A column written by Swindon Labour Leader Jim Robbins.
By the time you are reading this, Swindon Council will have set their budget for the next financial year and I’m assuming that the Conservative administration will have again raised council tax by 4.99 percent, the full amount allowed without needing to go to a referendum of residents.
The budget contains £15m of cuts to essential services and will make it harder for vulnerable people in the town to get the help that they need.
I don’t blame the local Conservatives fully for the council tax rise; the national Conservative Government have been slashing council budgets for 13 years and more damaging cuts would have been needed to balance the budget.
However, I do blame the Conservative councillors for the eye-watering debt that they have built up since they took over the council. At the recent cabinet meeting, it was revealed that the debt has now topped £400m, and that the £7.8m annual cost to the council of servicing the debt dwarfs the money raised by the council tax hike.
The financial mismanagement of the local Conservatives, alongside the crashing of the economy by the shambolic national Conservative Government, means that the cost-of-living crisis is set to be longer and worse than it had to be.
Mortgages are shooting up for people, in the way that petrol, food prices and energy bills already have, and families are really struggling as their wages don’t keep pace with the rise in costs. Swindon residents deserve better than this.
Labour are doing all we can to take control of the council in May, and we are working tirelessly to get out on the doorstep to speak to as many residents as possible.
I can’t promise that Labour will be able to change everything straight away, but I do believe that the five pledges we are setting out ahead of the election will allow us to build a better Swindon, and we will put a huge immediate effort into changing the way that the council works to make the services you receive as effective and responsive as possible.
Our five pledges are:
Your Roads – We’ll get Swindon moving by stopping excessive roadworks and sorting potholes
Your Parks – We’ll protect Swindon’s green open spaces from development
Your Economy – We’ll put Swindon businesses, jobs and people first, and improve the town centre
Your Community – We’ll build a Greener, Healthier, Safer and Fairer Swindon
Your Money – We’ll relentlessly focus on making sure we spend taxpayers' money wisely
These pledges have come from the thousands of conversations we have had with Swindon residents. We are averaging well over 2000 doorstep conversations a month and we’ll keep working to understand your hopes and aspirations for the town, as well as hearing your concerns and working on ways to address them.
We’re keen to hear from you, to work with you and to convince you to lend us your vote on 4 May so that we can build a better Swindon.
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