PEOPLE power has prevailed in a Melksham neighbourhood, as a campaign to save the park on Hazelwood Road succeeded last month and saw Wiltshire Council confirm that it would not sell the land.
Local residents breathed a sigh of relief after two months of campaigning came to an end when Wiltshire Council issued an official statement saying the park would not be sold to help fund Melksham Community Campus.
A Wiltshire Council spokesperson said, “Brunswick Park will not be sold as part of the campus project. We are in the early stages of looking at options to use the existing site and our assets in the local area to provide the best possible campus for the community.
“The money, around £23million, is and always has been in place to provide a state-of-the-art campus and we are now focussing on identifying what services will be provided within the agreed budget.”
Local woman Tracy Haslam is the chair of the Brunswick Park Residents Group, which was set up recently to co-ordinate the campaign.
Tracy said of the council’s u-turn, “This is great news and totally down to the commitment of everyone involved. Hundreds of people have contributed to this campaign and a massive thank you to every man, woman and child involved. You know who you are!
“However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the park wouldn’t be sold for other reasons if needs be. I would ask members of the Hazelwood Road estate, adjacent roads, and all the people who signed the petition to remain vigilant.”
Wiltshire Council’s statement was issued after the matter was raised at last month’s area board, and BBC Wiltshire broadcasted an interview with cabinet member and deputy leader of the council, John Thomson.
Cllr Thomson said that there was no intention of selling the park, and that the concerns had been provoked by a rumour.
The residents’ campaign began after it was revealed at an area board meeting in September that the sale of the land was being considered to help fill the funding shortfall in Melksham’s campus project.
Wiltshire Council revealed earlier this year that it had overspent on the new football and rugby pitches at Woolmore Farm, leaving the funds for the main campus and Market Place project short by more than £5million. Wiltshire Council has allocated a total budget of £23million for the whole campus development but as a result of the overspend, the Melksham House campus and Market Place re-development will have to be scaled back.
Melksham Campus Project Board is currently exploring funding options and preparing a master plan for the project.