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Council’s disappointment as education facility is first choice for Melksham House

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Melksham Town Council’s idea to buy Melksham House and turn it into a facility for ‘community use’ by the town looks unlikely to happen. 

Wiltshire Council has confirmed they are moving forward with a plan to develop Melksham House into a Social Emotional Mental Health (SEMH) school, a facility supporting children with broad needs including social and emotional difficulties.

Mayor of Melksham, cllr Simon Crundell says that he is “bitterly disappointed” that the town council’s bid is not the preferred option and was under the impression that the two bids would be considered together.

Renovations of the Grade II listed Melksham House building have been ongoing, with Wiltshire Council originally saying that Melksham House could be used as a community hall, along with flexible office and meeting rooms. MP Michelle Donelan spearheaded a bid for government funding for the scheme.

Town council’s £2m bid 

However, at an extraordinary meeting of the town council, held on 28th March, Wiltshire and town councillor, Phil Alford, stressed that if councillors wanted a chance of securing the building for town use, they would need to act quickly as there was interest from an internal organisation within Wiltshire Council to use the site. Town councillors then agreed at the meeting to put forward a bid to buy Melksham House for £2million.

At the time, Wiltshire Council denied rumours that the authority had plans to convert Melksham House into a pupil referral unit.

It has since been revealed that officers of Wiltshire Council held a meeting two months prior to this, in February, where they agreed to move forward with the SEMH school plans.

The outcome of the meeting was not made publicly available, but Wiltshire Council have since confirmed to Melksham News that they intend to progress the SEMH school business case and if, for any reason, that cannot be progressed, then they will consider the formal offer from the town council.

Bitterly disappointed

Melksham Mayor, cllr Simon Crundell said, “At the of time of discussing the bid, the town council was under the impression that any bid they submitted would be considered alongside any other interested parties. It has since been revealed the bid from the town council would only be considered if the alternative plans were not taken forward. I am obviously bitterly disappointed that Melksham Town Council is not the preferred option for Melksham House. The house is a wonderful facility, and should be preserved for the use of the people of our town.”

It has been confirmed that corporate director of resources and deputy chief executive at Wiltshire Council, Andy Brown, will make the final decision on the use of Melksham House and not elected representatives.

He said, “A final decision on the future use of Melksham House has not yet been made. The asset gateway group, an internal officer group, recommends future options for the assets held by Wiltshire Council, and in February, the recommendation for Melksham House was to progress the business case for a Social Emotional Mental Health (SEMH) school. At that meeting an expression of interest from Melksham Town Council was also considered. The outcome of that meeting was communicated, via email, to the town council on 15th March.

“A formal offer for the site was submitted by the Town Council in April. Once due diligence work has been completed on the SEMH school business case a final decision will be made by me in my role as Corporate Director of Resources & Deputy Chief Executive following the delegation by Cabinet. The outcome of this decision will also be communicated to the Town Council and confirm the outcome in respect of their formal offer.”






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