Council leader Councillor Renard outlines the priorities for the town over the next 15 years.
On Wednesday night, Cabinet will debate adopting a new Vision for the Borough, along with four key priorities and thirty pledges, which is the Administration’s bold statement that Council wants to play its part in shaping Swindon’s future. It also serves as our invitation to public, private, and third sector partners, and you, to support these aims.
The Vision is a strong statement about Swindon as a place. It envisages a town with a thriving, sustainable local economy supported by good retail, leisure, and infrastructure.I know not everyone will agree with it.That’s a good thing, because I wanted to avoid a bland or generic document.If people debate the Vision it’s evidence that it stands for something.
While the Vision sets our overall direction, the next key element is the four priorities.These will act as fixed points around which we can align other Council policies and strategies, and those of our partner organisations and they are the foundations from which we derived the thirty pledges – our list of things we want to achieve.
These priorities are:
1: Improve infrastructure and housing to support a growing, low-carbon economy.
2: Offer education opportunities that lead to the right skills and right jobs in the right places.
3: Ensure clean and safe streets and improve our public spaces and local culture.
4: Help people to help themselves while always protecting our most vulnerable children and adults.
All of these priorities depend on others.The Council alone can never spend enough money simply walking round picking up litter.It is up to individuals and communities to make the choice that they care about their own environments.If anyone thinks this is impossible, go to Singapore, for example, where civic pride means that such anti-social behaviour is almost unheard of from citizens.
If you consider education, we now have a system where all but one of the town’s secondary schools is completely independent of the Council, as they have become Academies.Over the past decade, we have already integrated some of our budget with the NHS and this closer cooperation is likely to increase.
Some may find this new world quite daunting.Instead of relying on rules, regulations and traditional forms of control, for Swindon to succeed we will now need new skills of diplomacy and influence.
This is where the Vision, Priorities, and Pledges matter.They may start life as a Council document, but I am convinced that as partners join with us to achieve them, then they will become a common Vision and an increasing reality.