Wiltshire Publications

Wiltshire councillor hits back: Westbury ‘not short changed’ over campus project

A Wiltshirecouncillor has hit back against claims that Westbury was short-changed by Wiltshire’s campus project, and argued the plans were never set in stone.

White Horse News revealed last month that proposals for a campus in Westbury had been shelved, and a public consultation and hours of volunteer work laid to waste.

But Westbury Area Board member and Wiltshire councillor for Ethandune, Jerry Wickham, has refuted claims that a campus for Westbury has been scrapped or that Westbury has missed out.

Cllr Wickham – Wiltshire Council’s portfolio holder for waste said, “I was surprised to see the headlines in your last edition, in which it was reported that plans for the campus had been scrapped.   This is not true.

“The community chose an option of a three site campus two years ago and Wiltshire Council has never committed to anything else in Westbury.

‘£80m allocated’

“Across Wiltshire a number of locations were identified, feasibility and business plans developed and approved, and £80m allocated for the projects. Westbury was never in this phase and therefore to be reporting Westbury as missing out on this is factually inaccurate.”

Cllr Wickham said he disagreed with comments made by cllr David Jenkins that Westbury had ‘missed out’.

“I can’t however agree… that Westbury has missed out,” added cllr Wickham. “Equally, I do not agree with his assertion that funds elsewhere had been spent without accountability and if he has evidence of this he should make this available.

“In the present economic situation, funding for many schemes including a major Westbury campus is not available. We do, however, need to reflect on the fact that our iconic swimming pool has had refurbishments of nearly £0.7million by Wiltshire Council in the past three years.

“Equally, it has been announ-ced that funding will be made available to greatly improve the town’s library and enable far greater use of the entire building as well as improvements to our leisure centre.”

‘Let down’

Although Wiltshire Council admitted at the time that funding would be an issue, proposals put forward in 2014 included upgrading the swimming pool, library and Leighton Recreation Centre, which could have included a sports hall, fitness equipment, all-weather facilities and a base for youth activities.

Instead, Wiltshire Council has now said it will look at funding to redevelop the library into a community hub.

Town and county councillor for Westbury, David Jenkins, was chair of the campus working group. Cllr Jenkins says he feels  let down because the money ran out before Westbury got a look in.

“I understand that Westbury was towards the bottom of the list, but when the project started there was a chance that we would get something like the proposals we came up with,” he said. “Since then, the costs of getting other campuses up and running has escalated to such an extent that the budget is all but exhausted before Westbury has got anything.

“It’s great that the town will get funding for a hub at the library, and it’s only fair to the community that they get something. There has been a lot spent on other towns such as Melksham, and Westbury could have done a lot of good with an amount that would have been a drop in the ocean in comparison.”

Of Wiltshire Council’s £80million budget for campuses across the entire county, approximately £23million has been earmarked for Melksham; £11million was spent in Corsham, with multi-million pound projects also planned for Salisbury, Calne, Tisbury, Cricklade and Pewsey.

Some Westbury residents felt Westbury is not getting a fair share of resources.


Anne Dunderdale said, “I was dismayed to read in your last issue that Wiltshire Council are denying us of a campus. Once again, Westbury misses out, what is this vendetta they seem to have against us? … It transpired that Westbury did not want an all-singing and dancing  mega structure on the outskirts of town, but rather a more moderate plan of upgrading what we already had…So our money has been spent elsewhere. Absolutely typical!”

Resident Kate O’Brien said she is concerned about the abundance of house-building in the town, without comparative new facilities. She wrote, “Westbury appears sadly neglected, with no planning strategy other than to build houses on every available plot of land.  As has been said ad nauseam, these rampant building sprees are not accompanied by the infrastructure to support the increase in housing stock.  Westbury is choked with traffic; its hospital is likely to be demolished, and now it’s to be denied a campus.”