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“As another year draws to a close I would like to take this opportunity to wish all the Melksham residents a happy and prosperous 2015.
“Melksham is going through a very exciting time; this past year has seen so many projects move to fruition, or at least make large steps forward.
“The community has come together to celebrate a wealth of events, Carnival, Party in the Park, the River Festival, the Food Festival, the Lions 40th Birthday Celebrations, which included the Town Criers’ Competition, the magnificent Bonfire and Fireworks evening at the Forest Community Centre; let’s hope this one becomes a regular town event. And of course the wonderful switch-on of our fabulous Christmas Lights and the accompanying Christmas Fayre.
“The crowds that have attended these events is enough to show how strong our community is. The Family of Churches have played their part in organising events, the Civic Service, Bless Melksham events, and next week, on Sunday 14th December, the Living Nativity, which will see a procession leave the Market Place heading towards Brookside, complete with a donkey and two camels! As with all other events, this is for everybody, join in or just come out to watch.
“Our young people are our future and it is good to see them being involved and recognised; the recent Young People’s awards showed just what talent we have in our community. They have enjoyed Sports Roadshows, organised by the council in the summer holidays. The Brownies held a special tea party in the Town Hall, where they were able to ask the Town Council a wide variety of questions.
“The Town Team and Blooming Melksham have spent many hours enhancing the centre of our town, cleaning up those forgotten corners, planting extra flowers and helping the Friends of St Michael’s to bring order to our old churchyard.
“The fruits of all these hours are becoming apparent, and in the South West in Bloom competition their labours were awarded a Silver Gilt prize, with two special awards going to our local pubs. The Golden Fleece at Folly Lane, Shaw was deemed the best decorated licensed premises in the South West, with the Bear coming second. A wonderful accolade for them and a sign of how our community really does work together. Well done to everybody involved.
“Our town is growing, and this brings new residents here, we hope that you will join in with our well established events, join in the many groups and clubs, come to shows and films, in general, become a part of us. If you do so, you will find everybody very welcoming and your life will become richer.
“Our townscape is vibrant, new businesses replacing others, the Post Office staying in Church Street, our Tuesday Market growing, having just celebrated its first birthday.
“Some of the long- awaited building works have started, the new Forest and Sandridge School in Snarlton Lane, the relocation of Herman Miller to Bowerhill – this will bring the link road from the A350 into Bowerhill, meaning shorter journeys for businesses and staff.
“The ground works have started at Woolmore Farm for the relocation of the football and rugby clubs to their purpose-built facilities. These facilities will enable both groups to continue with their training of young people and help the senior teams to play at higher levels.
“Then we have our community Campus; planning has been given for this, the contractors agreed and we will soon see work start at Melksham House. Ours will be the biggest campus in Wiltshire at a cost of £28million. This shows the confidence that there is for our town.
“In conjunction with the Campus, work will take place next year on reorganizing the Market Place, new access to Melksham House, and the whole area resurfaced to match the rest of town. Plans for the Market Place will soon be exhibited in the Town Hall for everybody to comment on.
“Another exciting event is the production of a Neighbourhood Plan for our area. This is about land usage for the next 20 years, about where we want development to take place, and more importantly, where we wish to retain our open spaces.
“Both the Parish and the Town Councils are working together on this, but the most important part of the exercise is what the public want; this is something you will all be hearing a lot more about in the next year. Remember it is very important that you have your say, so come along to any of the planned workshops and let the groups know your feelings.
“As is very obvious, our town is growing, this past year has seen more trains stopping at Melksham, it is pleasing to realise that this has been very well supported, greater passenger numbers than had been projected. Public transport is a vital link, both to the environment, reducing car journeys and enabling people to function without a car, so you will soon see new bus shelters arriving to make waiting for a bus more comfortable.
“One of the long awaited developments is the new build of the Wilts and Berks canal; this is in the planning process, and if this is successful it will bring a wealth of opportunities to our town. I am sure that this is also something that we will hear much more about in the near future.
“We are lucky in having, in the Assembly Hall, a superb facility available to us. We have seen the recent Fayre, the films throughout the year, national names of comedians coming to our town, live screening of shows, ‘Warhorse’ being a great example, local groups giving shows and the annual Panto.
“This will continue in 2015 – we are even hosting the South West in Bloom seminar in February. This is our hall, we should be rightly proud and continue to use and attend events here, saving on the transport to other larger towns.
“The Police recently launched their community messaging initiative; this is an excellent way for us to reach them and for the Police to spread the word of any concerns they have. If you are not already part of this, I would suggest you become involved, it really works.
“What makes Melksham such a great place to live is its community, the people, you and me. The Town Council have recently joined in the Time Credits scheme; this means that if you take part in a town event, a clean up, community gardening or similar, you are eligible for a credit which can be used against tickets for Assembly Hall events, for swimming sessions and much more, so by volunteering to enhance our town you are being thanked by something concrete.
“So Melksham is thriving; a perfect example of this is in our fantastic Christmas lights, people giving of their time to enhance our town. We are right to be proud of all that goes on in our community, it a very special place.
“So may I take this opportunity to wish everybody in Melksham a very Happy Christmas and to say, keep on working and enjoying all that is on offer.”