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I have lived in Chippenham for over 20 years and I love the Hardenhuish ward with its vibrant community and excellent facilities...
My main motivations as a councillor have been shaped by my experiences as a business owner and as a mother of three children.
As the owner of a thriving recruitment and training company, I am keen to promote inward investment to help create more local jobs. I also use my business management skills to assist with a range of town council projects that ensure that public money is spent wisely.
My experience as a mother of three children, ranging between 5 and 19 years old, has given me a great insight into the lack of entertainment and youth facilities across the town. My mission is to give young people voice on issues that are important to them such as a skate park, splash pad and increased sporting and activity space.
I helped set up and Chaired the Chippenham Business Improvement District for two years raising £1.5 million to drive town centre regeneration to help put Chippenham on the map as a great place to live, work and visit. For more information about the BID and how it will benefit our community, please visit www.chippenhambid.co.uk
I really enjoyed campaigning for the elections where I met lots of residents with varying needs from the town. I have gone on to build close relationships with many of the town’s residents and have become very fond of them.
If there are any issues you are concerned about locally then please feel free to contact me by email email@example.com or by calling 07717 313669 and I will do all I can to help.
Melody's Latest News & Projects
Your Wiltshire Councillor
I am Melody Thompson and I am the Wiltshire Council representative for the Hardenhuish ward. I have lived in the town for over twenty years and love the Hardenhuish ward with its vibrant community and excellent facilities including Chippenham sports club, John Coles Park, the splash pad, four excellent schools and the Rise Trust Children's Centre.
My main motives as a councillor have been shaped by my experiences as a local businesses owner and mother of three children which I aim to use for the benefit of local residents.
Local Projects - Football Club
I am always willing to listen to residents with positive local ideas and like to help with issues where I can. This is often challenging with the current budget constraints within Wiltshire Council but I continue to highlight areas within the Hardenhuish Ward which need attention. I still have three roads and pavements in the ward on a priority list for resurfacing and will continue to highlight other areas that need attention in the future.
Most recently I have been working with Chippenham Town football club to support their application for a community asset transfer for a parcel of disused scrub land. They plan to use this area to increase car parking for the club which will help to relieve some congestion on Bristol road on peak days for the club. During this investigation I was delighted to help facilitate some resurfacing work through a local contractor who was extending the path next to the car park. Although it is not perfect, it is a significant improvement to the car park with zero budget!
Skate Park and Other Youth Facilities
As a mum, with three children aged between 7 and 21 years old, youth services have always been a high priority for me. After many months and years campaigning, I am thrilled to see the skate park application finally submitted. I have no doubt we are going to have a fight on our hands to get this application approved and I hope to count on as many residents as possible help us win this battle for current and future generations of children in Chippenham.
In addition to this I have been in touch with the relevant officers in Wiltshire Council to make enquiries about the possibility of reintroducing the swimming and roller discos for our youth to the Olympiad and will keep residents updated on my progress with this.
The Chippenham Area Board and Local Youth Network I am involved with have awarded funding to a number of worthy local projects and it has been encouraging to see people taking the lead on projects to enhance facilities for our youth and community in general. Please get in touch with me to discuss projects you are leading and seeking funding for to find out how we might be able to help.
Improving the Town Centre
I have been working on town centre regeneration projects for four years since the formation of Cherish Chippenham Community Interest Company. To make this sustainable, we worked with a number of other town centre businesses owners to form the Chippenham BID. It was a tough job leading the formation and introduction of this company, but I am proud of the job that I have done and felt it was time to stand down from this in June this year for someone else to take over the reins. This initiative will generate £1.5 million pounds for improvements to Chippenham Town Centre over a 5-year period focusing on marketing, events and promotion, welcoming, safe and clean, access and car parking and backing business projects. I look forward to watching the Chippenham BID go from strength to strength over the coming years and will do my best to support their projects.
Bringing Business and Employment to Chippenham
I have always tried to promote the attraction and retention of new businesses so was delighted when Wiltshire Council managed to accommodate the move of Chippenham's largest town centre employer Good Energy, to the top floor of the Monkton Park Council offices, giving them the much needed expansion room they need. I still believe Chippenham has a lot to offer prospective employers and feel we should be doing as much as we can to attract new businesses to our town.
I was honoured to be invited to join the celebrations for an outstanding OFSTED award given to an adult care home in the Hardenhuish ward recently. This was one of three homes in Chippenham privately owned, which were all awarded outstanding and I feel so proud of the brilliant work these homes do for people in our community.
Ensuring Chippenham Grows in a Sustainable Way
It is inevitable that Chippenham will grow substantially over the next few years. Instead of rejecting this growth we should ensure that it delivers the improved infrastructure and services that the town needs. It is for this reason that regardless of the outcome at the core strategy, I still believe we should develop houses to the east of the town in order to deliver the much needed eastern link road. Although we may have missed this opportunity in the current plan I am hopeful that we will get another chance before too long. I believe this new road will make a significant difference to traffic across the town and help to ease the traffic on Hill Corner, Malmesbury and New Road in particular.
Thanks for taking the time to read my latest updates and please feel free to get in touch with me if you feel I can help with any issues you are facing within the ward.
News (written January 2016)
Wow, what a year it’s been! I always take some time out at this time of year to think about what has worked, what hasn't and what I need to do to make things work better next year. Reflection is particularly important to me as I wear a number of different hats as a Business owner, Town and County Councillor, Chair for the Chippenham BID and I'm also mum to three fantastic children as well as a wife, which are all important roles to me. Trying to achieve a good balance in my life is vital, but it’s certainly not an easy task. When I stop to think about the things we've achieved this year it almost takes my breath away and I can only comment on the things I feel I've had some small influence on, together with a greater team of people working very hard alongside me. So as I work through the various roles, here are some of my highlights starting with my business.
After plenty of research we opened our third office in Amesbury this year and I'm hugely encouraged by the progress after just six months. The Healthcare division we started last year has flourished with the right staff in place and I'm delighted to be involved in a sector which makes a positive contribution to the lives of vulnerable people in care homes around us. Gaining an equal share of business across all divisions was a key goal last year and I'm delighted to see our Healthcare, Industrial and Commercial sectors competing with our thriving Driving division. I'm proud of the work we've done with our new marketing company developing our brand helping to introduce new strategies to attract worthy candidates and clients. Although the vast majority of new clients and candidates come to us through referrals and I'm pleased to see our revamped referral scheme worth £100 of high street shopping vouchers is working exceptionally well. We've invested a significant amount of money in training this year in our staff as well as our candidates. I have every confidence in the team we're building from the training packages we are developing in operations, sales, finance, systems and compliance. It’s no secret that there is a massive gap of skilled workers throughout the UK so investing in training to improve the quality of candidates we supply has been another key investment for us this year. From Driver CPC Training, to Commercial testing and training on a range of office based skills as well as various certificates for our Healthcare workers, which count towards the new Care NVQ qualification, as well as launching our First Aid training - we have invested literally thousands of hours in training this year. Having a purpose for going to work beyond money is vitally important to me and I’m very proud that we signed up to a fantastically well organised charity, Business against Poverty, this year. Making a positive changed to people’s lives is at the heart of recruitment and training, so we wanted to partner with a charity that could support these values. The strategy of this charity is directly connected to affecting changes to our local community through the way we do business. BAP then invest in projects implementing long term change to pockets of poverty globally. Our partnership with BAP enables a butterfly effect through our staff, candidates and clients creating a sense of greater achievement through the work we do and we’ll be sharing more of our ambitions to work with this organisation next year.
Chippenham Town Council
As I said earlier, I can only comment on the projects I've had some small influence in and the 'Blooming Bulbs' project I put forward certainly comes to mind as a highlight. Seeing different areas in Chippenham covered in a blanket of colour in spring this year was a wonderful sight and I'm pleased to know those same bulbs will give us great joy for many years in the future. The Children's splash pad that was launched in May in John Coles Park was another excellent project I campaigned for and was I delighted to see the faces of so many happy children enjoying this throughout the summer. I've put forward a few other projects this year from improved litter projects to car parking as well as raised the need for research into a Neighbourhood or community plan, which I hope will come to fruition in the years ahead. In my opinion there are plenty more opportunities for the Town Council to make a positive influence on the life in our Town through a combination of additional precept income and using the healthy reserves we have in place, which can all be invested in local projects. I believe they have the power to take on many more services which Wiltshire Council simply cannot afford, if other Councillors so wish. I truly believe the Town needs to devise a 20 - 30 year plan and work much more closely with major partners, if we are ever to achieve some of the long and short terms aspirations our community so desperately not only need, but genuinely deserves. Anyone with children will tell you that it's normal for children to have tantrums, but it takes strong parenting to help guide them in the right direction without giving in every time they kick up a fuss. I strongly believe that Chippenham is going through a period of transition, which is often uncomfortable for people and we see this all over the Town. Whether we are talking about 5000 new houses, large employers moving to the town, an eastern link road, a children's skate park, belly bins for the high street or Santa coming down the side of the Angel Hotel...it's all about change. Some people are willing to accept these changes to accommodate the majority needs of our growing community and others fight it, desperate to hold onto the past. As a Town Councillor, I personally believe I have a responsibility and a duty to help members of our community make a joyful transition, to understand and accept the changes that are necessary, so we can help to create new jobs, new opportunities, new homes and new memories for a future generation.
One of my biggest challenges this year has been learning to speed read and on occasions I get up to 200 emails a day. I must admit there are times that I find this almost impossible to get through, together with attachments from the Council as well as the other roles I fulfill. I'm working on a new email filing system to help prioritise my workload but find picking up the phone to discuss things so much more useful than sending emails, particularly when time is short. I have certainly been made to feel very welcome since I was elected in May this year and was honoured to have Baroness Jane Scott OBE and Michelle Donelan MP who both joined me on the campaign trail to success this year. I am enjoying life as a Wiltshire Councillor and would certainly like to devote much more of my time to Wiltshire Council in the years ahead. For now I'm happy to be learning the ropes at the Chippenham Area Board meetings, Safeguarding Children and Young Peoples Panel, The Local Youth Network and have also recently joined the LEP scrutiny committee. While I recognise I can't resolve everything, I have been working on a range of different issues with local residents from highways and hedge cutting to signage, disabled access, troublesome trees and residents parking permits.
I am passionate about our Town Centre and have really enjoyed working as Chair on a range of Town Centre regeneration issues. The BID team and a voluntary group of board members, made up of local business owners have done an excellent job of driving projects forward this year. I am particularly proud of our subsidised car parking projects, Town Centre Hosts scheme, creation of a new Town Brand, 'Chippenham Connected', the introduction of a free business cost reduction scheme, free Town Centre WIFI, which also monitors crucial footfall figures, a Town App and website, as well as delivered one major event with the Christmas lights switch on and kicked off with a major marketing campaign including a highly successful video, showcasing a selection of Chippenham BID businesses receiving 20K plays in one week. After successfully being voted in with a majority on ratable value and number in November 2014, the Chippenham BID is here to stay for another four years at least. It has a number of excellent projects in the pipeline yet to deliver working alongside our major partners. This organisation will play a critical role in the future success of the Town and despite an inevitable period of settling in, I am confident it will go from strength to strength. I plan to separate the work I do with the BID in 2016 from my other roles as much as possible, to ensure nothing gets in the way of its future success. Splitting out the key areas within the business plan with different board members and working party groups taking responsibility to drive projects, I am hopeful this will spread the workload, help people feel more included in decisions as well as take responsibility for them.
My Plans for 2016
When setting new goals for this year I can’t help but think about all the things in my life I am so very grateful for; whether that’s my health, my family or my business and achieving a good balance across these three things is really important to me. So with this in mind my first objective was to select a word I will abide by this year and the word I have chosen is “balance”. I will not announce all my personal goals publically in detail, but here are a few that I want to achieve:
To be thankful for one new thing every day every day and record this in a diary
Not to drink alcohol during the week as well as a dry January!
To be home by 6:30pm and eat dinner with my family
To see the Northern lights over New Year…with a bit of luck!
Help my youngest son learn to drive and pass his test.
To complete a half marathon again or my first triathlon!
Take my mum out for lunch once a month giving her my undivided attention.
Research the investment of an apartment in Cornwall for family and staff to use for holidays.
No mobile between 6:30pm-9pm setting boundaries for quality family time.
One child free weekend away with my husband, after all 22 years is something to celebrate these days.
So here are my professional goals for 2016
Goal #1: Pace
As a runner I've always enjoyed long distance marathon running as well as a short intense sprint. Of course one of the most important things to master as a runner is 'pace' and any runner will tell you that it's not feasible to run a marathon at a sprinters pace, unless you're an Olympic runner! A few years ago I took part in a charity walk for life raising funds to fight cancer with a group of friends. I was torn between walking faster to complete the course as soon as possible with one group or walking slower to stick with loyal friends. As a naturally competitive person, it was a surprisingly tough decision, but in the end I figured 'cancer' didn't care how fast we walked and was sure that sticking together to complete the course together as friends was far more important. Through this experience, I've learned another lesson about working with volunteers or members of the public and that is the importance of keeping people on the journey with me. So as much as I have a head full of ideas and projects I'd love to deliver now, I also realise that I need to pace myself better. I realise now, that this means I probably need to slow down in order to keep the majority of people together on the journey with me, in order to finish the race together.
Goal #2: Learning to say no!
I’m a natural people pleaser and between my different roles, I try very hard to keep everyone happy – from clients and candidates to my staff, members of the public, BID levy payers and local authorities. However I have learned that there are times when the interests of these things conflict with each other. Whether that’s the hourly pay or charge rates, the priority of projects, public expenditure or the values and visions I have for future. For this reason it’s impossible to please all the people all the time and there are times when I may have to “say no”. So if I have to say no to you this year, I’ll apologise now and I hope you’ll understand why.
Goal #3: Identify my inner circle
This is probably going to be one of my most important but toughest goals if I am to succeed in the plans I have for 2016 and beyond. In times of need, people in your inner circle have the ability to put the flames of trouble out, helping to restore normality as quickly as possible, while those in the outer circle will happily throw more fuel on and watch you burn. So, my goal this year is to identify people in my inner circle, which is characterised by four main qualities. These are loyalty, experience, trust and values. I'll be looking very closely for these qualities in the people around me as I'm pretty sure these they are not skin deep! I'm also going to be careful not to sacrifice the needs of people in my inner circle, for the demands of people on the outer circle.
Goal #4: Going from ‘me’ to’ we’
Any leader will tell you that they are only as good as the team around them because together we can do a lot more then I can ever do on my own. As the challenge of projects around me escalates the need for team work elevates. I truly believe that team work, makes the dream work. So my challenge this year is to ask myself everyday what I can do to make the team around me stronger and then do everything in my power to help develop them.
Goal #5: Connecting not communicating
I've always been fairly confident in my ability as a communicator and have aspirations for a joint comms strategy for Chippenham working with partners across Chippenham BID, as well as the Town and County Council. However, I believe my communication needs to go much deeper than that. So I plan to put much more energy into connecting with the people around me in a variety of ways. This includes more historical research, listening more intently and investing more one to one time with people getting to know them better so we can connect on a higher level.
Goal #6: If your goals don't scare you they are not big enough!
As I write my long term personal goals, there are certainly some that scare me and some that I may not achieve for many years. However, this doesn't stop me from writing them down, dreaming and hoping for the future. I have some pretty big goals for Chippenham too and started writing down my own plan with different ideas which may or may not ever come to fruition. These ideas include a camp site near Stanley Park next to the future fishing lakes, a mini supermarket with a petrol station along London road and a children's ecological centre at Birds Marsh, which was included in the original plan for the land once the houses are built and a large hard standing area next to Wilkinson's for future events with a small outdoor stage perhaps called 'Alfred Square'!? Of course this is your Town, so I look forward to hearing your goals for Chippenham which are far more important than mine!
Goal #7: Personal development plan
I believe that a personal development plan will help to identify areas of strength and weakness, guiding me in the right direction to optimise my existing skills and future capabilities. There are courses I've identified that I'd like to go on as well as books I want to read, but most often I never seem to have the time. So this year I'm going to book myself on those courses in advance and identify time in my diary to read the books I've been wanting to read.
Goal #8: Finish the race
This year I was asked to sit at the bedside of a close friends mother as she took her final breathes of life on earth. Naturally this was a deeply moving moment and reminded me once again how fragile life is, but also how important it is to cease every moment, living life to the full. Life is full of twists and turns with choices to make on a daily basis, some of them taking us in different directions and sometimes we take a wrong turn....while I'm sure I have made a few of those this year, I won't give up and I refuse to give into negativity! I love the all the work I do for various reasons, but I often have to remind myself of those reasons when the tough times come. Helping others is what drives me, whether that is helping them find work to support a family, create happy memories through new entertainment facilities or simply help by contributing to a cleaner, prettier town to live in. As I watched the life slip away from this lovely lady's body at age 80, I couldn't help think what a good job she had done. I was inspired to try harder and use every gift I have to complete the tasks assigned to me, to finish the race ahead of me the best way I possibly can, learning from mistakes, starting again with a fresh New Year in 2016!