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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Melksham Campus - what, why, questions, concerns and how you can input

There's controversy in Melksham at the moment - Wiltshire Council is proposing the transfer of sports, swimming and library, youth and other facilities from various locations dotted around the town to a new single site campus on the Devizes road, out of the town centre and next to the Melksham Oak secondary school that opened last summer. Existing facilities at the Christie Miller sports centre, the Blue Pool, the town centre library, Canberra Youth Centre and perhaps others would probably close, as might some of the health care facilities currently clumped on or near Spa Road. And the new campus would offer 'extended hours'.

For the record, it would include:
• Swimming pool and learner pool
• Sports hall, multi-activity rooms, fitness suite, squash courts
• Indoor bowling rink
• Library with IT suite and internet access
• Café
• Youth centre facilities
• Multi-purpose training suite
• Multi-purpose meeting rooms
• Health care facilities
• Outdoor sports
There would be changing rooms, creche, disabled facilities and reception for the users of the above.
Just missing an ATM, a supermarket, and a charity shop?

It's probably fair to say that everyone's agreed that Christie Miller needs to be replaced in some way; it's an old second world war building, with (I think) asbestos in its construction, and increasingly expensive to maintain. But beyond that there are serious concerns for may people. Yes - it might be an excellent facility that's better in itself that the existing ones that we have. Yes - it may be lower cost to maintain and run that the existing facilities. But would it be something that people would use, located where they would use it? Access is key, and there's serious concern that people who pop in to the library during the day wouldn't make the special trip out to the new facilities. There's concern that the youth who are proud of their current centre within the urbanized area at Canberra (and walk / cycle there) wouldn't be able to persuade Mum or Dad to drive them out or pick them up in the evening, and wouldn't want to go back "to school" which it might feel like being next door. And there's concern that primary school children in town will no longer have walking access to swimming or the library.

The proposal talks of the country "persuading the bus companies to serve the new facility", but who do they think they are kidding? They've not even been able to sort out the existing buses that run from near the campus site to the rest of the town so that they run every half hour rather than in hourly pairs (on the hour, 3 minutes after, 57 minute gap!). And the council's own papers admit that a new scheme would effect the viability of some town centre businesses - not just hurt them, but perhaps force them to close completely.

A further concern I have had expressed to me is the cost of using the new Campus; I understand that using facilities at Melksham Oak can be up to five times what the cost of using the equivalent provision at George Ward used to be a year ago, and there's a fear that similar sharp price increases on a move to a campus would make it too expensive for many of the target groups to use. And this is before you add in the cost of bus fares to get there.

Various other options have been discounted by the council, including a split-site option which would overcome many of the concerns.




I've been careful - thus far - not to express personal opinions on the new Campus; I haven't known much about it, I'm not a big user of any of the facilities to be replaced, and I would be unlikely to be a big user of anything new. Our own business would probably not be greatly effected, apart from having a few people stay with us as they visited / set up the new site and needed a hotel in town.

But I am going to add a couple of "left field" questions / thoughts.

One option which to my knowledge has NOT been considered (dare I even mention it?) is the land that Cooper Tires own beside the river - that's where the carnival procession starts from. It would be suited for a single site campus, allow water sports too, and be truly a part of the town. At present, there's an office block towards the rear of the land, and it's in use by Cooper Tires. But - the buildings are old, theirs is a changing industry, and perhaps a dialogue could be held - if not this year, then in a year or two.

In my youth, I used the library and read books ... but these days, much of what I do is online, and looking to my children and grandchild I see them far more online than booky. We have a library at Well House Manor and it is used, but becoming less so; on line resources are far more the source of information. One of our major customers - who used to have a big library - has replaced it with an online resource. Borders, the bookseller, went bust in the UK and has now gone (?) Chapter 11 in the USA, with lots of stores closing. Question - what future the library - for the next five, ten and twenty years? I understand it is heavily used in Melksham - drop in traffic, seniors, and schools where it's an alternative to the electronics and I would not want to suggest it's unneeded now. But should the plans for the next generation of leisure / social provision assume that space is needed for books all the way through that generation, or provide space that can be reallocated? And is that why - though we are not told such, to my knowledge - that a split site with a separate library building has been ruled out without being put forward as a consultation option?

These, dear reader, are questions and not answers. I don't have the answers.

• There's a further Community Area Partnership consultation exercise on 12th March - daytime - 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday - Melksham Town Hall.

• Melksham Chamber of commerce meets on 22nd March, and any late member / business inputs will be rushed in to the process after that meeting. 18:30, Well House Manor

• And there's a special area board meeting at which decisions will be taken on 29th. That's probably too late to have any real effect on the outcome; there's no practical way that bright ideas put forward that evening could be adopted by the end of the evening, and I would think it would be pretty unlikely that anything said at the meeting would cause any of the councilors with a vote to change his mind.
(written 2011-03-04, updated 2011-03-07)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Z402 - Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry
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  [4672] Annual review of Melksham Matters for Chamber of Commerce AGM - (2016-05-15)
  [4399] The Campus in Melksham - name, logo, and livery choice - (2015-01-18)
  [4278] Future Swindon - Westbury train services. At current level into the future? - (2014-05-25)
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  [4164] Melksham Market - every Tuesday - (2013-09-03)
  [4151] Tell me a bit about Melksham - (2013-08-10)
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  [4097] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - Report for AGM, 21st May 2013 - (2013-05-21)
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  [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)
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  [3752] Melksham Visitors Map - Bus routes and train lines to and from the town - (2012-06-04)
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  [3693] Wiltshire Business Support Service - (2012-04-11)
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  [2508] Community Area Partnership - inaugural AGM - (2009-11-20)
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  [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)
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  [2289] pre-Inaugural briefing - Melksham Community Area Partnership - (2009-07-15)
  [2288] Wiltshire Community Area Partnerships - (2009-07-15)
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  [1892] Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry - (2008-11-17)
  [1881] Wiltshire Council says - part 1 - (2008-11-13)
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  [1507] Comments on proposed Asda Superstore for Melksham - (2008-01-14)
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  [1250] Business speed networking - a place tonight! - (2007-06-28)
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Z405 - Melksham Campus
  [4423] Campus - about the logos / way marks you have been choosing from - (2015-02-11)
  [4418] Melksham Community Campus - which of these potential signs do you like? - (2015-02-07)
  [4311] Melksham Campus - how is it going - October 2014 - (2014-10-06)
  [4048] Art, Catering, Transport - Melksham Campus Elements - reaching local experts - (2013-03-19)
  [3901] How much parking should there be at Melksham Campus? - (2012-10-21)
  [3888] What a difference a year made - Melksham Campus - (2012-10-12)
  [3741] Low carbon and other environmental lessons for the Melksham Campus? - (2012-05-23)
  [3736] Abstraction - (2012-05-19)
  [3735] A walk around Melksham this morning. Can you place all of these? - (2012-05-17)
  [3520] Quintessentially English - scenes from our Wiltshire town - (2011-11-14)
  [3518] Melksham House / Melksham Campus - Seniors Input Sought - (2011-11-12)
  [3503] Melksham House - a community facility - (2011-10-31)
  [3500] Campus Shadow - a great responsibility - (2011-10-30)
  [3277] Between a rock and a hard place. - (2011-05-04)
  [3225] Campus - answer to business questions - (2011-04-01)
  [3224] Melksham Campus - a win / win opportunity, but a severely lacking decision process - (2011-03-31)


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