Devizes Guardians

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July 27th, 2013

Elections for the Wiltshire Unitary Council and local town and parish councils were held on THURSDAY 2nd MAY  this year, followed by a by-election on 18th July.

The local seats affected are:-

Devizes Town has three wards (East, North and South). There are six town councilors for each of the E & N Wards and five for the S Ward. There were Guardians candidates in each of the Wards and all were elected.
The Guardians have a total of ten Town Councillors out of seventeen.  Of the other seven, one is an independent and six are Conservatives. One of the Conservatives who had been elected on 2nd May resigned without stating a reason shortly afterwards and there was a by-election on 18th July at which Guardian Andy Geddes was elected.

No Labour or Liberal Democrat Councillors were elected.

There is one Wiltshire Councillor for each Devizes Ward . The Wiltshire Council Division for the South of Devizes is called Devizes and Roundway South because it is slightly larger than the South Ward for the Town Council and a small part of the southern end of Roundway has been included in it. These three divisions had previously been held by Guardians councilors, but the Conservatives won all three after a well funded, intensive and sustained advertising campaign bringing in canvasing resources from other towns.

Roundway division has one Wiltshire Unitary Councillor. It was contested by the Guardians but the Conservative candidate held onto this seat.

The Parish of Roundway had vacancies for 13 councilors. It did not  hold elections because there were fewer candidates than vacant seats.

Guardians councillors are:

Devizes Town Council East Ward – Jane Burton, Andy Geddes, Roger Giraud-Saunders, Albert Wooldridge.

Devizes Town Council North Ward – Sarah Bridewell, Nigel Carter, Peter Smith.

Devizes Town Council South Ward – Edward East, Jeffrey Ody, Judy Rose

Roundway Parish Council – Andy Geddes, Steve Valentine and Albert Wooldridge.


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May 13th, 2013

The following statement was issued to the Gazette and Herald on Monday 13th May 2013:

The recent resignation of the Mayor-designate, Councillor Jim Gudgeon is a matter of regret.

The current mayor, immediate past mayor and mayor designate sit on the Town Council’s  Committees, with the Mayor  acting as Chairman and having the casting vote. This would mean that, despite the Devizes Guardians having a natural majority on Town Council, the Mayor’s casting vote (Councillor Gudgeon is a Conservative) could prevent them from exercising that majority.

Councillor Gudgeon was asked whether he realised the importance of his role in the elections of committee chairmen and vice chairmen and whether the Devizes Guardians could anticipate his support for their nominations. Councillor Gudgeon made no response. He then submitted a written resignation without stating any reason for that resignation and, apparently, without any consultation with his party colleagues.


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Two separate items caught my eye in last week’s Gazette and Herald, as they neatly illustrate the failure of our planning process to protect Devizes against unbalanced development. On your letters page, L Edwards highlighted the contrast between the additional houses allocated to the Town over the coming plan period and the inadequacy of our traffic capacity, and on page 7 a report on Gaigers’ obligation to contribute £17,826 towards unconnected play areas, as a condition of their permission to refurbish the old military Keep on London Road as modern apartments.

These illustrate what is going wrong with our development control system. We desperately need investment in our infrastructure, particularly in road capacity, to accommodate the additional housing.  We already possess a developer contributions process, to enable house builders to help with these investments, but these contributions need to be committed to a long term infrastructure programme.

The trouble is, there is an absence of joined up thinking between the two. The result?  Development control is scratching around negotiating token levies for marginal play areas, when there are much more necessary and expensive infrastructure pressures shouting for attention. Somehow, there needs to be systematic cooperation between the three key Wiltshire Council teams:

  • Forward Planning in charge of housing allocations;
  • Development Control dealing with current housing applications;
  • and Highways Department for road capacity planning for future growth.

At the moment, this does not happen effectively. We need a Devizes road improvement fund where developer contributions can be accumulated for serious investments. The Devizes Guardians are pressing for this, but until it comes, we shall be placated by small cosmetic schemes and unable to afford major transport investments.

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