksham Lorry Park - (2010-07-15)
  [2883] Melksham Oak - photos of the new community school - (2010-07-22)
  [2891] Wiltshire Council ask how they can help businesses - (2010-07-27)
  [2932] Getting into and out of Wiltshire towns .. a.k.a. Car Parking? - (2010-08-23)
  [2957] Welcome to Countrywides new Melksham store - (2010-09-15)
  [2959] A Melksham news roundup - (2010-09-18)
  [2982] Travel, Transport and Tourism - A vision for Melksham, 2026 - (2010-10-03)
  [2995] A river in Melksham is not just for boaters. - (2010-10-11)
  [3088] Melksham - two many councils? - (2010-12-16)
  [3113] Trowbridge and Melksham to Chippenham - more roadworks, even slower journey over the winter - (2010-12-30)
  [3117] Opportunities for Melksham - new businesses in the town - (2011-01-01)
  [3141] Wiltshire Rail services - a golden opportunity - (2011-01-21)
  [3162] Keep your business customer-friendly! - (2011-02-09)
  [3172] On consultations, car parking, and Melksham town centre - (2011-02-17)
  [3173] What is the Melksham Chamber of Commerce? - (2011-02-18)
  [3188] What proportion of the British Workforce still works a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, week? - (2011-03-01)
  [3193] Melksham Campus - what, why, questions, concerns and how you can input - (2011-03-04)
  [3214] Melksham Campus - any last minute inputs from Melksham businesses? - (2011-03-26)
  [3217] Vandalism and riot from the minority - the effect - (2011-03-28)
  [3246] Melksham - the way forward. 26th April, Well House Manor - (2011-04-13)
  [3249] Events - Spring and Early Summer 2011 in Melksham - (2011-04-17)
  [3272] Melksham Car Parking - current charges and limits - (2011-05-01)
  [3275] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - grows to appoint new Press Officer. Welcome. Sam - (2011-05-02)
  [3279] Letter to The Editor - (2011-05-06)
  [3299] Presidents Report to Melksham Chamber of Commerce, 24.5.2011 - (2011-05-24)
  [3307] Melksham Community Radio launches - (2011-05-28)
  [3325] The Olympic Torch, and Melksham House - (2011-06-14)
  [3334] A lesson from the sporran market? - (2011-06-25)
  [3340] Summer Sunday Timetable - TransWilts Trains - (2011-06-30)
  [3343] Summer Sunday Train Service Starts - Swindon Chippenham and Melksham to Weymouth - (2011-07-03)
  [3380] Melksham Jelly - An Occasional Office for Home Workers - (2011-08-06)
  [3383] Are people who walk into Melksham being asked to subsidise parking? - (2011-08-09)
  [3420] Making best use of the new enthusiasm for Melksham - (2011-09-05)
  [3423] 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 12? - (2011-09-07)
  [3427] What is on the Melksham Agenda? - (2011-09-09)
  [3438] Melksham to become a part of Trowbridge? - (2011-09-13)
  [3470] Currently pictured in Melksham - (2011-10-09)
  [3475] Havant - Shop Frontages. - (2011-10-12)
  [3481] Some thoughts in answer to some Melksham Campus questions - (2011-10-14)
  [3492] Upcoming events in and about Melksham - more dates for your diary - (2011-10-22)
  [3495] Looking forward - Chamber of Commerce has 2012 and beyond on the agenda - (2011-10-26)
  [3496] Melksham - Business to Business Speed Networking - build ahead for 2012 - (2011-10-26)
  [3527] Melksham - changing times, an opportunity for the future - (2011-11-23)
  [3560] Melksham, Month by month through 2011 - (2011-12-23)
  [3598] Melksham Civic Awards - report and pictures - (2012-01-29)
  [3627] Meeting Report - Tuesday 21st Feb - to Melksham Chamber of Commerce from Shadow Community Operations Board - (2012-02-27)
  [3663] Changing shops and organisations - Melksham, the last and next five years - (2012-03-21)
  [3672] Melksham Train Service - please support the TransWilts case for regular trains - (2012-03-25)
  [3677] Some advise for guest speakers at meetings - (2012-03-31)
  [3682] Melksham Business Newsreel - (2012-04-03)
  [3693] Wiltshire Business Support Service - (2012-04-11)
  [3696] Melksham government and business organisations - (2012-04-14)
  [3697] Events in Melksham - read all about them, and tell us about yours - (2012-04-15)
  [3700] Why do people use chains rather than independent traders? - (2012-04-18)
  [3706] An exciting Chamber of Commerce AGM - sound like an Oxymoron? - (2012-04-25)
  [3710] Encouraging business in Melksham and its neighbourhood - keep business local?? - (2012-04-27)
  [3714] Just 12 winners? Or 371 or more? Town Centres. - (2012-04-30)
  [3732] Ten more visitors to your premises every day? - (2012-05-14)
  [3739] Go green - business seminar in Melksham - (2012-05-21)
  [3748] Not everyone has a computer - 9 more ways to learn about the Melksham Campus - (2012-06-03)
  [3751] Public transport for international arrivals into Melksham - (2012-06-04)
  [3752] Melksham Visitors Map - Bus routes and train lines to and from the town - (2012-06-04)
  [3767] How well do you know Melksham? - (2012-06-17)
  [3768] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - looking to our future shape. Pivotal meeting next Tuesday - (2012-06-19)
  [3787] Melksham Pride - the Chamber of Commerce, and the future - (2012-06-29)
  [3812] The Melksham News - July 2012 - Part 1, Campus and Chamber of Commerce - (2012-07-22)
  [3818] Making things happen - litter and ASB and lost dogs in Melksham - (2012-07-25)
  [3850] Bus times - Chippenham Station to Melksham, with London connections - (2012-08-25)
  [3867] The difficult interface between the business, council and voluntary sectors - (2012-09-19)
  [3880] Chamber of Commerce - looking forward in Melksham and in Wessex - (2012-10-04)
  [3889] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - whence in 2013 and beyond? - (2012-10-12)
  [3948] Quiet little town? Advanced Technology Centre? - (2012-12-08)
  [3987] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - join us in our future - (2013-01-21)
  [4002] Images of Melksham you havent seen before - (2013-02-13)
  [4014] Costa Coffee in Melksham - is it a good idea? - (2013-02-22)
  [4041] Report on the last year - Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Melksham Without Parish Council - (2013-03-11)
  [4046] Over a hundred welcoming businesses - Melksham Town Centre - (2013-03-17)
  [4097] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - Report for AGM, 21st May 2013 - (2013-05-21)
  [4103] Questions from children about Melksham Campus - (2013-05-26)
  [4151] Tell me a bit about Melksham - (2013-08-10)
  [4164] Melksham Market - every Tuesday - (2013-09-03)
  [4170] Herman Miller coming to Melksham - the Chamber of Commerce is briefed - (2013-09-10)
  [4278] Future Swindon - Westbury train services. At current level into the future? - (2014-05-25)
  [4399] The Campus in Melksham - name, logo, and livery choice - (2015-01-18)
  [4672] Annual review of Melksham Matters for Chamber of Commerce AGM - (2016-05-15)
  [4738] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - my final Presidents report - (2017-05-10)

Z301 - Current Affairs
  [33] 10 Years of experience - (2004-08-30)
  [377] A Strengthened City - (2005-07-14)
  [614] News in Ireland - (2006-02-20)
  [1214] New Serieses for the summer on TV - (2007-06-02)
  [1275] Incident in Melksham - (2007-07-24)
  [1960] Christmas Survivors - (2008-12-25)
  [2112] Whatever next ... the joys of being an employer - (2009-04-01)
  [2128] Wiltshire - where everybody matters - (2009-04-13)
  [2574] Summary of Wiltshire Core Strategy responses - (2010-01-13)
  [2602] East of Melksham - Building Work Starts - (2010-01-28)
  [2776] Regional Spatial Strategy and the next 20 years - Whence Wiltshire under the new government? - (2010-05-22)
  [2852] Atworth Village Fete - on the Melksham Community Area Partnership stand - (2010-07-04)
  [2904] Melksham Area Board meeting of last week - (2010-08-04)
  [3028] VAT rise in January - it is really up 14% not just 2.5% - (2010-11-03)
  [3030] Liquorice allsorts and Dolly Mixtures - (2010-11-05)
  [3126] Car Parking in Melksham - thoughts on the proposed scheme, and wider thoughts too - (2011-01-09)
  [3183] Redevelopment on the banks of the Avon in Melksham - (2011-02-25)
  [3228] What can you take on a public footpath? Pram? Wheelbarrow? Dog? Shopping Trolley? Horse? Cycle? - (2011-04-03)
  [3231] Footpath, Bridleway, Byway, Road used as Public Path - (2011-04-04)
  [3265] Alternative Vote (AV) - cutting the crap - (2011-04-25)
  [3282] The future of canal management and charities - Kennet and Avon Canal bias - (2011-05-08)
  [3347] The Anthony trial - Orange County, Florida. Thoughts on conclusion - (2011-07-06)
  [3357] Business, priorities, and volunteering - (2011-07-14)
  [3385] Do university courses teach the right things for life at work later on? - (2011-08-10)
  [3467] Charities v Charitable. The cost of collecting your donation. - (2011-10-06)
  [3646] Exploring Melksham with a film maker - (2012-03-09)
  [3720] Melksham ATC - freedom of the town - (2012-05-05)
  [4429] Wind Turbines - beauty or menace? - (2015-02-17)
  [4599] Happy Christmas - and a Christmas thought - (2015-12-24)
  [4637] People matter - but there is a tradeoff between different people in there - (2016-02-01)
  [4691] Real life PHP application using our course training MVC example - (2016-06-05)


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