Swindon Labour leader says community engagement vital

By Jessica Durston - 20 June 2022

  • Jim Robbins

    Jim Robbins

A monthly column from Swindon Labour leader Jim Robbins.

It has been a busy start to the municipal year, with several introductory meetings of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committees taking place, lots of local groups getting in touch with me to ask for meetings in my new role as the Leader of the Labour Group, the publication of a big report into how the council is performing (spoiler alert: not great) as well as the start of the Labour Party process of selecting our Parliamentary candidate for South Swindon.

The Overview & Scrutiny meetings are a key part of how we as opposition councillors hold the Conservative administration to account.

We have been pushing for the meetings to look at the big issues facing Swindon residents at the moment, such as the Conservatives' cost-of-living crisis, the ongoing roadworks issues with projects routinely going over-budget and running late, issues caused by the installation of new broadband cables by companies such as City Fibre and the challenge of getting a doctor’s appointment.

I’ve been really pleased by the amount of local groups that have taken the time to get in touch and ask for meetings as I start the process of creating the Labour plan for when we take control of the council

Engagement with local groups was a key criticism of the Conservative administration in a big report just published. The Local Government Association has recently carried out a peer review of the council, with councillors and officers from around the country spending time in Swindon reviewing how the council operates.

There was also criticism about how the council works with its staff and how it uses data.

The criticism about engagement certainly fits in with the feedback I’ve been getting from local groups talking about how hard it is to get meetings with the council and how defensive they are when given feedback.

We’re always looking for more people who are keen to take on a role as a representative for their local area, so if you have ever thought about being a councillor, either at borough or parish level, do please get in touch.

You can find me on twitter @jimrobbins or @LabourSwindon, via facebook as Jim Robbins or at Swindon Labour Councillors page or via email at [email protected]

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