A personal post from Graham Ellis
Lisa and Graham live in Melksham, Wiltshire, England

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Revisiting - should I stand for Melksham Without Parish Council in May?

I have stated in the past that I wouldn't stand for town (Melksham), parish (Melksham Without) or County (Wiltshire) election as a councillor, and given my reasons if anyone cared to look at them. However, times and logic changes, reasons become more or less important, and over the past few weeks I've been reviewing my decision. The area that I live in - Melksham Spa - is being separated from the Bowerhill ward of Melksham Without and will be part of a much smaller new ward - Blackmore - from the May 2017 local elections. The ward will include Melksham Spa, Sandridge and Woodrow - two councillors respreseting about 430 people spread over a wide area, with significant planning applications in various stages of progress as Melksham grows. Directly across the road from where I live, there are further plans to build hundreds of houses, but the new boundary runs down the middle of the road so although they're very close indeed to us, they won't be the direct concern of "my" councillor or myself should I stand and be elected.

In the past, life has been far too busy to take on too much more - however, our team at Well House Manor is now hugely experienced, and management time needs are much reduced as their skills grow. Similarly, with the TransWilts rail stuff we're over the peak of getting a service up and running - volunteer and community input is critical in its continuation, but not in such volume. IT training is such that I'm looking to reduce my level of work by around 50% from where it was 2 years ago, fading out old subjects. On site courses are no longer driven to, but rather I travel by public transport - so there's a further reduction of wasted time there as I can now work (or sleep) on the move. So the old objection of "I don't have the time" becomes less relevant.

I know what I know, and I know that there are a lot of things I don't know about. In other words, there's a lot of things a councillor should know about to be involved with. On topics like planning (both short term and neighbourhood plan) I know know a lot more that I did, and the old objection becomes less relevant. However, with a switch from a 10 councillor to a 2 councillor ward, there's a need for each of the remaining councillors to be more generalist and I know little about running play areas and other council provisions, supporting the multitude of local groups (I'm a member of one or two but that's it) and so that makes my fit far less comfortable in the two member area than a ten member area.

I know the road across from where I live, the fields up to Bowerhill that will become housing and the village of Bowerhill which I can also see from my front window. I know less about the Rugby and Football clubs that are a little further away out the back (and in Blackmore) and even less about Redstocks and Sandridge. Woodrow is right round the other side of town. So the area that I live in is not one that I know well enough / know the people well enough to truley represent - a reason against standing, even though it might have been sensible for me to stand had we still been a part of Bowerhill.

I attended the planning meeting on Tuesday to get an idea of what went on / in the ward. I was very disappointed by both the lack of proper answers provided by the proposer of the digester scheme, and the very negative approach of the audience. For sure, safety's important, but looking back to a historic accident from which lessons were learned, and which lead to new regulation, and still using this as an excuse "against" seems a poor approach from residents. It would be far more effective to look at traffic regulation overall with regard to the dangerous roads at both Sandridge and Woodrow than to concentrate effort on those few extra vehicles proposed, and it would be far better to include requests for community benefit such as CIL and section 106 in planning inputs rather than simply opposing. My view is that both Woodrow and Sanrdidge could be hugely improved by removing "rat run" traffic as indeed is suggested in the draft neighbourhood plan and by Wiltshire Council's longer goal of a new river crossing, and then, yes, let the local car traffic in Woodrow grow somewhat with people just starting out and ending their journeys, replacing a proportion of the through traffic - but less and slower traffic over all. Alas, the people at the meeting seemed intent on seeing all the problems that might arise, with no view as to "how can we use this to everyone's benefit" - and I really don't fancy putting myself forward to be a representative of such a negative approach which in the end will mean the people are just steam-rollered with minimal input because they didn't give any constructive criticism to help.

I have a huge sympathy for the Melksham Without Parish Councillors who were looking at those big planning issues, then a number of smaller ones where the applicant hadn't even bothered to turn up (and the room had emptied), but I really don't fancy a role whee I'm going to be shouted down and insulted at one stage, then expected to work for the community without even the thanks of the people for whom I might be pressing the case at the next. So on those grounds, I feel I should not be putting myself forward.

I have downloaded the election pack - how to stand, etc. And it makes interesting reading. And there's plenty of red tape. Apparently, if I want to stand nomination papers need to be hand delivered (in a change to the system they cannot be posted) ... to an address in Chippenham, Trowbridge, Salisbury or Devizes ... in the middle of the working day on a Monday to Friday. For someone who's considering doing this unpaid work in his spare time, and holding down a job in Melksham, this looks like it's a test of resolve - making sure that the candidates are serious by having them take half a day off work, and travel a round trip of over 10 miles to lodge their interest.

Inputs from Wiltshire Council, with whom the parish does much liaison, seem negative and blocking on so many other issues too. Simple requests for the evening bus to stop at the top of the station approach, and for a fence panel to be taken down between two pieces of public land to improve access, seem to be being kicked into the long grass by officers keener to justify their own jobs than to achieve pragmatic progress for the residents. And the opening of major new sports facilities in the Blackmore Ward (which you'll recall is sparsely populated) is matched by the removal of the bus services that would get residents of Melksham Town and from further afield to those facilities at their busiest time - Saturday afternoon. If it wasn't so serious, I could laugh about this.

One option to getting sensible things done is to join the system and push for improvements from within. The other approach, and the one I've taken in the past is to work from outside the system where I can ask questions, make suggestions, take the unpopular view at times but (as I think I've proven) occasionally help to make a difference. My nature, my lack of knowledge of Blackmore and of many topics, and my disagreement with the approach taken by many I would need to represent suggests to me that my approach at the 2017 parish election should remain the same as at previous opportunities to stand - to offer support and help to others with whom I agree, but not to stand myself.
(written 2017-02-24)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Z300 - Politics and Religion
  [216] Cheap purchase - votes paid for with selfish promises - (2005-02-15)
  [257] Politics gets nasty. Must be an election coming up. - (2005-03-25)
  [280] Spotted - the local MP - (2005-04-15)
  [289] MP for Devizes, Wiltshire - (2005-04-23)
  [301] General Election day, UK - (2005-05-05)
  [313] Making bona fide international marriages more difficult - (2005-05-16)
  [326] UK Tax payment totals and where the money is spent - (2005-05-27)
  [335] Sad priorities - (2005-06-03)
  [377] A Strengthened City - (2005-07-14)
  [384] Managing conflict and disappointment - (2005-07-20)
  [415] Campaign Drift and efficiency. - (2005-08-15)
  [469] Yesterday was Kiss and Ride - (2005-10-19)
  [505] Would you steal ... petrol? ... a training course? - (2005-11-26)
  [539] rich and famous - (2005-12-23)
  [602] MP face to face - (2006-02-12)
  [607] On being British - (2006-02-14)
  [671] Both ends of the animal - (2006-04-05)
  [674] Wiltshire to get an extra MP - (2006-04-07)
  [682] Iran has enriched uranium ... - (2006-04-12)
  [696] Is than an uphill or downhill task? - (2006-04-23)
  [750] Almost everyone loses - (2006-06-07)
  [780] Separation and Integration - (2006-06-27)
  [875] Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones - (2006-09-22)
  [967] Realistic on line shoot'em up - (2006-12-05)
  [1003] Room at the Inn, Guy at the station - (2006-12-21)
  [1060] What a relief from the tax office. - (2007-02-01)
  [1109] False imprisonment - a contrast from the news - (2007-03-15)
  [1135] Government pressure on me to shut up after I make the papers - (2007-04-05)
  [1175] Local elections - choosing who to vote for - (2007-05-03)
  [1247] An afternoon at a public enquiry - (2007-06-27)
  [1260] An inspirational business talk from one of our prospective MPs - (2007-07-06)
  [1350] FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) Western Region - (2007-09-13)
  [1386] New software product for warmblooded programmers - (2007-10-10)
  [1428] Travel Across Wiltshire - the game - (2007-11-11)
  [1526] Carers at work - court case changes - (2008-02-01)
  [1573] Budget tax increases hit vehicle market - (2008-03-14)
  [1579] Rome, and the faith of Rome - (2008-03-17)
  [1729] Back from the future - (2008-07-30)
  [1769] July child ponders on August children - (2008-08-23)
  [1872] Barack Obama wins US Predidency - (2008-11-05)
  [1881] Wiltshire Council says - part 1 - (2008-11-13)
  [1882] Wiltshire Council says - part 2 - (2008-11-14)
  [1987] One Cheer for Local Democracy - Asda in Melksham - (2009-01-11)
  [2012] The Wiltshire Police - (2009-01-29)
  [2028] Things people say on the phone - (2009-02-06)
  [2075] Supporting Parkinsons and Trains - (2009-03-11)
  [2178] Melksham Candidates for Wiltshire Unitary Election - (2009-05-12)
  [2206] Spot the odd one out - (2009-05-29)
  [2257] Ramblings on church and state linkage in Melksham - (2009-06-25)
  [2270] Wiltshire - a chance to improve life for everybody - (2009-07-05)
  [2279] Understanding the new local government structure in Wiltshire - (2009-07-11)
  [2288] Wiltshire Community Area Partnerships - (2009-07-15)
  [2353] All change - Wiltshire Parliamentary - (2009-08-13)
  [2640] How is your tax pound spent? - (2010-02-18)
  [2689] Can my dog eat potatoes? Doggie Dietary Research, and political sleaze! - (2010-03-23)
  [2712] A more informed decision than ever before - (2010-04-08)
  [2740] Melksham Hustings at George Ward School - (2010-04-26)
  [2752] Voting day - UK General Election - (2010-05-06)
  [2757] Bodicea, Lincoln, and our new MP - (2010-05-09)
  [2792] Should Government compete with private industry? - (2010-06-03)
  [2824] A pint of Black Rat, and a lazy barman - (2010-06-25)
  [2856] Two sides of the coin - (2010-07-06)
  [2864] Changing with weather and seasons - (2010-07-10)
  [2870] Old prices - what would the equivalent price have been in 1966? - (2010-07-14)
  [2948] Melksham shamefully makes the national headlines - (2010-09-07)
  [2971] Should the public sector compete with businesses? and other deep questions - (2010-09-26)
  [3051] Positively reforming the system - could it be done? - (2010-11-14)
  [3264] Alternative Vote (AV) - explaining and an example - (2011-04-25)
  [3313] What does our MP do on a Bank Holiday? - (2011-05-30)
  [3323] Is Melksham town centre dying? - (2011-06-11)
  [3325] The Olympic Torch, and Melksham House - (2011-06-14)
  [3438] Melksham to become a part of Trowbridge? - (2011-09-13)
  [3592] Are we one man, one vote? No, and we never have been. - (2012-01-26)
  [3676] Rising prices, changing habits and society - (2012-03-31)
  [3806] 2011 Census results - initial figures for Wiltshire. - (2012-07-17)
  [3845] Good cause giving - getting the charity beggars off the street - (2012-08-21)
  [3905] How should we choose our Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner? - (2012-10-27)
  [3921] On rememberance, on war, and on preventing the war cycle - (2012-11-11)
  [4079] Melksham Area - Unitary Council results, May 2013 - (2013-05-04)
  [4223] Democracy - alive and well with the beauty pagent starting up again - (2013-12-16)
  [4275] Eurpoean Elections, and other elections ahead. Some thoughts on campaigns and policies - (2014-05-08)
  [4286] Reaction in Radstock to new First bus prices - (2014-07-12)
  [4343] Politics and the railway the connects Wiltshire - (2014-12-06)
  [4354] Wiltshire Police - assuming someone is guilty just on the say-so of a member of the public? - (2014-12-16)
  [4476] Upcoming election - Chippenham Constituency - the major candidates compared - (2015-04-29)
  [4485] Misusing statistics? - the seedy side of election campaigning - (2015-05-04)
  [4489] Election results - what if we had a party list system? - (2015-05-08)
  [4548] Melksham - two small townships, or one big one? - (2015-10-22)
  [4597] Not standing as your local councillor - (2015-12-18)
  [4614] PC Plod - alive and scaremongering in Wiltshire? - (2016-01-04)
  [4625] Where does Wiltshire bus subsidy money come from? - (2016-01-19)
  [4720] Celebrating our diversity rather than discriminating for it - (2016-11-02)
  [4725] Writing Python 2 such that Python 3 is easy - (2016-11-06)
  [4729] The oldest part of Los Angeles - (2016-11-23)
  [4734] Thoughts on the new Blackmore Ward of Melksham Without Parish - (2017-02-22)

Z950 - Purely Personal
  [1014] Christmas Season Piccies - (2006-12-30)
  [1051] Too busy to blog it - but it's great (mostly) - (2007-01-24)
  [2195] A two day gap - first time in five years? - (2009-05-24)
  [2547] The great thing about snow .... - (2009-12-23)
  [2698] Ruth Davis, 1916 - 2010 - (2010-03-28)
  [2886] Congratulations, Kimberly - (2010-07-25)
  [2982] Travel, Transport and Tourism - A vision for Melksham, 2026 - (2010-10-03)
  [3034] Birth Notice - Aeryn Cassandra Ellis - (2010-11-07)
  [3037] Looking back and forward personally - 6 years each way - (2010-11-08)
  [3055] Zyliana Kyrei Cox - (2010-11-16)
  [3108] My First Christmas - (2010-12-26)
  [3224] Melksham Campus - a win / win opportunity, but a severely lacking decision process - (2011-03-31)
  [3240] Melksham Town Council - vacancy in the Spa Ward - (2011-04-10)
  [3283] The juggler - (2011-05-08)
  [3298] Quiet Monday in - (2011-05-23)
  [3413] If its Sunday, must it be Weymouth? - (2011-08-30)
  [3450] A threat in the post? Poor marketing practise from Smiletrain? - (2011-09-19)
  [3511] Melksham has a heart - have your picture taken and support the defibrillator appeal - (2011-11-06)
  [3556] Aeryn at 1 - (2011-12-19)
  [3566] Initial thoughts - response to GW Rail Franchise Consultation for Wiltshire - (2011-12-31)
  [3602] Emerging proposals for land to the east of Spa Road, Melksham - (2012-02-03)
  [3711] Kiss - (2012-04-28)
  [4111] Zigzag bus - forward for the future, or decaying service? - (2013-06-09)
  [4157] Wedding Photos - Kim Ellis to Kyle Londors, 22nd August 2013 - (2013-08-23)
  [4165] Improving travel advise information in Wiltshire - (2013-09-06)
  [4187] Not treading water, but not risking the ship for a 0.5th of tar either - (2013-10-06)
  [4201] Looking to the future at Melksham Station - (2013-10-26)
  [4221] Celebration of the fruits of LSTF, and of the people who have helped and are helping - (2013-12-15)
  [4235] Sharing my personal best of 2013 - (2013-12-31)
  [4281] A different vision for the future - (2014-07-09)
  [4308] What can you and I learn from online quizzes? - (2014-09-27)
  [4600] A big change in August - (2015-12-25)
  [4657] Rumours of bus changes by First in Wiltshire - what we know and suspect - (2016-03-01)
  [4658] The end of competition on a bus route - the effects from then end of the 234 - (2016-03-02)
  [4669] Buses - how did we get into the situation we are in? - (2016-04-02)
  [4698] Lisa writes - on the referendum vote today - (2016-06-23)
  [4714] The technical article feed continues - personal updates more proactive on Facebook now! - (2016-10-30)
  [4728] Visiting Los Alamitos Bay Yacht Club - (2016-11-23)
  [4737] Why you should vote for Lisa in Melksham Central - (2017-05-01)
  [4739] A year of changes for Lisa and Graham Ellis, and Well House - (2017-05-27)
  [4756] Learning how to be a more effective community partner - (2017-07-15)
  [4759] Sale of effects and furniture - 12th and 13th August 2017 - (2017-07-25)
  [4761] Looking forward to the autumn. - (2017-08-19)
  [4767] Some thoughts on 2017, and looking forward to 2018 - (2017-12-31)


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Thoughts on the new Blackmore Ward of Melksham Without Parish
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Our changing world
Some other Articles
Melksham Chamber of Commerce - my final Presidents report
Our changing world
Revisiting - should I stand for Melksham Without Parish Council in May?
Python examples - updates under way
Reviewing TransWilts performance 2015-16
To Oceanside and San Clemente Pier
San Juan Capistrano
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