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Groups fear for future
6:00pm Sunday 13th October 2013 in News
SOCIETIES in Royal Wootton Bassett are worried that the sale of the Civic Centre will leave them with nowhere to meet.
The town council has been planning to offload the building for a number of years, and has recently come to the decision to sell it for residential use.
But this will mean many clubs and societies who use the Civic Centre as a meeting place will be forced to make alternative arrangements.
Mary Harrison, treasurer of the Artist’s Society, said: “I was very upset and so were a lot of other clubs and societies.
“There is nowhere else to go that has plenty of space and suitable parking, and everyone will be looking for somewhere at the same time, so it’s not like we can get in there early to book somewhere.
“It is the cost as well, since even if we find somewhere it could be very expensive.”
It was hoped the community campus scheme, which will see Wiltshire Council develop tailored local services to the community, would have been delivered by the time the council decided to close the Civic Centre.
Mike Leighfield, town councillor for Royal Wootton Bassett South, said: “The Civic Centre has cost us an arm and a leg to run.
“It’s a very old building which needs a lot of work done on it.
“The plans mean that the building will close.
“We were hoping the community campus would feature community spaces that clubs and societies would be able to use, since that is what we have been promised by Wiltshire Council, but we don’t know when that might be.
“We are going to do everything we can to help the clubs and societies in Bassett to find alternative arrangements when it closes.
“If we can’t, we will offer a grant to subsidise the cost of alternative buildings if they are more expensive so they won’t have to pay more than they do now.”
On Thursday, residents will be able to view the ideas and voice their opinions in a consultation which is taking place as part of the submission of the planning application.
The public meeting on the plans will be held at the Civic Centre’s ground floor hall from 2pm to 7pm.
The building, which was opened as a school in 1850, underwent substantial work in the 1970s to develop a three-storey community facility.
For some years, part of the Civic Centre housed a GP surgery which eventually relocated to the purpose-built New Court premises.
For more information, call the town council on 01793 850222.
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