The Health and Wellbeing Task Group is open to anyone with views on health, care, leisure and wellbeing services or facilities in the Melksham Town and Parish Council areas.
The Group has been working since March 2015 and has explored a wide range of issues. The Group had stands at the Open House (March), the Food and River Festival (September) and community events in Bowerhill and Shaw. We have also contributed to a wide range of meetings with interested groups and service providers.
Group members have met several times with representatives of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance Trust to explore their welcome plans to relocate their operations to the Melksham area, on a site behind the current Police Divisional headquarters on Hampton Park West. Outline planning permission for this project has been applied for and is in the consultation process with a decision expected mid February 2016.
Noting that the Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group is retendering for provision community services, the Group has been seeking information about the planned future for the Melksham Hospital site. We have obtained ldocuments that show the Hospital is currently owned by the Great Western Hospital, who provide a range of health services but use most of the buildings for administration.
Feedback at past engagement events indicates public concerns about access to GP services and perceived adequacy of health services in Melksham. Local residents have expressed a national shortage of doctors and other healthcare professionals. The situation is made worse because of delays in development of the Campus site to enable St Damiens Surgery to move from their present location at Melksham Hospital.
Informal briefings provided to us and at meetings of the Melksham Health For
um and the Melksham Health Working Party previously suggested that there is no funding available from national or local sources to finance new health facilities in the town. However, in December, local health bosses announced plans to build an urgent care centre in Devizes after their minor injuries unit was closed in 2007 funded by sale of the existing Devizes Community Hospital site. A meeting with the CCG is now being set up to discuss the future of Melksham Hospital once the outcome of the tendering process is available..
We are aware that the cells at the Melksham Divisional Police HQ at Hampton Park are being relocated to a site in Warminster; and that it is likely that the Melksham facility will then close. It has been suggested policing in the Town and surrounding villages might then be provided by hot=desking from the Campus, when it is built. The long term future of the Melksham retained Fire station is also of concern following the cost-cutting April merger of the Wiltshire and Dorset Fire and Rescue Services. The Task Group has recommended that the Melksham Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group should invite representatives of both the Police and Fire Authorities to brief us on their future plans for servicing the area as it expands.
We have recently become aware that the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal Trust is now seeking funding to acquire land at along the route of the canal between Melksham and Lacock to create a footpath. This extends the present route from its link to the River Avon, and would establish a safe additional leisure / recreational facility for the area. We are recommending that the draft Neighbourhood Plan should safeguard the land between Melksham and Lacock to underpin plans to extend the Riverside Walk footpath and create an additional leisure facility along the riverside / canal route.