A TROWBRIDGE town councillor has thanked colleagues for their support to put extra safeguards on the £7.5 million project to build a new 3G Artificial Turf Pitch next to Doric Park at Hilperton.

On Tuesday, councillors backed an amendment that means the town council will not be able to draw down from the £3.9m loan for the project without a vote at a full council meeting.

Cllr Antonio Piazza, who afterwards withdrew a call for an extraordinary meeting to debate the issue, has, along with fellow Tory councillor Edward Kirk, has been one of the fiercest critics of the council's plans to apply for a huge government loan to help fund the project.

The £3.9m loan from the Public Works Loan Board is likely to be repaid over a 50-year period and will add millions more pounds to the final cost of providing the new facility for use by the local community.

The artificial turf pitch will be used by local football and rugby clubs, as well as students at Wiltshire College & University Centre.

Cllr Piazza said: “I just wanted to formally thank everyone for your support at last night’s vote (at a full council meeting) to amend motion 3604 that allowed Trowbridge Town Council to draw down from the £3.9m Doric Park loan without a vote at full council.

“I want to thank Cllr Edward Kirk, Cllr Stephen Cooper, and Cllr Stewart Palmen, and other councillors who communicated with me this weekend gone on putting this motion to council.

“However, I want to give a special thanks to Mayor Graham Hill who has hit the ground running in his role as Chair and Mayor, who acted as a mediator and helped facilitate this motion.

“The extension to the existing motion that was passed yesterday evening effectively means that in order for the £3.9m loan amount to be drawn down, a vote at full council needs to occur.

“This will act as a firebreak to protect Trowbridge Town Council’s finances, that fund vital services and local support groups, and the Trowbridge taxpayer.

“We need to be in a positive financial position to lend support to any local support groups who are actively helping those families, which is why Doric Park absolutely must not go over budget, soaking up Trowbridge Town Council’s finances.

“Personally, I fear that rising costs in the construction sector due to red-hot inflation and a higher interest rate on the loan could make this project undeliverable.

“This is something Cllr Kirk and I echoed back in June 2021, but this is not about that and I want to focus on ensuring that vital services can still continue to run and the taxpayer is protected. 

“With this motion, as councillors, we are now responsible, accountable, and capable of defusing a potential catastrophe. It also, most importantly, means a democratic decision will be made by councillors at the time with all the facts in front of us and all of our questions answered.

“So, to end on a positive, ultimately a big thank you.”