A matter of financial management

By Barrie Hudson - 23 February 2024


Swindon Borough Council Conservative Group Leader Cllr Garry Sumner writes for Swindon Link

February is budget time with Council tax agreed for the coming year. 

The Conservatives proposed a credible, fully funded, budget which highlights our priorities. A council tax freeze with £4m of new investment in roads, footpaths, country parks & more staff and resources for the waste service and tree maintenance. 

Labour unanimously voted against. Their budget mandates a 4.99% increase with a cut to Libraries, scrapping all community transport and loading up the Council with more debt – a tad hypocritical considering their vocal objections over the years to debt already accrued!

A December monitoring report highlighted Labour need £65m more borrowing and the budget means it is more than £80m. A 1% increase in Council tax raises £1.3m from residents. Labours budget included £15m of borrowing at a cost of £1.285m. Yes, your council tax is paying for Labours additional debt. 

A good example of Labours naïve approach to Financial Management is the new Moredon Sports hub. The Conservatives were funding it by selling land for £2m. Instead, Labour are now borrowing the £2m for 50 years. 

The Labour administration have made much since they were elected of ‘finding a black hole’ in terms of budget over-spends. This wasn’t true – projected over-spends happen every year in local government. Every year the Conservatives pulled them back and despite the scare mongering, the council has once again ended up with a balanced budget. The Conservatives made savings of over £200m these past five years. 


Despite claims that we are getting close to normal again, most residents would agree this is far from the truth and Swindon has now reached a milestone of 1 million missed bin collections. The worst performance of any Council and a visible sign of unforgiveable mismanagement.

“Line up every missed collection and it would stretch from the magic roundabout to the Eiffel Tower”. 

At the Scrutiny meeting there was the characteristic Labour ‘flip-flopping’ about whether a specific Project Manager was in place for the roll-out or not and it’s evident that at the time of the implementation there wasn’t one person tasked with this oversight.

Six months after taking control of the Council, Labour councillors gave the green light. This crisis is entirely Labours making and they have refused all help to fix the problems because they believe they know best.

Swindon Museum & Art Gallery: I am looking forward to attending the opening of this fantastic new home for the collections, a move fiercely opposed by Labour and their supporters [Anchor] . Finally, they now agree it’s a wonderful, accessible and much more appropriate location!



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