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I was first elected as a Councillor in 1999 when I joined North Wiltshire District Council and have represented Lyneham Division continuously since then, becoming your Unitary Councillor in 2009 when the local authorities merged to create one Wiltshire Council.
In addition to being a hard working division member, I have other special responsibilities within Wiltshire Council, including Chair of Royal Wootton Bassett & Cricklade Area Board, Vice-Chair of Wiltshire Council and Portfolio Holder for Staffing & Policy, Culture, Equalities and Customer Care...
Lyneham comprises a number of villages: Bradenstoke, Bushton, Clyffe Pypard, Lyneham, and Tockenham and other hamlets including Preston and Thickthorn. Each community has its own unique identity, which it is important to help preserve. I am still as passionate about serving these communities as I was when I was first elected. We have some wonderful people who dedicate a lot of time and effort to making them a great place to live, and part of my role is to ensure that you all get the best possible deal from Wiltshire Council.
Wiltshire Council has a vision for “stronger more resilient communities” and this is exactly what I believe in.
A strong community comes together to celebrate the good times and pulls together to sort out problems. Sometimes they need assistance from outside bodies such as Wiltshire Council to help with issues, and that is where we as councillors come in. We need to have our eyes open and our ears to the ground to know when we might be able to help, without being too intrusive. We need to build up networks so that we can point people in the right direction and we need to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in when needed. As a local resident said to me recently: “We love having you as our councillor – you are there for us and easy to talk to”. This made me feel very proud.
I love to help people sort out their problems, and gain great satisfaction when I see somebody achieve a good result. I am very balanced and fair, and always look for both sides of an argument. I also value courtesy and politeness, openness and honesty. I have worked hard to build up relationships with officers and other partners so that I know who to go to for help. The biggest criticism that I could level at myself is that I care too much, but I am not going to stop doing that.
General background and experience
Like many people in Wiltshire, I moved here back in the 1980s for employment reasons. My first experience of Wiltshire was the wonderful village of Tockenham, and I love this County so much that I am still here and cannot see myself ever leaving.
My background is in computing and training. I have a natural bent towards problem solving and enabling people to help themselves, which are essential qualities for being a Councillor.
I retired from computers about 8 years ago and spent most of my time doing Council related activities or helping to run a number of charities. I also retrained as a Keep Fit teacher for the over 60s, which I love, and helps me to better understand the older people in the community.
Much of a councillor’s time is spent chasing up fixes for potholes and missed bin collections, but there is much more to our role than that. See the bottom of the page for information about what I've been working on recently.
Being a Councillor can bring you face to face with issues with which you were previously unaware. For example, I was asked to become a Trustee of North Wilts & Devizes (now Wiltshire) Portage, which is a home educating service for pre-school children with additional needs. Our Portage Home Visitors do a fantastic job, and I would never have come across it if I had not been elected.
I have had a long standing interest in Dementia, and am delighted to be a Dementia Champion, helping to make more Dementia Friends and working towards making Royal Wootton Bassett & Cricklade Community Area, including Lyneham, Dementia Friendly Communities.
Around 8 years ago I responded to a call to help set up a LINK Good Neighbour Scheme. We needed a steering group to get up and running. I joined the committee of what is now LINK 6 & RWB Good Neighbour Scheme and am still with it today. This small group makes a huge difference to the more vulnerable in our community, enabling them to stay in their homes for longer.
I sat on the board of Westlea Housing Association, which is now Greensquare, for around 10 years and that opened my eyes to the value of social housing to the community. I retired a couple of years ago, having been vice-chair of the Board for several years. I still follow with interest the good work of the Social Housing sector.
I am also a member of Royal Wootton Bassett & District Rotary Club. The Rotary motto “Service Above Self” says it all for me. We get involved in many community projects, from taking Santa round the houses at Christmas time, to running a Community Cinema, which is my special project.
Personal and family background
I have been married to Steve for nearly as long as I have been a Councillor – we both were elected on the same day and married 10 days later! We have no children but were foster carers for 14 years and looked after over 40 children during that time. We have three dogs who keep us busy.
Friday is “my day” and I get to have fun teaching EXTEND keep fit classes in Lyneham and Royal Wootton Bassett. In my spare time, I enjoy church bell ringing, walking our three dogs, eating out, ballroom and Latin American dancing, and I am an active Rotarian.
I have a wealth of experience as a local Councillor which has taken time and effort to accumulate. My husband is a Town Councillor in Royal Wootton Bassett and was Mayor of the Town during the height of the repatriations. That period of our lives has changed us forever and has taught us lessons that we will never forget.
Help and advice
If you would like keep in touch with what is going on locally, please follow me on Facebook or Twitter. I also update my website periodically with more detailed information.
I am always happy to hear from local residents who may need some help and am generally quite quick to respond to e-mails or texts, as I am an avid iPad user. You are welcome to e-mail me or phone me (preferably my mobile as I am out and about a lot).
Please note – I only respond to direct contact, not to random conversations on Facebook.
Allison's Current Projects
I was part of the team who unified Wiltshire into one Council, which put us in a good place to make the transformation needed to what, where and how we deliver services in the 21st Century. Had we not gone down that route then Wiltshire would be far worse off financially in the times of austerity than we currently are. We also introduced a “Can Do” culture into the organisation which is so important to our residents.
Working through the Area Board, we have been able to tackle a number of local issues and invest in a whole host of community organisations, from Village Hall improvements, to helping out with play groups, sports grounds (including the new state of the art Rugby Club and Sports Association in Royal Wootton Bassett which attract many players from Lyneham Division), and positive youth activities. We have revamped how we run the meetings, and we now have a lot more networking and less “formal stuff”.
Dementia Friendly Communities and Safe Places
Across our Community Area we are looking to become Dementia Friendly Communities and are setting up Safe Places, which will help the more vulnerable out and about in the community.
We are working closely with GP practices to improve the local health and wellbeing offering in the community.
The Area Board encouraged all of the parishes in Lyneham Division to get involved in Community Planning. which has brought the community together to look at its strengths and aspirations. This has been incredibly useful in setting an action plan, and has had some really positive outcomes, for example Lyneham Business Buddies was set up and there has been an increased focus on health provision in the Lyneham Area.
After the loss of the RAF from Lyneham, we were worried about the economic future of the area. We are fortunate that the Government chose Lyneham as the new home of the now up and running Defence College of Technical Training, and instead of RAF we have Army, including REME based there. It is certainly different and the community is learning to live with a different demographic profile which can have its challenges. I am delighted to have been part of the process to welcome REME and DCTT to Lyneham.
New Facilities in Lyneham
In response to the Community Plan for Lyneham, I was able to persuade a local business man to change his car sales showroom into an important hub for the village. The Post Office had closed and no new premises could be found, and people were struggling to get to the doctor.
We now have a new convenience store with Post Point, a Pharmacy, coffee shop and public toilets. It took an opportunistic conversation and a very hard slog through the planning process to achieve it but it is now up and running. There is astate of the art Veterinary Practice and space for a GP surgery (if the NHS finally agree to it). There will also be new restaurants and an extra care provision in the near future.
Road safety improvements
Unfortunately many drivers these days pay scant attention to the roads, and the public are suffering.
We have managed to put in some road safety improvements, such as a new footpath and dropped kerb at Bradenstoke corner, additional signage in Tockenham and Bradenstoke, and a long awaited weight limit on the B4069 should be in place by the end of 2016.