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Town cuts ties with campus

MELKSHAMTown Council will not move the Assembly Hall or its offices to the new campus at Melksham House, it announced last week.

Councillors put an end to months of speculation recently when they decided the town council wants no part in the new health and wellbeing centre.

The council had last year been considering whether to move the hall and offices because the Assembly Hall – Melksham’s biggest venue – needs repairs and upgrades.

The decision could come as a blow to Wiltshire Council’s already troubled plans for the site, as it rules out any extra money coming from the town. It had been estimated the town council could have had to contribute £2million or more to the move.

Mayor of Melksham, councillor Terri Welch, told Melksham News the council wasn’t confident the project would stay within its budget.

Cllr Welch said, “We realise the Assembly Hall and Town Hall are very important to the town and thought it would be excellent if we had the chance to combine them at Melksham House.

“However, given the history of the campus project, we decided we couldn’t be completely confident that  the town council wouldn’t be met with an increasing bill. We were looking at a cost of £2million but if it was to go up, for example to £4million, it wouldn’t be fair to expect rate payers to come up with that.”

One councillor, Geoff Mitcham, was sceptical of the plans from the start and feared the town could lose control of the hall if it became part of the campus and was in a building owned by Wiltshire Council.

The town council has decided instead to refurbish the existing Assembly Hall, and is in the early stages of planning for the venue’s future.

Cllr Welch added, “We all love the Assembly Hall as it is but we realise that it leaks, the bar is inadequate, there are insufficient toilets and so on. We need to make the hall fit for the next 20 to 30 years and we’re now in the very early stages of deciding how to do that.

“This won’t be just a lick of paint; it’s going to be something much bigger.”