Marlborough people will be going to the polls in May, to choose their new county councillors.
The election, on May 4, means a new Area Board, which is made up of the four councillors representing the Marlborough Community Area of East Marlborough, West Marlborough, Aldbourne & Ramsbury, and West Selkley (the villages along the A4).
And a new Area Board (even if many of the faces on the top table remain the same) means a list of new priorities.
So on Tuesday, February 21 individuals representing charities, community groups, arts organisations, environmental campaigners, education providers, the church and others were invited to debate and devise a list of priorities which would inform community and youth funding in the area from 2017 to 2021.
Nine broad areas were examined by individual groups, and the whole room was given the chance to vote for three )out of a list of eight) priorities in each category, following feedback from each committee.
The Area Board’s key priorities for the next four years will be:
Children and young people
Mental and emotional health
Special educational needs and disability
Protecting the vulnerable
Highway safety and speeding
Alcohol and drug abuse
(There were clear winners from a list of eight priorities, with 'protecting the vulnerabe' being one of the top three choices of 72 percent of attendees, and 'highway safety and speeding' making the top three of 70 percent of attendees).
Diversity and social inclusion
Affordable access to cultural activities
Apprenticeships and work experience
Broadband and digital access
(77 percent of attendees put 'employment opportunities' in their top three, from a list of eight options).
Wildlife and biodiversity
Health, wellbeing and leisure
Physical fitness and activity
('Mental health' was a clear winner, with 74 percent of attendees putting it in their top three from a list of eight possible priorities).
Social isolation and loneliness
Positive activities for and with older people
Speeding and road safety
Reducing car use and traffic
Community and housing
Deprivation and poverty
'Affordable housing' – which made the top three choices of a staggering 94.44 percent of attendees (the highest of the night) – will be particularly interesting given that only six affordable homes were built in the Marlborough area last year (35 were built in Pewsey), there are 54 families waiting for affordable housing in the Marlborough area (and that’s just those on the list), and given the controversy surrounding the waiving of a £334,635 levy on the developers of McCarthy and Stone’s accommodation for the over 55s at the foot of Granham Hill. The levy was earmarked for… the provision of affordable housing.
Before discussing priorities, attendees were taken through the Joint Strategic Assessment, a statistical snapshot of life in the Marlborough Area. You can read more about the JSA here: Document offers insight into life in Marlborough
The Area Board will meet again on Tuesday, March 14 (7pm, Marlborough Town Hall) to discuss some of the other ideas arising from the discussions on the night.
- For a view on affordable housing, see Affordable Housing: Affordable to Whom? in our Columnists section