Wiltshire Council’s £70 million campus project is at the forefront of the government’s plans for a Big Society, according to a leading Conservative minister.
Dorset MP and minister of state at the cabinet office Oliver Letwin visited County Hall in Trowbridge today to hear how the council was restructuring its facilities.
Along with prospective Chippenham parliamentary candidate Michelle Donelan he met council leader Jane Scott, who discussed plans for the 18 new campuses the council was building.
He said: “It is very exciting.
“It seems to be it’s not just a question of bringing things together, though that itself is very useful, but there is clearly huge scope for efficiencies and savings, as well as improving the services the council offers.
“What is really exciting is it sounds like the beginning of a whole new model.”
Plans are currently under way to construct campuses in all 18 of the county’s ‘community areas’, with the first part of Corsham’s due to open in June, and construction work expected to start shortly in Melksham.
The campuses will provide council services like libraries and sports facilities, as well as offer a new base for Wiltshire Police’s neighbourhood policing teams.
Councillor Scott said: “In June we will open a brand new community facility in Corsham which will increase library and youth facilities, and we’ve had interest from the hospice movement in working there.
“I also want the youngster that goes for the free swimming to come in and say ‘I have never been to a library’, and mum to say ‘there is pilates here, I want to do a bit of that’, so people get a lot more use of it.
“If we as the public sector invest in a community it does raise the morale of that community. It’s all about civic pride.”
Miss Donelan said: “It’s about localism, which is what the Conservatives stand for, and what I stand for.”