Council of the Week: Chippenham Town Council
Chippenham is the largest market town in Wiltshire and forecasted to continue to grow over the coming years. Its great location and excellent transport links makes it a popular area to live. A recent £21m redevelopment of the Wiltshire College campus, £705k refurbishment to create a new Neeld community and arts centre, rail electrification, first year of Chippenham Business Improvement District (BID). The town is committed to building on this potential.
There is a growing demand on services and increased public expectation at a time of budget pressures. Litter is a major issue for residents. The council spends £45k a year on street cleaning. The council is turning the tables with its #chipplitterpick campaign, encouraging residents to do their bit, the first-step in a bid to change the culture of the town.
Community engagement is a priority in Chippenham. The council is doing things differently by taking the council to the community. The council’s branded gazebo road show rolled out first in summer 2015. It goes out into the eight wards giving people the chance to meet their councillors and raise issues directly to them. The council have taken a highly visible approach to engagement and consultation making the road show available to visit a wide range of town events and activities. The council is an active part of town life and is breaking down barriers. The community doesn’t need to come to the council, the council comes to the community.
The council believes more can be achieved for the town and community by working together, partnership is at the core. For example, the council secured Purple Flag as a partnership scheme, working closely with the military partners 9 Logistics Regiment on Commonwealth Day and other community events, Chippenham BID on town centre initiatives and Wiltshire Council on strategic projects. The council has an annual family fun day, which brings together their partners and the community. The council has taken a partnership approach on a growing number of projects including Purple Flag, neighbourhood planning, flood prevention, litter campaigns, community activities.
The council take a highly pro-active approach to their communications. Having established strong communications channels enables the council not just to be where the community conversations are happening but also to lead and initiate them. The council has a new corporate website, a dedicated booking website for the community and arts centre, active social media channels. The council publishes a regular residents' newsletter to 20,000 households. The council encourages feedback through their channels and ensures it is easy to contact them and that they respond swiftly to queries and issues. The council are about to install digital information screens in all their venues. The council monitors and evaluates its communications, so they can assess what is important to the community.
Chippenham has been recognised as a Purple Flag town for the vibrancy and safety of its night time economy. The town was awarded the prestigious national award in 2016 and is one of the first market towns to secure the award. It is now leading the way in Wiltshire with a special Purple Flag B2B conference demonstrating the benefits to businesses and how other towns can work towards gaining the award.