WESTBURY will not get a new health and leisure campus as part of Wiltshire Council’s countywide project because there is no money left, a town councillor has told White Horse News.
Hopes of developing new sport, leisure and community facilities at the library, swimming pool and Leighton Recreation Centre have been dashed after years of planning.
A campus working group, which took the views of local people and decided which facilities to include, has been disbanded and its work shelved.
Town and county councillor David Jenkins said, “I am disappointed because yet again the community and the people of Westbury have missed out. I understand that a campus for Westbury will not be going ahead because the council has no money for it. The budget for campuses was out of control and was being spent with little accountability.
Blank cheque for other towns
“I think the sensible way to plan campuses would have been to grant each town a budget to work to within their expectations, instead of a blank cheque approach. Millions have been spent in other towns and Westbury could probably have done a lot more with a lot less.
“The campus team – a small group of local volunteers – put in so much effort in their report for the area board but it never got any further; I’m very disappointed for them and they should get credit for their hard work.”
Westbury was never promised a campus and was in Wiltshire’s last phase of the project, which was subject to available funding. Despite this, a working group was set up to decide which new facilities local people wanted and put forward proposals to the county council.
Although Wiltshire Council admitted at the time that funding would be limited, proposals put forward in 2014 included upgrading the swimming pool and library. A suggested redevelopment of Leighton Recreation Centre could have included a sports hall, new fitness equipment, all-weather facilities and a base for youth activities.
The news comes at a time when local people are concerned that Westbury is seeing a lot of new houses, but no efforts are being made to improve the town’s facilties or infrastructure.
The mayor, councillor David Bradshaw, is worried about the trend continuing.
“Myself and the town council are very disappointed that Wiltshire Council has pulled the plug,” he said. “The infrastructure improvements that could benefit Westbury don’t ever seem to happen.”
“We’re going to see a lot more houses built in the town in coming years, but I don’t see a campus manifesting itself. We thought we had an economical plan; we were going to use all existing buildings so it wouldn’t have been a big building project. I don’t see Wiltshire Council pursuing campuses anywhere after this.”
Despite original hopes falling by the wayside, Wiltshire Council has indicated that it intends to look into redeveloping the library into a ‘community hub’ for the town.
A Wiltshire Council spokesperson said, “The council has approved £80million for the provision of seven health and wellbeing centres (formerly campuses) across the county in Corsham, Cricklade, Calne, Melksham, Pewsey, Salisbury and Tisbury. No funding has been approved for a health and wellbeing centre in Westbury.
“Any funding for the redevelopment of leisure at Leighton Rec, to deliver an enhanced health and wellbeing offer, would be aligned to development in and around the town centre.
“However, funding is being allocated to improve the library to provide community space for meetings and events and to allow the community to access the building out of library opening hours.
“The proposals drafted by the campus team (on behalf of the local area board) focused on retaining the current facilities. This council is committed to the provision of the leisure centre and swimming pool and will be investing in the library.”