The leader of the Labour Group on Swindon Council writes that the huge talent in the town needs to be tapped.
In recent years there has been a breakdown in trust between the council and the people of Swindon.
Whether it is the lack consultation before the proposed library closures, the hiving off of Lydiard to the private sector or the closure of the Children’s Centres, people feel that decisions are being taken without them having any meaningful input into those decisions.
Of course, any administration of a council has the democratic right to make those decisions but I believe it is incumbent on any council to ensure that people are fully aware of what is happening to their services and why these decisions are made.
An incoming Labour Council in May would completely change the way we take those decisions by including members of the public in the decision making process. For example, we would create a fairness commission where members of the public would be able to scrutinise the council’s work to ensure that is it open, transparent and, above all, fair in its dealings.
We would also create a Value for Money Committee – again, members of the public will look at how the council spends your money and determine if the council is spending that money wisely and for the benefit of all the people of the town.
We feel that consultation should be held in its widest possible form. We would consult on a mandatory basis bodies such as residents’ associations, parish councils, community groups and campaign groups. And not just on issues which primarily affect their area; verybody is a Swindon resident so why shouldn’t the opinions of a local residents association be taken into account when deciding on the future of Lydiard or on the Thamesdown Drive extension?
Unless we become a more inclusive council – a People’s Council – we will not gain the benefit from the skills and expertise of local residents who are willing to share ideas with us. There is a huge wealth of untapped talent in Swindon which the council should be taking advantage of. Unless the council offers its residents the opportunity to participate then the town will not grow and develop as we all wish it to.