Wiltshire Publications

Issue 506 – Your ideas for Westbury’s future

ENCOURAGING healthy lifestyles, fighting an out-of-town ‘campus’, addressing car parking charges, and creating an Area of Natural Beauty are just some of the ideas people have suggested to improve Westbury and surrounding villages.

Hosted by the Westbury Area Board and the BA13+ Community Area Partnership, the ‘Westbury Forward’ event was held on Wednesday 18th January to address the findings of the Joint Strategic Assessment (JSA) for the area. The event gave people the opportunity to discuss and debate the recently-released figures and suggest their ideas on how to move the area forward.
The JSA compared the Westbury area (which includes Westbury, Bratton, Edington, Heywood, and Dilton Marsh) to the other 20 community areas in the county. Around 100 people from across the community attended the event, including those from schools, churches, local businesses, and clubs and organisations. It is hoped that discussions from the evening will help shape a plan of what the community needs.
With subject areas ranging from health to community safety, the discussions will help update the community plan, identifying ways of improving the quality of life in the area.
Julie Swabey, chair of the Westbury Area Board said, “I think it was a great event, it was wonderful to see so many people there. It was particularly good to see some of the younger people in our community and hear what they have concerns on.
“The information is now being fed back into the council documents so we can get an idea of what people’s priorities are. We have a good look through and see what came up where and if there are things we can addresss, we’ll go forward on them. Some you can’t do too much on, but some we’re already looking at – like the cleaning of the White Horse, and we’ve already brought up cycle routes at the transport group.”

Economy and employment

The report stated that the manufacturing sector is the largest source of employment in the area and the second largest is transport and storage. The figures show that the Westbury community area has a relatively high claimant count rate (the percentage of the working age popular claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, with 2.6% claiming the allowance, compared to 2.1% across the county.
People identified the trading estates as the strongest areas of business in the town, and suggested that the infrastructure of Westbury needs to be improved to ensure good transport links to the estates to make the most of business opportunities there. They also wanted to see it become easier for potential businesses to move to the town, making vacant sites viable and attractive to businesses.
It was also noted that employers and schools need to work to raise the skills of young people through schemes such as apprenticeships, while creating jobs for lower skill levels as well as attracting higher skilled workers to the area.

Children and
young people

In the JSA, it was reported that education results at key stage 2 in English and maths are above the Wiltshire average. However, the figures for pupils achieving 5A*-C GCSE including English and maths are significantly below the Wiltshire and national averages. Westbury Community Area performs worst in all the community areas in terms of GCSE results. In addition, the number of 16-18 year olds not in education, employment, or training remained high between 2010 and 2011.
At the meeting, the general reaction to the figures was described as “shock”. While many attendees were concerned at the disparity between the figures for primary and secondary performance, it was pointed out that the figures for GCSE results have improved since this year’s secondary school performance tables were compiled. It was suggested that links between the community and the schools should be improved, while a positive ‘can do’ attitude in young people needs to be encouraged. On a positive note, people were pleased with how local primary schools are performing.

Health and wellbeing

Deaths per year from cardiovascular disease and cancers in the area are both above the Wiltshire average. Alcohol-related admissions to hospital for people in the Westbury Community Area are slightly below the Wiltshire average. Obesity in children measured in reception year (1 in 10) is above the Wiltshire average. The number of falls among those over 65 years is well below the Wiltshire average.
The area has a higher level of smoking than the Wiltshire average and the third highest rate of admissions to hospital for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (damage to the lungs). Westbury Community Area has the highest uptake rate for chlamydia screening of all the community areas. In 2010, the Westbury community area had the third highest rate of teenage pregnancies across all Wiltshire Communities, with 1 in 25 girls aged between 15 and 17 becoming pregnant.
The main priority brought forward at the meeting was to help people live healthy lifestyles. One idea was to bring more allotments to the town, as well as health checks. People also suggested schools needed to do more work to address teenage pregnancies.

Community safety

Anti-social behaviour, criminal damage and deliberate fires are high, with the Westbury Community Area ranked 4th highest in the community areas. The area also ranked 6th highest for rates of violent crime, 3rd highest for domestic violence and 6th highest within Wiltshire for drug offences per 1,000 of the population.
In discussion, anti-social behaviour was identified as the biggest concern, with people from all generations saying they suffered from intimidation. Grassacres park sees particular problems, and it was asked if CCTV could help. More information on how to get advice for dealing with domestic violence was also requested. People were requested to report incidents of rural crime, to ensure incidents are logged. People felt they wanted to see more responsibility from people for their own actions, as well as more pride in the town.


Council data for 2010/11 indicates that the overall condition of roads in the Westbury area is around the average in Wiltshire. However, traffic congestion, particularly along the A350, is identified as an issue and the report says that a different solution to the Westbury bypass needs to be found. With regards to air quality, while concentrations of certain particulates have fallen, possibly as a result of the downturn in freight traffic, they are still above the air quality objective.
Car parking charges was by far the biggest issue raised by people. Other issues mentioned were lorries on the A350, transport to the new surgery in Leigh Park, and co-ordinating different travel groups to improve services for the town.


Westbury Community Area has one of the lowest levels of social rented accommodation in Wiltshire. Demand for affordable housing is moderately high. In 2010/11 42 new affordable homes were delivered in the Westbury area. The Westbury Community Area has one of the lowest rates of overcrowding in Wiltshire. The percentage of homes that fail to meet the decent homes standard is below the average, while those in fuel poverty are also low.
People wanted to see more affordable homes, but with consideration to the town’s infrastructure. One idea was to see what can be done to help older people downgrade to smaller houses or sheltered accommodation to free up houses for larger families. It was identified that addressing housing is important for setting up resilient communities.


Westbury Community Area has five Sites of Special Scientific Interest and 19 wildlife site. Recycling and composting rates are generally much higher than in north and south Wiltshire due to the introduction of fortnightly residual waste collection systems some years ago. The water quality of rivers and streams in the Westbury community area is rated as the worst in Wiltshire, with no area being rated as good and some 43.6% of water courses rated as bad, the lowest grade possible.
There was strong support for creating an Area of Natural Beauty for the Wellhead Valley. People wanted residents to take more pride and responsibility in the area, including the cleaning of the White Horse and tackling dog mess. Heavy traffic in the town and the poor water quality were identified as issues of concern.

Arts, Culture, and Leisure

People identified that Westbury has good facilties for individuals, but needs more to accommodate team sports and larger organisations. The swimming pool was deemed to be a vital part of the town: for its town centre location, its historic background, and its part in helping residents keep healthy.
The idea of a campus of facilities was considered and people were emphatic that it should have a town centre location to help with access and transport and the economy of the town centre.
It was recognised that there are good opportunities for the arts in the town, particularly with Matravers’ courses for adults and children, but people wanted to see more opportunities, and particularly those that would equip attendees with skills. It was agreed that the arts in the town needed to be built on, to keep a regular influx of attendees. It was also thought that the town’s aesthetic view needed improving.