Town Council Meeting - Jan 18th - Brian Mantel

Town Council Meeting

Wootton Bassett Town Council met on Thursday Jan. 18th. At the Lime Kiln centre to discuss how it might fund a contribution to any potential ‘rescue package’ for the Lime Kiln. One proposal was to increase the precept on the Council Tax by £25. Essentially, this means that every household in Wootton Bassett would have to an extra £25 on their Council Tax, which would be used to help keep the Lime Kiln centre open.

A second proposal, tabled by Councillor Roberts, was that the Town Council should make a contribution to any such rescue package, but fund it out of existing income, by making savings or by re-allocation of budgets. Either way, the Town Council was expressing a willingness to commit funds to help the Lime Kiln stay open. It was the second proposal that carried the day, by a substantial majority.

If the precept had been increased it would have raised £100,000 to help keep the centre open, but that money would come directly from the residents of Bassett. The proposal carried means that, whilst the Town Council will, in principle, make money available, it has not committed a set amount, and will have to find it from existing income.

Whilst it the prospect of an immediate £100,000 might seem like a good idea to those of us trying to save the Lime Kiln, there are some problems with the idea. For example if a commercial company took over the centre, and a rescue plan was not needed, the Town Council would have raised the money (and your council tax) needlessly. The same would apply if any proposal put forward were rejected by NWDC, although having £100,000 up front might help sell any rescue package.

Brian Mantel and Tony Baker represented SOS at the meeting, and were able to make some comments. The positives to come out of the meeting are that the Town Council is keen to see the Lime Kiln stay open, and is prepared to commit funds to that end, and that the Town Council and SOS have some similar ideas. Very broadly speaking, if no external buyer can be found, the idea is to look at a partnership between the school, the Town Council, and possibly some kind of community organisation.

The big problem is that any business plan must be submitted by Jan. 31st, and must meet detailed criteria set by NWDC, which are, to say the least, stringent. SOS is working hard on gathering further information to feed into such a business plan, and will be working even more closely with the Town Council and the school to resolve the situation.