Monday, 27 October 2014

Funding, Legacies, Christmas and Peterborough Arms Open Day

A quieter week for the project for the past week with further concentration on the Studley Grange project. The devil is always in the details and there still a few issues to agree with Biffa to complete the lease negotiations.

This is the last week you will be able to vote for the Wilts & Berks in the Yorkshire Building Society’s Lasting Legacy Fund. If you have not done so already please vote and ask your friends and colleagues to take a moment to help.

The Trust’s Council of Management will be meeting this week to consider some of the governance issues raised by members at the recent AGM.

Next Saturday Trust members and investors will be able to have a look around the Peterborough Arms during the Open Day. Drop in any time from 11-3 when there will be an opportunity to see some of plans for the future development of the site. Refreshments will be available and there will be quite a selection of bric-a-brac from the pub for sale.

Bookings for the Santa Cruises on Dragonfly have now opened . These have been extremely popular so early booking is essential.

A letter was received last week in the Trust office from the executor of the estate of a former member of the Trust. It’s always sad to receive such communications but it was heartening that the letter said that the restored Wilts & Berks canal at Westleaze Swindon had given great pleasure to that person during their later life with its wildlife and boating activity and therefore the executor thought it only proper to make a donation to the Trust. If you are similarly minded perhaps you might consider a legacy in your will?

Finally please keep an eye on the Trust web site and Facebook this week as there is going to be an announcement about an exciting opportunity where you will be able to help with some more funding.

Ken Oliver

Monday, 20 October 2014

Big turn-out at AGM!

The Trust held its 26th Annual General Meeting at Grove near Wantage on Saturday and it was very well supported by almost 140 members. The venue, Old Mill Hall, was excellent as it had plenty of space in the hall itself and separate rooms for registration and refreshments. The day was organised by local East Vale Chairman Brian Stovold and his team and everyone was appreciative of their efforts. The hall was well decorated with many maps and photographs of the canal and included the detailed plans for the tricky East Challow to Grove section of the canal from the lengthy study done by ARUPs last year. Doug and John, the recently re-instated events team, were there with a stand and Martin and John manned a very successful table of merchandise that took over £500. The plans on display included the Melksham Link and Swindon Town Centre , two of our most important current projects.
In the morning Martin Buckland took interested members out by mini-bus to look at the Sack House Museum in Wantage where more of the East Vale team were on duty, passing by some of the local canal sites on the way. This was the first time I had seen the Sack House and I was very impressed by it. A very useful addition to the Trust’s assets. Try to go and have a look if you are in the area (you will have to check opening days with Brian Stovold beforehand).
The afternoon was taken up with the formal business of the meeting and some very interesting presentations on the Peterborough Arms, the Melksham Link, Swindon and a quick round up of the on-going projects all along the canal. There were presentations – Foxham & Lyneham branch took away the Pick of the Branches award for most increased percentage membership, Chris Coyle won the Rosebowl for the most individual recorded volunteer hours, MCC won the award for the highest branch volunteer hours total and Royal Wootton Bassett won the highest percentage increase in volunteer hours. Chris Toms, one of the Trust’s founder members and for many years the Membership Secretary, kindly drew the winning tickets for the Grand Draw. I will be sending out those cheques shortly to the eight lucky winners. The afternoon concluded with a lively Open Forum where a number of questions were answered.
Organising all the aspects of an AGM takes a lot of work from a large team of volunteers and I would like to thank everyone for their efforts that go towards making the day run smoothly. It is always good to meet some of our members and to know that they are supportive of all our work.
Finally just to remind you there is Open Day for Trust members and investors at the Peterborough Arms at Dauntsey Lock on Saturday 1st November – drop in any time from 11am to 3pm .
Kath Hatton

Monday, 13 October 2014

Funding opportunity, Studley Grange, CIL, and the AGM

I am delighted to say that the Yorkshire Building Society have shortlisted a Wilts & Berks project for their Lasting Legacy Fund. 30 projects nationally are on the list from which 15 will receive £10000. The project that has been chosen is the rebuilding of the collapsed culvert at Pewsham. The funding will be awarded on the results of an online vote which is open until 31st October . Please visit to register your vote.

Prices have now been received from the contractors for the proposed works at Studley Grange Royal Wootton Bassett. The project is complex, sited next to a landfill site, and the necessary engineering has increased the cost considerably from original estimates. Part funding has been obtained but a reassessment of the remaining funding is required to meet the new figure. Crucial to progress now is signing the lease.

I am now getting back up to speed having spent 2 weeks relaxing in the Mediterranean sun- one of the first meetings I went to last week was a workshop on Community Infrastructure Levy. CIL will come into force next April and will replace some of the development funding currently negotiated on each site by what are known as Section 106 agreements. CIL will be levied by all Local Authorities and spent on prioritised infrastructure projects. As you can imagine it’s a complex subject, not least because some S106 agreements will still be directly negotiated.

The Trust’s quarterly magazine Dragonfly has been printed and should be sent out this week. Final preparations are being made for the Trust’s AGM on Saturday-much has been happening during the last 12 months and some important updates and presentations will be made to members.

Finally I look forward to jointly presenting with Jock Mackenzie (the Trust appointed Master planner) the latest proposals for the Melksham Link project to Wiltshire Councillors and senior officers.

Ken Oliver

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Melksham, Wichelstowe and Boswell

This week I will be attending the latest Melksham Link Project meeting. The questions everyone is asking is how are the studies going and when will we get the Planning Permission? We have done all the required ecological studies, namely water voles and otters, fish, badgers, reptiles, great crested newts, breeding birds and bats. The environmental consultants are working on the landscape requirements and on the Water Framework Directive. We still hope for the planning consent by the end of the year. Meanwhile we work on the plans to make Melksham a great place to live and work and a destination for visitors.

Elsewhere, tenders have been received for the landing stage at Wichelstowe and planning permission expected soon. I am now able to raise some funds to build it. It is an important project as it will mean that we can run boat trips on Dragonfly from the new Waitrose store, combining shopping with a pleasant cruise. The path down from the car park and the landing stage will be wheelchair friendly giving access to all. Swindon branch are also trying to raise funds to repair the towpath edge at West Lease – this will be a water vole friendly soft edge, not piling.

Melksham, Calne and Chippenham (MCC) branch hope soon to launch their renovated work boat Boswell and butty into the canal at Pewsham. Actually it will be into the mud as that stretch cannot be re-watered until the breach is repaired. Many thanks to Hills via Community First for providing the funds for the boat and for being so patient with all our delays.

The Grand Draw in aid of a second trip boat finishes at the AGM where the winning tickets will be drawn. So far receipts are just over £4500 and I am hoping it will finish higher. Some people have included a donation in with their ticket monies and I am very grateful to them for that. Speaking of the AGM, I hope we have a good turnout of members. It is your chance to see what is happening at Grove and Wantage, to meet your Directors and fellow members and buy your 2015 Calendar!

Kath Hatton