Parish Council

 Biddestone & Slaughterford Parish Council

The Parish Council has its own website with all the most recent minutes and records.

Latest Parish Council News:

Have your Say –

The Annual Parish Meeting will be held on Tuesday 14th April at 7pm in the Village Hall followed by the regular PC meeting. This is not a meeting of the Parish Council or the AGM. The purpose of the Annual Parish Meeting is so that the PC can explain what it has been doing over the last year it is an opportunity for the electors ( anyone on the local electoral roll ) to have their say on anything they consider important to the people of the parish.

Proposed Redevelopment of The Biddestone Arms

We would like to invite local residents to a drop-in consultation event, where you will have the chance to speak to the project team, find out more about our draft plans and give us your feedback. We have booked the Village Hall on Monday 16th March between 4pm – 7pm

Biddestone Village Hall, Yatton Rd, Biddestone SN14 7BZ

Biddestone and Slaughterford Parish Council: Update Parish Precept and Traffic Calming

Parish Precept

The Parish Council aims to operate a balanced budget for regular services, where the income from the Council Tax precept equals our regular spending commitments. We need to take into account that central government funding to Wiltshire Council is falling, so Wiltshire expect parishes to pick up the provision of services where they are not part of a statutory obligation. We saw this last year when Wiltshire ceased to maintain the green areas at Little Challows, so the Parish Council agreed to take this on. This situation is likely to get worse as the County finds itself ever shorter of cash, as it can’t raise Council Tax above the rate of inflation, but the cost of its obligations to provide care to the vulnerable and elderly are rapidly increasing, squeezing the provision of all other services. One of the services supplied by Wiltshire where they do not have a statutory obligation is the Parish Steward scheme, so we anticipate that over the next few years, the cost of the work undertaken by the Parish Steward will ultimately fall to the Parish Council.

In recent years, largely due to income from filming, we have increased our reserves so that we are able to consider capital projects to benefit the community. The 2018 Parish Survey identified a number of priorities, and gave the Parish Council a clear mandate to act on these priorities. Some actions have already been taken, such as the re-opening of the lavatories and conserving The Butts as a natural meadow. We will continue to look at using reserves for capital projects, but in the meantime the precept may need to increase in future years to cover increased spending commitments as work is passed to us from Wiltshire Council.

Traffic Calming in Biddestone

The resounding concern from the Parish Survey, particularly in Biddestone, was speeding traffic. As a result, most of the available reserves have been allocated to traffic calming projects and the Parish Council, in consultation with the Wiltshire Council Highways engineer, have now finalised a plan to put in place a series of further traffic calming measures.

As part of this work, we needed to understand the actual speed of traffic through Biddestone. You may have noticed the parallel rubber tubes running across the road at four points around Biddestone in September. These devices measure the number of vehicles passing and their speed. There were strict guidelines as to where they could be located, for instance, they had to be at least 100 metres inside the 20 mph limit, not on bends and near a telegraph pole or road sign so that the equipment could be secured. In most cases this means that the results were lower than they would have been if the devices were located closer to the village entry points. The results of the survey are shown below.

Location Number of vehicles passing in a week Average speed of all vehicles Percentage of vehicles exceeding the 20 mph limit Average speed of the cars speeding *85th Percentile speed

*The 85th percentile speed is the speed that is exceeded by 15% of the vehicles passing.

The plan we have developed with Wiltshire Council has a series of elements intended to work together to reduce traffic speeds. The likely order that you will see changes is as follows:

1. Speed Indicators

The first is the purchase of a Speed Indicator Device (SID): a solar powered flashing speed indicator. There are rules governing where these can be located, and research indicates that they become less effective if they are left in the same place for more than 2 weeks. To allow the SID to be moved around, not only to maintain its effectiveness but so that different areas of Biddestone benefit, we have arranged for 4 ground sockets to be installed protecting the four main village entrances and we plan to move the SID around on a 2 weekly random cycle. The SID has now been ordered and we are now waiting for the installation of the ground sockets and the SID should then be operational.

2. Village Gateways

After much consultation with Highways, we have now settled on a scheme for the four main entry points into Biddestone. The intention is to make it very plain to drivers that they are entering a settlement when they enter the village at the 20 mph points. To do this we plan to install enhanced signage combining the 20 mph sign with a village nameplate on a wooden gate structure. As we don’t have verges that are wide enough to allow for signs on both sides of the road we have developed a scheme that takes this into account. Combined with the new signage will be raised coloured textured road strips (similar to those installed in Forest Lane that runs between Bowden Hill and Melksham). The implementation of the gateway schemes will be phased, with the signs being installed as soon as possible, and the textured surfaces being installed when Highways design time becomes available. We have decided not to ask for a grant from Wiltshire Council to help fund the gateways as we feel we are unlikely to get any funding and applying for it would just cause further delay.

3. Redesign of the intersection between Church Road, The Green and Cuttle Lane.

We have been working on this scheme for over a year and it has now been finalised. Wiltshire Council has agreed to pay 50% of the cost. We are hoping that it will proceed next spring but it includes some textured surfacing as being used in the gateway schemes, so to achieve economies of scale, this element will be delayed and completed at the same time as the textured surfaces are installed at the gateways.

In developing the above, many other options were considered and rejected for various reasons ranging from cost to the requirement for street lighting which was almost universally opposed in the survey. We are confident that the combination of the above elements, which has involved a lot of input from Martin Rose of Wiltshire Highways, will improve safety to residents and reduce the speed of traffic passing through Biddestone. As always the Parish Council welcome any comments on these plans.

Simon Bruce, Chair, Biddestone and Slaughterford Parish Council