THE chief executive of Trowbridge Town Council has written to the former leader of Wiltshire Council to try and speed up a government decision on a £3.9 million loan for its plans to build an all-weather 3G pitch next to Doric Park.

Baroness Jane Scott of Bybrook is now a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in Michael Gove’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Lance Allan, the Trowbridge town clerk and the council’s chief executive, has written to congratulate her on her new appointment.

Baroness Scott stood down from Wiltshire Council in February 2020 to take up a new role in the House of Lords and to become the new president of the National Association of Local Councils (NALC).

Mr Allan says the council is still awaiting a decision by the former Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on its application for a £3.9m government loan to help pay for the £7.5m project.

In his letter, Mr Allan says: “As you will know, Trowbridge Town Council has been seeking to enhance sports facilities for many years and has secured Section 106, CIL, and a grant from the Football Foundation for a 3G Pitch at Doric Park.

“We applied to DCLG for borrowing approval back in July 2021 with the documents requested in the application form, as we had with previous applications.

“We were asked later that year to progress the project to tender, prior to the application being considered further. We did this, chose a preferred supplier and submitted a revised application on 4th May 2022.

“In addition, I have this week forwarded a valuation report which, while not requested formally by the parish borrowing team, was suggested by Councillor Edward Kirk as necessary.”

Mr Allan says the application form includes the following statement: “If an applicant council is successful, processing of the borrowing approval should generally take between 3-4 weeks from the date of its receipt by DLUHC.”

He added: “Whilst the town council appreciates that larger borrowing amounts may take more time to assess, it would be appreciated if progress could be made to avoid further significant increases in the tender price due to construction inflation.

“Anything you can do to ensure the timeliness of processing of this and other parish borrowing approval applications would be much appreciated.”

His letter was copied to South West Wiltshire MP Dr Andrew Murrison, whose local Conservative Party members have been critical of the project cost potential to spiral out of control due to the dramatic rise in inflation, interest rates and construction costs.

One of them, Cllr Antonio Piazza said: “The Doric Park £3.9m loan application to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is in an indefinite state of limbo.

“As I said, before being forcefully removed from the Doric Park Working Group, the Department will not lend money to the town council due to local concerns with the overall project and significant project risks, such as the cost risk.

“Millions in tax revenue and S106 (which is also public money) has been spent on this super project. Now the town council are ploughing on regardless, even admitting in their own letter that construction inflation is rising, and the interest rate on the loan is still high.

“If they listened to people with objectivity, addressing concerns raised, instead of booting them off of committees, panels, and working groups, and the project was actually viable then this delay would not be happening.”