Swindon Borough Council Conservative Group leader Cllr Gary Sumner writes for Swindon Link
We have just had the first Scrutiny Committee meeting of the new municipal year as well as the first Full Council.
Clearly the Labour administration wants to put their stamp on changes at the borough, which is quite understandable.
They have cancelled the Conservative administration's ‘Visions, Priorities & Pledges’ and will aim to have something to replace them by the end of the municipal year.
We viewed this as unnecessary until they have an alternative strategy in place to guide the council – now there is nothing in place for 11 months.
They have, however, introduced three new committees which will consider policy over the course of three meetings this year.
At the Scrutiny meeting the ‘Cost of Living’ policy came up and it was gratifying to have the new Cabinet Member acknowledge that the work contained in this was entirely that of the Conservative administration.
I congratulated them on the roadshows, but at this time they have no additional funding to add to what we allocated or obtained from the Government.
Their Cabinet Member for Finance (& Planning) also acknowledged (in answer to my question) that their aim of ‘getting tough with developers’ was also going to be difficult to deliver - as we already knew.
Independent assessments mean that if a developer demonstrates that they can’t deliver enough affordable housing then there is little that can be done.
The last thing the council needs is the new Labour administration racking up legal fees by refusing developments which should be allowed.
Two of our Conservative councillors on the Scrutiny Committee (Cllr Jake Chandler and Cllr Dan Adams) had demanded action on missed waste collections and Cllr Chris Watts (Cabinet Member for Waste & Recycling) agreed to an emergency meeting for the Scrutiny Committee to hear what steps he will take to get this crucial service working again.
What the Labour administration are finding is that whilst it’s easy to make big promises (as they did in their leaflets) it is going to be impossible to deliver on most of them.
Budgets are tight, pressures continue to grow, but we have committed to working with them to try to find solutions.
We had asked officers on numerous occasions to look at securing children’s homes within the Borough to reduce costs and deliver a better service.
I have promised the Labour leader that we will support their wish to do the same.
Politics aside it’s a tough job, and we will work with them wherever possible for the benefit of the residents of Swindon.
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