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Controversial council merger proposal moves to next stage

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A PROPOSAL that Melksham’s two councils should be merged, to create one unified council, has moved to the next stage.

People are now being asked for their feedback on whether Melksham Town Council and Melksham Without Parish Council should be merged to form one larger council or remain as they are.

If the councils are to merge, two options have been proposed – a complete merger of Melksham Town Council and Melksham Without Parish Council; or a merger of the two councils excluding Shaw and Whitley, who would form a new parish council.

The proposed merger has reignited debate in the town, echoing the discussions held in 2015 when a proposed merger of the two councils was rejected by Wiltshire Council on the grounds that the two parishes were ‘separate’ and that the existing structure provided ‘effective and convenient’ local government.

Melksham Without Parish Council has said that they are ‘totally against’ a merger, whilst the town council feels that one combined council is in the best interests of the community.

The latest discussion is part of Wiltshire Council’s review of local government. Comments can be made on the proposals and alternative schemes suggested until Saturday 30th November by emailing: committee@wiltshire .gov.uk.

Further consultation will follow in 2020. The review will be overseen by Wiltshire Council’s electoral review committee, and when their work is complete, they will make formal recommendations to full council for them to make a final decision. It is expected the final recommendations for approval will be made mid-to-late 2020.

Cllr Richard Clewer, chair of the electoral review committee said, “Communities change and it’s only right that local governance evolves and adapts alongside them. This review will ensure that town and parish councils are given the best opportunity to be as effective as possible and therefore are fully meeting the needs of their local communities.”

Proposals made by Melksham Without Parish Council have also moved to the next stage – they have suggested that the 100 dwellings at Sandridge Place and the 450 dwellings that will be built in the east of Melksham should be transferred to the town. And that the BRAG canal picnic area be transferred from the parish of Seend to Melksham Without.

A list of all currently proposed schemes in Wiltshire, including Melksham, can be found at: https://cms.wiltshire.gov.uk/ecsddisplayclassic.aspx?name=sd4301&id=4301&rpid=20457214&path=14165.

More information about the review can be found at: www.wiltshire.gov.uk/council-democracy-cgr.

One Response to Controversial council merger proposal moves to next stage

  1. Brian Warwick

    November 25, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    With the rate of residential expansion taking place in the heart of Melksham, there is a growing need for the right leisure and communities infrastructures to keep pace, including transport, open spaces, play area, retailing, car parking and planning. Having one Council to liaise and work in closer partnership with the County Council will help to ensure such provisions can be achieved in a shorter time frame than present. Even to the structuring the desirable financing in an acceptable constructive regulated ways. A one Melksham Council would have a better understanding and commitment in relation to matters appertaining to matters for the whole community and also bring about a fairer equitable rating structure for all living in our community.

    There is a very strong case for the outlying more rural Parishes like Beanacre, Shaw and Whitley on the west of Melksham to be given greater self autonomy to build closer links on geographical grounds. That I believe will in time become even more important, as brown land site are used up to meet housing needs and developers look at grabbing green belt land that needs far greater protection.

    I would be prepared to pay more in council tax for relevant improvements in local services. Melksham certainly needs a stronger ‘voice’ in improving the town centre for example which at present is need of some TLC. We also need improving the links and infrastructures on the edges of our community.

    Even more important it would help to plan and develop an infrastructure way beyond my years on
    this earth that will be so important for future generations. that local councils would have a better understanding and commitment in relation to matters appertaining to matters in their area. I would be prepared to pay more in council tax for relevant improvements in local services. Melksham needs a stronger’voice’ in bringing about improved TLC to the town centre for example which at present is becoming rather shabby and run down.” It will help to develop more pride and wider community spirit, such as we see in Melksham in Bloom and the with fantastic Christmas lights.
    Even more important it is planning for a future way beyond my years. One in which our children will be delighted and proud to be a part of in years to come.

    Finally, equally important we can plan and develop with closer unity an Age Friendly Community we can all be proud of achieving.

    Brian Warwick

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