There it was again ... "we have undertaken projects already in Salisbury, Trowbridge and Chippenham".
Yesterday evening, I attended an event hosted by Wiltshire Council and the Wiltshire Strategic Economic Partnership; a "consultation" where local businesses were being asked various questions about the support offered by the council to them, and how the council should / can help in the future in the changed political and financial environment. Very posh place ... Bowood Golf Club and Hotel, with drinks all around and food laid on afterwards for anyone who wanted to stay.
Seated at a table of ten people, to which we had been allocated by the hosts, we went round the table and introduced ourselves. Three out of the ten were from Wiltshire Council, and one from another public sector business service provider. Which left 6 business people. Me from Melksham. A chap from Devizes. A lady from Westbury. Another lady from Trowbridge. And a gentleman from near Malmesbury. (the final person was silent for the evening ... name only).
We really need to keep stressing to Wiltshire Council that there are other places in the County than Trowbridge, Chippenham and Salisbury.
My understanding is that only 25% of the county's population lives in these three places, with a significantly higher proportion in or with the next ten towns - that's born out by our table's mix - just one out of ten was representing a private sector business in or with a town that Wiltshire Council was proudly supporting; 4 were representing businesses from the less favored parts.
One of the big questions of the evening was to ask which "Local Enterprise Partnership" Wiltshire should link with. I had better explain this ...
At the present time, the public sector is seeing huge changes - with the Regional Development Agencies going and a lot of simplification, with other things taking their place. Indeed, one of our pre-consultation speakers was talking of a meeting he had had with 20 participants representing various partnerships, and 14 our of 20 seriously doubted whether they would exist in a year. The new hierarchy of business organizations / government people who can provide support looks (as I read it) like this - written with our Melksham Town training centre as the base:
1. Melksham Town Council.
2. Melksham Area Board of Wiltshire Council.
3. Mid Wilts Economic Partnership.
4. Wiltshire Strategic Economic Partnership.
5. Local Enterprise Partnership.
6. Central Government.
... and the question is "which LEP do we want to link with" ... it's a choice of Hampshire / Dorset (to link us with the Solent area), Swindon / Gloucestershire, West of England (link with Bath and Bristol), Somerset, or Berkshire ... with the most likely two listed first.
There's something of an issue here ... Wiltshire is a county that's got links with bordering counties on all sides. Wootton Basset would go naturally with Swindon, Bradford-on-Avon with Bath, Westbury with Frome, and Salisbury with Andover, Romsey and Southampton. Marlborough might look to Hungerford and Newbury. So to say "which one should we link to" is absurd - it will provide a synergy for the lucky place(s) for which an appropriate decision is made, and it will leave other places in something of an Economic Partnership backwater. If I were cynical, I would suggest that the reason the businesses were asked is that the county knows there's no good answer, and it's looking to set up someone / some group to whom it can point when things don't go well for Chippenham is they link to Southampton, or for Salisbury if they link to Swindon.
I don't know what the answer will be - the meeting didn't come up with one - but I do know that someone needs to decide by September!
In all the talk of the evening, the one thing that struck all around in terms of what businesses would like the county to do was to improve accessibility for them. The speed of internet access in some remote areas came up a number of times, and the need to reduce "real" travel times too. There was talk of creating jobs closer to where people live, and for those who do need to travel making the travel better / easier / greener / quicker - especially North to South. It actually seems like a number of threads may be coming together here - at least at our table.
At the end, Councilor Jane Scott, leader of Wiltshire Council summarised. Based on her table, and on what "runners" from around the room had summarised.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that all those businesses had - top priority - come down on making Transport top of their list - accessibility (and by that I mean for everyone, not just those with special needs) being top of the list. But I'm afraid that I was less that impressed by Jane's promise, as if in answer to this request, to lean on developers to provide good access as they continued to develop - and I really hope that was just a partial answer from her, good in its own right but to be followed by other enabling actions too, to meet what is clearly becoming a major issue for businesses.
But where Jane Scott is right - and right on the ball - is to shout out what a great place Wiltshire is to live and work - and to call for us to be ambassadors to tell everyone "this is a great place".
Jane - I agree with you, and I encourage you to prioritize making this great place accessible and integrated.
So that if we end up "paired" with Swindon, it's going to be easy and quick to get there from Salisbury and Trowbridge, even without a car. And that if we end up paired with Southampton, it'll be easy to get there from Chippenham as well as from Salisbury.
Illustrations - (top) two pictures of Bowood Golf Club, where the consultation event took place. Then the missing link road from the A350 to Bowerhill - it ends at a fence, and it should run to that building in the background. Then people waiting at Melksham for the train from Westbury (07:02) to Swindon ... miss that one, and the next one doesn't come until 19:35. "Tell us where we can help you, and keep telling us" said Jane Scott. The bottom two pictures are telling you. (written 2010-07-27, updated 2010-07-30)
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articlesZ402 - Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry 
Future Swindon - Westbury train services. At current level into the future? - (2014-05-25) 
Herman Miller coming to Melksham - the Chamber of Commerce is briefed - (2013-09-10) 
Melksham Market - every Tuesday - (2013-09-03) 
Tell me a bit about Melksham - (2013-08-10) 
Questions from children about Melksham Campus - (2013-05-26) 
Melksham Chamber of Commerce - Report for AGM, 21st May 2013 - (2013-05-21) 
Over a hundred welcoming businesses - Melksham Town Centre - (2013-03-17) 
Report on the last year - Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Melksham Without Parish Council - (2013-03-11) 
Costa Coffee in Melksham - is it a good idea? - (2013-02-22) 
Images of Melksham you havent seen before - (2013-02-13) 
Melksham Chamber of Commerce - join us in our future - (2013-01-21) 
Quiet little town? Advanced Technology Centre? - (2012-12-08) 
Melksham Chamber of Commerce - whence in 2013 and beyond? - (2012-10-12) 
Chamber of Commerce - looking forward in Melksham and in Wessex - (2012-10-04) 
The difficult interface between the business, council and voluntary sectors - (2012-09-19) 
Bus times - Chippenham Station to Melksham, with London connections - (2012-08-25) 
Making things happen - litter and ASB and lost dogs in Melksham - (2012-07-25) 
The Melksham News - July 2012 - Part 1, Campus and Chamber of Commerce - (2012-07-22) 
Melksham Pride - the Chamber of Commerce, and the future - (2012-06-29) 
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How well do you know Melksham? - (2012-06-17) 
Melksham Visitors Map - Bus routes and train lines to and from the town - (2012-06-04) 
Public transport for international arrivals into Melksham - (2012-06-04) 
Not everyone has a computer - 9 more ways to learn about the Melksham Campus - (2012-06-03) 
Go green - business seminar in Melksham - (2012-05-21) 
Ten more visitors to your premises every day? - (2012-05-14) 
Just 12 winners? Or 371 or more? Town Centres. - (2012-04-30) 
Encouraging business in Melksham and its neighbourhood - keep business local?? - (2012-04-27) 
An exciting Chamber of Commerce AGM - sound like an Oxymoron? - (2012-04-25) 
Why do people use chains rather than independent traders? - (2012-04-18) 
Events in Melksham - read all about them, and tell us about yours - (2012-04-15) 
Melksham government and business organisations - (2012-04-14) 
Wiltshire Business Support Service - (2012-04-11) 
Melksham Business Newsreel - (2012-04-03) 
Some advise for guest speakers at meetings - (2012-03-31) 
Melksham Train Service - please support the TransWilts case for regular trains - (2012-03-25) 
Changing shops and organisations - Melksham, the last and next five years - (2012-03-21) 
Meeting Report - Tuesday 21st Feb - to Melksham Chamber of Commerce from Shadow Community Operations Board - (2012-02-27) 
Melksham Civic Awards - report and pictures - (2012-01-29) 
Melksham, Month by month through 2011 - (2011-12-23) 
Melksham - changing times, an opportunity for the future - (2011-11-23) 
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Looking forward - Chamber of Commerce has 2012 and beyond on the agenda - (2011-10-26) 
Upcoming events in and about Melksham - more dates for your diary - (2011-10-22) 
Some thoughts in answer to some Melksham Campus questions - (2011-10-14) 
Havant - Shop Frontages. - (2011-10-12) 
Currently pictured in Melksham - (2011-10-09) 
Melksham to become a part of Trowbridge? - (2011-09-13) 
What is on the Melksham Agenda? - (2011-09-09) 
1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 12? - (2011-09-07) 
Making best use of the new enthusiasm for Melksham - (2011-09-05) 
Are people who walk into Melksham being asked to subsidise parking? - (2011-08-09) 
Melksham Jelly - An Occasional Office for Home Workers - (2011-08-06) 
Summer Sunday Train Service Starts - Swindon Chippenham and Melksham to Weymouth - (2011-07-03) 
Summer Sunday Timetable - TransWilts Trains - (2011-06-30) 
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The Olympic Torch, and Melksham House - (2011-06-14) 
Melksham Community Radio launches - (2011-05-28) 
Presidents Report to Melksham Chamber of Commerce, 24.5.2011 - (2011-05-24) 
Letter to The Editor - (2011-05-06) 
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Events - Spring and Early Summer 2011 in Melksham - (2011-04-17) 
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What proportion of the British Workforce still works a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, week? - (2011-03-01) 
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Melksham - two many councils? - (2010-12-16) 
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A Melksham news roundup - (2010-09-18) 
Welcome to Countrywides new Melksham store - (2010-09-15) 
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Melksham Oak - photos of the new community school - (2010-07-22) 
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Cycling in Melksham, and looking forward - (2010-07-11) 
Transport in Wessex - today and into the future - (2010-07-04) 
Lorry Parking in Melksham - (2010-06-29) 
Melksham - a gem in Wiltshire - (2010-06-26) 
Tell the Melksham Chamber or you only have yourself to blame - (2010-05-26) 
The history and future of Melksham Chamber of Commerce - (2010-05-25) 
Melksham Chamber of Commerce - Presidents report to AGM - (2010-05-19) 
How do our tactics help us meet the strategy, for the greater good? - (2010-04-16) 
Car Parking in Melksham - (2010-03-18) 
Random thoughts on Melksham Town Planning and development - (2010-03-08) 
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Melksham Area - your community view is sought - (2010-01-23) 
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Community Area Partnership - inaugural AGM - (2009-11-20) 
Planning the future of Wiltshire - (2009-11-07) 
Melksham Forum - (2009-11-01) 
Melksham Town - asleep or awake? - (2009-10-21) 
New Web Site for Melksham Chamber of Commerce - (2009-10-18) 
Wiltshire Unitary News - Chamber of Commerce Intelligence - (2009-10-04) 
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Wiltshire Community Area Partnerships - (2009-07-15) 
Important - the future of Melksham / Chamber of Commerce - (2009-06-28) 
Melksham Traders - where do we go? - (2009-06-05) 
Melksham Business Map - Chamber of Commerce, Tourist Information and Town Council - (2009-05-21) 
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Business Networking for Melksham - 23rd April - (2009-04-01) 
Blue Ridge and Melksham Chambers of Commerce - (2009-03-21) 
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One Cheer for Local Democracy - Asda in Melksham - (2009-01-11) 
Looking forward, in Melksham, in 2009 - (2009-01-05) 
Lidl opens in Melksham - (2008-12-11) 
Ruby, Perl, Linux, MySQL - some training notes - (2008-11-23) 
Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry - (2008-11-17) 
Wiltshire Council says - part 1 - (2008-11-13) 
Melksham Chamber of Commerce, or the FSB - (2008-11-12) 
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Hotel room prices - Melksham, Wiltshire - (2008-08-11) 
Summer! - (2008-05-15) 
Changing a screen saver from a web page (PHP, Perl, OSX) - (2008-05-06) 
Comments on proposed Asda Superstore for Melksham - (2008-01-14) 
Flooding by Asda-s proposed new supermarket - (2008-01-12) 
Shopping for Christmas and looking forward - (2007-12-17) 
Wiltshire County Council - Budget Consultation - (2007-11-15) 
Remembrance day - inside a church and inside the day - (2007-11-11) 
Business speed networking - a place tonight! - (2007-06-28) 
Asda opening large new store in Melksham - (2007-06-08) 
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