Devizes Town Council held a stakeholder meeting in the Corn Exchange on Thursday 31st January to discuss the forthcoming asset transfer of the Market Place and the Shambles to the Town Council in the spring. The Town Council openly explained the background of the transfer and the challenges and opportunities. Businesses in the immediate vicinity of the Market Place were then invited to ask questions and share their views.
There were lively discussions and a range of views from positive to negative. The rationale behind the decision was clearly articulated and had support from many, but there were also major concerns around the loss of the free parking in the Market Place and the need for more consultation with local businesses.
The Town Council has now announced that they are holding an open meeting for the broader Devizes business community. This meeting will follow the same format as the previous meeting and be an opportunity for businesses to learn about the background to the decision, the plans and to ask questions and share their views.
Date – Tuesday 12th February
Time – 6pm
Location – Corn Exchange
The Chamber Committee are broadly in support of the transfer as it is an exciting opportunity to transform the Town centre and bring benefit to local businesses. We will be working with the Town Council and the new Market Place Manager to ensure that the views of local businesses are clearly communicated and the plans include real opportunities for local businesses to benefit.
Wiltshire Council and Devizes Town Council have agreed on a transfer of assets and functions that will see the Market Place and the Shambles brought into Town Council management in the Spring. As a condition of the transfer of the Market Place, all car parking will cease and the Market Place will be converted to community use.
Simon Fisher, Devizes Town Council Town Clerk, attended our recent committee meeting to outline the opportunities and challenges of this major change to the town centre, the success of which will depend on creating a vibrant community space in the centre of the town.
Plans include taking on a new Market Manager who will be actively involved in the promotion of the town to tourists and shoppers. A new tourist website is to be created to promote the town and the Shambles and the Market Place will be improved with the help of £480k from a section 106 agreement for the development of the area.
The Town Council are currently developing plans for the centre of the town and ideas of the use of the Market Place include:
> more regular markets
> regular community events and mini-festivals
> pop-up or semi-permanent micro-stores and food vendors
> development of the interior of the Shambles
> trees and plants
> improved cycle parking
> coach parking
At the end of last year, the Devizes Chamber was involved in the parking consultation with the County Council as part of the parking group set up by the Town Council. Faced with the alternative of either parking machines in the Market Place or transfer to the Town Council on a no parking basis, the Chamber felt neither was the ideal solution.
The Chamber proposed a compromise that would maintain a proportion of free parking and the creation of a smaller community space in the Market Place. This proposal and other similar proposals were rejected by Wiltshire Council, resulting in the Town Council’s decision to take over the entire space for community use. The Devizes Chamber will now work with the Town Council to help make this ambitious initiative a success.
Click to read the article from the Wiltshire Council website.
At our recent committee meeting on 8th October Scott Green of All Cut Up stood down as a Committee member. The Committee thanked Scott for his valuable service, particularly his contribution to the car parking consultation, in which he was very active.
A new member of the executive committee was elected, Andrew Wheeler, Board Director of Goodman Nash.
A very warm welcome to our new President, Bob Gilmore, who was elected at our AGM last night. Bob, from Fox in the House, takes over from Richard Jaggs of Resolution Design, who has now completed his second 2 year posting as President. Over the past 2 years Richard and the Committee introduced the successful new local membership and launched the new website, as well as re-starting the events, email newsletters and business representation. Richard will be staying on as a member of the Executive Committee.
Welcome also to Carol Watkinson, who was elected as Treasurer. Carol, from Fluid Network Systems, takes over from Simon Williams of Next Gen Leadership, who has done an excellent job in keeping the Chamber’s finances in order of the past 2 years.
In changes to the Executive Committee, leaving us are Kevin Stone of Number 59, Chris Hood of Beehive Antiques and Roy Webster of White Horse Design & Build, staying on are Rose Webster of Spirit Fashion and Scott Green of All Cut Up.
The Chamber thanks Richard, Simon and outgoing members of the Committee for their hard work and notable contributions to the re-launch of the Devizes Chamber.
The Devizes Chamber of Commerce is part of a working group, led by the Devizes Town Council, to review and feedback on Wiltshire Council’s new County-wide parking order.
The order is designed to increase revenue generation for the County Council and proposes significant parking price increases, as well as the removal of the free 1/2 parking in the Market Place. After several meetings the working group has agreed on the main recommendations to discuss with Councillor Phillip Whitehead, Chairman of the Area Traffic Group, these include:
- proposed significant increases to season ticket prices are limited to no more than 12%
- that all Devizes parking charges are rationalised to a single tariff
- the length of stay at the south end of Station Road is increased to all day for ticket purchasing
- that the maximum stay is increased from 3 to 4 hours in all short stay car parks
- that the amendment to allow charging in the Market Place is removed from the order until a full impact assessment can be undertaken
- a reduction in the length of time visitors can stay in free on-street town centre parking
- that any reference to evening parking charges be removed
- that Sunday and Bank Holiday parking charges be removed
The Chamber also recommended that levels of enforcement in the town be increased, particularly in relation to on-street parking.
At our recent networking event at Devizes library and Hub Cllr Simon Jacobs brought us up to date with the very long standing project to bring a train station to Lydeway, on the London line between Pewsey and Westbury. Prospects of this happening have improved recently with the planned investment in bi-mode trains, meaning the significant expense of electrification of the line is now not neccessary.
There are still significant hurdles, but if the plan is approved building could start in 2022.
Wiltshire Council look set to increase car parking charges across towns in the County, with Devizes seeing some of the largest rises. Businesses are concerned that the County Council have not given sufficient consideration to the likely impact on the local economy and the Chamber of Commerce is making representations on their behalf.
Proposed increases in car parking charges – download here
Proposed charges in currently free car parks – download here
Proposed season ticket prices – download here
The following letter has been sent from Devizes Chamber President, Richard Jaggs, to key local decision makers and influencers:
I’m writing to voice the concerns of local businesses about the planned increases to parking charges, including the removal of the 1/2 hour free parking in the Market Place.
One of the aims of the Wiltshire Council’s Car parking strategy is ‘to support and help improve the vitality, viability and resilience of Wiltshire’s economy and market towns’, however, the proposals will increase costs across the board for local workers, shoppers and visitors.
Businesses are naturally concerned. There appears to be a lack of consideration on behalf of Wiltshire Council towards the local economy. The consultation process was very low key, with many businesses being unaware of it, plus no form of commercial impact assessment has been made that I am aware of.
To help ensure the Council gives proper consideration to the local economy businesses in the town would greatly appreciate any representations you can make on their behalf.
Wiltshire Council produce a weekly email newsletter to keep local residents and businesses informed about all the latest news and events from the Devizes Area Board.
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Local businesses are being asked to have their say on the options to review car parking charges in Wiltshire, with a consultation now underway.
Plans include a general increase in parking charges as well as removing the free 1/2 parking in the Market Place and charging 70p for 1 hour and £1.40 for 2 hours.
The consultation is available on our portal and will run until midnight on 23 November.
The Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership (SWLEP) held it’s annual conference today at The Alexandra House Hotel in Wroughton. SWLEP is one of 38 LEPs in England tasked and funded by Central Government to trigger growth in the local economy through strategic investment (£518m).
One of their priority activities is to empower local businesses with information and support via a single digital ‘growth hub’, where businesses can communicate, gain and share knowledge, find out about funding and other business opportinities. The SWLEP growth hub was officially launched today and all businesses in Wiltshire are encouraged to register and make the most of the opportunies available.
SWLEP growth hub brings together information and assistance from key business support organisations in the area; Inspire by Wessex Chambers, Business West, SWLEP, Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, Swindon Borough Council, Wiltshire Council, UK Trade & Investment and teh Regional Growth Fund.