Town council's pre-emptive bid for Sure Start building

Written by Tony Millett.


It is Monday, November 2 and Wiltshire Council's consultation on the future provision of 'Sure Start'-type support services for Marlborough's under-5s has four days to run.

Nothing daunted, town councillors decided on Monday evening to vote overwhelmingly in support of the suggestion by Councillors Stewart Dobson and Marian Hannaford-Dobson that the council should express to County Hall their interest in a take over by Marlborough town council of the Corner House Centre building in the George Lane car park - if it becomes available.  

The building could become town council property under the 'community asset transfer' process.  

Councillor Dobson did refer to the petition being run by young Aldbourne mother Jemma Clarke, asking for the centre to be kept open.  But no councillor mentioned the future provision of this service - which might or might not need an HQ.

No councillor took the opportunity to even wonder out aloud whether the loss of this centre was good for Marlborough or to comment on its passing.  

You do not have to read very far between the lines of Wiltshire's 'consultation document' to see that the closure of the building as a Sure Start centre is 100 per certain.  And, as designated in the consultation document, the nearest centre for a young mother living in Aldbourne is in Pewsey.

The consultation is really about what a future family service-without-a-building should look like - but it could well result in a charity offering to take over the Centre.

Councillor Dobson suggested that once in the hands of the town council, the building could house the town council's offices, a tourist information centre (which it was originally built to be) and a rest room for coach drivers.

Wiltshire Council say: "There are other buildings in the [Marlborough] community that are suitable for delivery of children's centre services."  Perhaps one councillor could have asked where these buildings are.

One of the points raised by Jemma Clarke is that small groups trying to hold sessions for under-5s will not be able to afford to hire suitable rooms.  That could have been something for councillors to at least discuss.