I am in complete disagreement with removing all governmental current business support and encouragement and replacing it with grants to social startups such as potters, with building footpaths where two can walkk abreast alongside even the smallest and remotest of country lanes, with running free buses on all routes every five minutes ("or perhaps a 50p fare) and with allowing people to start college course any week of the year not just in September, and then be able to drop out and rejoin whenever they feel like it. That was the vision of the lady that I was paired up with as we walked around Westbury Leigh yesterday evening at the RSAWilts / WfCAP meeting last night.
But it is difficult - very difficult - to get people to think forward to where we want to be in 20 years time, and the meeting was a brave (and successful) attempt to persuade the artistic community to think in that way. I, frankly, wondered when I arrived at the array of cardboard boxes in the converted church labelled "University" and "Altzheimers Hospital", and sheets of cardboard labelled "Car Park". But actually the visual / physical aid, good speakers talking of population growth, a changing age demographic, altering work patterns, and a lack of jobs especially locally for young people, bit set the scene and get people thinking about some of the issues and where they might want to go.
And so to re-plan the town. Move the boxes, re-label some of them. Some interesting ideas; I'll admit to taking a couple of the vast array of car parks and turning them into industry / employment areas, and to adding in some housing which seemed to be in short supply - we started with wonderful communal facilities with no-where to work (except at those facilities) and no-where to live. Others made changes - the special needs school was changed into an all abilities school, the town's electric tramway was routed away from the station and main railway line to avoid it conflicting, and a crematorium appeared near the centre of th etown. Further car parks were torn up for allotments, public toilets added ...
And after the exercise, a review. A big art bias as you would expect from the Royal Society of Arts, and a request / requirement for art in the community. The discussion could have gone far deeper into art affordabiity, maintainabilty, and art pieces v embedded art throughout. But at least a start was made. I'm not sure how it goes further ... except, as observers, I noted at least one Wiltshire Councillor, one planning officer / expert, and this meeting does help inform them as to where thinking may be. And certainly the audience was very happy at being asked / consulted / made to think on these issue.
The venue itself was a beautiful building, yet as a practical venue I'm not so sure. The options to get there and home were drive, drive or drive. For sure, it was near Dilton Marsh station, but that has a "curiously erratic" service which simply wasn't usable. Car parking was inadequate for those who drove (i.e. everyone) and yellow lines all around showed this to be a long-standing problem with the hall. I noted one car parked in front of a garage labelled "24 hour access required" and another double parked and blocking within the churchyard. The bus stop outside said "buses stop both sides of the road" but there were no buses to be seen.
Acoustics were difficult; it was hard to hear much of what was said, although I did hear the blame for that being put on the people talking ("not used to speaking in a building like this") rather than on the building itself. Perhaps a venue to suit the audience should have been selected? I know of one in Westbury! Beautiful building, though ... and (to give you the view of one of the people I spoke with) "we need to keep churches of worship in our communities". Yet I don't think I saw a church or a mosque or synagogue in cardboard. Perhaps the places of worship should become a part of the campus?
There was networking time; to a degree, people stuck in known groups and there wasn't any round robin introduction. Chritian name and "where from" stickly labels were the sum. I was very conscious that the people I spoke to all seemed very much concerned with themselves (rather than the inclusive community) and were looking much more at what the community could offer them, rather than what they could offer the community. But perhaps that's because I already know and wasn't networking with those elements who are already giving so much of their time for the community.
Yet ... out of the blue ... one lady mentioned to me how great it is to see some of the intertown connections improving, and whe was telling me how her partner's been able to take a job in Swindon when they live in Trowbridge. She did go on to say how poor the publicity was for this improvement; I chuckled slightly to myself for clearly she and lots of others HAVE heard of it, and indeed she's provising the publicity for it herself. And what we're trying to achieve is lots of people on trains where it's right for them, and not awards for a marketing campaign.
All in all, an interesting and thought-provoking evening. With 20,000 more people in each of the towns, the road from Melksham to Westbury (queuing much of the way except in the centre of Westbury!) won't cope at peak times unless something changes. Something may change - the 66% of people who do a 9-to-5 an drop to around 40%, spreading out a larger total flow of traffic over more hours ... a further billion rail journeys will be made each year, again allowing longer hour services (Network Rail's 7 day railway), and a relief road from the West Wilts Industial Estate along the railway to Frome Market may relieve the pressure of heavy though traffic making life a misery for residents in Westbury. (written 2014-07-09)
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articlesZ950 - Purely Personal 
Christmas Season Piccies - (2006-12-30) 
Too busy to blog it - but it's great (mostly) - (2007-01-24) 
A two day gap - first time in five years? - (2009-05-24) 
The great thing about snow .... - (2009-12-23) 
Ruth Davis, 1916 - 2010 - (2010-03-28) 
Congratulations, Kimberly - (2010-07-25) 
Travel, Transport and Tourism - A vision for Melksham, 2026 - (2010-10-03) 
Birth Notice - Aeryn Cassandra Ellis - (2010-11-07) 
Looking back and forward personally - 6 years each way - (2010-11-08) 
Zyliana Kyrei Cox - (2010-11-16) 
My First Christmas - (2010-12-26) 
Melksham Campus - a win / win opportunity, but a severely lacking decision process - (2011-03-31) 
Melksham Town Council - vacancy in the Spa Ward - (2011-04-10) 
The juggler - (2011-05-08) 
Quiet Monday in - (2011-05-23) 
If its Sunday, must it be Weymouth? - (2011-08-30) 
A threat in the post? Poor marketing practise from Smiletrain? - (2011-09-19) 
Melksham has a heart - have your picture taken and support the defibrillator appeal - (2011-11-06) 
Aeryn at 1 - (2011-12-19) 
Initial thoughts - response to GW Rail Franchise Consultation for Wiltshire - (2011-12-31) 
Emerging proposals for land to the east of Spa Road, Melksham - (2012-02-03) 
Kiss - (2012-04-28) 
How should we choose our Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner? - (2012-10-27) 
Zigzag bus - forward for the future, or decaying service? - (2013-06-09) 
Wedding Photos - Kim Ellis to Kyle Londors, 22nd August 2013 - (2013-08-23) 
Improving travel advise information in Wiltshire - (2013-09-06) 
Not treading water, but not risking the ship for a 0.5th of tar either - (2013-10-06) 
Looking to the future at Melksham Station - (2013-10-26) 
Celebration of the fruits of LSTF, and of the people who have helped and are helping - (2013-12-15) 
Sharing my personal best of 2013 - (2013-12-31) 
Eurpoean Elections, and other elections ahead. Some thoughts on campaigns and policies - (2014-05-08) 
Reaction in Radstock to new First bus prices - (2014-07-12) 
What can you and I learn from online quizzes? - (2014-09-27) 
Upcoming election - Chippenham Constituency - the major candidates compared - (2015-04-29) 
Misusing statistics? - the seedy side of election campaigning - (2015-05-04) 
Election results - what if we had a party list system? - (2015-05-08) 
A big change in August - (2015-12-25) 
Where does Wiltshire bus subsidy money come from? - (2016-01-19) 
Rumours of bus changes by First in Wiltshire - what we know and suspect - (2016-03-01) 
The end of competition on a bus route - the effects from then end of the 234 - (2016-03-02) 
Buses - how did we get into the situation we are in? - (2016-04-02) 
Lisa writes - on the referendum vote today - (2016-06-23) 
The technical article feed continues - personal updates more proactive on Facebook now! - (2016-10-30) 
Visiting Los Alamitos Bay Yacht Club - (2016-11-23) 
Thoughts on the new Blackmore Ward of Melksham Without Parish - (2017-02-22) 
Revisiting - should I stand for Melksham Without Parish Council in May? - (2017-02-24) 
Why you should vote for Lisa in Melksham Central - (2017-05-01) 
A year of changes for Lisa and Graham Ellis, and Well House - (2017-05-27) 
Learning how to be a more effective community partner - (2017-07-15) 
Sale of effects and furniture - 12th and 13th August 2017 - (2017-07-25) 
Looking forward to the autumn. - (2017-08-19) 
Some thoughts on 2017, and looking forward to 2018 - (2017-12-31)
Some other Articles
Pictures of Melksham Heritage Discovery FairTalk and walk to promote train service - Melksham CarnivalCan a legitimate forum post become illegal a year later?On tipping - and the expectation of a tipA different vision for the futureMaking use of huge data, object orientation, unit testing and frameworksUpcoming public courses from Well House ConsultantsFuture Swindon - Westbury train services. At current level into the future?Sending a message to the server and changing text on a page when a button is pressedSwindon to Weymouth - by train, the traditional way - 2014