End of term report on council - a column by Swindon Borough Council Conservative Group Leader Cllr Gary Sumner

By Swindon Link - 27 March 2024


We have just seen the final Cabinet meeting after a year of the new Labour Council.

When you read the detail of the reports there are some interesting facts.


Council Finance Officers are predicting a staggering £102m of additional borrowing will be needed to pay for Labour ideas, and the details are unknown. Labour have made decisions in six months, which took the Conservatives 10 years of careful consideration to do.


The Labour ‘Swindon Plan’ was promoted extensively and yet the public won’t see the results until after the May elections – with the Labour Leader of the council cheekily saying, ‘if they are still in power’. To be completely clear – even if the Conservatives won every seat there is no way of Labour losing control of the council in May. In 10 months, all anyone knows is that there were 350 completed surveys from a population of 230,000.


School Transport for Children with Special Needs (SEND) - budget cuts will mean that these children will be forced to walk up to three miles to school and the School Road Safety budget has been cut by 50%. This is Labour making these decisions for themselves. We believe these are the wrong cuts and would reverse them.


We all saw the impact of 1m missed waste collections, but did you know that in February, the Government stepped in to rescue the council with a £1.7m grant? Funny how Labour kept it quiet and more staff and vehicles mean service is almost back to normal. 


An audit found the Highways department "rudderless and with no support". The councillor in charge is the same as for the bin collections. The council filled more potholes this year, BUT, they delayed almost all road and footpath resurfacing by 12 months. 


You will also have seen your council tax increase by the maximum allowed (despite the conservatives proposing to halve the amount) and Parish Taxes are increasing by up to 23%. Another hidden increase as Labour decides to offload services they don’t want onto Parishes.


Finally, Labour celebrated our Conservative projects for new housing at Queens Drive, the commencement of works at Panattoni Park (the former Honda site) which will provide a £1.2 billion pound lift to our local economy and up to 12,000 and a new masterplan for Greenbridge, which protects the allotments and Swindon Rugby club.


Swindon Museum & Art Gallery: We joined Labour in celebrating the opening of the fantastic new home for the collections, which, this time last year, was fiercely opposed by Labour and their supporters. This was an example of us looking ahead and making the tough decisions our town needed.  


Please remember that in May you will have the opportunity to elect councillors in the Local Elections – please support my hard-working councillors to continue to hold Labour to account.


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