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Town council to start asset transfer negotiations early next year

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MELKSHAM Town Council is scheduled to begin official asset transfer negotiations with Wiltshire Council in January 2020.

The two councils will discuss which services and assets the town council will take over and be responsible for, which could include the management of the Market Place and streetscene services.

The negotiations will also include the permanent transfer of management and ownership of the town’s play areas to the town council, which the town council has already taken responsibility for. Last year the council accepted a seven-year licence to manage the play areas as an interim measure, until the full asset transfer is agreed.

At the town council’s asset management committee meeting, mayor cllr Jon Hubbard, stressed that the council should start preparing now for negotiations.

“What Wiltshire Council will do is effectively sit down with the town council and say, ‘here is what we would like of you, what do you want of us?’ Then negotiations can start about what comes over to the town council. Until you have those negotiations you don’t know what this means for us.

“There are wider issues that we need to look at – Wiltshire Council has been very clear that the asset transfer has to be what they call ‘revenue neutral’ – for them that means they are no worse off as a result of it.

“For instance if we asked to take over Church Street car park, they would say no because they would be losing the income – and they do make a net profit that underwrites other services they provide, like the town bus which is subsidised by them.

“January 2020 gives us some  good breathing space to make sure we have our ducks lined up in a row, because there are a number of issues. It’s important to be planning now, thinking ahead, thinking about what we as a town want, because what we don’t want to do is take on all the stuff that Wiltshire Council don’t want and not get the things that we do want.”

Town clerk, Linda Roberts, agreed, “We want to get the best deal we can for the town.”

According to Wiltshire Council’s asset transfer schedule, completion of the process is expected to be in August 2020.

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