Monday, 26 January 2015

The Wilts & Berks in Melksham & Swindon and other waterways

Melksham has been the centre of much of my work  for the last week. Having met recently with the planning officer dealing with the Melksham Link  planning application, project manager Paul Lenaerts is completing the  work programme to assist  the consultants  (Nicholas Pearson Associates) to complete the Environment Statement.  This will include the results of an archaeological survey that is  being carried out.  A provisional timetable for the planning application has further consultation in March/April with a decision in June. I n the wider context of the Melksham Link much work  is also going on with adjacent landowners to put together a MasterPlan that  will deliver funding for the project  by creating enabling development. The broad concepts of the proposals are being discussed with landowners and the local community via the Neighbourhood Plan process of Melksham Town and Melksham Without Parish Councils. I am delighted to welcome Bill Gush from Land & Water who has  started a 3 month secondment  to the Melksham Link project team

On Tuesday night WBCT Council of Management meet at the new venue of the Peterborough Arms.

Also planned for this week are meetings about Wichelstowe in Swindon when it is hoped some progress can be made to work on the Wichelstowe Link project.

As part of my role for Wiltshire Council I attend meetings of the Cotswold Canals Partnership. It was interesting to hear from their project  team last week how they are progressing towards completion of their Phase 1A (HLF) restoration and plans for funding Pause 1b which will link this to the national network.

Finally you might like to have a look at a relatively local  Canal & River Trust open day at Aldermaston on Jan 31.  This is part of a national programme to show how CRT maintain their historic structures

Ken Oliver

Monday, 19 January 2015

New Beginnings, and Continued Efforts

Effectively my first day back, since the Christmas / New Year break was immediately followed by a short holiday.  Since getting back from that, however, I have been suffering from one of these persistent, debilitating winter bugs.  It has laid me very low for the past week or more, and is still lurking to catch me unawares. 

But the sun is shining, the days are noticeably longer, and everyone's thoughts are turning to the urgent business of this year.  Kath has told us of the great efforts she has been making to raise funds for the Studley Grange site, and for the other projects in hand, including the continuing need for studies on the Melksham Link planning application.  Elsewhere along the line Rod Hacker is juggling the various Swindon based initiatives and projects.  Pewsham Locks is making progress.

On the other hand it does feel as if we are stalled in a number of places, and we are going to have to devote some time and energy to working out why we are stuck, and what needs to be done to unblock things.  We all know how dispiriting it is to make progress on a project, and then be brought to a halt. 

In the immediate future, we expect to be making significant progress with the Melksham Link Business Plan, which will help secure the necessary funding for the wider development.  We will also be talking to our partners Hall and Woodhouse about their plans for this section.

Next week we will be meeting officers from Swindon Borough Council to hear of the progress on their plans for the next stage of the Wichelstowe development, where we are keen to get on with the canal link, and with the whole development of the stretch south of the Waitrose store.

Chris Coyle

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A New Year, New Resolutions and New Enthusiasm

I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year.  I love New Year – all that hard work of Christmas preparations is done, the days getting longer and Spring is on the horizon. It’s the time to plan our hopes and dreams and of course to have another look at those things that didn’t quite get finished last year!

With both Chris and Ken away last week there were not many meetings and I was able to get on with some fundraising.  I have put in several bids for the Studley Grange project, which we hope will get underway in the Spring.  Paul Lenaerts and I have been working on finding some funds for the Melksham Link to help with the studies that still need to be done.   The Pewsham Locks HLF team is putting together the Project Enquiry form which is the first stage of the bid to Heritage Lottery Fund to fund the restoration of the site at Pewsham, except for the Lock Cottage and Top Lock that are going to be done first.  MCC  fundraisers are putting in bids to the local Area Boards for scaffolding and fencing for Top Lock and for a new outboard motor for Damselfly.  You can probably tell that one of my resolutions is to do more fundraising in 2015.

One of your blog team’s resolutions is to try to use modern communications more and cut out some of those time consuming meetings.  So much easier to sit at your desk and have a video conference instead of driving miles to meet up.  You can share documents if necessary, in fact it’s just like a meeting.

Events are being planned for this year. Following the successful River Festival at Melksham last September, we plan to link the River Festival with the Melksham Food Festival this year. Again it is the first weekend in September – more details in a few weeks. Keep that weekend free!

 Now that the Trust Events team of Doug and John are back, we should have a good presence once again at the major canal shows.  I look forward to seeing their programme for the summer.

 Tonight the Peterborough Arms Steering Committee meets and will be discussing the plans for this year for the pub. On Wednesday night we have our regular monthly Finance and Admin committee meeting. These are two that have not gone electronic yet!

Kath Hatton