CHIPPENHAM Town Council leaders have begun negotiations with their counterparts at Wiltshire Council on taking over the running and delivery of a major package of assets and services in the town.
It could mean the town council becoming responsible for maintaining play areas, street cleaning and grass cutting. But the big win for Chippenham could be taking on the running and maintaining of Monkton Park from Wiltshire Council.
The move comes against a background of cost-saving measures enforced on Wiltshire Council by the growing financial burden of adult social care and the reduction in direct government funding.
The town council is assessing the financial impact and hopes to agree a package of all the assets and services by early December, with a view to the transfer taking place on June 1 next year.
Town council leader Cllr Sandie Webb believes taking control of more assets in the town is the right thing to do for the people of Chippenham.
“We are already delivering many of these services to a high standard for both our residents and visitors with top-up cleaning throughout the town and high-quality play areas and parks,” she said.
“An extension to this will not only ensure that our streets are clean, parks maintained to a high standard and pride in our town reinforced but we can also assist our principal council in their difficult work of caring for the most vulnerable in our county.”
At present the council maintains only some of its play areas and other assets like bus shelters. Cllr Webb says having all of them under control of the town council would give the people of the town a consistent level of service.
It would also mean people coming into the town hall to raise issues with staff about grass cutting, street cleaning and maintenance would get an immediate response, instead of having to wait for referrals to Wiltshire Council.
She said: “Chippenham Town council will become the single point of contact for the delivery of a clean, green, and safe town.”
Wiltshire Council leader Baroness Jane Scott of Bybrook said the move would help the council, which has to save £25 million over the next two years, balance its books.
“We need to focus on aligning our resource to meet the needs of those who are most vulnerable in the county,” she said.
“Working with local communities we know that many services benefit from being delivered locally; particularly those that require attention every day, such as parks and street cleaning.”
“We have always had a close working relationship with Chippenham Town Council and I look forward to discussing and agreeing the transfer of the services and assets that will be best delivered by them in the future.”