Devizes Town Council Reject Proposal for a Safety Sign on The Crammer

In the same week Corsham Town Councillor Ruth Hopkinson unveiled a sign, warning drivers to slow down for their peacocks, designed by a schoolgirl via a competition, a swan on Devizes Crammer flew into a passing car and died. Residents called upon Devizes Town Council for signage warning of the dangers, but the idea was doggedly rejected by councillors at a meeting on Tuesday….

Friends of The Crammer campaign group thanked members of the public for attending the meeting. The application was discussed at great length, often meandering. Campaigner Sally Noseda said “it got off to a good start with one Councillor [Cllr Bridewell] saying she thought it was a good idea and proposing it. Then, there was a barrage of objections from several councillors – too much signage there already, warning signs never work, too distracting, swans die all over the town, its people’s fault for feeding them, too expensive, etc., etc.”

Councillor Iain Wallis said that whilst he believed the whole council supported making the area safer, he did not think that signs were the way to do this. Making one wonder what hairbrained invention would be deemed suitable, perhaps training swans to push the traffic-light button with their beaks?!

He felt that signs would not work as drivers should already be alert in this area; well, duh, alertness is best while driving anywhere! They also questioned the need (the need for basic road safety, duh again?!) and warned about overloading the area with signage, when it’s no more overloaded with pointless signage than any other area of the town centre. So, he poo-pooed the idea, which is what he said he would do on his bias Facebook group, therefore meeting about it was a complete waste of oxygen, as his proposal was seconded by Councillor Hoult, supported by Councillor Nash, who raised the financial pressure on a council who recently forked out far more for some oversized flower pots in the Market Place!

A member of Friends of Crammer group contacted Barefoot Signs for a quote, which pushed the boat out to a staggering £30 plus VAT! But Sally explained, “the council were mostly thinking about formal Ministry of Transport wildfowl signs and the costs attached to those. I couldn’t really put in an official application for “unofficial” signs – they would need to be done afterwards. So, the discussion was based on official signs. Having said that, all the nonsense about costs, history, swan behaviour, swans dying in other areas of the town, too many signs… They threw everything at it, aided and abetted by the mentioned member of the public.”

Cllr Giraud-Saunders felt that feeding the swans by the road may be making the issue worse so suggested that maybe feeding could take place in another area, which is, with all due respect, total piffle; with the railings in place, the larger birds only have one exit-entrance from the water to the land, and that is at the roadside so to get to another area would still mean travelling along the roadside! Now, I’m no expert, unlike others I’m not pretending to be, but you only must go and look at it to work that out!

Cllr Greenwood, who was Charing, (not charming!) felt this was something that could be looked at under Cllr Wallis’ proposal. Well quite; ideas have been put before via Crammer Watch that, ideally, the Crammer needs to be swizzled around, so the wildfowl’s access to the water is on the grass rather than direct onto the road, but this would obviously need a huge investment, and being the council are doing everything in their power to reject a simple signpost might suggest anyone with the slightest faith this will happen is not living in Devizes, but cloud cuckoo-land!

The minutes then go onto say, “the member of the public who brought the item forward said they understood the council’s position, but was concerned that the crammer working party may not deal with the issue in a timely fashion.” Now, at this stage we need to point out, if you’ve not already guessed what’s coming, this crammer working party set up Devizes Town Council consists of…. wait for it…. councillors Iain Wallis and Chris Greenwood!!

Cilla Black level of surprise, surprise; the very one’s campaigning against every proposal put by any member of the public concerned about recent happenings at The Crammer, the two who blatantly lied about the suspected bird flu outbreak and DEFRA’s imaginary collection of the dead swans on their Facebook groups. Facebook groups which have seen anyone disagreeing with Mr Wallis outright banned from the group, even the Crammer Watch page set up to support the Crammer! The councillor who encouraged the public take matters into their own hands and reprimand anyone feeding the swans, knowing full well without a natural food source they would’ve died anyway, bird flu or not! You can’t make bureaucratic gobbledygook like this up!

And, sigh, the minutes conclude: Following the public statements Cllr Wallis amended his proposal to add a timeline to the working parties brief with a first report due in six weeks’ time at the next Recreation & Properties meeting. This was passed with two abstentions. In other words, although the proposal for the most proactive doable solution was squashed, they’d all sit around and talk about it at later date, which is what I thought they were doing there and then?!

It feels like “Crammer” is a swearword at Devizes Town Council, any mere mention of it, for some unexplained reason breathes fire from the mouths of certain councillors, and their apathy towards any issue arising from the Crammer is questionable. How councillors can outright lie leaves me beyond hope for a simple solution, and I believe they should be held accountable for their dishonesty. As Sally expressed to the Friends of the Crammer group, “I was looking at a circle of rather disinterested faces. I did accept Iain Wallis’s offer to bring it into the WP remit – but stressed that this was an urgent matter and I was unhappy at how long they’d taken to get this far with the Working Party.”

Working party, indeed, shirking party I think you’ll find! One of the best responses from The Friends of the Crammer Facebook group stated, “I think DTC need to show some interest and love for the Crammer. They give the impression that they don’t care about this special, historic, and beautiful spot of nature right in the centre of the town. Everything that has been asked for (which is very little and low cost as far as I can see) they appear to have resisted or turned down or gone very slow. This group has gathered 210 members in a very short space of time in a small town and I’m sure there are a lot of others who are equally concerned. DTC are the servants of the town. Surely these little things being asked for aren’t a big deal and would be of some help in protecting the wildlife on the Crammer. It is worth a try and would certainly go some way to alleviate this problem. Just put up a few small signs what harm would it do?”

But perhaps the best comment came from neither the group nor council, but from the unrestricted local page, Devizes Issues (but better) in which someone added something along the lines of, “it’s just swans on a pond fffs!” adding there were more important issues, and I agree, after feeling driven to type a thousand words on it, for if they can pass off public ideas of such a simple notion as a signpost, what poppycock will they make of the bigger issues?!


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