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A COMMUNITY group has been launched to shadow and watch over the progress of the Melksham Health and Wellbeing Centre.
At the Melksham Area Board meeting in October, a suggestion was made to Wiltshire Council that a panel of community representatives be included in the planning and development process of the campus, to ensure that the needs of the community are met.
The idea was rejected by John Thomson from Wiltshire Council at the meeting, as he felt that such groups slow down the process, rather than support it.
But in response, chair of the Melksham Community Area Partnership, Colin Goodhind, has approached Melksham Town Council and Melksham Without Parish Council for support to create an independent group that will observe the development of the project and hold Wiltshire Council to account.
In his letter to the local councils, Colin said, “I am asking and hoping that your council will support my plan to form a community group to watch over development of our Campus, as described publicly at the Melksham Area Board meeting of 18th October.
“Councillor John Thomson stated categorically at the meeting that he would not entertain the setting up of a community group similar to the COB so this group would be independent and set up under the supporting umbrella of the Melksham Community Area Partnership.
“However its aim will be to work with Wiltshire Council to keep the community updated on developments and its adherence to the promises clearly and publicly stated at the area board meeting. The starting point for the group would be to produce a summary of everything we were promised, referring to records of the meeting, and use this as a definitive reference point.
“The area board meeting was outwardly very positive, but the delay in the start of the Campus and the inclusion of many projects not previously envisaged to be funded from the Campus budget, has created an atmosphere of doubt and scepticism.
“The aim of this group is to largely put aside previous thoughts and plans and concentrate on making sure that the recently-made clear promises come to fruition. Reference to issues previously discussed, developed and decided upon should however not be ruled out, not least because some of these were raised during the Q and A session on the 18th and assurances were given that these will be taken into account.
“The group will obviously not have any formal power or authority, but it’s felt that the strength of community feeling, hopefully evidenced by the scale of support for the group, will be power enough to help achieve what we’ve been promised and what is clearly documented. A number of issues that we were told have not been finalised e.g. the location of the residential element are by definition still being considered and this is an area where this group could exert influence.
“I and many others believe that if we just sit back and wait and see, we’ll be disappointed. Reasons for delays and changes are widely expected, resulting in a Campus very different from what we were expecting and into which has already been put a significant amount of money and volunteer time. A group with a powerful community voice could help avert this and make sure we get what we’ve been promised. This is a positive initiative and one that should not be considered in any way contentious.”
Both Melksham Town Council and Melksham Without Parish Council have agreed to discuss the proposal at meetings in the near future.
For more information or to get involved, email: firstname.lastname@example.org