Wiltshire Publications

Westbury ‘completely let down’ over leisure plans

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018 at 11:54 am.

WESTBURY’S Mayor has criticised Wiltshire Council’s decision to not proceed with  building 19 campuses across the county, leaving Westbury without any new or improved leisure and community facilities.

At the Wiltshire Council cabinet meeting in December, it was decided that campuses in Melksham, Cricklade and Calne will be the last to be built as part of the campus programme launched in 2012. The decision means that out of the 19 campuses initially planned, which included Westbury, only seven will have come to fruition.

The programme will continue instead, focussing on ‘community hubs’ accompanied by robust business cases, similar to those already delivered in Calne, Devizes and Malmesbury.

However, with the news – revealed by White Horse News in October – that there is “no money in the capital budget” to fund a new hub for Westbury, the Mayor, cllr Gordon King, has expressed his concern that the town is being ignored, despite it being identified by Wiltshire Council as a community with the most need for new facilities.

Cllr King commented, “Despite Westbury being the area with the largest consultation returns on the Campus programme, the town has been completely ignored by Wiltshire Council and feels completely let down by the entire process.

“Westbury records one of the most deprived areas in Wiltshire, it is the community with most need according to the council’s own joint strategic needs assessment. But despite this, it has not seen a penny of funding from the Wiltshire Council’s flagship Campus programme, though it is a town in desperate need of improved leisure provisions.

“In a Wiltshire where “everyone matters” it seems that some communities matter more than others. I recognise and welcome the investment in the seven current locations lucky enough to have already received investment to fulfil the campus programme. The balance of this funding across the county does not seem entirely fair or appropriate, to have promised the original campus boards in 19 locations across the county without having already secured the funding to deliver on their promises.

“The monetary situation of the council may have altered significantly in the years since the intention to roll out the Campus programme, but the original intention was for the funding to come out of realising assets rather than out of the revenue budget which has been cut by central government.

“Questions need to be asked about where money that had been allocated to the Campus programme and the improvement of leisure provision across Wiltshire has instead been spent on.

“With the decision of the cabinet, the implementation of the original promise of 19 campuses is now impossible.  This is undeniably unfair on those towns across Wiltshire who have not benefited from the millions of pounds that have been spent on improving facilities in other areas.

“It is now vital that the Conservative leadership makes clear what it will do for the communities who have so far been badly let down.”

A Wiltshire Council spokesperson said, “We are currently developing an overall programme for community hubs. As part of this work we will look at the best place to locate a Westbury Hub; in making this decision we will look at the needs of the community and financial sustainability.”

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