Communities & Governance – Restoring a People’s Council

Last week the Swindon Advertiser covered a public meeting where an estimated 150 Old Town residents attended an open meeting to discuss how to fight Swindon’s Conservative Councillors against their decision to propose a school on the Croft site and the granting of planning permission for the school to be sited at Croft.

I  have no doubt that the Conservatives will see those who attended this meeting as merely nimbys and self-interested. After speaking to some of those residents who attended this meeting, I hold a very different view and believe the large turnout highlights a recurring theme of the actions and decisions Swindon’s Conservative administration has taken.

  • We saw it with the way this Conservative administration dismissed residents’ concerns over the administration’s Wi-Fi decision
  • We saw it with the Whalebridge changes where the Conservative administration decided to make a massive change to the town’s road network without consulting one member of the public or ward councillor
  • And we saw it with the allocation of the Haydon 3 S106 money, where Haydon Wick and Abbey Meads’ residents were bypassed in order for the Conservative administration to divert 83% of the £15m pot to other areas of Swindon

Swindon’s Conservative administration is neither listening to, nor working with the people of our town.  While providing warm words about engaging with local communities and residents, the Tories’ actions speak louder than their words and over the last 9 years of them being in administration, their actions have irreversibly alienated many of Swindon’s communities and residents.

The local Labour Party have recognised this and we believe we have a package of policies that will begin to recover local communities’ and residents’ trust in Swindon borough Council, after nearly a decade of neglect. These policies would include:

  •  Seeking to devolve more powers and services down to a lower tier of local government- parish and community councils.
  • And we would get the Council to agree a set of rights that each resident in this town will have when interacting with their council. These rights should be proposed by an independent local resident after they hold an Independent Review where they consult with local residents about what they want from their council.

Should Labour take control of Swindon Council and I become Leader of the Council, gone will be the days where members of the public are targets of scorn from senior Conservative Councillors; gone will be the days where there are proposals to restrict the powers of parish councils and gone will be the days where decisions that affect all residents of the borough are nodded through without any public consultation.