In Defence of Honda

Last week, Swindon received very good news that two new car prototypes will be built at Honda’s South Marston plant over the next 12 month, preserving 3,000 jobs for working people in the town and another 7000 jobs from local companies who rely on business with Honda.

Your local Labour Group is very proud that we brought Honda to Swindon back in the 1980’s and since the car manufacturer arrived in the town they have repeatedly paid Swindon back for welcoming their company in to our town. Whether it be the company’s repeated expansions providing more and more jobs for local working people, or the car manufacturer’s investment of money and expertise in Swindon’s local communities like their sponsoring of the Pinehurst Academy, Swindon should feel lucky that we have Honda in our town.

What makes Honda’s relationship with Swindon extra special is that over recent years the South Marston car plant has struggled to compete against other Honda car plants around the world (all Honda car plants have to compete against one another to manufacture the different prototypes of Honda car). The reason for this is that Swindon’s Honda plant spends more on staffing costs and because other Honda plants around the world are much further down the line in meeting their energy needs through renewable energy sources.

This brings me to the Honda’s wind turbine application going before the Planning Committee this month. I absolutely accept that the Planning Committee have to judge the Honda Wind Turbine planning application by its merits, however it is of the view of Swindon borough Council’s planners, who have to be objective, that this planning application meets national planning guidance.

So my point is that if Swindon borough Council’s Planning Committee does find that the facts of the application contravene national planning guidance then this is something I could accept. However it would be a terrible shame for Swindon, not to mention a disservice to Honda, if their planning application to invest in renewable energy sources is turned down due to factors other than material planning considerations.

Councillor Jim Grant Swindon Labour Group Leader