Between a rock and a hard place.
I celebrate the five new businesses that entered the Chamber of Commerce's competiton. Steve Weeks, Sam Geddes, Emma Joy, Paul Horne and Tony Balecke all visited Well House Manor a few weeks ago and spoke with the judging panel who were sitting in our Wilts training room. I had the honour of briefly speaking with all these enthusiast enterpreneurs as they waited to go in, and all impressed. Details of all the businesses who entered are the Chamber of Commerce web site ( [here]
) listed in the order they appeared. Results were announced in Trowbridge last night, and in my role with the Chamber I wanted to be there to support our businesses. However - meetings can clash.
A town meeting - a special one - had been called to ask for a Town Poll to be held on whether the people of the town wanted the new campus to be built at Woolmore Farm, or not; the previous call had been declared invalid (see [here]
), and the call was to be rerun with complete / correct system. However, things have move on over the last month and there was a danger that the question, as framed, would have sidetracked the best option - a campus in town, which is a real possibility. And in doing so would have sent a negative signal to anyone who cared to take note of it.
I can't recall seeing the Town Hall so packed for previous meetings. When Lisa and I got there, the town's staff were clearing away excess display boards and bringing more seats it, and setting up a "choir" behing the mayor's seat so that as many as possible were seated. Even so, the
participants spilled out onto the landing. It was very clearly explained that any votes would be ONLY for voters in the Melksham Town parish, and I can confirm that rule was carefully checked through so that no individual could be left in any doubt as to whether (s)he could vote.
The meeting was a boiserous one. There's very real anger that it appears that unpopular decisions have been taken in a rush, with changing goalposts and - it has been suggested - hidden elements on the agenda. The lack timeous answers to questions, the refusal of Wiltshire Council officers to attend consultation events to tell people about the plans, and a very long and complex community survey which (for all that complexity) didn't contain certain questions people wanted to answer have all concerned people. So has the interprettation of the views and results. And yet for all the anger, secrecy and changes (or perhaps because of it) people are shocking uninformed - just say to a few people - "look - if you have 4 walls to maintain you're going to save a lot of money over time as against maintaining 8 x 4 = 32 walls" and they'll see the point. Say to them "yes, it's a shame that maintainance money has been spent at exisiting facilities of late, but you can't just switch off the fixing of things in anticipation of replacement in a couple of years" and they'll follow. And point out that a £3000.00 town poll is a small amount compared to a £23,000,000 spend on a new facility, and worth spending if it captures the mood and helps make a much better informed decision.
However, the good news coming from the meeting ... ten town voters DID come forward and call for a poll. But not with the original wording - rather with an extra clause supporting a single site, town centre campus - the quest for land for which is now an ongoing part of the process - added. And that should make a whole world of difference; it channels the negativity of the original wording into something that tracks a route forward - in my view in line with the timescales, costs and policies of Wilshire Council, together with giving the people of the town itself a vote in which they can say "yes, we too support this".
Between a rock and a hard place? Yes - but other officers from the Chamber of Commerce supported the new businesses at the Trowbridge celebration, and there was a real need for us to be present at the Melksham meeting too. I spoke, I hope I made a difference (for sure, I got criticised for speaking at a town meeting when I don't line in the town), but the vote for the modified question was overwhelming and I would like to think that I gave some of that overwhelming majority a few things to think through before they decided to vote in that way. A good result - for Chamber members, for other Melksham Businesses, for the people of Melksham Town, and for the wider Melksham area and Melksham too. (written 2011-05-04)
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articlesZ405 - Melksham Campus 
Questions from children about Melksham Campus - (2013-05-26) 
Art, Catering, Transport - Melksham Campus Elements - reaching local experts - (2013-03-19) 
How much parking should there be at Melksham Campus? - (2012-10-21) 
What a difference a year made - Melksham Campus - (2012-10-12) 
The Melksham News - July 2012 - Part 1, Campus and Chamber of Commerce - (2012-07-22) 
Not everyone has a computer - 9 more ways to learn about the Melksham Campus - (2012-06-03) 
Low carbon and other environmental lessons for the Melksham Campus? - (2012-05-23) 
Abstraction - (2012-05-19) 
A walk around Melksham this morning. Can you place all of these? - (2012-05-17) 
Quintessentially English - scenes from our Wiltshire town - (2011-11-14) 
Melksham House / Melksham Campus - Seniors Input Sought - (2011-11-12) 
Melksham House - a community facility - (2011-10-31) 
Campus Shadow - a great responsibility - (2011-10-30) 
Some thoughts in answer to some Melksham Campus questions - (2011-10-14) 
The Olympic Torch, and Melksham House - (2011-06-14) 
Letter to The Editor - (2011-05-06) 
Melksham - the way forward. 26th April, Well House Manor - (2011-04-13) 
Campus - answer to business questions - (2011-04-01) 
Melksham Campus - a win / win opportunity, but a severely lacking decision process - (2011-03-31) 
Melksham Campus - any last minute inputs from Melksham businesses? - (2011-03-26) 
Melksham Campus - what, why, questions, concerns and how you can input - (2011-03-04)
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