Devizes Town Councillors LIED About Bird Flu on Crammer

As temperatures rise from the coldest December spell in a decade, life on Devizes Crammer is returning to normal. The Crammer Watch team concentrate their efforts on the natural course of activities for the wildfowl present, as aggressive swans drive others onto the roadside in territorial disputes...…

Meanwhile, confused as to whether they should be fed, due to a lack of official advise to update them on the situation, townsfolk are understandably concerned for their health and wellbeing, after the deaths of two swans and two Canada Geese in December.

But the questions which need to be asked now, but clearly are not, are concerned more with the appropriateness of actions taken by Devizes Town Councillors on the matter; off I go, not wanting to issue a rant so close into a new year, but feeling it’s imperative; someone’s gotta say it……

Firstly, Guardian Town Councillor, Chris Greenwood declared on the Devizes News Facebook page that an outbreak of bird flu had be confirmed on the Crammer, and the birds had been collected by DEFRA for testing. This was backed up by a stern campaign on another Facebook group, Devizes Issues, by the admin and Conservative town councillor, Iain Wallis, not to feed the wildfowl on the Crammer to prevent spread of the disease.

Only when questioned on his statement did Mr Greenwood revert to DEFRA guidelines, stating any suspected outbreak should be treated as a definite outbreak, therefore this governed his advice to stop feeding the wildfowl. Meanwhile, Mr Wallis took it upon himself to delete any differing opinions on his own Facebook group. The argument for continuing to feed being, because of a lack of natural food source, the wildfowl would consequently die of starvation, if bird flu was evident or not.

They both informed the public DEFRA had collected the birds for testing, and this was backed up belatedly by Devizes Town Council, who issued a notice advising the same, not to feed the wildfowl. Clerk Simon Fisher adding in his published musings that the Council were operating on skeleton staff during the period, despite it being some weeks prior to Christmas.

As confirmation from DEFRA didn’t arrive all went quiet on the Western Front, updates were scarce and suspiciously varying. Councillor Wallis stated DEFRA were “busy,” others suggested DEFRA was closed for Christmas, a fortnight prior to Christmas. Councillor Greenwood stated no confirmation was likely, as DEFRA rarely test individual birds. But the real facts are coming to light from a leaked email from Clerk Simon Fisher to a Crammer Watch member; the birds were never collected by DEFRA at all.

In the email Mr Fisher states, “we did report the bird in the hope they would be collected but they weren’t. Given the time period and the level of decay that had started to set in, the birds were double bagged and disposed of. We are pleased that since the initial incidents, that there have been no more deaths, but we are now seeking advice from the Wetland Trust on the best way to feed the birds, which may be something that we do it ourselves in the future.”

Seems evident now it’s all been one big, fat fib, the likelihood of bird flu remains unknown and so does the chances of ever knowing. Only one bird on the canal has been reported dead since the original few during the freezing spell in December, DTC reports today, and well, nature takes its course, wild animals will unfortunately die. There’s as much evidence to suggest there never was an outbreak of bird flu as much as there was, but the truth may never be known. Reasons why the issue has been handled so appallingly would be speculation. Despite no one was pointing a finger, it was a close one to call after all, I’ll give them that much. Yet, I believe what needs to be questioned is the bolshy way this was pushed into effect via social media hysteria caused by the individual Councillors.

And of course, none of it would be a problem if the birds were in an area with a natural food source, for without it, as is the Crammer, the birds will die of starvation, infected with bird flu or not. Furthermore, there’s a danger to the birds crossing over the busy road to find alternative means of food from nearby pub and supermarket bins. This information of the lack a natural food source was passed to us by Swan Support, when they aided a rescue of swans struck by pollution in the Crammer back in springtime. The reason why Crammer Watch was set up. Crammer Watch advocated feeding the birds safely and individually would give them the sustainability to survive the freezing conditions, and the jury was out for the while, now it seems it was the right thing course of action, after all.

The argument put forward by the councillors active on social media was by not feeding the birds we are reducing the likelihood they’ll congregate and spread the disease. I get this, I really do, yet through various channels Crammer Watch sourced information from DEFRA, from the top UK medical boffins and the King’s Swan Marker; they’re not simply acting on a whim.

They say it isn’t illegal to feed and where local authorities are trying to stop it in most cases, they have installed barriers and taken over safe feeding. Devizes Town Council have none of this yet, and only now, a month too late, have they suggested it “may be something that we do it ourselves in the future.”

But the really concerning issue is by the aforementioned town councillor, Iain Wallis, responsible for the area the Crammer is, in mounting a huge campaign for no feeding, via being admin of the controversial Facebook group, Devizes Issues, which saw any angle of debate questioning the ruling we should stop feeding the wildfowl, promptly deleted and the commenters banned. Mr Wallis furthered the campaign by suggesting townsfolk should take the law into their own hands by reprimanding anyone found feeding the swans.

It’s one thing for admin of a claimed “unbiased” social media group to delete misinformation, it’s another to eradicate personal opinions, especially when there’s no confirmation of the fact. Now temperatures have returned to normal, comments on the post have been turned off, so no updated information seems to allowed, the word is final there; don’t feed the swans.

The final straw in this matter, for me, was to encourage the public to question anyone feeding the birds, as, and let’s be frank here, it’s obvious this would lead to a “torches and pitchforks” scenario, in which enraged abuse is thrown at anyone who dares to take an opposing opinion to Mr Wallis. Lo and behold, several reports of this have been made by victims of such verbal abuse, one person claiming an angered man shouted at her child for feeding the ducks. What have we become?!

Make no mistake, this outcome is outrageous and despicable, in my opinion, and questions should be raised as to councillor Iain Wallis’s motives behind such a forceful approach. As no official updates were given, people continued obey and not feed the wildfowl, much less drive others away from feeding them by hurling abuse at them.

But why, you understandably ask, and the only answer I can provide is, I don’t know. The birds there would obviously die if not fed, providing more evidence for a supposed but unproven case of bird flu. Councillor Greenwood stated in no uncertain circumstances, such a continuation of deaths will result in a mass cull of all birds in the area, interestingly he noted the gulls and the pigeons. The very gulls Wiltshire Councillor Laura Mayes has been calling for a cull of for months, and likewise the very same town councillor, Iain Wallis, has been pushing for a cull of the pigeons?

Permission needs granting to cull birds, if relevant agencies assess there’s not a significant pigeon problem in the area, they’ll not issue a licence. But we’ve heard nothing of the result on this, and they say no news is good news. I could fairly venture therefore, they didn’t issue any such licence, ergo pushing for a case of bird flu would be the backdoor to having a cull. Of course, this is speculation, but I worry, why else is this being pushed without evidence, and isn’t it coincidental the same councillor pushing this is the one who campaigned to cull the pigeons?

What other reason could there be? That the councillor is, much less a wildlife expert, because he’s not, but a caring soul for wildlife? A confessed Conservative blindly following the advice of DEFRA unquestionably. DEFRA, a government department, the same government which, against advice of financial experts condoned we’re best leaving the EU and plummeted us into recession, a government who, against advice of the World Health Organisation, suggested we’d not need to lockdown in a worldwide pandemic until after international jetsetters flew in for a profitable horse race? A government who profited from said lockdown and partied through it while advising we don’t see our babies born or our elderly relatives die? A government who crushed the NHS and education budgets, have continued to lie at every given opportunity? That government? Oh yeah, sounds viable to me!

If it feels like said government have little respect for human life, why do you suppose they would for animals? A government with the kingpin prime minister stating a fetish of fox hunting, continuing to find reasonable grounds to turn the hunting act around, and advocating other unlawful blood sports, and a badger cull, for example, without any real proof it leads to bovine Tb in cattle. And ultimately, a government which assigns an MP like Thérèse Coffey as minister for DEFRA, despite voting against protecting Animal Welfare and Food Standards from post-Brexit trade deals, as well as a lengthy voting record of other disgracefully unjust and oppressive issues. Face it, Thérèse Coffey doesn’t view animals as sentient, least that’s what her voting record revealed.

The MP who defended Rebekah Brooks as chief executive of News International when they thought it’d be fun to hack the phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler, claiming objectors were on a “witch hunt,” yet had no issue aiding a similar witch hunt against Marcus Rashford, for merely suggesting the poorest children should be fed during the pandemic? Oh right, yeah, she sounds like someone who gives a toss about some swans living in a duck shit pond in Devizes, for sure.

Apologies if you feel I’ve gone off on a wild tangent here, but it feels like another brick in the wall. When a topic is debatable it usually means the motivation behind each side differs. Mine is purely based on the protection of the wildlife, the other side argue the same, but all I called for is a debate, with experts present, on how the Crammer can be improved to help the wildlife there. Chris Greenwood’s response to a call for a natural food source and an island ideal for bird flight paths, was “There’s currently no real possibility of providing a natural food source in or near the Crammer, due to it potentially restricting flight paths for the swans and geese, it would also disrupt the aesthetics of the area, by changing the very nature of a feature of our Town.”

The latter part of this raises the question of what folk in Devizes want, a pretty looking pond unsuitable and dangerous for the wildlife which visits it, or a conservational area apt for sustaining the needs of the wildlife. Crammer Watch say, “the Crammer had an island in the middle during the Victorian period, there is no other imaginable reason for its introduction unless it was precisely because of the aesthetic enhancement of walks.”

The first part of this, quite frankly, is codswallop. Crammer Watch points out, “swans drop in but can’t take off because there isn’t a long enough stretch of water for a safe runway and they can’t clear the trees or buildings.” Also stating “I have only seen them take off from the Green, albeit one may have taken off from water alone in June. I have started to wonder whether a way could be engineered to put swans off of dropping in. If non breeders drop in they find it impossible to leave in the short term and nothing to eat.”

Ergo, given Occam’s razor, that the explanation that requires the fewest assumptions is usually the correct one, without any confirmation or even evidence of bird flu, and the only birds dying in the extreme cold has now stopped as the temperature levelled, the argument with fewer explanations required is that the birds died of extreme weather conditions, as is the unfortunate natural course of life.

Whether or not the unsuitable conditions at the Crammer played a part in this, well, we could carry on all night with, but what’s clear, without feeding they’ll die anyway, so the logical reasoning is to feed them and anyone who says otherwise are either misinformed or have a different agenda. I also apologise to those councillors I’ve called out on this, all’s fair in love and war, for there’s a fair chunk of speculation presented, I’ll admit, but I can see no other reason for staging such a ferocious campaign against feeding them without the required evidence. But more so, I question the need to incite folk to police it themselves, for this would undoubtedly cause friction.

I believe a full, independent enquiry needs to be done, as to why the councillors perpetrated their fictious campaign; what else are they lying to us about?

Let’s hope for a positive outcome for the new year ahead, but if not, I urge you to leave The Devizes Issues Facebook group, because no one should be taking its advice and reprimanding children for feeding ducks; inexcusable behaviour from a town councillor, for heaven help if incited verbal abuse turned physical.


Anyone For Table Tennis at Hillworth Park?

Yep, it’s true, Devizes’ wonderful Hillworth Park is to get an all-weather outdoor table tennis table, installed over the coming weeks, agreed at a Devizes Town Council recreation and properties committee meeting yesterday.

Funded through the council’s CIL receipts, the project has been a bit ping-pong since the idea was put forward at the beginning of the year, with supplier and contractor issues, but looks likely to be smashed over the net very soon.

A positive strategy has also been served into action for those remaining town playparks in need of attention. Playgrounds in Cowslip Close, Festival Close and Wadworth Road have been earmarked by the council’s play area working party for repair and funding has been confirmed for them.

Councillor Jonathan Hunter, who has been formulating youth objectives and a working group structure recently said, “I believe the council has listened, and continues to listen to the community with action orientated follow up work that will improve play areas.”

Moving in the right direction to address youth issues could see a safe space youth venue, youth council inclusion schemes and a youth civic award scheme too. But little acorns, Devizine plans to grill Mr Hunter soon about progress on these exciting ventures addressing young people’s issues, over a nice cuppa, naturally, but for now, anyone for table tennis?!


Devizes Public Living Room Finds New Home

It’s great news today, as the social circle Devizes Public Living Room has been offered The Cheese Hall to continue their weekly gatherings, by Devizes Town Council.

Living Room projects like this have been running across the world, pre-pandemic, and can be a lifeline for communities, providing nonspecific engagements, activities and a meeting point. There are no requirements, no age, gender or any limitations. Active member Angela Giles told me what she loves about the group, “there is no agenda and no labelling. We just come and be ourselves. Free to chat about whatever we want to, or not, and basically all over a cuppa!”

Originally operarting in the Shambles, the group have been meeting outside at the Wharf for a few months, as the Shambles was no longer an available option. With concerns of the changing season, the group have been concerned about finding a new base.

Angela Giles together with other members, Thomas Green and Nic Ola approached Devizes Town Council at a meeting yesterday evening, and their request was granted to use the Cheese Hall.

Councillor Jonathan Hunter said, “I’m absolutely delighted that a great facility can be used to benefit others and promote social inclusion. I thank my fellow councillors for believing in this group and supporting the request for a safe space for Devizes Public Living Room to call their home.”

You’d be forgiven for assuming, if you’ve been following certain local Facebook groups recently, that the concentration of Devizes Town Council meetings have been preoccupied by a petty squabble over social media policy. This great and righteous permission goes some way to illustrate the content of Council meetings are far from the temper tantrums being hypocritically portrayed, and positive outcomes can be reached.

Here at Devizine, we would like to thank the town council for their decision, and congratulate the camerados of the Devizes Public Living Room group; put the kettle on, guys, as soon as you’re settled in the big cheese I’ll bring some custard creams over!

Unless, of course, you prefer bourbons?

For more info about Devizes Public Living Room, follow their Facebook page, here.


Big Events Like Confetti Battle are Great for Devizes, But Where Can the Disabled Park?

I believe I speak for most of us, when I say we all love that Devizes punches above its weight when it comes to hosting some grand universal events, such as yesterday’s historic, if bizarre local ritual, Confetti Battle. DOCA and others, such as the Devizes Food & Drink Festival, use the Market Place to be exactly what it was intended for, free social gatherings. They take a lot of organising, and are open to everyone to enjoy, or are they?

When the parking places in Market Place are occupied by an event and carparking is closed there, there is no provision or replacement for the absence of disabled bays, and a lack of them causes some disabled people to be unable to attend.

I spoke to Claire, who is disabled and lives in Devizes. Claire would’ve liked to attend the Confetti Battle this year, “I would like to attend Christmas events too,” she said, “but there is no option for disabled people to park.”

“I do appreciate how hard people work to make our lovely town fun,” Claire expressed, “but I had to miss last night because there was nowhere close enough to park.”

I must confess, in promoting our events I hadn’t stopped to consider this, and would like to be clear, this is, I suspect, an oversight on Devizes Town Council’s part. Therefore, I’m not out to point fingers and play the blame game, (ha, not this time!) rather to suggest some provision is introduced so when disabled bays are closed for events, suitable temporary bays can be created specifically for disabled badge-holders. “Even if one extra disabled person could enjoy the events,” Claire stated, “this will make a difference to someone’s life, rather waiting to see it all in Facebook, which is what I do.”

This is unfortunate and unfair, certainly unintentional, but I’m confident with some awareness spreading it’s easily resolved. I’d be interested to hear any town councillor’s views on this, their feedback would be helpful; hey, no, their feedback is essential! I will call out ignorance on the issue if not, (they know that by now!)

No large-scale event goes ahead without meeting requirements for the disabled, simple as. I’d suggest perhaps arranging a booking-in system so a specific number of parking bays can be reserved, this way everyone with a blue badge who wants to attend can, and needless spaces wouldn’t be used as disabled bays. That would take one DTC admin and one spreadsheet five minutes to produce.

“These events should be for all,” Claire asked me, “wouldn’t you agree?” That doesn’t need answering, Claire, not from me I’m afraid, I’m with you fully, and I’m here to pitch the same question to the powers that be. Perhaps there is some provision already in place that we don’t know of, but I’m happy to publish any such answer too.

I’m aware Wiltshire Council is introducing paying for disabled parking in their carparks, but that is a different topic for another time, don’t even get me started on that. We’re here today to assume something as simple as allowing space for disabled folk to accessibly park to be able to enjoy the events as we do, be resolved. Whether or not they have to pay for that space is the responsibility of Wiltshire Council, who, to be honest, I’m at my tethers end with anyway.

“I had to cancel plans this weekend in town,” Claire continued, “because I couldn’t park close enough. Not even close enough to get to the pharmacy, so I went without my pain relief.” We await your response with thanks, Devizes Town Council.


Click to buy Vol 2 of our compilation album; all proceeds go to Julia’s House

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Song of the Week: Sienna Wileman

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On The Wayside with Viduals

Akin to Ghostbuster’s nemesis Slimer when he appears over the hotdog stand, I was squatting a spacious windowsill at Wiltshire Music Centre with an Evie’s…

Old Wharf Café to Become Meeting Room

The Kennet & Avon Trust today revealed plans to convert the old café on Devizes Wharf, Couch Lane, into a meeting facility; how exciting! It…

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What is a psychedelicat, a tin of magic mushroom flavoured Felix?! His picture on the tin certainly displays some suspiciously dilated pupils, but this exaggeration…

Citizen’s Advice’s Plea for Funding From Local Councils as Wiltshire Council Slash Their Budget

Do you take Citizen’s Advice for granted? For many it’s a lifeline, the first port of call for any issues rising from legal, debt, consumer, and housing, yet Wiltshire Council has slashed £100k off its funding, about one-third of their budget. Makes you wonder why they ever dropped their slogan, “where everybody matters,” really, doesn’t it?!

The independent organisation has been rallying local town and parish councils for support. A spokesman from Citizen’s Advice was heard at the Devizes Town Council Committee Meeting on Tuesday 16th August, to plea for financial help.

The trade publication Third Sector states around 60% of Citizens Advice funding comes from government sources, but Citron contends there’s tension between Citizens Advice and the government, because while the charity relies on government funding to survive, it’s most effective as a high-profile critic of government policy. As if the government has any policies worthy of criticism! But cuts like these forces the bureau to seek much more funding from other sources. Locally, they’re approaching major towns and parishes for support.

As well as rising prices, Devizes Town Council explained the spokesperson was keen to point out this was “unfortunate in timing as they anticipated a rash of applications for help when the next raise in energy caps occurs, as well as coping with the other challenges of inflation.”

Councillor Ian Hopkins rightfully criticised the savagery of the cut and the timing, suggesting the town council “were not the authority to whom they should be appealing but, in suggestion a more rational approach, suggested an application in the autumn, prior to budget setting.”

Our local branch is situated in New Park Street, yet serves a wider community across villages and other local towns, so, Councillor Burton’s enquiry if funds would be spent on supporting Devizes people only could not be reassured by the spokesperson. She did however confirm they had received some responses offering various sums.

Councillor Hunter asked whether any other of their services could be redirected back to Wiltshire Council or other agencies. The representative confirmed that Age UK has been supportive but CAB remains the first port of call during which they hope to empower clients to follow up themselves, leaving it unlikely that Wiltshire Council would be impacted.

There was a surge amidst Devizes Town Council of favouring grants which would be kept for local use, but the councillor Hopkins suggested that £1,500 should be given, pending a more formal application for better funds, a proposal that was carried unanimously.

So, well done DTC, you’re officially in my good books (were you ever not, you need ask?!) No, really, I’ve applied some Lynx Africa and I’m coming in for a group hug, asap! Citizens Advise is a sustenance for so many, providing free advice and help is essential even more in this day and age, yet it’s a sad reality of a failing government when Citizen’s Advise needs its own advice on how to fund itself.


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The Big Ones; Forthcoming Summer Events in the Devizes Area

Woe is me; tis a fortnight did pass since the beloved Devizes Street Festival. I did happen to saunter through the market lodging Saturday, peered ov’r to whither the main stage once gallantly did stand, but ‘t wast just parked cars and a bank façade; insert depress’d visage emoji…..     

Because that’s it, folks, that’s your bloomin’ lot; there is nothing else happening in Devizes this summer, nought, nada….

Okay, that probably didn’t work, you’re nobody’s fool, and you probably know these already, but here’s a quick guide to the BIG events in Devizes and surrounding villages over the summer months; you know, so bods don’t whinge on social media, “I didn’t hear about this, I took my dog out for a poo and ka-blamo, without so much as a warning some kind of social event hit me square in the chops.”

Oh, and before I commence the proceedings be aware there’s always something on, some little events here and there, like free music at The Southgate every Saturday for instance, do keep in tune with our event calendar, but for this particular outing, we’re thinking BIG (ooh, matron.)

Sunday 15th May: Devizes Town Band’s Fantastic Journey at the Corn Exchange.

Their first outing of the year, Devizes Town Band plan to get all Phileas Fogg and beyond, taking the Corn Exchange on a fantastic journey from the depths of the ocean into space and everything in between, and you could onboard! Tickets are £10 here: http://devizestownband.com/


Saturday 21st May: Indecision’s Last Hoorah Tour at the Corn Exchange.

Popular covers band on the local circuit and beyond, Indecision, has indeed made a mutual decision to split up, but not without going out with a bang; they’re hosting a “Last Hoorah” gig at Devizes Corn Exchange. Proceeds go to Wiltshire Search and Rescue and the Fatboys Charity.


Monday 23rd May: Lovesong @ Wharf Theatre, Devizes

Running till May 28th, Lovesong is the story of one couple, told from two different points in their lives, as young lovers in their 20s and as worldly companions looking back on their relationship. Their past & present selves collide onstage as we witness the optimism of youth becoming the wisdom of experience | Love is a leap of faith. Freddie Underwood brought Things I Know To Be True to the Wharf stage in 2019. Movement has become Freddie’s personal stamp within her productions and Lovesong will be similar to her previous work which fuses movement & music, partnering within the work of the text.


Saturday 28th May: Hardy’s Wessex: The Landscape Which Inspired a Writer, Exhibition at Wiltshire Museum

Running until 30th October, this exhibition opens 28th May, and will explore how Hardy’s writing merged his present with the past. Within this ancient landscape, old beliefs died hard and Hardy’s plots are set against a background of superstition. Hardy felt that these past ways of life were important, helping us understand ourselves and our relationship with the environment; he also made a film outside the Bear Hotel, like a TikTok-obsessed teenager up for a rumble. Okay, that last bit isn’t strictly true!


Note: The first week of June is the Jubilee, where there’s so many village or town street parties to list here, so check your village magazines and social media sites for archetypical clipart bunting posters, and gawd bless ‘er, guvnor.


Thursday 2nd – Monday 6th June: Honey Folk Festival @ The Barge Inn, HoneyStreet

Bit of prequel to July’s HoneyFest, as you might expect from the trusty Barge, it’s a folk fest with a difference. Acts here range globally and incorporates the loose pigeonhole world music too, so much so it’s like a mini-Womad!  


Saturday 4th June: Bromham Carnival

Friday 10th – Sunday 26th June: Devizes Arts Festival

A fortnight long arts festival on your doorstep! Including Baila La Cumbia, Rockin Billy, Tankus the Henge, The Scummy Mummies Show, Asa Murphy and so, so much more; we do love Devizes Arts Festival. Do check our preview, and links to The Devizes Arts Festival for more details of separate events and tickets.


Saturday 11th June: Sustainability Fair

Arranged by Sustainable Devizes, there will be a day celebrating all things sustainable in the Market Place and Shambles; let’s get green.


Sunday 12th June: Lions on the Green

Talking of green, it’s always a fantastic free day out with the Devizes Lions, on the Devizes Green, with a car show, beer tent, and whole lot more.


Sat 18th June: Saddleback Music Festival with LottieFEST

Yes, Saddleback is erm, back! This one stealthily popped up out of nowhere, which is good if you’re a Shaolin assassin but not if you want people to come to your festival; a little bit of notice on this wouldn’t go amiss, guys, like a marketing strategy and erm, telling your friendly neighbourhood Spider-event guide!

So, you may not have heard; Devizes Sports Club in full force with a blues extravaganza. Jon Amor & King Street Turnaround, Ruzz Guitar Blues Revue, Joe Hicks, No Manz Land, Carolyn McGoldrick & Friends, Matt Peach, Public Eye and The Best of Ratcat feature, with DJs until the early hours, which is different but I guess that’s where the Saddleback incorporates LottieFEST too, a celebration of the life of Lottie Rapson, who sadly passed away aged just 27 from Friedreich’s Ataxia. Tickets are £30, with £5 donated to Ataxia UK & the Lily Foundation.


Thurs 23rd June: The World under the Wood @ Wharf Theatre, Devizes

Running until June 26th; Jodie meets a magical talking Tree, as you do, who asks for her help, as they often do. The wood seems to be dying and Tree thinks the incredible World under the Wood may hold the answer… Jodie is whisked away to a super-world where life moves super-fast. But she discovers that this world is failing too; the super-humans have been collapsing and productivity is down. Jodie and Harley the dog must now journey between worlds to find an answer. Can the mega-multiplier plants restore the wood? And what is the mysterious ‘Source’?

A magical story of courage, friendship & unity to inspire a greener generation – For everyone 6+; of which I fall into this age-group, just.


Saturday 25th Sunday 26th June: Bromham Teddy Bear Trail

Always a lovely carnival in a lovely village, that’s on the 4th June, but bon’t forget their Teddy Bear Trail from 25th – 26th June, this year’s theme will be ‘Someone Beginning With B,’ with 40+ Teddies around the village, created and generously sponsored by local businesses and individuals. See how many you can guess!


Saturday 25th June: MantonFest

A tad further out, this side of Marlborough, but always worth a big mention, cos it’s such a well-organised community-driven yet professional one day music festival; certain I did a preview about it, here, and yeah, I might be going too but don’t let that put you off; you don’t have to talk to me if you don’t want to.


Saturday 3rd July: DOCA Picnic in the Park @ Hillworth Park

Picnic in the Park is DOCA’s traditional start to the festival week. It’s a chance for the community to get together in the beautiful surroundings of Hillworth Park. There’s top quality music, stalls and a bar. You can also buy snacks, ice-creams and hot drinks from the café on the park. Bring your friends and a picnic, for the perfect Sunday afternoon.

Acts include a travelling duo of a Dubliner and a songwriter in the vein of Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen, called The “Grave” Diggers, bluegrass Americana with The Stemville Ramblers and Bristol based trio Boogaloo String Band.

Artist and performer Boogaloo Stu, too, while we’re on boogaloo, who promises to gets up-close and personal with Puppet Paramour, a one-to-one session of craft activity and psychic surgery to create your ideal partner in sock-puppet form.

And resident artist Libertine, a free-motion embroider who specialises in social commentary and out of the box thinking which is reflected in her work. She will take up residence at the Picnic and gather your musings on the last year, the year ‘we’ missed, she will commit them to fabric and thread.


Saturday 9th July: Devizes Carnival

Devizes comes alive carnival day, need I say more?


Saturday 9th July: CrownFest @ the Crown, Bishops Cannings

Queen tribute Real Magic headline this mini-festival with serious clout, not so far from carnival, in Bishops Cannings. Some awesome acts, check the poster, Including Illingworth, George Wilding, Humdinger and local legend Pete Lamb & the Heartbeats. This is such a nice setting; it has to be done.


Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th July: Market Lavington Vintage Meet Family Fun Weekend

Ah, big steam engines, proper job!


Saturday 23rd July: Devizes Beer & Cider Festival

Details of this still in the pipeline, but that’s no excuse for not putting the date in your diary for this historic wharf-side beer fest; I’ve still got my half-pint glasses from the early noughties!


Friday 29th, Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st July: Devizes Scooter Rally

The Devizes Scooter Club have worked tirelessly through lockdown postponements and beyond to recapture the magic of their first scooter rally in 2019, which went way beyond the archetypical scooter rally and border-lined festival with the supreme acts it booked; here’s hoping they achieve this again, but I can pre-empt it will just by the line-up, most of which have been tried and tested at former Devizes Scooter Club gigs, the poignant Motown covers band All That Soul, Orange Street, who were the pivotal act at the last rally, The Specialized Specials tribute, local sure-things, The Roughcut Rebels, and a wildcard; Slade tribute Sladest!


Saturday 13th July: Seend Fete 2022

Always a real community-feel to Seend’s fete, a great family out!


Thursday 25th till Sunday 28th July Honey Fest @ The Barge Inn, HoneyStreet

Again, the annual kingpin at a campsite, wharf and pub which is like a mini-festival all year around! You can guarantee this will be amazing.


Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th August: Fulltone Music Festival

OMG Super-Proms….Can they do it again? Go compare, I think they can! The funding and effort put into last year’s Full Tone Festival on the Green was truly the jewel in Devizes’ event calendar, a memorable history in the making. To help replicate the magic there’s a bigger line-up of other acts as well as the Full Tone Orchestra. Including our favourite country solo singer Kirsty Clinch, Pete Lamb’s Heartbeats again, DJ James Threfall and it’s great to see local piano virtuoso, young Will Foustone heading the bill.

Also note my pun above, as an opera section with a host of guests including local music school owner, the breath-taking Chloe Jordan and Welsh soprano Wayne Evans, better-known to gogglebox slouchers as the Go Compare man!


Saturday 3rd September: Devizes Confetti Battle and Colour Rush

If you don’t know what this most bizarre event of Devizes calendar consists of, you’re not from Devizes!

For those who aren’t, please come and see what it’s all about: This year the Confetti Battle continues to grow and the colourful chaos has been added to with the introduction of the Colour Rush, an amazing 5 km mixed terrain fun run – what better way to arrive at a Confetti Battle than covered in multi-coloured powder!

There is no ‘battle’ as such, just a very silly half-hour during which a lot of fun is had, and a lot of confetti is thrown about. Expect to get ‘attacked’ by complete strangers throwing paper!  The Battle continues to gain popularity and 2017 saw over 3500 people take part. The event takes place at the finish line of our new Colour Rush 5k run so expect to see some exceptionally colourful visitors in the crowd.

Enjoy yourself on Jennings funfair in the Market Place on both Saturday 31st of August and Sunday 1st of September operating between 5.30 pm until 11.00 pm.

Buy tokens to exchange for the confetti before the event – look out for our stand and get your tokens in advance to reduce queuing time during the event. You’ll still need to line up to collect your confetti prior to the 8pm kick-off.

Keep your eyes peeled when collecting your confetti as one lucky person will receive a Golden Ticket in a confetti bag, info about the prize will be announced soon.


Saturday 24th September 2nd October: Devizes Food & Drink Festival

More food than I can reasonably stuff into my oversized cakehole, and trousers for afterwards, and that’s really saying something more than Bananarama. Saturday 24th kicks straight off with the free market in the Market Place, and there’s a packed lunch full show of events, including designing a sandwich fit for the Queen, workshops, talks, meals, foraging, Come Dine with Us, and a Teddy Bear’s picnic; details of which are on their website.


And that’s about it, summer over, batten down the hatches for autumn; unless you know any different? Something we missed? Why didn’t you tell us about it? Too late now…..unless you twist my arm, editing on this article is strictly and unashamedly governed on favouritism!  


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Devizine Review of 2022!

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Devizes Market Place to be Pedestrianised

There was a unanimous vote at yesterday evening’s Devizes Town Council planning meeting in favour of stopping all traffic coming through the Market Place and pedestrianizing it….

With growing concerns to air quality in the town centre and pressure from local environmental campaign groups, the town council approved plans to prevent vehicles passing through the historic Market Place.

The plans presented by a contributing collaboration of environmental consultants to cut the road off at the Wadworth Brewery roundabout and the High Street at the opposite end will commence as soon as feasible and pedestrianisation of the area will shortly follow, with green spaces provided.

The benefits of pedestrianisation are manyfold: pedestrian safety, the World Health Organisation finds that pedestrianisation not only improves safety for pedestrians but also contributes to lower levels of noise and air pollution. Pedestrianisation creates a pleasant environment people can involve in social, cultural and tourism activities. Furthermore, it helps to promote walking as a transport mode by making the walking experience more enjoyable. And there are economic benefits as well as environmental. Pedestrianisation can improve the economic growth of an area due to increased consumer retail spend, increased rents able to be charged for units within a pedestrianised street and the reduction of economic losses caused through air pollution.

With two pedestrianised piazzas planned, one on each side of the Market Cross, surrounding green spaces have the potential to create lively market and events areas. It’s unlikely this will happen, claimed one Conservative Councillor who stated firmly, “this would only act as a stimulus for rowdy behaviour and festive frolics, and we would not welcome overexcitement from the public, partly because they’re unlikely to invite us.”

Along with plenty of walking and cycle paths, we’re informed there will be a single lane service road running through the centre of the Market Place to allow access to buses, taxis and delivery vehicles. There will be loading and unloading bays in the centre of the ring road, but no cars or private transport will be allowed to enter the area. There will however be two reserved parking spaces, one for our illustrious MP Danny Kruger and the other for Councillor Iain Wallis, social media god.

Plan of new Market Place layout

The council clerk Simon Fisher suggested, “being as Mr Wallis is the only councillor who really does anything it’s only right the second parking bay should be his, if you’d not called Boris Johnson a poo-poo head on his impartial Facebook group and got yourself a lifelong ban you’d know all about just how hard he works.”

Devizes Mayor Chris Gay called the decision “wonderfully different, yet something we will all adjust to in time.” When asked about the landslide vote, she replied, “yes, all councillors voted in favour of the service road, as I told them if they didn’t, they’d be buried under it.”

“Weigh, the lads!” announced councillor Jonathan Hunter, and all councillors stayed late to celebrate the decision, with a blues band arranged by councillor Hopkins, the reason he’s on the council, and a display of breakdancing choreographed by Kelvin Nash.

Guardians danced with Conservatives, and the only Labour councillor, Catherine Brown was sent out to make cups of tea. All enjoyed the evening, with the exception of Mr Wallis, who excused himself by announcing he needed a change of underwear, only later to be found updating his Facebook group with his concerns.

The work should be complete with a grand opening ceremony precisely one year from now, April Fool’s Day 2023. Seriously though, would it be a fool’s idea? No one parks there now anyway, but a patch of greengrocers’ fake grass is the best you could really expect. Let’s have the ceremony opened by Miley Cyrus, no one is reads this far anyway.


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Swings and Roundabouts; Hope for Dilapidated Playgrounds in the Devizes Area?

A lengthy but worthwhile report on the state of our playparks and those intending to do something about it….

August 3rd 2019, and I’d had enough of marching to parish council meetings, emailing Wiltshire Council and talking to brick walls, unsure if I did the latter, but it certainly felt like it. So, I published my rant about a village playpark left to dilapidation for well over three years.

Both swings had been taken down, and a dangerously sharp metal baseplate is all that remains of a broken bouncy chicken, the want of repairing these, what’s essentially half the play equipment in the community playpark, has been lost in a tangle of red tape. Wiltshire Council own the site, and in their so-called “transfer of assets,” which roughly translates to passing the buck to local busy-bodies, Rowde Parish Council asked they repair the broken equipment beforehand, and because of the delay the playpark was conveniently brushed under the carpet.

February last year I bugged Councillor Laura Mayes with it, who claimed to have secured over £20,000 funding from Wiltshire Council to re-design the playground, despite all I wanted was them to fix the existing equipment, and she ran with it as a major pledge for her election campaign.

Am I here to bring you a fairy-tale ending? Only on paper.

It sprinkled optimism, the children who originally played here have grownup and had children of their own in the time it has taken Wiltshire Council to fix a swing and replace a bouncy chicken, and they’ve STILL not done it; you hold out hope they’ll build you a whole new railway station?!

I’m told the transfer of assets is just weeks away, but after six years of waiting, ranting and election pledges as broken as the bouncy chicken, I’ll believe it when I see it.

All about priorities, isn’t it? Swings and bouncy chickens aren’t going to get Mr Kruger to Westminster any faster. Playparks hold no interest to me personally either, councillors; my children long grown out of them, but maybe there’s something wrong with me, the part that gives a hoot.

The part which recalls the joy my children once had, the joy I once had, playing in the park, that most other adults seem to have so easily forgotten; particularly those who seem to consider those little people are not of voting age. Aside, playparks provide essential wellbeing and psychical education for our youngest, they learn social interaction there, dexterity and balance.

My brother and I on a 1970s style health & safety inspected slide!!

They need prioritising, particularly if you enjoy a Facebook rant on how teenagers are terrorising your neighbourhood. Tenaciously they’re linked; literally swings and roundabouts, I’ve heard some residents in Devizes want their community parks to be closed as they attract rowdy teenagers. There’s anti-social behaviour because nothing is provided for them to do, and by cutting off activities for the youngest you believe will solve it for the next generation? Why not cut off your nose in spite your face too?!

Not all Doom and Gloom

Devizes Lions supported this new playground at All Cannings School last year

Enraged residents taken to local Facebook groups is a near everyday scenario, last one I saw was the fence and climbing equipment behind the old barracks had been removed, but as usual such threads only produce a barrage of speculation, whereas at the beginning of the month, Councillor Jonathan Hunter was encouraged by my grievance on the issue, and set up a report to investigate the state of all playparks in Devizes. These minutes are published, but as with most Council meetings, who really trudges through billions of insignificant applications for an extension to a greenhouse or a churchyard which needs its weathercock cleaning?!

So, here’s the results of Devizes Town Council findings, you need to tell me if they’re accurate, because I get confused with so many playparks which one is which. Hearsay tells me Dowse Road is in desperate need of repair, Wadworth and Spitalcroft Roads are still chained up, and one on Festival close is closed too.

We all should note with importance, again it’s this transfer of issues argument, where the Town Council have taken responsibility for a number of playgrounds and the report explains, “at the time of the transfer, many of the areas were closed due to maintenance issues and the Open Spaces team have been gradually working their way through the list of closures to reopen them where they can. The sites that have not been opened have more serious safety concerns and need a decision by this committee how to proceed.” So, should you choose to go through the proper channels rather than whine-hole on Facebook, this is the reasoning you’ll likely get, if any.

Okay here we go, just give me second to correct the councillor’s basic grammar and don’t forget to call them out to me, if they’re tugging their own tugboats!

The report flagged three playgrounds in need of major attention. Wadworth Road, they say is currently closed because during the last inspection much of the equipment was flagged as unsafe. Part of the issue with the equipment on this site is its wooden construction as there is some rot. However, to undertake core test sampling with reports is about £250 per sample and each piece of equipment will need to have several tests and there is a high probability it will fail; therefore, in officers’ opinion, given the costs to simply test for something that is likely to fail, officers suggest that there is some local consultation with residents as this is another site where young people gather and have been involved with anti-social behaviour.

Festival Close was closed when it was taken over from Wiltshire Council as it has failed safety inspection as a result of shrinking safety surface. The cost of replacement is £11,269. However, a number of residents are not in favour of the playground being reinstated and therefore the site may benefit from some local consultation.

One of three on Massey Road was closed when Devizes Town Council took on the site, with all of the wooden equipment beyond cost of effective repair. Given the proximity of this play area to the two others on the estate, officers decided to remove the equipment and return the area to a green space, which was welcomed by the residents.

The others are apparently open, some with advisories.

Alan Cobham Road:

This play area is open and is in a serviceable condition. There is some shrinkage of the play safety surface, but at this time no action is needed.

Avon Road: Recreational Field Avon Road

This play area is open and is in a serviceable condition. Some equipment has been replaced over the last few years and there are no outstanding issues.

Bellvedere Road:

This play area is open and is in a serviceable condition. There are no outstanding issues.

Brickley Lane:

This play area is open and is in a serviceable condition. Last year some of the safety surface was replaced with a loose rubber crumb. It was the first time the Council had trialled these systems and officers are not fully convinced it would work on all our sites where a safety surface is required.

In recent months the issue of dogs being exercised in the area has come to the fore as owners are not clearing up. Signs have been put up a couple of times, telling owners not to bring their dog into the recreation area and therefore tensions are running high from both sides, with dog owners who say they have used the area for years without incident and parents of children complaining they can no longer let their children use the area.

Editor note: Hi me here, just to point out, this is down to community and moral obligation, rather than council responsibility, like having a conscience and not allowing your dog to shit where children are playing; basic manners and stuff like that!  

Byron Rd:

This play area is open and is in a serviceable condition. There are no outstanding issues.

Cowslip Close Cowslip Close:

This play area is open and is currently in a serviceable condition but offers poor play value with just two pieces of equipment. The play area was closed for a while and during this period officers did not receive any complaints.

This site may benefit from local consultation on its future, with local residents. An estimated cost of a small play area is £60,000.

Dowse Road Wadworth Road:

This play area is open and is in a serviceable condition. The safety surfacing is at the end of its life and does need to be replaced this year. The cost of this is £13,675.

Dundas Close:

This barely a play area as it consists of a single metal hoop. The area provides little in the way of play value and there is a good quality Aster owned play area. There was an approach a few years ago to turn the area into a community garden, but the project was never taken forward.

Fruitfields:

This play area is open and is in a serviceable condition. There are no outstanding issues.

Hillworth Park:

This play area is open and is in a serviceable condition. There is one piece of fitness equipment that failed last year and this is due to be replaced in the summer.

Massey Road 2:

This play area is open and is currently in a serviceable condition but offers limited play value with just two pieces of equipment.

Massey Road 3:

This play area is open and is in a serviceable condition. There are no outstanding issues.

Newman Road:

This play area is open and is in a serviceable condition. There are no outstanding issues.

Osmund Road:

This play area is open and is in a serviceable condition. There are no outstanding issues.

Palmer Road:

This play area is open and is in a serviceable condition. There are no outstanding maintenance issues but over the last year the site has been a centre of young people to gather in the evening, resulting in anti-social behaviour.

Palmer Road2:

This play area is open and is in a serviceable condition. There are no outstanding issues.

Quakers Walk1:

This play area is open and is in a serviceable condition. There are no outstanding issues.

Quakers Walk2:

This play area is open and is in a serviceable condition. There are no outstanding issues.

Skate Park Green Lane:

This play area is open and is in a serviceable condition. There are no outstanding issues.

The Small Green:

This play area is open and is in a serviceable condition. In the not-too-distant future, the safety surfacing will need to be replaced as it is starting to break up, no price has yet been obtained for this work.

White Horse Way:

This play area is open and is in a serviceable condition. There are no outstanding issues.

So, there you have it, maybe you know different. The Council goes on to say, the budget for playgrounds has been doubled to £40,000, but it will only cover ongoing repair cost and improvements rather than finance of new play areas.

Encourage your kids to look after what they’ve got. It only partially falls on the council, another major part is to be played by the residents too, to respect others. If you’re dog owners have some respect for parents, if you’re teenagers hanging out in the park, I know what’s it’s like, I’ve been there too; but try to remember what it was like when you were little, how much you enjoyed the playparks. Should you now prefer the odd spliff there after dark, all’s fair in love and war; but respect the area for the little ones too, by not creating a ruckus and drawing attention to yourselves by net curtain twitchers. Everyone, in my opinion, needs to allow some give and take; kids will be kids, and we were all one originally!


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Devizes Town Council Seek Road Improvement Plans from County Hall

It’s the satirist in me which smirks at the audacity of placing a right-sided “road narrows” roadwork sign on the last bend before Potterne, up Whistley Road. In all actual fact, the road widens at this point, rather it’s potholes the size of moon craters, on both sides of the road, which cause it to be an ineffectual passing place, unless you own one of those American monster trucks, and if you do, navigating the B-road in question wouldn’t be advisable.

In fairness, for your car’s protection, gradually sinking traffic cones have been strategically placed in the singularities (that’s what physicists call the centre of a black hole, by the way; a point where extremely large amounts of matter are crushed into an infinitely small amount of space, such as your alloys and bumper.)

Secondary fairness, the dilapidation of tarmac is as never-ending as washing dishes, and extreme weather conditions are like your kids, bringing dirty crockeries to the kitchen when you thought you’d just finished. Washing up is a perpetual task, but if you don’t persevere it accumulates, to the point you’re eating breakfast from the dog bowl; see where I’m going with this, Wiltshire Council?

The problem remains, Whistley Road is not the exception to the rule, rather the standard these days in our country lanes’ decrepitude; take a journey up The Kings Road in Easterton, hardly fit for a king at all, and a wonder why on earth it needs speed bumps when natural depressions in the road bigger than the actual village itself, you’d like to think, should prevent anyone in their right mind from speeding.

One would like to imagine accelerating over fifteen miles an hour might yet be a very real possibility once you’ve boarded our main roads, only to find their condition is hardly better. Yet, at Tuesday’s Devizes Town Council Meeting, Councillor Jonathan Hunter pointed to his understanding that for the financial year 2021-22 Wiltshire Council was awarded 22,924,000 smackers from the Government’s Highway Maintenance Fund to pay for a range of highway improvements, begging the question why our local roads still make the Giant’s Causeway look like an autobahn.

Brickley Lane

Johnathan, the kind of Conservative which makes you realise not all of them would piggyback their crippled grandmothers to reach a bottle of Bollinger from a top shelf, put forward a proposal to inquire how the money has been spent. Putting to DTC, “it would be helpful to understand how this funding has supported highways improvements in the county; if any substantive project in the last twelve months have been undertaken in Devizes, and if this government funding was used to deliver them.”

“Furthermore,” he added, because councillors tend to go on a bit, “Devizes Town Council seeks visibility regarding the plan for this year’s road improvement programme within the Devizes area, and what are the local priorities.” And it would seem the Council agreed.

Cromwell Road

“With the poor state of the local road network,” Jonathan told Devizine, excited by his proposal being met, “including many sections of surface degradation and dangerous potholes, it is encouraging that this proposal was fully agreed by Town Council members.”

“For reasons of road user safety, travel inconvenience and the cost of vehicle maintenance it is important that local road users and pedestrians should be able to receive a full progress update on the current roads programme and importantly receive clear visibility about tax payer funded plans for the local road network that serves Devizes.”

“Currently, to find out anything about road repair plans, you have to don some deep-sea-diving apparel and search in the very deep and murky waters of the online kingdom, even Jacques Cousteau would find that a challenge!”

Very well, Johnathan, well done, but we do the funny bits if you don’t mind! But it would be good to know, in this era whereby you can triple the value of your car simply by filling it up with petrol, that you’re not going to forsake your tyres on the next bend, unless you’re a Kwik-Fit manager.

We look forward to the possibility of seeing the plans by Wiltshire Council; roads don’t fix themselves and no one said it was going to be easy, but you choose the bloomin’ job! For everyone on Facebook, you can join in the fun at the Devizes Pot Hole Spotter’s Club, here!


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Stormtrooper in a Teacup at Devizes Town Council

A Saturday afternoon, I’m trying to watch the new Boba Fett Star Wars series here, and what’s more important, I ask you; me being fair and impartial about a Handforth-Parish-Council-Zoom-meeting style squabble between Devizes Town Councillors, or the fate of the Tusken Raiders now the Hutt’s legacy has concluded on Tatooine?!

It’s rhetorical, full gone conclusion, yet being without endorsement I was quoted in local rag The Gazelle & Herod, I feel about as moderately involved as Salacious was in Return of the Jedi (he’s the giggling jester gremlin who lives in the folds of Jabba’s flab.)

To quote Obi-Wan, “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened!” No shit, Jedi; Devizes Town Council are trying to stop councillors posting so much as an amusing meme on social media, or least that’s the talk on social media, initiated by a town councillor!

Between North Ward Conservative Iain Wallis stating his case within the confines of his own Facebook group, Devizes Issues, I’m also chatting with East Ward Conservative Johnathan Hunter, in a kinda east coast/north side stand off. I’ve told them both what they need is a nice, Labour speaker to settle the score, but neither rose to the bait; typical Tories!

To begin I took Iain’s opinion as red, supporting his gallant efforts to project the happenings within DTC, as other councillors don’t use social media with quite the same efficiency. But Johnathan, concerned the local rag went to town with a one-sided scoop, “a half-story without the full facts and presented them in a way which couldn’t be further from the truth,” claimed, “the last thing anyone wants are restrictions in free speech or any type of so-called gagging, which would be absolutely unacceptable as well as plainly ridiculous.”

Yeah, that’s what I was going with, ridiculous. Ridiculouso, because while they’re squabbling between themselves over usage of social media, one has to ponder if they’re dealing with the issues they’re supposed to be dealing with; my nan would say “I’ll bash yer bleedin’ ‘eads together,” cos she resolved conflicts that way, that’s why there were never conflicts in the family.

Jonathan continued, he “would never oppose the use of social media. No one wants draconian restrictions or censorship; however, no single person should control the narrative. Iain provides excellent updates and info on social media, but is selective with rules and posts. I’m not a Guardian but there are some good people who want good stuff for the town. I think with social media groups there should be a more open approach and less controlling if counter views don’t suit a particular narrative.”

So, according to Johnathan, no one objected to a deadlock on social media usage, rather suggested it was controlled with equality for all councillors, and this has been blown out of proportion. “Totally blown!” he responded.

Devizes Town Council proudly announces on its website: In March 2020 the Council was re-accredited with a Quality Gold Award – which it has held since 2015 – demonstrating it delivers its services in a way which is at the forefront of best practice by achieving an excellent standard in community governance, community leadership and performance management.

Ah, that’s nice, but what of it, if the public doesn’t know what services it actually delivers? Where can you find out what’s happening at DTC?

There’s a website, with PDFs of minutes. Can I get the minutes of the meeting involving this outcry? “The 2017 policy is on the council website,” Johnathan tells me, “But as the proposals haven’t been approved, they are not in the public domain.” It’s a far slower process than despatching a Tweet, and besides, you’ve got to go find it, rather than it splash in your face via your phone.

I told Iain, “Folk don’t come (to meetings) as I suspect they believe they’ll succumb to hours of ‘article 234 on the agenda, Reg Smith wants to erect a weathercock on his shed…. type stuff. Ergo, we need a summary, which is exactly what you do, and most would be in favour of that, logically.”

“There is definitely a place for an officially DTC line and it should be on their Facebook page,” Iain replied. “DTC social media presence has improved significantly since the new community engagement manager took up her post.” Though compare Devizes Town Council’s Facebook page’s 1,073 likes, and 123 followers on Twitter, with Devizes Issues’ 14K members, understandable Mr Wallis’ posts there have tenfold the clout of DTC posting on its own page.

What they need is to take a leaf from Iain’s book, create a flourishing “group” rather than a “page” as it’s more open to discussion, and anyone can contribute. Then, and only then, can DTC say please keep social media posts about council matters on the DTC group. Jonathan agrees, “it needs to be improved.”

Hopeful if done it would put an end to the pettiness? Yeah, right. Iain gives me a ‘however’; “I think there is also the case for individual councillors to speak. We are not one council and we are not all bound to think and speak in the same way. We are bound by democratically made decisions but we don’t have to like them. We should be able to engage with the public and give our own views separately to the council’s official position.”

Totally agree with Iain on this one, though on their own platform rather than one they have created for “general purpose.” As the dispute of the impartiality of Devizes Issues is never-ending, it is up to the individual to note he controls that particular powerful Facebook page, and what is published are not agreements made by the entire council; akin to national media, who knows what to believe anymore?

Jonathan’s key concern is that, “an article has been written in the G&H and also posted by Iain, grossly exaggerating potential proposals and is therefore misinforming the public by using headlines like gagging order. The draft policy hasn’t even been debated and agreed in the relevant committee in Council.”

In a heartfelt counter-article placed on other local Facebook groups, which Johnathan says he’s “not allowed to share elsewhere,” he calls there’s “never been any intention to restrict debate, free speech or social media interaction – it’s crucial to have an ongoing conversation within the community and for the community.”

“What a sound social media policy would look like is one when no single individual controls the narrative, and/or censors free speech claiming that it doesn’t fit into the rules as it doesn’t suit a particular narrative. Many organisations are reviewing their social guidelines to also move forward with the times, especially in a world of misinformation.”

Newly elected in May last year, what we know of him is his hard-working community projects particularly during lockdown, in planning and committee responsibilities, his focus on building better provision for young people, and involvement in Greening Projects. “However,” he states, “I am not involved in any schemes to restrict free speech, censorship or that crass term ‘gagging order.’”

What we have here is a storm in a teacup, intended to belittle parts of the council by other sides. In my honest opinion, the argument is crass and misinforming, but not reflective of the good and hard work councillors are really doing behind the scenes.

Though those behind-the-scenes points need to be publicised impartially better than it is, and folk need to be made aware what they’re reading is the view of one councillor only when taking information from the Devizes Issues. We’ve covered the bias there in the past, my conclusion is, intentional or unintentional there is, despite denial from admin. It came to apex when I myself was banned for proposing it was wrong for the taxpayer to fork out the millions for the PCC re-election, and I stand by that notion as proof of censorship.

Same here I confess, if you were to suggest Supreme Chancellor Palpatine was right to manipulate the battle of Geonosis to escalate the Clone Wars, I’d have you banned, outright!

But in the Star Wars universe one councillor would saunter into The Mos Eisley cantina, and with one bout of laser gun battle would solve the problem, and that’s not usually the way it works in Devizes. “Devizes town council meetings actually sound that bit more exciting than I projected here,” I added to Iain’s musings on the episode, “do we bring our own weapons or are they provided?” It got two laughing emojis, which was all I was after, really, I don’t expect this to be solved anytime soon.

Might as well go for all three trilogies in one, and send yourself to a galaxy far far away than wait for a conclusion to this!


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by Ben Romain and Victoria Stanley Following a night in the Corn Exchange Friday, the chance arose for something completely different, something new to our…

Protect Drews Pond Wood Area

Local enviromental campaigners are calling on Devizes Town Council to designate ten areas of land around Drews Pond Wood as Local Green Spaces due to their importance for wildlife, health and wellbeing as well as historical significance.

Please sign the petition, here.

Drews Pond Wood Project has looked after the Local Nature Reserve since 1990 to keep it as a special place for wildlife and a resource for local people. They are asking for your help to get more protection for the wood and its surroundings.

The Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plan are being reviewed. These plans will decide where to put hundreds more houses in Devizes. These plans shouldn’t just be about where to put development – they also need to identify areas that are special and important for people and wildlife so that they can be protected for the future.

The National Planning Framework enables communities to identify and protect areas that are of value to them through Local and Neighbourhood Plans by designating Local Green Space. This designation ensures strong development restrictions on an area. 

Make no mistake, Drew’s Pond Wood has been earmarked for development, though the application has been rejected, this doesn’t protect the area should future applications are made.

Thanks goes to local environmentalist, Joe Brindle and his team for creating the campaign and raising awareness of this. It is supported by the Drew’s Pond Wood Project.

Please sign the petition, here.


Town Council raising £750 to support the Devizes Mayor’s Charities

We were all saddened to learn of the sudden and unexpected death of Cllr. Andy Johnson, the newly elected Town Mayor of Devizes, on the evening of 25th May, only ten days into his term of office.

Many people across the Town have already paid tribute to his kindness and generosity as both a neighbour and a worker for local charities.

One of the traditions of the Mayors of Devizes is to use their term of office to raise funds for charities which support the people of the Town. Andy had chosen three deserving charities to support, the Devizes Foodbank, Devizes Opportunity Centre, and the new St James Centre, but his untimely death occurred before he was able to turn that intention into reality.

Please join us in making a donation to this appeal, set up in Andy’s name, to raise much needed funds for his chosen charities in his memory. The Covid-19 crisis has affected all charities, but has been a particular blow for smaller, local, groups whose income has dropped substantially now that “lockdown” has prevented their normal fund raising activities from taking place. The need for their services remains as great, so many are in real crisis. Your contribution will not only allow you to honour the memory of a dedicated supporter of our local community, but will make a real difference to the lives of people within Devizes

The link is here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/mayorandyjohnson thank you!

Splashpad, I’m all over it, Pal!

Word of the week in the Vizes; Splashpad (apparently Word sees it as one word) So, who wants to splash and who wants to whinge? I ask Town Clerk, Simon Fisher the questions which need to be asked…….. 

Once upon a time there was a slash-pad on the Green in Devizes, dubbed a drug-hatch, it was a public loo popular with vandals, in a pretty shabby state and kept closed much of the time. Now it’s a haven for the youngest of our community, who on summery days can play and splash until their hearts content. What a wonderful prospect if this could be a reality, yet despite a huge response to a Gazette & Herald article last week, which only stated “Devizes COULD get a splash-pad on the green,” both speculation and hope have seen an unprecedented online reaction.

Are we just “keeping up with the Jones’,” namely, Melksham, shouldn’t we be conserving water, is it an open invitation to vandals? There’s a sure quantity of negativity surrounding the idea, and personally I’d like to ensure a budget for children’s activities is equal for all ages and not just the toddlers, in an era where we’ve seen the closure of youth centres et all. Though my hand is swayed by my own fond memories of how the two mini-mes enjoyed splashpads, obviously me too, a little!

Hats off to Melksham, their largely Lib-Dem council have made a success story from the project. Water used in a splashpad is a tiny percentage of a town’s supply, no more than a swimming pool and no one is rallying outside the Leisure Centre, are they? There are two approaches to splashpad mechanics; a flow-through system and recirculating system. A recirculating system operates like a pool with chemicals, filters and pumps. Water is sent to the pad from a tank roughly four to five times the system’s flow rate; in short, it’s recycled, people.

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Splashpad in the Sham

As to vandalism, I have to cough. While it’s possible, and certain lengths will have to be introduced to ensure it isn’t, what we have now, a toilet block is a far cry from pristine. Litter, yes, litter happens there anyway, splashpad or slash-pad; surely, it’s a matter of trust and education, added on top the concept if you give the young something to do, rather than lounging on vacant grass bored, perhaps they’d repay it with gratitude and consideration. A long shot you may cry, but it’s a presumptuous cry, isn’t it?

Are we getting ahead of ourselves here though? I thought I’d play Devil’s advocate and fire some questions, Town Clerk Simon Fisher dared to answer them! “The project is still at a relatively infant stage,” he begins. “At the end of last summer, the Town Council was approached by a number of parents who asked if Devizes could have its own Splash Pad and therefore the Council needed to determine if there was a general demand for such a facility and also if a suitable site could be found. That initial phase of the project was completed just before Christmas, with a report to Council identifying a potential site, cost implications and evidence that a Splash Pad facility would be well used.”

“As you would expect, whenever we evaluate the need for a facility there will always be those who have no need for it and therefore resist its delivery,” Simon continued, obviously unable to name them fuddy-duddies who wouldn’t know fun if it came up and slapped them around the chops with an inflatable banana, but hey, I will! “But that is very much in the realm of public service provision, therefore whilst we must not ignore non-users, what is important is that we ensure that if money is spent on facilities they will be well used.”

I agree, we must not ignore them, we must splash them!!

“One of the comments you have raised, about the time of year it will be used and the assumption that it will only be used during the summer is a fair one,” said Mr Fisher. Oh, yeah, I did ask that; hardly Hawaii, is it? “However, this facility is not unique in this, with most of the outdoor facilities we provide seeing a massive drop off in use during the winter.”

See me screwing up my face, which is never a good thing, my Nan used to say I’d get stuck like it, but our other outdoor facilities aren’t a massive new cost; they’re football goals and swings. Sorry, that’s unfair; Hillworth park’s renovation is wonderful. Let’s look at that shall we? Summer days I go there, I see kids of all ages, really active, enjoying every minute, and I never see them dropping litter; coincidence? But money, innit, that’s what it comes down to.

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Artist’s Impression of how Devizes Splashpad will look

“There is clearly a cost implication attached to providing any capital project and we still have to determine how a Splash Pad will be funded,” Simon explained. “There are two elements to this, one is the capital cost, for which we will seek developer contributions and grants but this will need some Town Council seed funding. The other is revenue funding, ensuring any facility is well maintained and this will come from the Council; however, this funding may also support the upgrading of services more generally in the area and the Splash Pad will do this for the Green. Many of the services we provide are free at the point of delivery and a Splash Pad is likely to be such a service.”

My note on spreading the budget equally on all ages of youngster, Simon seems positive such a project would impact on the area as a whole. “The Splash Pad project may well see the provision of a café facility on the Green, which will enhance the area as a place to “hang out”. Many teenagers already do this; therefore, this will enable us to manage the space and keep it clean, which is a current criticism.” Yep, jobs too; a parkie, like Ranger John Smith; he chased bears smarter than the average, away from pic-a-nic baskets, though; we’d need Dwayne Johnson on the nightwatch!

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Keep off the grass!

He also expressed the projects already in place for older kids. “Whilst youth services remain principally the responsibility of the Unitary Authority, Wiltshire Council, whose budget for this purpose has been progressively cut in the last few years, Devizes Town Council does seek to provide facilities for all ages.” A major downer, as in another story, I’ve been waiting two years for a response from Wiltshire Council about when they’re due to repair a bouncy chicken and swing in a Rowde playpark; so I wouldn’t blow up your arm bands just yet.

“A few years ago,” Simon explained, “we built a large skate park for older children at our Green Lane site at a cost of over £150k and we are in the middle of a £1.7m investment for new football facilities, again aimed at older children and adults.” I have to take off my hat here, with or without Wi-Fi, satisfying most teenagers is near impossible, for the record I was a right stroppy one, though I’d imagine you’d find that hard to believe.

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You kids have got lots of splashpads already, be happy!

One thing is easy though, satisfying younger kids. Babies will play with a box, a set of car keys, toddlers happily play in a muddy puddle, why get a splashpad, just section off our road’s potholes?! Honestly, I’m certain that’s the pompous attitude of many of us. Toddlers though, soon learn how to whinge and whine to get what they want, or don’t want. Where do they pick this stuff up from? I’ll remind you, shall I? They get it from us, so quit your selfish whinging, just because you’ve outgrown your water-wings and spare a thought for the kids. Splashpad, I’m all over it, pal!


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Wiltshire Council Welcome Proposed Road Signs

Since a Wiltshire Council highway engineer advised Devizes Town Council that a sign at the High Street junction with Long Street is not big enough or in the right position last week, the highway engineer has been around our area suggesting other improvements which must be enforced for safety purposes.

 
Devizes Town Councillors were warned people might not spot the present ‘No Entry’ sign, and that it needs to be 600 CMs wide, wider than the road itself. “Maybe even larger, the bigger the better,” said a Wiltshire Council spokesperson, the one who really has the mentality to grasp simple English. “If it means we have to knock down a few historic buildings to make room, then we will.”

 
“We’d really favour,” the spokesman continued, “that the sign is lit with flashing neon letter-lights and overhead floodlights, twenty-four hours a day. Perhaps, it could also repetitively play a Bonnie Tyler song, or even the soundtrack to Rocky 4, to raise awareness of it too.”

 
“Devizes Town Council is clearly not accounting for the prerogative of speeding businessmen in BMWs belting through Devizes without a finger of fudge to road safety. They may have important calls to make on their phones, be preoccupied trying to locate a Starbucks, or generally too busy eyeing up totty to notice the clearly one-way street has standard no entry signs.”

 
The Wiltshire Council spokesperson, who cannot be named because their nametag fell out of their work jumper, because their mum didn’t iron it on well enough, stated, “those who think there’s no accounting for stupidity are wrong. One blast of ‘Eye of the Tiger’ or ‘Holding out for a Hero’ will alert the most insensitive arsehole; it’s certainly one of my favourite songs.”

 
With this apparent compete lack of competence of town councils to identify these issues, the Wiltshire Council highway engineer has proposed a new selection of signs be erected in obvious danger areas, using visual aids rather than a report, as he can only write in emoji.

 
Devizine has received these exclusive graphic representations for residents to swoon over in delight. I asked the Wiltshire Council spokesperson if he thought they were slightly aesthetically intrusive. “No,” he replied, “I think athletes will love them too.”

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Thank CUDS For That!

For the many years I spent living in flats and shared houses with no garden, I longed for one, especially on a summer’s evening such as this. Now I do, I frustratedly scratch my chin and scrutinise the darn thing; it’s like Day of Triffids strikes back, again.

 
As we’ve children I need not create something all Gardeners World, for far from being Charlie Dimmock, aligned beds of chrysanthemums, pruned rose bushes, a summer house or Chinese water garden is a level or twenty too far for me, and would be crushed and smashed with incoming footballs and frisbees anyhow.

 
So simplicity is the key; a lawn, some bushes, a tree and a patio of slabs; job done. But while I start gardening with good intentions, and the first ten minutes enthusiastically plough through the task with the vigour of Conan the Barbarian on a promise, I end up more like Colin the Librarian, and before the task is half complete I’m a chiropractor’s dream come true, with fingers like Marvel Comic’s The Thing.

 

 

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I don’t how some do it, really, I feel a hundred and five after a tiny stint at gardening, yet my patch insignificant compared to what those CUDs volunteers are scrubbing, pruning and tidying, all across Devizes. You’ve got to hand it to them.

 
So, okay CUDS, thanks and all that, but if you’re reading this, I ask you to stop right here and read no more; I’m talking about you, not to you, okay?! Everyone else please bear with, bear with….. Schhh, keep it under your hat.

 
On the Devizes Issue another person posts, how those CUDS have saved the day again, how brilliant and tidy the town now looks, what a bunch of gardening superheroes, example: isn’t Zena a known princess warrior, or is that Xena? All I know is Zena Robson is the uncertified chief CUD, who after an exhausting day cleaning up this town, finds it satisfying to blog their progress online and press for contributors to the Devizes in Bloom contest.

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Does she know no bounds, does she ever slump on the sofa and go, “bugger this for the price of fish, I’m sitting here with a giant bag of cheesy puffs and can of lager balanced on my belly, watching the footie till I drop?” I’m not sure it’s even occurred to her.

 
Last post I’ve seen was about the roundabout on Brickley Lane/Jump Farm, “full of deep purple tulips, and then the last couple of weeks an amazing show of Aliums.” Prior to this it was weeding the wall along the barracks on London Road, most of us contemplate getting the bus rather than walk that length, and there are these awesome, super-duper people, out there weeding the lot of it. It makes me tired just typing about it for crying out loud.

 
Now, though I’ve written about them before, back in the early days of No Surprises on Index: Wiltshire, this is where this article differs from my usual waffle, it’s interactive! I reckon we simply MUST show these guys and girls our appreciation, people of Devizes, surely? Can we club together and get them a gift, something to say thank you from the entire town? Who’s with me?

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I don’t mean a commemorative plaque, although some may think it’s a plan and I’m open to suggestions, I was thinking they’d rather something more personal, some flowers if they haven’t had enough of flowers at the end of a day, box of chocolates each maybe, vouchers for a meal at Times Square, something simple like that, just a token to show our appreciation.

 
Now I’ve not notified Zena or any other of the CUDs about this post, although we have the blessing of Simon Fisher at the Devizes Town Council, that this suggestion is “a wonderful idea,” and while I’d like to make it a surprise to as many of the CUDS as possible, I have to share this article and get it out there. So although some are bound to see it, not taken heed of the warning, but c’est la vie – let’s pretend they haven’t!

 
So, I’ve opened one of these Just Giving thingy-me-jigs, just to ask for some donations, and feel free to suggest a gift idea, I’m all ears. Click here to give it some dosh, not a lot, just a coin or two, whatever you can spare. Yeah? Please help, it’s no good me just giving them all a big cuddle, despite my cuddles internationally recognised as the best cuddles in the world; they don’t want that, really, so put your hand in your pocket! Thank you!

 

 

Oh, oh, oh, yeah, nearly forgot – Don’t forget to share this article, thank you!

 

Click here to Just Give page and donate!

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