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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Some thoughts in answer to some Melksham Campus questions

I was triggered into writing this article by a thread on "Melksham People" - link [here] to open and read that thread in a new frame. I'm answering independently of that thread as my answer may turn out to be a long one, easier to read in a wider format and with pictures.

Last Monday, Sasha Heseltine posted that Wiltshire Council had "completed the purchase of Melksham House from Cooper Tires. [snip] The campus could be completed by early 2014 and will be overseen by the Melksham Shadow Community Operations Board, which has been set up by the Melksham Area Board to develop plans for the development. [snip] Its chairman, Roy While said: "We will work closely with the community and the council to ensure we have the best facility for our town.""

Can I start off by echoing Roy While's words - "We will work closely with the community and the council to ensure we have the best facility for our town." Roy is the chair of the Shadow Campus Operations Board - and you'll note his words "OUR Town".

Until the completion of the purchase, Wiltshire Council were very limited in terms of any official contact they could have / make with the current users of the site, and with the people who work there. To users and to the council alike, I'm sure this was rather frustrating. Worrying about what's going on can (and probably has) grow from frustration.

With so many different potential users, it's now sensible to set down an overall strategy of what's to be achieved - a set of guidelines against which to lead and measure the design and build overall, and how the Campus fits in with the surrounding area and how people get to and from it. For example, the question needs to be asked "who is the Campus to serve?" Is it to primarily to provide facilities for existing service users? Is it also to provide facilities for people who would like to have used the existing services, but couldn't for some reason? How about "everyone who lives in the Community Area"? How about people who work here, people who visit the town to shop, as tourists or on business? That question's just the tip of the iceberg - I've taken just one of perhaps a dozen similar questions that need to be asked to set the strategy. And many, many of the answers are in the various consultation responses already, and with members of the SCOB - a majority of non-politicians who represent various broad tranches of interests.

Having set the overall strategy, it's vital to have some sort of feedback loop; the idea of simply pressing a big green button on Christmas Eve 2011 and seeing what turns up in a couple of years isn't sensible. Further inputs are required from the technical team - firstly, "is this what you mean / is this what you want" questions. Secondly, "We can't do that because of cost / legal / practical / other reasons. How about this instead". Thirdly, "Have you forgotten / considered xxxxxx" questions. Fourthly "xxxxx and yyyyy don't work together / won't both fit in budget. Which needs to take precedence?" Fifthly ... other elements. This is not intended to be a complete list of things that can go around the feedback loop. And there are going to be some tough decisions there, I'm sure.

The overall strategy / framework shouldn't come down to a level of individual service provision. That's what I'm calling the tactics. What / how things are need is often very clear from standards set elsewhere, or legally, from many of the specialist groups involved. And these are not necessarily "bigger is better" either. Taking the swimming pool as an example. The current pool is 33 metres. So - new pool at least 33 metres? Surprsingly, no! The competition standard is 25 metres, the Olympic standard would be 50 metres (and would that rule it our for local competition anyway?) and the most significant headline tactics relate to number of lanes and depth, I suspect. Who provides this vital sort of data, then? A good starting point is indeed the local users of existing services, and people who take an interest and volunteer information. But that can only be a starting point and must not take an undue weight. It would be very unwise of the team that's already hard at work behind the scenes with the SCOB not to see out far wider inputs and to help provide something that reaches out to provide to those who may be disenfranchised from current facilities for some reason (and there's at least one element coming to the Campus where the potential users massively outweight the users of present resources).

The SCOB is also aware of other unorganised groupings with an interest. Gypsy and I take a walk across the grounds of Melksham House from time to time, cyclists use the path, and there are other concerns that (until I started to get involved) I wasn't even aware of, such as the pond, how water gets there, and how it leaves - and the effect of how it leaves on other properties nearby. Being aware is the first step towards listening to these groupings (where they have not yet spoken) and seeking further inputs such that the Campus as its build and when it's completed is strengthened by their inputs and provides true value for every penny.





I'm naturally one to try to address each point raised - in Sasha's initial article and also later in the thread - but it may simply be too early on some of those. But a couple of comments ... it would be perverse for something that's for the community to have negative effect on existing active community use; mention is made of Soccer and Rugby in Sasha's comments. I can't give individual answers, but I can say that every effort's being made to do everything positively - to work with opportunities for something that will be fit for purpose for everyone way into the future, be it exactly where it is now or not. And there's quite a few elements (Christie Miller is a prime example) which would certainly not be fit for purpose in 10 years time.

DMJ68 writes: "Nobody actually knows what this will look like and contain as yet, People are assuming its a good thing and hopefully it is, but there seems to be a collossal amount of idiots behind the planning of this, Does not give alot of faith in the project to me and many others I have spoken with in town." Hmmm ... I used to thinks in a similar vein too. But as I've got rather more involved, I've come to realise that almost everyone involved in projects such as this has the interests of the project at heart, and that they're very bright and thinking people - the exact opposite of "idiots". They may be constrained in what they can do for all sorts of reasons, they may not be able to share commercial information, and they may not be easily able to communicate the depth of complexities and balances. But we want the best people to do the job and not the best people to put a good spin on it in the Melksham Independent News.

Communications IS key, and you'll see much clearer communications fairly shortly. Yes - you're right DMJ68 - "Nobody actually knows what this will look like and contain as yet" so it's too early start throwing up drawings and models. But I do hope the text above gives you some re-assurances that at least things are being considered. When you look at it, we've come a darned long way already. As a community (and I'm very much a member of that community and also now a SCOB member), we've steered from an out of town single building to something that's much more in line with the way that local voices were raised, meeting the reasoning behind WHY the out of town site was put forward but on an in town site, and helping in the process to head in a direction that can sort out other issues too. You'll note the checks and balances described earlier, designed to ensure we stay in track. And - please - talk to us. Through the Community Area Partnership, through your group. And as more information comes forward and it there to talk about, other communication channels are already being prepared. Talk to me direct; I'm not sure if you consider me to be one of your "collossal amount of idiots", and I'm very much aware that I've got very big holes in my knowledge - so you can help me by filling me in on your own expertises and passions so that I'm less idiotic - for we really want there to be a pride and a passion in what comes out.

I have already written a great deal here - much of it in generalities because we simply don't have the answers or even the framework for decisions yet. To add more of substance to this post would simply dilute what's above already. But, please, MCAP is there for your inputs. I'm happy to listen. And so are others. I'll be at a wide range of public meetings (mostly as attendee rather than organiser, thank goodness) later this month; please approach me at the Blue Pool during the early morning swim next Wednesday, at Wiltshire Growth later in the day, at the Historical Society next Thursday, the Chamber of Commerce a week on Tuesday, the Area board the following evening, or the Melksham Independent Traders meeting on that Thursday. It may need to be initially brief at these meetings - but I'm happy to put time aside to listen and help me "learn in" further thereafter.
(written 2011-10-14)

 
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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  [3279] Letter to The Editor - (2011-05-06)
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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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  [1934] Lidl opens in Melksham - (2008-12-11)
  [1904] Ruby, Perl, Linux, MySQL - some training notes - (2008-11-23)
  [1892] Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry - (2008-11-17)
  [1881] Wiltshire Council says - part 1 - (2008-11-13)
  [1880] Melksham Chamber of Commerce, or the FSB - (2008-11-12)
  [1792] All the pieces fall into place - hotel and courses - (2008-09-10)
  [1748] Hotel room prices - Melksham, Wiltshire - (2008-08-11)
  [1642] Summer! - (2008-05-15)
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  [1507] Comments on proposed Asda Superstore for Melksham - (2008-01-14)
  [1504] Flooding by Asda-s proposed new supermarket - (2008-01-12)
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  [1432] Wiltshire County Council - Budget Consultation - (2007-11-15)
  [1429] Remembrance day - inside a church and inside the day - (2007-11-11)
  [1250] Business speed networking - a place tonight! - (2007-06-28)
  [1223] Asda opening large new store in Melksham - (2007-06-08)
  [717] A customer service company - (2006-05-11)

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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Taking a boat down Caen Hill Locks
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Tkinter - an easy to use Python Graphic User Interface - introductory examples
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