Councillor Stewart Palmen, Trowbridge Town Council Leader, welcomes in 2022 . . .

2022 is set to be a year of change for Trowbridge. Following the 2021 local elections, the Town Council has been focused on making Trowbridge a greener, more vibrant and more active town. Details of how this is to be achieved were put together in the Town Council’s Strategy Document for 2021 – 2025 and in 2022 key elements of this Strategy will be put into action. These include:

  • Creating a more active Trowbridge, with more support for local leisure and sports, including the completion of the Doric Park project that will give Trowbridge the excellent all-weather pitches it so desperately needs;
  • Creating a greener Trowbridge, including taking control of all green spaces and street cleaning from Wiltshire Council, giving us the chance to do the job as well as residents deserve;
  • Creating a more vibrant Trowbridge, continuing the progress already seen with new markets and new businesses – including support for the Future High Street Fund projects such as the refurbishment of Trowbridge Town Hall, river pathways and road improvements.

These steps will build on what has already been done over the past decade, for example in turning the Civic Centre into a great community venue, improving the town park, expanding the museum, making a start on better street cleaning and investing in sport and leisure, such as through Active Trowbridge.

Taking over full responsibility from Wiltshire Council for services that really affect the town will enable us to make Trowbridge the County Town that Wiltshire deserves, with better green areas, more tree planting and waste and litter dealt with promptly. Currently Wiltshire Council contract out this activity but when we take over in late 2022 we are considering that we will take all these activities ‘in-house’ under our own management, with our own workforce. This has the advantage of us being in direct control of our costs and also gives us a lot more flexibility to respond as required to what needs doing in the town rather than limiting the actions to those that have been spelt out in a rigid contract.

Needless to say, these changes do come with a cost attached and Trowbridge Town Council will unavoidably have to increase the precept to cover these costs. We are planning to do this by raising the band D (average) Town Council Precept (the amount a household pays for Town Council services per year) to £200.10 from April 2022 but then aiming to hold the precept at this level through till April 2025. The band D level is currently £167.46 so the increase is just £32.64 per year or 63p per week for a cleaner, greener town.

This precept level will enable us to deliver on our strategy even though it is below the Wiltshire average and lower than that of comparable towns such as Chippenham, Warminster, Westbury and Bradford on Avon.

It’s great to see Wiltshire Council also playing its part in the ongoing revival of Trowbridge with the funds it secured from the Future High Streets Fund. The Trowbridge Area Board – consisting of Wiltshire Councillors from the town and nearby villages – is also playing an important part through support for local projects, as is our local MP, Andrew Murrison. It is possible that 2022 will also see the creation of a ‘Place Board’ for Trowbridge, such as the one that exists in Salisbury and that which is planned for Melksham. In my view, the more attention and resource Trowbridge receives from all sources, the better.

My hope and expectation is that 2022 will be a year of great progress, when all politicians and residents work together for the good of the town, and when Wiltshire Council, Trowbridge Town Council, the Area Board and others collaborate with our wonderful local charities and community organisations to make Trowbridge the great town that we all want it to be.