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Town Clerk’s Musing

This week the Council continues to discuss issues around the Crammer and set out how it is going to move the project forward. Initially, the work of the Councillor working party has very much been around the condition of the water and slit layer to understand what, if any, health risk they may have on either wildlife or those of us who visit the area. Whilst quite rightly this should be an easy thing to determine, like many things in life its interpretation is not always straightforward. The water report is now on our website, and whilst technical in nature with at face value some elements look alarming, the conclusion is that the water quality is what is to be expected for a pond in this location and as such poses no significant risk, and indeed has changed very little since both the water and the silt were tested back in 2008 when the wall needed to be repaired. If you would like to read the report for yourself, please visit The Green and Crammer page on our website. Moving forward, the Council has set up a key stakeholder working party, which will include groups like Friends of the Crammer, a wildlife organisation, St James Church as our neighbour, the Trust for Devizes and a user group. The role of this working party will be to scope out all the issues as they see them, before going on to develop options to enhance the area for wildlife, protect its heritage value and improve the area for all visitors. The final take will be to come up with a set of recommendations that the Council will be asked to adopt.

One issue that has recently been on our agenda is that of parking, not just within the town centre but also within residential areas. To support parking concerns raises with us, we have summited a number of requests to Wiltshire Council which suggest how some parking can be managed by the implementation of no waiting restriction, which is chiefly the use of Double Yellow lines. One other option we have been asked to consult on, was a residential parking scheme, as this does need the majority or residents in an area to support it before it can be considered. Often the cost that residents have to pay can be a little off-putting and can take a proposed scheme below the 50% threshold that is required to take it forward. Whilst we have submitted a number of requests for double yellow lines, as you can imagine, Wiltshire Council received many requests from across the county and although we promote our request as the most important ones, so do every other town in the county. The process for double yellow lines is legally protected, as each chosen request has to be advertised, and then consulted on, to understand what, if any, impact there will be on an area and if there will be displacement effect. Only once this work has been undertaken only then will Wiltshire Council finally agree which traffic orders are to be drawn up and as such not every request will be granted. Wiltshire Council only undertakes this process once a year, which is about to start, therefore we now have to wait to see which of the schemes we put forward will be agreed.

Next week we will see the election of a new Town Mayor for Civic Year 2023/24. Unlike some metropolitan areas, where Mayors are directly elected by the community they serve, at town and parish level, a Mayor, otherwise known as the Chairman of the Council is elected annually by a majority vote of the whole council. This process is set out in statute and as a town council, we must hold the statutory Annual Meeting each year in May, with the first item of business on the agenda being the election of the Mayor / Chairman of the Council for the forthcoming municipal year. As I previously explained, the Council is legally bound to hold an Annual Meeting, but for Devizes Town Council the meeting is largely ceremonial, and known as Mayor Making. In preparation for this, in March the Council agreed Councillor John Stevens, the current deputy Mayor was nominated as its prospective Mayor for the year 2023/24 and a little earlier Councillor Ian Hopkins was nominated as deputy Mayor for the same period. At the Mayor Making meeting, they will both be formally voted into office and the Council will then have an opportunity to thank the outgoing Mayor, Peter Corbett, for the way he has led the Council over the last 12 months and for his service to the community.

Town Clerk, Simon Fisher