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 
A customer service company - (2006-05-11) 
Asda opening large new store in Melksham - (2007-06-08) 
Business speed networking - a place tonight! - (2007-06-28) 
Remembrance day - inside a church and inside the day - (2007-11-11) 
Wiltshire County Council - Budget Consultation - (2007-11-15) 
Shopping for Christmas and looking forward - (2007-12-17) 
Flooding by Asda-s proposed new supermarket - (2008-01-12) 
Comments on proposed Asda Superstore for Melksham - (2008-01-14) 
Changing a screen saver from a web page (PHP, Perl, OSX) - (2008-05-06) 
Summer! - (2008-05-15) 
Hotel room prices - Melksham, Wiltshire - (2008-08-11) 
All the pieces fall into place - hotel and courses - (2008-09-10) 
Melksham Chamber of Commerce, or the FSB - (2008-11-12) 
Wiltshire Council says - part 1 - (2008-11-13) 
Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry - (2008-11-17) 
Ruby, Perl, Linux, MySQL - some training notes - (2008-11-23) 
Lidl opens in Melksham - (2008-12-11) 
Looking forward, in Melksham, in 2009 - (2009-01-05) 
One Cheer for Local Democracy - Asda in Melksham - (2009-01-11) 
Confidence, Customer Service and Tourism in Melksham - (2009-02-15) 
Blue Ridge and Melksham Chambers of Commerce - (2009-03-21) 
Business Networking for Melksham - 23rd April - (2009-04-01) 
Make your business a DESTINATION business - (2009-04-05) 
You cannot please all of the people all of the time - (2009-05-14) 
Melksham Business Map - Chamber of Commerce, Tourist Information and Town Council - (2009-05-21) 
Melksham Traders - where do we go? - (2009-06-05) 
Important - the future of Melksham / Chamber of Commerce - (2009-06-28) 
Wiltshire Community Area Partnerships - (2009-07-15) 
pre-Inaugural briefing - Melksham Community Area Partnership - (2009-07-15) 
Melksham - no trains, no southbound buses through the town - (2009-08-08) 
Wiltshire Unitary News - Chamber of Commerce Intelligence - (2009-10-04) 
New Web Site for Melksham Chamber of Commerce - (2009-10-18) 
Melksham Town - asleep or awake? - (2009-10-21) 
Melksham Forum - (2009-11-01) 
Planning the future of Wiltshire - (2009-11-07) 
Community Area Partnership - inaugural AGM - (2009-11-20) 
The road show has been - where now? - (2009-11-27) 
Melksham Market - Tuesdays, 09:00 to 14:00 - (2009-12-01) 
Melksham - new Tuesday Market - (2009-12-09) 
Rock and hard place .. and the relaxing right one won - (2009-12-18) 
Vision for Wiltshire - (2009-12-20) 
How well do you know Melksham - a quiz for Christmas - (2009-12-21) 
Forums for your Melksham and open source discussions - (2010-01-09) 
Melksham Area - your community view is sought - (2010-01-23) 
How is your tax pound spent? - (2010-02-18) 
Random thoughts on Melksham Town Planning and development - (2010-03-08) 
Car Parking in Melksham - (2010-03-18) 
How do our tactics help us meet the strategy, for the greater good? - (2010-04-16) 
Melksham Chamber of Commerce - Presidents report to AGM - (2010-05-19) 
The history and future of Melksham Chamber of Commerce - (2010-05-25) 
Tell the Melksham Chamber or you only have yourself to blame - (2010-05-26) 
Melksham - a gem in Wiltshire - (2010-06-26) 
Lorry Parking in Melksham - (2010-06-29) 
Transport in Wessex - today and into the future - (2010-07-04) 
Cycling in Melksham, and looking forward - (2010-07-11) 
Moved - Melksham Lorry Park - (2010-07-15) 
Melksham Oak - photos of the new community school - (2010-07-22) 
Getting into and out of Wiltshire towns .. a.k.a. Car Parking? - (2010-08-23) 
Welcome to Countrywides new Melksham store - (2010-09-15) 
A Melksham news roundup - (2010-09-18) 
Travel, Transport and Tourism - A vision for Melksham, 2026 - (2010-10-03) 
A river in Melksham is not just for boaters. - (2010-10-11) 
Melksham - two many councils? - (2010-12-16) 
Trowbridge and Melksham to Chippenham - more roadworks, even slower journey over the winter - (2010-12-30) 
Opportunities for Melksham - new businesses in the town - (2011-01-01) 
Wiltshire Rail services - a golden opportunity - (2011-01-21) 
Keep your business customer-friendly! - (2011-02-09) 
On consultations, car parking, and Melksham town centre - (2011-02-17) 
What is the Melksham Chamber of Commerce? - (2011-02-18) 
What proportion of the British Workforce still works a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, week? - (2011-03-01) 
Melksham Campus - what, why, questions, concerns and how you can input - (2011-03-04) 
Melksham Campus - any last minute inputs from Melksham businesses? - (2011-03-26) 
Vandalism and riot from the minority - the effect - (2011-03-28) 
Melksham - the way forward. 26th April, Well House Manor - (2011-04-13) 
Events - Spring and Early Summer 2011 in Melksham - (2011-04-17) 
Melksham Car Parking - current charges and limits - (2011-05-01) 
Melksham Chamber of Commerce - grows to appoint new Press Officer. Welcome. Sam - (2011-05-02) 
Letter to The Editor - (2011-05-06) 
Presidents Report to Melksham Chamber of Commerce, 24.5.2011 - (2011-05-24) 
Melksham Community Radio launches - (2011-05-28) 
The Olympic Torch, and Melksham House - (2011-06-14) 
A lesson from the sporran market? - (2011-06-25) 
Summer Sunday Timetable - TransWilts Trains - (2011-06-30) 
Summer Sunday Train Service Starts - Swindon Chippenham and Melksham to Weymouth - (2011-07-03) 
Melksham Jelly - An Occasional Office for Home Workers - (2011-08-06) 
Are people who walk into Melksham being asked to subsidise parking? - (2011-08-09) 
Making best use of the new enthusiasm for Melksham - (2011-09-05) 
1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 12? - (2011-09-07) 
What is on the Melksham Agenda? - (2011-09-09) 
Melksham to become a part of Trowbridge? - (2011-09-13) 
Currently pictured in Melksham - (2011-10-09) 
Havant - Shop Frontages. - (2011-10-12) 
Some thoughts in answer to some Melksham Campus questions - (2011-10-14) 
Upcoming events in and about Melksham - more dates for your diary - (2011-10-22) 
Looking forward - Chamber of Commerce has 2012 and beyond on the agenda - (2011-10-26) 
Melksham - Business to Business Speed Networking - build ahead for 2012 - (2011-10-26) 
Melksham - changing times, an opportunity for the future - (2011-11-23) 
Melksham, Month by month through 2011 - (2011-12-23) 
Melksham Civic Awards - report and pictures - (2012-01-29) 
Meeting Report - Tuesday 21st Feb - to Melksham Chamber of Commerce from Shadow Community Operations Board - (2012-02-27) 
Changing shops and organisations - Melksham, the last and next five years - (2012-03-21) 
Melksham Train Service - please support the TransWilts case for regular trains - (2012-03-25) 
Some advise for guest speakers at meetings - (2012-03-31) 
Melksham Business Newsreel - (2012-04-03) 
Wiltshire Business Support Service - (2012-04-11) 
Melksham government and business organisations - (2012-04-14) 
Events in Melksham - read all about them, and tell us about yours - (2012-04-15) 
Why do people use chains rather than independent traders? - (2012-04-18) 
An exciting Chamber of Commerce AGM - sound like an Oxymoron? - (2012-04-25) 
Encouraging business in Melksham and its neighbourhood - keep business local?? - (2012-04-27) 
Just 12 winners? Or 371 or more? Town Centres. - (2012-04-30) 
Ten more visitors to your premises every day? - (2012-05-14) 
Go green - business seminar in Melksham - (2012-05-21) 
Not everyone has a computer - 9 more ways to learn about the Melksham Campus - (2012-06-03) 
Public transport for international arrivals into Melksham - (2012-06-04) 
Melksham Visitors Map - Bus routes and train lines to and from the town - (2012-06-04) 
How well do you know Melksham? - (2012-06-17) 
Melksham Chamber of Commerce - looking to our future shape. Pivotal meeting next Tuesday - (2012-06-19) 
Melksham Pride - the Chamber of Commerce, and the future - (2012-06-29) 
The Melksham News - July 2012 - Part 1, Campus and Chamber of Commerce - (2012-07-22) 
Making things happen - litter and ASB and lost dogs in Melksham - (2012-07-25) 
Bus times - Chippenham Station to Melksham, with London connections - (2012-08-25) 
The difficult interface between the business, council and voluntary sectors - (2012-09-19) 
Chamber of Commerce - looking forward in Melksham and in Wessex - (2012-10-04) 
Melksham Chamber of Commerce - whence in 2013 and beyond? - (2012-10-12) 
Quiet little town? Advanced Technology Centre? - (2012-12-08) 
Melksham Chamber of Commerce - join us in our future - (2013-01-21) 
Images of Melksham you havent seen before - (2013-02-13) 
Costa Coffee in Melksham - is it a good idea? - (2013-02-22) 
Report on the last year - Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Melksham Without Parish Council - (2013-03-11) 
Over a hundred welcoming businesses - Melksham Town Centre - (2013-03-17) 
Melksham Chamber of Commerce - Report for AGM, 21st May 2013 - (2013-05-21) 
Questions from children about Melksham Campus - (2013-05-26) 
Tell me a bit about Melksham - (2013-08-10) 
Melksham Market - every Tuesday - (2013-09-03) 
Herman Miller coming to Melksham - the Chamber of Commerce is briefed - (2013-09-10) 
Future Swindon - Westbury train services. At current level into the future? - (2014-05-25) 
The Campus in Melksham - name, logo, and livery choice - (2015-01-18) 
Annual review of Melksham Matters for Chamber of Commerce AGM - (2016-05-15) 
Melksham Chamber of Commerce - my final Presidents report - (2017-05-10)
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