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“A time of big changes for Melksham”

IT’S been an exciting year for Melksham according to mayor Terri Welsh, speaking at the annual mayor’s reception last week when she presented Civic Awards to local ‘community champions’.

In her speech welcoming guests and visitors from the Melksham community and other towns, the mayor highlighted the exciting projects going on in the town and paid tribute to the fantastic work done by local volunteers and community groups.

Enhancing the town

“Our town is changing and will continue to do so,” she said. “During the past year we have seen the opening of the new £7.5 million Oakfield Stadium, a truly magnificent home for our football and rugby clubs. The new facilities will enhance sports provision in our community, enabling more people to take an active part in sports. Another major club, the cricket club, after losing their pavilion in a fire last year, will take ownership of a brand new pavilion this year.

“Nobody can miss the work taking place in the Market Place; phase one is progressing well and work will soon move on to phase two. When all is finished we will have a Market Place given back to pedestrians, where the weekly market can be held and a place more conducive to town centre events.

“It is disappointing not to be able to give dates and plans for the skateboard park, in the park or the Health and Wellbeing Centre at Melksham House, but we must remain positive and believe that they will come to fruition. We have no news of the possible new dig for the Wilts and Berks canal, but hope this also will come into being. But we are delighted to welcome the forthcoming building for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance, a very special project for the county as a whole.

“The town council has agreed to spend money on the Assembly Hall; this building started life as a First World War drill hall, and it has had many changes and improvements over the years, but we need to look to the future, to the next 40 years, so within the year we hope to have plans finalised and this hall will again be a focal point of the community, continuing to host the wide range of shows and events that it provides for our town.

“Both Melksham Town and Melksham Without Parish have worked very hard this past year or so in preparing the documentation for our Neighbourhood Plan, the blueprint for future house building in our community. Both councils worked together and have also funded the only toilets open in town, those in the Market Place. The closure of other facilities is a result of cuts by Wiltshire Council; they have had their central Government grant cut and are passing on services to local councils. As a result of this, local councils will have to budget for extra services, to replace the missing ones. Last year the town paid for supplementary grass cutting at the park and cemetery after complaints from electors. In the coming year the town council will spend more money on grass cutting and also on street cleaning, as litter is a constant annoyance to most people.

“Speaking of litter, we hold a monthly Town Tidy day when willing volunteers spread out around the town centre and pick up litter and remove weeds. Other groups also help with this, in their own time. The ‘Clean for the Queen’ last year was very successful and last weekend saw the Great British Spring Clean take place, when even more people took part. We care about our town and are prepared to play our part in keeping it looking good.

“Big changes that affect our town are the recent designation of the Trans Wilts railway line as a community railway; this will enable grants to be accessed, bringing improvements to our station. I travelled with the Minister for Rail, Paul Maynard, last week on a special train to mark this milestone.

Events to look forward to

“Each year the town holds major events, the Carnival, the Party in the Park and the Food and River Festival and the switching on of the Christmas lights and accompanying Christmas Fayre. These are attended by many townspeople and also attract visitors to our town

“Part of helping the town look good is the involvement with South West in Bloom, again the town received a silver gilt award, while certain smaller areas had gold. It was good to see more businesses taking part and having hanging baskets outside their premises. This year there is a plan to erect handmade flags in July; at the moment these are being made by a group of willing volunteers and will be displayed on buildings later on. If anybody is involved in a group, or business and would like a flag, they need to contact the Town Hall who will give them further information.

“And then we are rightly proud of our superb Christmas lights. The Christmas Lights group work their socks off every year to provide a superb show, the envy of other local towns. A big thank you must go to them, out in all weathers and all done voluntarily.

Community spirit

“It is good to hear about the continuing development of Young Melksham and the clubs at the Canberra Centre. These young people play their own part in town life, doing litter picks and running the superb Young Melksham Youth Awards each year, when special young people are recognised for their skills or their contribution to family or community life. Young people also enjoyed a summer of fun, organised by the town council when a Sports Roadshow was held in the park, and this is something that we are keen to enlarge this year.

“Community groups play a large part in the life of the town, this past year the Rotary Club bought 15,000 crocus corms, which were planted in various places around town. Forest and Sandridge School, St Michael’s Church helpers, and the Town Team were amongst those who helped with the planting. The flowers can now be seen, at least in the churchyard.

“Rotary are marking, later this month, their having raised £100,000 for charities, a fantastic amount. Another group is the Lions Club who help out at Kingsbury Square, providing a basic kit for incomers, who have had, for various reasons to move without their household goods.

“Our town has very few empty shops and has welcomed two new cafes this year; we definitely seem to be a town fond of our food and chatting over coffee! The old George Ward School site is being built at a fast rate and we soon will welcome yet more people to our town. We hope they will be pleased with the welcome they receive in Melksham.”

Cllr Welch then presented this year’s Civic Awards, which she explained are given to people, nominated by the public, who have done something special for the town.

“We are proud of the contribution that these people, and all others who volunteer, make to the town,” she said.