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THE immediate future of Christie Miller has been left in doubt because of its dilapidated state.
Rising maintenance costs and fears over the amount of asbestos in the building mean Wiltshire Council may have to close it sooner than expected and certainly before the new Melksham campus is ready.
John Thomson, Wiltshire Council deputy leader and cabinet member for campuses, has revealed that the sports centre “has had it, it’s got to go.”
“I have to be brutally honest, we are close approaching the point where we may have to make a really hard decision about Christie Miller and close it earlier, because I really don’t want to spend this sort of money on that building, I’d much rather spend it on here (the campus),” he said at the Melksham Area Board meeting last week which revealed the plans for the new campus.
“If we get to that stage we will make alternative provision in the town for any activities which are taking place in the sports hall and fitness suites at the Christie Miller. We’re actually looking at that now.
“The cost of dealing with the asbestos before we do any repairs to a building that has basically had it, is not a wise use of your money.
“If you look at the entire building, it is falling apart, the roof has had it and it’s full of asbestos.
“We are very close to declaring it not safe. You cannot access any part of the building for repairs because of asbestos. There are whole areas now that we cannot access because of it.
“Once we access it, it would release asbestos into the building. We monitor this all the time, what’s in the atmosphere, to make sure that asbestos isn’t escaping. So it’s a really serious issue. The building has had it, it’s got to go.”
Confirming that work is being carried out to explore where activities and groups could be housed if Christie Miller closed, member of the area board, cllr Jon Hubbard said, “Work is going on to look at what alternative provision is or could be made available as an interim for when that decision has to be made.”
Challenged over why money was spent on a new floor and lighting for the Christie Miller sports hall, cllr Thomson said, “If we hadn’t spent the money on the floor and the lighting, Christie Miller would be closed now. We had to take the decision to close it, or spend a small amount of money to keep it going for a bit longer.”
John Thomson also confirmed that the Christie Miller site would be sold to raise money towards the cost of campus.