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Town Clerk’s Musing

I met with a few Councillors at the end of last week to talk about our play areas and where we need to invest some money to update them. Earlier in the year, we refurbished the play areas in Wadworth Way and Cowslip Close and reopened the play area in Festival Close after replacing the safety surfacing. We know that having access to good quality play areas is important to families, and now have to look at how we can best spend money to ensure we maximise play value at a cost that doesn’t put a massive strain on the council tax bill. Over the next few months, councillors will visit each play area to better acquaint themselves with what we have. If you have a view about your local play area, please share it with me by email. .

It seems to be the time of year when we are asked about our views on many subjects. One of the important ones will be the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) for Devizes. Whilst many of us recognise that there are many benefits to having a more active way of getting around Devizes rather than using our cars for short journeys, the reality is often very different as cycle routes share busy roads with cars and lorries and walking means you breathe the poor air quality produced by those traveling by car. There is no quick fix for change, but the LCWIP will provide a strategic long-term infrastructure that is hoped will double the number of cycling journeys made and increase walking activity substantially by 2025. The Devizes plan set out a number of cycling and walking routes that with some investment could make the difference between using a car and walking. It is well worth taking a bit of time to understand the option and give your view by visiting the consultation page.

It is recognised that walking and cycling is not for everyone and therefore local buses are an important alternative to car use and to support this, Wiltshire Council is currently reviewing the public transport services.  As a Town Council, we have given our views, making the point that bus transport needs to be reliable, reasonably priced, regular and cost-effective if they are going to be a viable alternative to car use. One particular issue that needs to improve is the starting times for most services as residents have said, with the exception of the 49 service, most services start too late for a reliable alternative for transport to work.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, much-needed improvements to our water supply are going to have a significant impact on our road network and the Council has been open and clear with Wessex Water that they should not underestimate how quickly traffic in Devizes can come to a standstill as a result of any road works. Whilst Wessex Water may have a traffic management plan in place, which has been approved by Wiltshire Council they need to spend time watching what happens, so they can manage the build-up of queues. Nevertheless, the best way to avoid queues will be to leave your car at home as often as possible and reduce the amount of traffic on the road. I recognise that is an easy thing to say and a far trickier thing to achieve, but it is something we need to try. As already identified in this report, there is an initiative being put together to help various organisations to look at how they run their services, but what we need is a joint-up approach, so later in the summer we will be teaming up with Sustainable Devizes, and the local air quality group to do just that. There is no magic wand to traffic and air quality issues in Devizes, but it is about us all making small habit changes and for local infrastructure to make that possible. I will update you as the plans move forward. 

Town Clerk, Simon Fisher