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As a West Wiltshire resident, I am very familiar with Wiltshire County having lived here all my life.
Local through and through
Living in Yarnbrook I know this area very well, having lived here for over fifty years. I first joined your local council in 1996 and have represented the area at parish, district, town and unitary council level since then.
I was a teacher for 43 years and began at Trowbridge College, where I initially lectured in Engineering. The work was challenging but gave me a good insight into the problems of others and especially young people. One of the most rewarding things about teaching in the same area for so long is that I still see students I taught forty or more years ago and their children. In some cases, even their grandchildren!
Finding local solutions to local issues
Public Transport Services.
The local First Group bus services were withdrawn in 2014 but thanks to Wiltshire Council a new service by Frome Minibuses began immediately the following day. The 67 is a good service but only connects Southwick and North Bradley with Trowbridge town centre. After 2 years of negotiations with First Group, the service was restarted as the D1 and now offers hourly connections to Bath, Warminster and Salisbury. Indeed, the service has now been extended to provide a more direct connection, the D1X with half hourly connections Trowbridge – Bath. With the number 67 service, this gives a far more frequent connection for shoppers with Trowbridge. Further afield, the number 87 connects Trowbidge to Devizes via Westbury giving a direct link to the east of the county. Again, after pressure and financial support from the council, a direct link, number 49 service runs directly to Swindon via Avebury whilst the Faresaver X34 connects Chippenham with Frome.
Rail travel through the county has also been much improved with the start of the Transwilts service, linking Westbury with Swindon. I was pleased to have worked with this service from the start and now sit as a member on the Transwilts board. Thanks to help in the early days from Wiltshire Council Passenger Transport Unit, train services each day have grown from two to eight, and passengers from 18,000 to over quarter of a million annually. Going to Chippenham and Swindon? Then this is a very quick and cheap service, an outstanding success.
Trowbridge Area Board
As your member, and Vice Chair of the Area Board, I have successfully applied for grants for all the villages represented. Two good examples would be for refurbishing the Southwick’s Busy Bees Pre-school group’s new premises and for the modernisation and refurbishment of North Bradley’s Progressive and Peace Memorial Halls. Both are excellent recipients, well worthy of support if these villages are to remain vibrant and attractive communities. Money from TAB has also been awarded to provide traffic calming through Woodmarsh.
Community Governance Review
This has now been going on for several months and should be ratified by mid-2021. Wiltshire Council has a policy of defending the rural buffer between the Southwick Division villages and Trowbridge and this I fully support. In a few cases, however, the review has placed some areas of the Southwick Division within the Trowbridge Community Boundary but I am pledged to fight any further encroachments.
Housing Land Allocation
This work had been going on for several months and concluded with the Wiltshire Housing Sites Allocation Plan, which is concerned with finding new sites for housing within our area. One site that was under examination was for a large estate on the southern perimeter of Southwick. This was resisted and defeated as it represented an extensive intrusion into open countryside, a threat to the wildlife it supports and the landscape the villagers currently enjoy. Every effort will be made by me to oppose any intrusive development which threatens the character of any of the three villages within the Southwick Division..
Flooding at Ireland
Residents of Ireland and Scotland suffered flooding at times in recent winters and periods of heavy rain. The problem has now been eased particularly with work already carried out by Wiltshire Council to install drains. I am now working with the parish councils, farmers and Wiltshire Council engineers to ensure further maintenance work is completed downstream to ensure this is carried out speedily and finished before the return of the heavy rains.
Community Area Transport Group
As the chairman of CATG, I have been successful in applying for funds to ease traffic problems in our villages. Several applications have been made but two current ones are worthy of mention. For example, traffic calming at West Ashton. This should reduce the very high speed which some drivers use through the village. Another current scheme is reviewing the access to schools to comply with new legislation which came into force recently. In North Bradley, the existing pedestrian crossing is potentially very dangerous especially during the school start and finish times. This has now been proposed for removal to a much safer position and for this I am seeking the funds that are needed. It is my intention to ensure that safety is the prime concern when pupils are going to or from their school.
As the Southwick Division member I have been very active in defending our villages from excessive development. Whilst some growth is inevitable, it should not destroy the character of any settlements. I have been active in ‘calling-in’ planning applications for a committee decision in all three parishes, especially sites in Southwick and West Ashton. A ‘call-in’ ensures that local residents can have their say at a public meeting before a decision is taken. Most of these have been successfully defended although some were overturned on appeal.
Traffic Relief for Southwick Division
Real progress has been made with providing traffic relief to West Ashton and Yarnbrook with the Northern Relief Road and A350 diversion, which has been approved and is awaiting funding. This will do much to relieve the daily gridlock which occurs at Yarnbrook and West Ashton crossroads. However, it does nothing to aid the villages of North Bradley and Southwick, where diverted traffic from the A361 Trowbridge Road still clogs them, ruining the enjoyment by residents of their property. I will be pressing for further work to be done to extend a proper road scheme that ensures traffic relief is brought to these two villages. To this end, I have been active in liaising with Westbury Town Council to get a Westbury bypass which will take all A350 and A361 traffic from both the town and our villages but, equally important, remove the HGVs from the Southwick Division villages. Furthermore, it will improve the very poor access to the West Wilts Trading Estate and its expansion will increase employment opportunities.
Please get in touch if you would like help with any issue, or have ideas on how to improve our area. Please do email me email@example.com or follow me on Facebook www.facebook.com/horacepricketts or Twitter @horaceprickett