John Thomson

John Thomson

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As your Wiltshire Council Councillor, I think it is important to let you know about what is happening with regard to our local GP surgery in the High Street.

The current surgery has been deemed unfit for purpose, and unless steps are taken now to find an alternative site together with funding for the construction of new, modern premises, then there is a very real likelihood that the surgery will close within seven years with healthcare being relocated to Malmesbury.

As Sherston residents, you have identified the retention of a GP surgery as a high priority, and you have my full support in achieving this aim. Together with Sherston Parish Council I have proposed a possible way to do this, and about which you will be asked to vote.

The Parish Council is working to finalise a Neighbourhood Plan, which, when adopted by Wiltshire Council, will help determine development in and around the village for the next ten years, thus allowing you to have a say in your own village’s future.

A requirement of Wiltshire Council’s core strategy is for the village to make provision for at least twenty-six new dwellings, and a Steering Group has been considering where and how many dwellings at or above this number would be the optimum to include in the plan in order to give villagers the greatest benefits.

As Wiltshire Council has ‘controlling interest’ over two hectares of land fronting onto the Sopworth Road, I proposed that a mixed use development there would not only provide the optimal siting for a new surgery together with parking to relieve the High Street, but would also fund its construction. The costings require this to include forty-five dwellings (including the provision of more affordable housing for locals), would offer the additional land for the expansion of the primary school, space for a new pre-school facility, and help preserve the green spaces across the village. It will also allow for the funding of improvements to village sports amenities.

I have helped lead extensive discussions between Wiltshire Council, the Doctors and the owners of the site, and all have agreed, in principle, to this solution – provided that this wish is expressed in the Neighbourhood Plan. The first step is that the Sherston Neighbourhood Plan must be approved by a majority of those that vote, with voting taking place later this year. I will continue to help in every way I can.

Together with Sherston Parish Council and other groups, we have previously successfully overseen the community development of the old Primary School buildings, and facilities for young people. I believe that a modern, extended GP surgery in Sherston owned by the community is vital to ensure the future of a vibrant village community, and we have a unique opportunity to secure this.

Please do contact me for further information or to discuss any of the above issues.