Swindon Labour Group

Dial a Ride Future Still Remains Uncertain

Labour Councillor and Dial a Ride campaigner, Derique Montaut, has called on the Conservative administrative to secure the long-term future of Dial a Ride, after the Conservative administration breached previous promises to secure funding from new income streams to mitigate the effects of Dial a Ride’s 50% funding cut.

Last year when the Council was seeking to cut Dial a Ride’s council funding by 50%, a petition with 4000 signatures was submitted calling on Swindon Council to secure Dial a Ride’s future.

At the time the Conservative Lead Member for Transport, Cllr Dale Heenan, said he wished to secure income from other sources rather than the Council budget, to secure Dial a Ride’s future service and mitigate the Council cuts. No such income has been made available to Dial a Ride.

Government Identify Swindon As Having Largest Council-Tax Increase in England

Image reading "Thanks to Swindon's Conservative Administration, the council tax bill you get this week will include the biggest Council Tax rise in the county. #ToryTaxRise"

Figures produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government have shown Swindon to have the largest percentage increase in council tax in England.

Including Parish Precept charges, Swindon residents will be receiving an average percentage increase of 10.35%. That’s 3% more than the next largest average council-tax increase in a local authority area- Waveney District Council area.

Labour Call for Termination of Muse Development Agreement

Swindon Council Civic Offices

After years of failed promises and delays, the Labour Group has called on Swindon Council to terminate their development agreement with Muse on the Kimmerfields site.

The Kimmerfields development was due to provide a substantially sized public open square and a series of new streets surrounded by retail and leisure space, a hotel, a new bus interchange, office space and new homes (including affordable units), delivered over a number of phases. The Council said overall investment in the site from Muse would be in the region of £300m.

The Muse developers were granted initial planning permission to develop the Kimmerfields site back in 2012 however to date they have provided no private investment in to developing the site. Muse and the Council also agreed delays to targets set in the original Development Agreement which enabled MUSE to avoid lapsing on their original commitments.

Labour declares war on late payment to small businesses in Swindon

Swindon Council Civic Offices

Nearly half of small businesses in Swindon experienced late payment from bigger companies last year, costing them tens of thousands of pounds and forcing many out of business.

In Swindon there are 17,025 registered small businesses and 8002 small business are owed money in late payments worth just under £82m.

On Thursday 23rd March Jeremy Corbyn addressed the Federation of Small Business Conference where he said that a future Labour Government would address this scandal by requiring any company bidding for a public sector contract to pay its own suppliers within 30 days and would look at introducing for the private sector a system of binding arbitration with fines for persistent late payers.

The Leader of the Swindon Labour Group has stated his support for this policy, and has urged Swindon’s two MPs to acknowledge this exploitation of small businesses rather than making political attacks against Jeremy Corbyn.

Speaking to FSB conference delegates, Jeremy Corbyn said:

Swindon UTC Gets Inadequate Ofsted Judgement

UTC Swindon Watertower

Swindon’s University Technical College has been judged as inadequate following an Ofsted inspection.

Last November the Labour Spokesperson for Education, Cllr Carol Shelley, wrote to Ofsted calling on them to inspect the Swindon UTC and Ofsted confirmed would be inspecting the Swindon UTC during the 2016/17 school year.

Last year it was reported that Swindon UTC had only filled 25% of its student places and their 2016 results “well below the national average”.

The University Technical College’s 2016 Key Stage 4 results were deemed “well below the national average”, with only 36% of students achieving at least a C Grade in English and Maths.

It was also learnt last year that the Principal of Swindon UTC, Angela Barker-Dench was not in the school on and had taken extended leave.

The Labour Group Spokesperson for Education, Cllr Carol Shelley, said:

“I am disappointed but not at all surprised by this judgement. The poor performance and outcomes at the Swindon UTC has been known for some time.

Labour Condemn Council-Tax Misinformation

Assorted coinage and notes

The Swindon Labour Group Leader, Cllr Jim Grant, has condemned Swindon Borough Council for spreading misinformation regarding residents council-tax increases in the council funded statements sent to all households in the borough.

In council-tax statements to households who live in Parished areas, residents have been told that Swindon Council are increasing their bills by 5% (2% general increase and 3% increase for Adult Social Care), yet their council-tax to Swindon Council is actually increasing by 7.2%.

Last month the Conservative Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Russell Holland, had said that residents would be told the actual percentage increase they’d be getting through their Council-Tax statements, however this hasn’t been the case.

Council Tax statements and leaflets are currently being distributed to all households across the borough.

The Leader of the Labour Group, Councillor Jim Grant, said:

Swindon Council Tax rise the biggest in the country

Image reading "Thanks to Swindon's Conservative Administration, the council tax bill you get this week will include the biggest Council Tax rise in the county. #ToryTaxRise"

This week Tory-run Swindon Borough Council will be sending out Council Tax bills to residents. These bills will include the biggest Council Tax rise in the country, as the Conservative administration have found an administrative loophole to add additional cost ahead of the maximum allowed 2% tax rise and the extra 3% levy for Adult Social Care.

This is before the higher Parish precepts are added, as a result of the Administration taking the decision to create parish councils for the areas of the town that weren’t already parished and hiving off services to them that used to be covered by the Council Tax.

Residents in the areas that weren’t parished used to pay a sum known as the “Swindon Special Expenses” rate to pay for services that the Borough provided that were provided by Parish Councils where they existed in the town. The Conservative administration hit on the wheeze of spreading this cost around the borough to all residents rather than just cancelling it as they should have done as all residents would be paying a Parish precept.   

Labour Group Welcome Council Lydiard Park Decision

Lydiard Park Swindon

The Labour Group has welcomed the decision of Swindon Council not to transfer the running of Lydiard to a private sector company, with the Cabinet announcing the Lydiard Park Heritage Trust as its preferred bidder to run Lydiard Park and House.

The registered trust scored highest out of five bids received by the Council and, if the Council’s Cabinet endorse the trust as the preferred bidder at next week’s Cabinet meeting (16th March), further due diligence will take place before a Business Transfer Agreement and Lease is agreed over the next six months.

Last year the Conservative Group refused to rule out a private company running Lydiard for profit, after Lydiard & Freshbrook’s Labour Councillor, Matthew Courtliff, had called on the Council to rule out private sector involvement in the park at a Council Meeting.  

Recently Lydiard Park has had car parking charges introduced to its visitors that, together with parking charges at Coate Water, has generated an income for the Council of £400K.

Swindon Residents To Face Largest Council-Tax Increase In Country

Swindon Council Civic Offices

Swindon residents living in Parished areas are set to face the largest council-tax increase from any local authority in the country. After Surrey County Council decided against holding a referendum on a 15% council tax increase no other local authority has decided to charge above an average 4.99% increase. A national media survey has shown Nottingham City Council to have the largest average council-tax increase of £76 for a Band D property.

However due to Swindon Council seeking to increase council-tax by more in parished than current non-parished areas, Swindon residents in parished areas will be receiving the highest council-tax increase in the country. Residents in parished areas will face a council tax increase of £85 which is the equivalent of a 7.2% increase.

The Localism Act stipulates that any council-tax increase of 5% or more has to be determined through a local referendum, however this has been interpreted by Swindon Council as local authorities not being able to set an “average” increase of 5% or more.

Call Made For Council-Tax Increase Transparency To Taxpayers

Swindon Council Civic Offices

The Swindon Labour Group has called on Swindon Council to ensure every council-taxpayer in Swindon is fully aware of their council-tax increase.

Every year Swindon Council issues every household with a council-tax statement and leaflet explaining how people’s council-taxes are increased and spent.

In the Cabinet’s budget and council-tax proposals, they had claimed that people would have their council-taxes increased by 4.99% which would not trigger a local referendum. However subsequently it has been found that the 4.99% increase is only an average increase and 40% of households would be paying a 7.2% increase in their council-tax. Because Swindon Council has devolved many local “streetsmart” services to parish councils, it has also been the case that Parish Councils have increased their precepts to very high levels compared to previous years.

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