Melksham Without Parish Council

             

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The Council's facebook page is Melksham Without Parish Council or for additional community news find and friend request Teresa Strange (Clerk to Melksham Without).  On Twitter the Council's account is @melkshamwithout and ....More
OUT OF HOURS TELEPHONE NUMBER
In the case of urgent Parish matters that cannot wait until the office is open please ring 07341 474234   ....More
OPEN SPACES & GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE SURVEY
DO YOU VISIT OPEN SPACES, PLAY AREAS IN MELKSHAM WITHOUT? ARE YOU INTERESTED IN TAKING PART OF A SURVEY BY WILTSHIRE COUNCIL ABOUT THE FACILITIES IN YOUR AREA AND WHAT YOU THINK OF THEM?   Please contact the parish council for a copy ....More
Councillor Vacancy - Bowerhill Ward - another election to be called
BOWERHILL WARD VACANCY No nomination papers were submitted to the Returning Officer by the statutory deadline of 4pm on Friday 14 February 2020. As such, a further election will have to take place and this will repeat until such time as the vacancy ....More
Provisional dates for next CGR public meetings
ADVANCE NOTICE - DATES FOR YOUR DIARIES Provisional dates for public meetings as part of the formal consultation on the draft recommendations of the Electoral Review Committee, as part of the next stage of the Community Governance Revie are as follows:....More
APRENTICESHIP CASE STUDY - MELKSHAM WITHOUT PARISH COUNCIL
Thinking of taking on an apprenticeship?  Read here to find out the success story at Melksham Without. https://workwiltshire.co.uk/2020/02/05/national-apprenticeship-week-case-study-level/ ....More
Precept and Budget 2020/21
PRECEPT & BUDGET 2020/21:   Melksham Without Parish Council set its Precept at its Full Council meeting held on Monday 20th January 2020. The Council unanimously agreed to set its Precept – the proportion of Council Tax paid to the Parish ....More
COMMUNITY GOVERNANCE REVIEW:

Proposal to merge Melksham Without Parish Council and Melksham Town Council
You will hopefully have seen a recent letter from Wiltshire Council regarding a Community Governance Review, but what does it mean to you?   Periodically, these reviews are undertaken by Wiltshire Council to look at possible changes to electoral arrangements in Wiltshire’s towns and parishes.   Lots of proposals have been received by Wiltshire Council and they want to know what residents feel about the proposals. 
 
     
Melksham Without Parish Council have put forward three proposals for changes in boundaries and Melksham Town Council have proposed to merge both councils. A variety of options have been suggested for this option by the Town Council and residents which propose merging the two councils with options to exclude the villages of Shaw, Whitley and  Beanacre; and the Blackmore Ward comprising of  Sandridge, Woodrow, Lopes Close and the new Barratt Homes development on the A3102 Calne Road, leaving them to form their own parish council.
 
What is the view of Melksham Without Parish Council?
Melksham Without Parish Council serves the local villages around the town of Melksham with a population of 7,500, and has always prided itself on its local knowledge of, and sensitivity to, the concerns of its communities and its desire that the rural nature of the parish and the individual character of its constituent villages and communities are preserved.

However, it does recognise that when a new housing development sits better within the parish of the Town Council then it should be transferred to them. It therefore stands by its offer to transfer the 100 dwellings at land to the north of Sandridge Common (Barratt Homes) that have been recently built, and the 450 dwellings at land to the east of Spa Road (Hunters Wood) that are to be built, to Melksham Town Council. These proposals have been detailed in Schemes 9 and 10 of the Community Governance Review. The same transfers were proposed by Wiltshire Council themselves in Schemes 5 & 6 respectively. 

It does not recognise that the same applies to Beanacre, Shaw, Whitley, Berryfield, Bowerhill, Sandridge, Redstocks, Woodrow, Outmarsh and believes strongly that these individual communities sit better within the existing parish boundary of Melksham Without. This complies with the guidelines of the LGBCE (Local Government Boundary Commission for England), in terms of preserving community cohesion, improving electoral representation and providing strong, clear, physical boundaries on the ground. 

Melksham Without Parish Council believe that the proposal of an amalgamation by Melksham Town Council does not meet the LGBCE guidelines (Clause 114) that state “that Grouping or Degrouping needs to be compatible with the retention of community interests. It would be inappropriate for it to be used to build artificially large units under single parish councils”.  Melksham Without Parish Council believes very strongly that this would be an artificially large unit if both the town and parish council were dissolved and a new council created.  The parish and town councils are large enough in their own right to exist and the parish council sees no benefit in them being dissolved and a new one created.  
If you want to comment on the Town Council proposal to merge the two councils then you need to comment on Scheme 24 and please note that there are 4 options, A, B, C & D.

The town council proposal is that the two parishes joined together would have one, larger voice; the parish council supports a different view, that two voices are better than one and often has a different view from their residents’ rural perspective to that of the town’s urban view. In addition, the Town Council state that the larger parish would have better “bargaining power” and influence in attracting investment to the area.  The parish council has already welcomed Herman Miller, Avon Protection, Knorr Bremse, Dick Lovett, Travelodge, Greggs and Starbucks to the parish over the last few years and therefore do not see any evidence to support this view.  

The other theme running through the Town Council proposal is that there should be a central community hub for all services, and again the parish council have grave concerns that a larger council with a higher proportion of urban residents would lead to the centralisation of everything, that there would no longer be financial support for the whole host of services and activities currently run in the village halls in the parish.
To make your views known on the proposals you need to respond to the current public consultation.  This is just one of several rounds of consultation, from here Wiltshire Council will decide which proposal to take forward for further consultation and then a decision is expected to be made by Wiltshire Council in September.   Any changes will come into effect for the parish and town council elections in May 2021.
The parish council do not believe that there has been any material change since the question of a merger was considered, and refused, under the last Community Governance Review (CGR) which was only decided a relatively short time ago in December 2016. The parish council have been consistent in their approach, in that wherever they recognize that new housing development sits better in the Town parish it offers through the CGR process to transfer those dwellings (as in the 2016 CGR with approx. 750 dwellings from the new East of Melksham housing development and some 90 dwellings from the George Ward Gardens development.) 
 
When submitting your comments, you will need to reflect on how they meet the guidelines of “Community Identity and Interests” and “Effective and Convenient Local Governance”.  You can read the parish council’s detailed response to Wiltshire Council against the guidelines here but there is a summary detailed below.
 
COMMUNITY IDENTITY AND INTERESTS
Melksham Without Parish Council has a unique understanding of the distinct character of the 5 separate villages/areas and rural hinterlands in the Melksham Without Parish and that the dissolution of the Parish Council and the creation of a new Council with the Town & Without parishes together will mean that the separate, distinct identities of the villages of Shaw, Whitley, Beanacre, Berryfield and Bowerhill will be diluted and threaten their community cohesion. A cohesive community is one where there is a common vision and a sense of belonging for all communities.
The Town Mayor has been quoted in the Wiltshire Times stating that with more housing being built in Bowerhill, the rural barrier between the town and the without parish no longer exists and that one combined council is in the best interests of the community.  The parish council do not agree with this, as although there has unfortunately been undesired development along both sides of Pathfinder Way, whilst the Local Authority were unable to prove a 5-year land supply in this Housing Market Area, the orientation and design of the Pathfinder Place development has deliberately retained a rural buffer between Melksham and Bowerhill. At the instigation of the Planning Officer, the development is following the guidelines that it should very much look part of the Bowerhill built environment, and so is orientated towards the south, and is viewed as the “Gateway Entrance” to both the Bowerhill residential and industrial areas. 
 
EFFECTIVE AND CONVENIENT LOCAL GOVERNANCE
The Parish Council provides effective community engagement and local democracy, under the current boundaries. The parish council already actively engages with the members of its communities, and actively supports and facilitates the work of action groups. Assets in the community are also community led with management committees, supported with practical advice as well as grant funding, running village halls and playing fields in the Melksham Without Parish area.

The parish council has a very clear understanding of the needs of these villages and fears that the five distinct identities of the separate parts of the parish will be lost if the parish council is dissolved and the villages become part of a larger council with the town.
The Parish Council does not believe that the proposal to dissolve the Town and Parish Council and create one new Council demonstrates any of the above. In fact, it argues that there is better community engagement and local democracy now, under the current boundaries.
To enable a manageable council, a newly created council would presumably have approx. 17 councillors and that number is still large and unwieldy.  When added together, the population of the two parishes together makes the representation per councillor very high. The councillors are volunteers and it imposes a high burden of responsibility on those councillors with such high representation. It would therefore discourage those of a working age to become councillors, and thus the council would not be representative of its electorate. 
 
As an example, the current 13no. Melksham Without Parish councillors represent a figure of 315 electorate each, 225 houses. However, if a new council was created covering both the town and parish, and 17 councillors were appointed then each councillor would represent 887 electorate each, and 633 houses. This change would not bring improved democracy.  At present the town and parish residents have good representation per electorate by elected councillors; there is currently effective representation, participation and leadership.
 
The BRAG picnic area – proposal to be transferred from Seend Parish Council
The picnic area alongside the Kennet & Avon Canal in Bowerhill is actually in the parish of Seend! And following the local elections in May 2021 Seend will be in the Devizes Community Area and no longer in the Melksham Area.   Melksham Without Parish Council have requested that the boundary between Seend and Melksham Without is moved from the old railway line which is very hard to distinguish, to the canal.  This would include the picnic area maintained to a high standard by BRAG (Bowerhill Residents Action Group).
Melksham Without Parish Council have continued to provide the BRAG team with financial, operational and moral support for many years and very strongly believes that this area has a strong community identity and a sense of place with the community of Bowerhill in Melksham Without and not with Seend.  You can read more about this proposal, view the maps and read the reasons for the parish council’s proposal under Scheme 11: Seend.
      
 
HOW TO HAVE YOUR SAY!
See the letter you have received in the post, go online to the consultation on Wiltshire Council’s website http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/council-democracy-cgr,  request further details from CGR@wiltshire.gov.uk or visit Melksham Library where there are hard copy response forms and information packs.   You can also have your say in person at a public meeting being held by Wiltshire Council on Friday 14th February at Melksham Assembly Hall from 6 to 7.30pm.
PUBLIC MEETING ON FRIDAY 14TH FEBRUARY AT 6PM AT MELKSHAM ASSEMBLY HALL

Links to useful documents: 
The parish council's original proposals are available to read here:
 

Land to the north of Sandridge Common, Melksham, SN12 7JR
New Barratt Homes development known as Sandridge Place.
To move the new housing development against the following planning application from Melksham Without Parish Council to Melksham Town Council. 100 dwellings with associated access, infrastructure, parking, landscaping and local area of play.
CGR Request Form - for new housing development (Land north of Sandridge Common) from MWPC to MTC.pdf
On Wiltshire Council's website Community Governance Review as Scheme 6: Melksham Without 2 / Scheme 10: Melksham Without 2
https://cms.wiltshire.gov.uk/documents/s172843/Scheme06MelkshamWithout2Scheme10MelkshamWithout2.docx.pdf

Land to east of Spa Road, Melksham,
New Barratt David Wilson development known as Hunters Wood.
To move the new housing development against the following planning application from Melksham Without Parish Council to Melksham Town Council. 447 dwellings, car parking including garages, internal access roads, public open space
CGR Request Form - for new housing development (Land east of Spa Road) from MWPC to MTC.
On Wiltshire Council's website Community Governance Review as Scheme 5: Melksham Without 1/ Scheme 9 Melksham Without 1
https://cms.wiltshire.gov.uk/documents/s172842/Scheme05MelkshamWithout1Scheme09MelkshamWithout1.docx.pdf


Boundary between Melksham Without and Seend
To move the existing boundary from Seend Parish Council to Melksham Without Parish Council encompassing BRAG (Bowerhill Residents Action Group) canalside picnic area.
There are no dwellings or electors that would be affected by this change.
To move the existing boundary between Seend Parish and Melksham Without Parish to follow the Kennet & Avon Canal further eastwards from Melksham Park Farm to the drain running northwards towards Carnation Lane to encompass all the farmland north of the canal and the BRAG (Bowerhill Residents Action Group) canalside picnic area.
CGR Request Form - From Seend to MWPC for BRAG picnic area.pdf
On Wiltshire Council's website Community Governance Review as Scheme 11: Seend 1
https://cms.wiltshire.gov.uk/documents/s172858/Scheme11Seend1.docx.pdf

Melksham Town council's proposal is available to read here:
Scheme 24: Melksham Merger    Options A & B    (Options C & D are from residents but still propose a merger with the exclusion of some areas/villages)
https://cms.wiltshire.gov.uk/documents/s172851/Scheme24MelkshamMerger.docx.pdf


You can read Melksham Without Parish Council's response to the Town Council's proposal here:
November 2019 response:Response from MWPC on MTC Merger Proposal re Community Governance Review - Nov 2019.pdf

Melksham Without Parish Council's response in November was to the one line Melksham Town Council proposal to A. Merge the two councils or B. Merge both councils excluding Shaw & Whitley.   As part of the online consultation on Wiltshire Council's website that commenced 6th January 2020, the parish council now have visibility of Melksham Town Council's 1.5 page long proposal, and have now responded to that proposal. 

February 2020 response: Response from MWPC on MTC Merger Proposal Feb 2020




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Want to keep in touch?
Want to keep in touch? Follow us on facebook Melksham Without Parish Council or Teresa Strange (Clerk) for additional community news, on twitter @melkshamwithout and melkshamwithoutpc on instagram. ....More


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