Setting sights on making Swindon a better place for everybody

By Swindon Link - 28 July 2023

Opinion and FeaturesPolitics

Swindon Borough Council leader Cllr Jim Robbins writes for Swindon Link

The new Labour Administration was delighted to hold its first Cabinet meeting last month, where we formally dropped the previous administration’s pledges and voted through the three missions we have pledged to adopt. 

These are Reducing Inequality to help all residents meet their potential and build a fairer society, Building a Better Swindon to create the town with the jobs, houses and facilities that we need for the next twenty or thirty years, and Achieving the Net Zero targets we are committed to meet as a council.

At the Full Council meeting the next day, we established three new Policy Development committees to push forward the missions. By the time you read this, the committees will have had their first meetings and set their workplans for the year as they drive forward key policies to help us meet the missions.

We also were excited to make a new senior appointment at the Full Council meeting, with Sam Mowbray, the  council’s Chief Operating Officer stepping up into the Chief Executive role to replace the outgoing Susie Kemp, who had announced her intention to resign ahead of the elections.

Sam has enthusiastically embraced the new direction of the Council, and is keen to help achieve the missions, improve the way we engage with the public and make sure we deliver on our pledges.   

I’m pleased to say that we have made a start on these pledges with some good progress with the Highways department. 

When we awoke to news of a Thames Water mains water leak on County Road, Cllr Chris Watts as the Cabinet Member and the Highways team were quickly on the case and were able to ensure that planned maintenance works on the road were quickly brought forward so that they could be carried out alongside Thames Water’s work to fix the pipe, meaning that a planned closure later in the year is no longer needed and we will be able to keep Swindon moving.

This proactive approach is to be encouraged, and we will be keeping it going throughout August with a real focus on sorting potholes across the town.

We have invested in another pothole machine and are working flat out to get the town’s roads in a much better state before we go into another winter period.

Unfortunately, it isn’t all good news to report in the Highways area. The Bus Boulevard project that we inherited on Fleming Way is significantly delayed due to some very slow responses from utility companies on the project. It appears that it is yet another project blighted by contractors finding uted utility pipes under the road. 

We are really frustrated that another project has been poorly planned and the Council has been left responsible for the overrun costs by the deal struck by the previous administration. We are doing all we can to minimise the delays but want to be open and honest with residents that the delay will be significant and could be around a year.

We are determined to properly learn the lessons of the delayed projects and will do all we can to improve the planning of these projects, understand exactly what is in the area and set more realistic contingency periods so that residents aren’t continually let down.

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