The Role of the Town Council
Our aim as your town council is to give people a clear view of the town in terms of its advantages to residents, commerce and industry. Melksham is a small friendly market town, the name presumed to derive from MEOLC, the Old English for milk and from HAM, a village. It is geographically well placed, being central to the neighbouring towns of Westbury, Trowbridge and Warminster to the South; Bradford on Avon and Bath to the West; Corsham, Chippenham and Calne to the North and Devizes to the East. Melksham is an ideal location for business enterprises to develop, shopping facilities to grow and for our people to live and work with only a short commuting distance to/from from our sister towns.
A little of the history of local councils may be of interest before explaining the current local government arrangements. In 1974 West Wiltshire District Council was formed and was made up of seven smaller urban and rural district councils, all of which disappeared. These included Melksham Urban District Council. At that time the five Urban District Councils, including Melksham, became the five Town Councils of West Wiltshire, each with considerably less powers than the original Urban District Councils. This continues today and indeed is intended to continue after 2009 as there are no plans to abolish or significantly change town and parish councils. Melksham Town Council has 15 elected members and town council elections have been deferred to 2013 to maintain first line continuity for residents.
As an aside, there was a mini reorganisation in 1997 when Swindon broke away from Wiltshire County Council and formed its own Authority as we know it today but the remaining District Councils in Wiltshire: North Wilts, West Wilts, Kennet and Salisbury resisted any further change.
In July 2007 the Government was minded to accept Wiltshire County Councilís bid, to form a new unitary authority, merging the County and four District Councils into one. Despite protests and legal battles, the Government went ahead with the unitary initiative and this was passed into law with Structural Change Orders for Wiltshire in 2008. The new unitary authority is Wiltshire Council. It will have 98 seats after the elections in June 2009 and took over all the former district services and activities at the end of March.