(Town Hall, 7pm)
The full Chippenham Town Council discussed the future development of Chippenham. The bottom line is that the Town Council Planning Committee has no view as yet to report and are waiting for the County Planners to make their proposal before deciding on one!
On a show of hands at the request of Councillor Lyn Andre it was apparent that around 30% of the Town Councillors had not bothered to attend ANY of the Vision Workshops or the Spacial Strategy Group Workshops, which is a pretty poor show really.
Out of a total of just over 62 minutes covering the full agenda, 26 minutes were spent discussing the future development of Chippenham and 10 minutes about training courses for new councillors! Councillor John Scragg spoke for 6 minutes describing the lack of a plan from the Planning Committee, followed by 5 minutes spent by Councillor Bill Douglas making a statement that very largely described the collective views of Chippenham Community Voice as well as the majority of those good people who HAD bothered to participate in the workshops.
Councillor Noblett then took 5 minutes to present his motion - "That Chippenham Town Council accepts the need for an increase in residential and employment land in the Chippenham Area. Any such development must be sustainable. The number of residential and employment sites, and their locations, to be determined after in-depth consultations will all sections of the community. Coherent and compelling evidence is required and is to be presented." Cllr Noblett expanded what is meant by 'sustainable' by saying that with any development the town's facilities such as leisure and shops had to be improved.
There was then a period of general discussion after which another councillor - Lorraine Roberts-Rance - requested that an amendment be made to Cllr Noblett's motion in that 'small scale' should be included in the description of development. Councillor Noblett announced that he wouldn't allow his motion to be amended, and had to be reminded that HE couldn't decide that, because it was a decision for the Council and not him. The Council allowed the amendment to be proposed and a vote was taken which was very close and arguably innacurately counted, but the proposed amendment was defeated by 9 votes to 11.
It is totally unacceptable that a committee charged with the responsibility of all local planning issues for the past 3 years has the audacity to announce that they have no plans at all for the future of Chippenham and no plans to decide one until Wiltshire planners have decided theirs! If they woke up they would see that their (and their predecessors) dereliction of duty has allowed the town centre to die, not least assisted by Wiltshire Council's greed in collecting as much in parking fees and fines as possible (they appear to see these as an acceptable source of income) when if they cut the charges back to free parking for one hour the town centre would then be encouraged to thrive. However the planners grow the town, either with business or housing premises, the town centre will STILL be dead to most shoppers.