Refurbishment of Marlborough Youth Centre wins £10,000 Area Board Grant

Written by Tony Millett on .


Marlborough Town Council's decision to turn the deserted building that once housed Wiltshire Council's Development Centre for Young People into a working Community and Youth Centre, got a boost from the Marlborough Area Board with a £10,000 grant towards refurbishment.

This grant award topped two others agreed at Tuesday's meeting (July 18) one for Ramsbury's new pre-school building and the other towards the refurbishment of toilets at Froxfield Memorial Hall.  There was also a grant from the separate Youth Funding budget to the Marlborough Poverty Action Group to support young people in summer activities.

Now Wiltshire Council have no use for the old Youth Centre building by the recreation ground in the middle of the town, the Town Council have taken out a seven year lease on it at a peppercorn rent - though it may well eventually be passed into the Town Council's ownership through a Community Asset Transfer process.

The building is not in a good condition and there is asbestos to be removed.  The probable cost of this will be covered by the £10,000 grant.  Councillor Sheila Glass (Ramsbury) said that cost was much too high: "£10,000 for the removal of asbestos?  This is a scam - it's health and safety gone mad."

The Town Mayor, Councillor Hall explained that the work to remove asbestos had not yet been put out to tender.

The bid for the grant was made as a 'Councillor Led Initiative' by Councillor Stewart Dobson.  The proposal read in part: "There is a high demand for space in the town that can be used by community groups.  The expected costs of the town council's refurbishment are £60,000.  This is a large commitment for a small town."

The proposal was seconded by Councillor Fogg, who, however, expressed 'bewilderment' that Wiltshire Council was 'contributing absolutely nothing' towards the refurbishment when they are spending between seven and eight million pounds on a community centre for Pewsey which has a population about the same as Ramsbury.

Councillor Stewart defended Wiltshire Council's role: "It is a mistake to think that no money has been spent on it.  We are where we are."  He said Marlborough had no Wiltshire Council 'campus' or 'hub' because nowhere could be found for it.

It was said later that Marlborough had been told by Wiltshire Council there was no money left for any kind of 'hub' in the town.  A councillor from a nearby Parish told that the point was that Wiltshire had found no money to help 'turn round the decrepit Youth Centre' - of which it had 'washed its hands'.

Area Board Chairman, Councillor James Sheppard summed up the discussion of the grant: "This could be the start of a hub for Marlborough - I am extremely happy to support this scheme."

The Board also agreed a £5,000 grant towards Ramsbury's new-build pre-school.  To date the charity had provided 'low cost early years education' for up to 24 children a session at the Methodist Church Hall.  They needed to expand their services and did not want to go on paying rent.

The total cost of the new-build would be £356,000 much of which has been raised in the village - notably through last month's Ramsbury Week events.

Froxfield won a grant of £950 to help with the refurbishment of the gents' toilets at the village's Memorial Hall - which is now seventy years old and is funded purely through proceeds from lettings.  And before anyone asks, the ladies' toilets have already been suitably upgraded.