Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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Annual review of Melksham Matters for Chamber of Commerce AGM

So much has happened in the last 12 months in Melksham that I don't know where to start.

I'm missing the AGM on Tuesday 17th (18:00 at Well House Manor / open to all), so sending in my report by email - composed and checked from Saudi Arabia!

At the general election almost exactly a year ago, Michelle Donelan was elected as our new MP in place of Duncan Hames who had served the Chippenham Constituency so well for five years. Duncan was always going to be an exceptionally hard act to follow, but I'm delighted to report that Michelle has stepped into her role and taken up the mantle of listening to and supporting the community excellently, and hasn't been afraid to assist with causes and campaigns she believes in even before they become populist.

Moving from central to local government, Wiltshire Council has made major economies by cutting many optional budgets, reducing spend to a bare or statutory minimum, and passing responsibility for town and parish services to the town or parish councils where it can. Such cuts are partly due to policy decisions on council tax, partly due to cuts in central government grant funding, and partly due to the ever-rising cost of mandated social care which falls on the council. With staffing reductions too, the council has felt itself unable to apply for new central government funding such as the Total Transport Implementation Fund and the Local Sustainable Transport Interim fund which neighbouring authorities have successfully applied for and are using to oil the wheels for future improvements. It may be that Wiltshire is right to make cuts and keep council tax down at the expense of preparing for the future, or it may be that this is slimming one step to far - come May 2017, there are fresh electiond for Wiltshire Council and it will be interesting to see the popular view in the ballot box.

A merger was considered during this year between our Melksham Town and Melksham Without Parish councils, but was rejected after hearing evidence by Wiltshire Council's team than makes such decisions. I won't replay the arguments on both sides, which were passionately presented - but I will look forward to the two parishing working together for the common good of the town that serves the populations of both if them. Some new housing areas currently in Melksham Without will be transferring to the town in the near future - an agreed sensible move where the boundary went down the middle of a new road in what had become a built up area.

The two councils are now working together on the neighbourhood plan - a plan developed by the community to give some steer into the future development of the town, and with some potential to specify how and where the town should grow, rather than letting it grow almost randomly with little strategic thought.

Growth has continued this year with the opening of Herman Miller's new factory and there's other non-residential developement underway too - for example the coming of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance base on Semington Road. Other developments such as solar farms and a green energy system at Sandridge are here, in development or planned. And housing grows too with development underway at present on the old George Ward site, approved on other areas to the south and east of the town, and in planning on others. A decision on the planning application for the Melksham Link of the Wilts and Berks canal is imminent, and if approved that would be a major step in the development of Melksham for the future.

Wiltshire Council's development of new Rugby and Football facilities at Woolmore farm continues apace, with opening due in the next few months. This scheme has been funded (with commercial facilities for corporate events that will compete with other local businesses) by money from the pot originally earmarked for the Campus at Melksham House, which as been delayed and scaled back with the removal of indoor bowling facilities, and is to be renamed a "Health and Wellbeing Centre".

Melksham's town centre continues to thrive - there are few unoccupied premises available and those which are empty are more usually between lets than looking for tenants. We do notice a more towards cafes and restaurants - a note on the social change in the town perhaps - and we welcome the Water Meadow (a Marstons pub / restaurant) on the Eastern Development which has gained itself an excellent reputation within the first few weeks of opening.

Likewise, Melksham's 3 year trial train service improvement has thrived, already achieving twice the highest passenger forecasts by Wiltshire Council's consultants (Mouchel) prior to the funding application. TransWilts' expectations were higher than the councils, but even they have been hansomely exceeded with Melksham station being the 3rd fastest growing in the UK last year. Looking forward, the service will continue beyond the end of the trial in December - indeed there's an extra train started this week, and we can look forward to longer trains next year, and more exciting developements too.

The story on buses is not so good. Last year, we lost the Melksham Rail Link, where the town bus was making 2 extra runs to the station before its normal daytime service and bringing up to a dozen people to the train on their way to work. Not only were those passengers lost to the bus, but also to the train and in some cases they've had to find new jobs too. Again, the 234 bus service was lost last summer, and the last bus from Chippenham's now at 17:35 rather that 22:16 - too early for people who used to use the bus as the last leg of their commute home, and again people have had to give up jobs. The two early buses on route 272 from Bath were also lost - in this case against a spirited fight from a local councillor - but my personal view is that this was a reasonable cut as the buses were virtually empty.

Wiltshire Council is looking to cut about a half of its bus support budget next year, with potential removal of funding from route 271 and dramatic reduction on routes 14, 68 and 69. A consultation on that option, together with a complete removal of bus support, took part from January through March and brought 11,500 responses. A suggestion made by the option 24/7 group (of which I am a member) has suggested re-organising public transport at a network, allowing savings to be made and a system that encourages new users though better connections, integrated ticketing, information systems and efficiencies, and pulling in modest extra funding from rail designation sources. This approach is supported in pre-talk for the upcoming buses bill which will remove some legal hurdles, and also by Michelle Donealan. Wiltshire Council did not offer this option in their consultation, but has held several meetings with us and operator representatives to investigate further. Should the cuts consulted on proceed, Melksham is likely to see an end of evening and Sunday buses in summer 2017, with the town bus reduced to every 2 hours with 2 runs each day to Holt / Staverton / Trowbridge and towards Corsham.

Next month brings the "Brexit" vote, and it would be unwise at this stage to predict which way the vote will go - but we can be sure that we're in for an interesting aftermath. The following month, Melksham hosts the Party in the Park on 16th July, and the carnival parade is on 23rd - again with a gathering of the community in the park. It will be interest to see how the two events stack up against each other on different Saturdays rather than being combined on the same day.

Your chair and membership development committee member (Colin and Chris) have been doing a sterling job of approaching new businesses and arranging some interesting site visits for the Chamber over the year, and I'll leave it to them to fill you in on that side of things, and on the Wessex Association of Chambers, of which the Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a member. Many thank also to Phil McMullen for his secretarial and support work for the Chamber. Their work has allowed me to concentrate what little time I've been able to give on some of the matters listed above.

I've very much enjoyed my time as President of the Chamber, and would like to thank members for letting me take this role which I've thoroughly enjoyed. I'm sorry I can't be with you this evening, but I do look forward to seeing my friends at the Chamber again next month, and I thank you all for your support and helping to make my role an enjoyable one.
(written 2016-05-15, updated 2016-05-16)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Z402 - Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  [4738] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - my final Presidents report - (2017-05-10)
  [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)
  [4170] Herman Miller coming to Melksham - the Chamber of Commerce is briefed - (2013-09-10)
  [4164] Melksham Market - every Tuesday - (2013-09-03)
  [4151] Tell me a bit about Melksham - (2013-08-10)
  [4103] Questions from children about Melksham Campus - (2013-05-26)
  [4097] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - Report for AGM, 21st May 2013 - (2013-05-21)
  [4046] Over a hundred welcoming businesses - Melksham Town Centre - (2013-03-17)
  [4041] Report on the last year - Melksham Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Melksham Without Parish Council - (2013-03-11)
  [4014] Costa Coffee in Melksham - is it a good idea? - (2013-02-22)
  [4002] Images of Melksham you havent seen before - (2013-02-13)
  [3987] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - join us in our future - (2013-01-21)
  [3948] Quiet little town? Advanced Technology Centre? - (2012-12-08)
  [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)
  [3768] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - looking to our future shape. Pivotal meeting next Tuesday - (2012-06-19)
  [3767] How well do you know Melksham? - (2012-06-17)
  [3752] Melksham Visitors Map - Bus routes and train lines to and from the town - (2012-06-04)
  [3751] Public transport for international arrivals into Melksham - (2012-06-04)
  [3748] Not everyone has a computer - 9 more ways to learn about the Melksham Campus - (2012-06-03)
  [3739] Go green - business seminar in Melksham - (2012-05-21)
  [3732] Ten more visitors to your premises every day? - (2012-05-14)
  [3714] Just 12 winners? Or 371 or more? Town Centres. - (2012-04-30)
  [3710] Encouraging business in Melksham and its neighbourhood - keep business local?? - (2012-04-27)
  [3706] An exciting Chamber of Commerce AGM - sound like an Oxymoron? - (2012-04-25)
  [3700] Why do people use chains rather than independent traders? - (2012-04-18)
  [3697] Events in Melksham - read all about them, and tell us about yours - (2012-04-15)
  [3696] Melksham government and business organisations - (2012-04-14)
  [3693] Wiltshire Business Support Service - (2012-04-11)
  [3682] Melksham Business Newsreel - (2012-04-03)
  [3677] Some advise for guest speakers at meetings - (2012-03-31)
  [3672] Melksham Train Service - please support the TransWilts case for regular trains - (2012-03-25)
  [3663] Changing shops and organisations - Melksham, the last and next five years - (2012-03-21)
  [3627] Meeting Report - Tuesday 21st Feb - to Melksham Chamber of Commerce from Shadow Community Operations Board - (2012-02-27)
  [3598] Melksham Civic Awards - report and pictures - (2012-01-29)
  [3560] Melksham, Month by month through 2011 - (2011-12-23)
  [3527] Melksham - changing times, an opportunity for the future - (2011-11-23)
  [3496] Melksham - Business to Business Speed Networking - build ahead for 2012 - (2011-10-26)
  [3495] Looking forward - Chamber of Commerce has 2012 and beyond on the agenda - (2011-10-26)
  [3492] Upcoming events in and about Melksham - more dates for your diary - (2011-10-22)
  [3481] Some thoughts in answer to some Melksham Campus questions - (2011-10-14)
  [3475] Havant - Shop Frontages. - (2011-10-12)
  [3470] Currently pictured in Melksham - (2011-10-09)
  [3438] Melksham to become a part of Trowbridge? - (2011-09-13)
  [3427] What is on the Melksham Agenda? - (2011-09-09)
  [3423] 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 12? - (2011-09-07)
  [3420] Making best use of the new enthusiasm for Melksham - (2011-09-05)
  [3383] Are people who walk into Melksham being asked to subsidise parking? - (2011-08-09)
  [3380] Melksham Jelly - An Occasional Office for Home Workers - (2011-08-06)
  [3343] Summer Sunday Train Service Starts - Swindon Chippenham and Melksham to Weymouth - (2011-07-03)
  [3340] Summer Sunday Timetable - TransWilts Trains - (2011-06-30)
  [3334] A lesson from the sporran market? - (2011-06-25)
  [3325] The Olympic Torch, and Melksham House - (2011-06-14)
  [3307] Melksham Community Radio launches - (2011-05-28)
  [3299] Presidents Report to Melksham Chamber of Commerce, 24.5.2011 - (2011-05-24)
  [3279] Letter to The Editor - (2011-05-06)
  [3275] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - grows to appoint new Press Officer. Welcome. Sam - (2011-05-02)
  [3272] Melksham Car Parking - current charges and limits - (2011-05-01)
  [3249] Events - Spring and Early Summer 2011 in Melksham - (2011-04-17)
  [3246] Melksham - the way forward. 26th April, Well House Manor - (2011-04-13)
  [3217] Vandalism and riot from the minority - the effect - (2011-03-28)
  [3214] Melksham Campus - any last minute inputs from Melksham businesses? - (2011-03-26)
  [3193] Melksham Campus - what, why, questions, concerns and how you can input - (2011-03-04)
  [3188] What proportion of the British Workforce still works a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, week? - (2011-03-01)
  [3173] What is the Melksham Chamber of Commerce? - (2011-02-18)
  [3172] On consultations, car parking, and Melksham town centre - (2011-02-17)
  [3162] Keep your business customer-friendly! - (2011-02-09)
  [3141] Wiltshire Rail services - a golden opportunity - (2011-01-21)
  [3117] Opportunities for Melksham - new businesses in the town - (2011-01-01)
  [3113] Trowbridge and Melksham to Chippenham - more roadworks, even slower journey over the winter - (2010-12-30)
  [3088] Melksham - two many councils? - (2010-12-16)
  [2995] A river in Melksham is not just for boaters. - (2010-10-11)
  [2982] Travel, Transport and Tourism - A vision for Melksham, 2026 - (2010-10-03)
  [2959] A Melksham news roundup - (2010-09-18)
  [2957] Welcome to Countrywides new Melksham store - (2010-09-15)
  [2932] Getting into and out of Wiltshire towns .. a.k.a. Car Parking? - (2010-08-23)
  [2891] Wiltshire Council ask how they can help businesses - (2010-07-27)
  [2883] Melksham Oak - photos of the new community school - (2010-07-22)
  [2872] Moved - Melksham Lorry Park - (2010-07-15)
  [2867] Cycling in Melksham, and looking forward - (2010-07-11)
  [2853] Transport in Wessex - today and into the future - (2010-07-04)
  [2837] Lorry Parking in Melksham - (2010-06-29)
  [2827] Melksham - a gem in Wiltshire - (2010-06-26)
  [2782] Tell the Melksham Chamber or you only have yourself to blame - (2010-05-26)
  [2779] The history and future of Melksham Chamber of Commerce - (2010-05-25)
  [2770] Melksham Chamber of Commerce - Presidents report to AGM - (2010-05-19)
  [2725] How do our tactics help us meet the strategy, for the greater good? - (2010-04-16)
  [2683] Car Parking in Melksham - (2010-03-18)
  [2666] Random thoughts on Melksham Town Planning and development - (2010-03-08)
  [2640] How is your tax pound spent? - (2010-02-18)
  [2594] Melksham Area - your community view is sought - (2010-01-23)
  [2568] Forums for your Melksham and open source discussions - (2010-01-09)
  [2546] How well do you know Melksham - a quiz for Christmas - (2009-12-21)
  [2544] Vision for Wiltshire - (2009-12-20)
  [2540] Rock and hard place .. and the relaxing right one won - (2009-12-18)
  [2531] Melksham - new Tuesday Market - (2009-12-09)
  [2521] Melksham Market - Tuesdays, 09:00 to 14:00 - (2009-12-01)
  [2514] The road show has been - where now? - (2009-11-27)
  [2508] Community Area Partnership - inaugural AGM - (2009-11-20)
  [2495] Planning the future of Wiltshire - (2009-11-07)
  [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)
  [2328] Melksham - no trains, no southbound buses through the town - (2009-08-08)
  [2289] pre-Inaugural briefing - Melksham Community Area Partnership - (2009-07-15)
  [2288] Wiltshire Community Area Partnerships - (2009-07-15)
  [2260] Important - the future of Melksham / Chamber of Commerce - (2009-06-28)
  [2220] Melksham Traders - where do we go? - (2009-06-05)
  [2194] Melksham Business Map - Chamber of Commerce, Tourist Information and Town Council - (2009-05-21)
  [2181] You cannot please all of the people all of the time - (2009-05-14)
  [2119] Make your business a DESTINATION business - (2009-04-05)
  [2111] Business Networking for Melksham - 23rd April - (2009-04-01)
  [2095] Blue Ridge and Melksham Chambers of Commerce - (2009-03-21)
  [2043] Confidence, Customer Service and Tourism in Melksham - (2009-02-15)
  [1987] One Cheer for Local Democracy - Asda in Melksham - (2009-01-11)
  [1979] Looking forward, in Melksham, in 2009 - (2009-01-05)
  [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)
  [1633] Changing a screen saver from a web page (PHP, Perl, OSX) - (2008-05-06)
  [1507] Comments on proposed Asda Superstore for Melksham - (2008-01-14)
  [1504] Flooding by Asda-s proposed new supermarket - (2008-01-12)
  [1476] Shopping for Christmas and looking forward - (2007-12-17)
  [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)


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