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Town Clerks Musing

A lot of this week was spent talking about travel and in particular what is known as active travel.  I attended the DDP AGM earlier in the week where there was a project update on progress to reinstate a local train station for Devizes.  The current work is concentrating on a  Strategic Outline Business Case, which is looking at demand led need, the best location for the station including how to get to it, timetabling and wider environmental implications which is critical to the project,  as the station will be within the North Wessex Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  Work on the Strategic Outline Business Case needs to be completed by March 2023, which will be submitted to the Depart for Transport for evaluation.  The work to date has involved many agencies including Network Rail, GWR, Wiltshire Council as well the Town Council and Devizes Development Partnership who are working with a local consultant to make sure that our community’s needs are very much at the centre of any discussions. There is still a long way to go with the project so we are still looking at many years before the first local train will stop, but we are confident that not only have we got the right team working on the project, there is a ready good case being put forward.

We all know that whilst the Government is encouraging greater use of electric vehicles, living in Devizes means that charging them can be a real challenge if you don’t have your own charging point.  For tourists who want to visit Devizes with their electric vehicle, it takes some considerable planning to ensure that they can get to their next destination before they run out of power.  We do know that Wiltshire Council have plans in place to replace the charging points in Station Road car park, but this still leaves a question that Devizes needs more public charging points and therefore I have been working on an outline project to provide six additional charging points at different locations; however you will not be surprised to know, each charging point has a significant cost associated with its supply and installation, and as such the project will be dependent on securing government grants to offset some of the cost.

Finding alternative methods of transport away from the car is not always that easy and whilst we are all concerned about traffic congestion and air quality in the town, leaving the car at home is not always such a simple option. One of the easiest changes  is either walking or cycling; however, for many the thought of cycling alongside traffic is simply too frightening and is not something they are confident to do, which is recognised.  In the background work has been going on to develop a local cycling and walking infrastructure plan, known as an LCWIP and whilst in the future we should see improvements to local infrastructure for cycling, this should be seen as a medium to longer term strategy and our friends at Cycle Friendly Devizes feel that there are some simpler routes from destination such as the far end of London Road into the town centre that can be used without the need to come along busy A roads. Next week the town council will consider a project by Cycle Friendly Devizes and decide if and how it might be able to support it.

I touched briefly on electric vehicles and whilst for many of us the cost of buying a new electric car might still be too high, a scheme that supports electric car sharing might be a sensible alternative.  In the next week or so local consultation will get underway to see if such a scheme would be viable in Devizes with the main advantage to the scheme being real alternatives to second car ownership, because although most people would not want to get rid of their primary car, often second cars do not get the same level of use and when you add up the cost of owning a second car, there might be some advantages in only paying for one when you needed it.  Keep your eye out on our social media channels and our website, as we will publicise how to register your interest.

Town Clerk, Simon Fisher