On Monday, the deadline passed for responses to the Local Government boundary Commission’s proposals for new electoral wards in Swindon. The Swindon Labour Party’s response challenged the reason given for rejecting one of our key proposals as wrong in law and tried to reverse the decimation of several of our most established communities.
The initial report of the Local Government boundary Commission in September 2010 indicated that Swindon should reduce its number of Councillors from 59 to 57, with 19 3-member wards.
Labour then set about consulting to ensure that it could submit proposals which met the boundary Commission’s key criteria – that of “protecting established communities”.
I believe we did this to the best of our ability and produced proposals that suited Swindon far better than any other proposal sent to the boundary Commission (which can be found on the boundary Commission’s website). However, due to a transport link in one of our proposed wards being partly outside Swindon’s borough boundaries, the boundary Commission rejected the majority of our proposals and therefore proceeded to tear up some of Swindon’s most established communities, like Gorse Hill, Pinehurst and Rodbourne Cheney.
However, following a FOI response from Councillor Des Moffatt it was discovered that, in the past, the boundary Commission had accepted electoral wards with transport routes partly outside the local authority boundaries which they were reviewing. This undermines the boundary Commission’s central reason for rejecting the bulk of Labour’s proposals.
So, with this in mind, Labour have urged the Local Government boundary Commission in our response to think again about whether they should reject Labour’s community-centred proposals. After all the the boundary Commission themselves have said that local communities are one of their most important considerations.
Finally, I would just like to state my joy in hearing the news that Eric Pickles did a u-turn on his election pledge to force local authorities to return to weekly bin collections. This would have meant that Swindon Council-taxpayers would have had to have paid more on our Council-tax to fund this Tory fad and would have led to local residents having to change their weekly schedules.
Seems like our Tory-led Government has a mantra of a policy u-turn a day, however if this is to the benefit of Swindon’s local residents then I don’t have a problem with it.
Councillor Jim Grant
Leader of the Labour Group