A PLAN to revitalise Highworth has hit the buffers after funding earmarked for the project was redirected to Swindon instead.

The Highworth Community Partnership Group spent two years formulating 449 ideas to make Highworth a market town for the 21st Century.

But the group says that £250,000 of funding from the South West Regional Development Agency, which they thought they were in with a good chance of securing, is being ploughed into the New Swindon Company for Swindon’s town centre regeneration.

Some of the ideas devised by residents in Highworth had included a new skate park, cultural centre and multi-use games area.

However, the partnership’s initial focus rested on re-developing Gilbert’s Alley, the lane that connects the High Street to the Co-op.

Keith Smith, chairman of the partnership, which was created in September 2006, said he is bitterly disappointed by the news.

He said: “The group is frustrated because we don’t have the resources to move forward. It has great ideas but we cannot do anything.

“We have now started seeking other sources of funding. We are in talks with Swindon Council and Highworth Town Council and hoping to gain a grant from the Department of Communities and Local Government but have lowered our expectations to about £100,000.”

The people of Highworth are waiting for something to happen. “We spent two years writing a plan, now everyone wants to see results. But there is nothing tangible yet.”

Sally Rackard, partnership delivery adviser at the South West Regional Development Agency, said: “Earlier this year the Highworth Community Partnership Group did apply for funding for a public realm improvement project but its proposals did not meet the necessary economic criteria to qualify for the funding available at the time.

“While we sympathise with their frustration and recognise the hard work they have done, no promises were ever made to the Highworth Community Partnership Group by the South West RDA and no funding has been withdrawn.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about the Highworth plan is asked to email contact@highworthpartnership.org.uk or call Keith on 01793 764372.