WHAT is right for Westbury will be at the centre of a new campus of sports, leisure and other council-run facilities, says Wiltshire Council. An outline of a future campus for Westbury, which will affect the town’s leisure and sports facilities, and possibly library and youth centre, was given at a meeting of the Westbury Area Board on Thursday 16th February.
The new campus development of services which are currently run by Wiltshire Council, could be a single location or multiple sites. Wiltshire Council says that in this stage of ideas, it wants the town to work from a “blank sheet” to create a facility which suits Westbury’s needs.
Lucy Murray Brown, who is project director for the council’s campus operational delivery programme, assured the meeting that there will be plenty of chances for residents to have their say. “Local involvement is critical,” she said. “There will be consultations and it’s really important people get involved in this. “What’s right for Westbury is still to be determined.”
She added that it will only be after consultation that any idea of where a campus – or campuses – could be located will emerge. “I can’t comment on any individual sites, we start with a blank sheet,” she said. “We start with the needs of the community, the services the community requires, and then look at the buildings. It might be an existing building we can utilise or a new build. We’re not going to get any ideas until the first round of consultation is done. I would urge you not to get too wrapped up in the sites, that’s some way off.”
The campus development will be steered by a shadow community operations board (COB). Members on this board will represent the community and, working under the auspices of the area board, will influence, recommend, and consider the detail of the emerging campus facilities. There will be eight places on the COB, with one member to be drawn from the town and parish councils, one member to represent young people and education, one person from the Westbury Area Board, three members from community and user groups such as sports clubs, one member of the “wider community”, and a project manager from the council to guide the process.
Expressions of interest from those who would like to join the COB are now being taken, with the closing date set for 16th March. Residents are promised that rounds of consultation will take place this year, with the council expected to consider plans for the development in the summer of 2013.
As part of a Wiltshire Council county-wide leisure review in 2010, it was proposed that the town should manage both Leighton Recreation Centre and Westbury Swimming Pool through community ownership. Following the announcement, huge support was expressed for the town’s listed Victorian swimming pool and for keeping the pool in its current location. Other concerns which were raised at that time included the possibility of moving facilities to an out-of-town location, and the effect this could have on the town centre and accessibility.
Neil Tribick, one of the founding members of the Westbury Leisure Alliance which was formed in response to the developments commented, “We don’t know anything about what may or may not be possible for the town. It’s all very well saying we have a blank sheet of paper but there’s no blank cheque.
“The problem for us will be that we disagree fundamentally with the idea that the leisure review established that the people of Westbury would support volunteers from the local community taking responsibility. They majority of people questioned didn’t agree, they said they wanted the buildings maintained by the council.”
Other towns such as Melksham, Corsham, Calne, Tisbury, and Cricklade are already further along in the process to create their campuses, with Westbury in the third phase of the strategy. Discussions for Westbury’s campus have been brought forward after a request from the area board.
There is a dedicated page to the Westbury campus developments on the Wiltshire Council website, at www.wiltshire.gov.uk/communityandliving/communitycampuses
What is a campus?
Wiltshire Council’s county-wide campus programme has been presented as a strategy to reduce the long term financial, environmental, and operational pressures on operating ageing, low quality buildings, with a 40% reduction in operating costs. A campus is defined by the council as “a building, or buildings, in a community area that provide the services the community area needs in an accessible location. This may also include partner services.”
Campus buildings are to include a shared reception, community space, accessible community IT, catering facilities, and personal care facilities for disabled users. Other services, for example libraries, leisure centres, and youth services could potentially be included in a campus, along with facilities for individuals to meet with specialist services such as housing, revenues, and benefits. One of the main ideas behind campuses is to create a flexible space which can be used for a variety of purposes and by a variety of people and organisations.
What do you think the main priorities should be for a campus? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to us at 31 Market Place, Melksham, Wiltshire, SN12 6ES