New Swindon Conservative leaders elected

By Barrie Hudson - 10 May 2023

  • New Swindon Borough Council Conservative Group leader Cllr Gary Sumner and deputy leader Cllr Dale Heenan

    New Swindon Borough Council Conservative Group leader Cllr Gary Sumner and deputy leader Cllr Dale Heenan

The Conservative group on Swindon Borough Council have elected Cllr Gary Sumner and Cllr Dale Heenan as leader and deputy leader.

Change at the top of the local Conservatives follows last week's council election results, which saw the council change hands from the Conservatives to Labour and veteran council leader David Renard lose his seat.

New leader Cllr Sumner is a councillor for Ridgeway who was deputy leader of the council during the two years until the election.

Cllr Heenan was re-elected last week in the Covingham & Dorcan ward.

The new leader immediately attacked the new borough council administration, saying: "It has been an honour and a privilege to serve the people of Swindon, and in the months ahead Labour will be faced with the same, unpalatable decisions we had to make - and they will be unpopular. And those decisions will be theirs. 

"Labour will blame the previous administration but they had the same access and briefings on the bleak budget challenges ahead for local government and offered no alternatives. Their February budget was 99.8 percent the same as ours. 

"We have all had meetings where we’ve been stunned by the choices, and if they take this seriously, they will have the same sleepless nights – unless they remain in denial that councils across the country are facing tough times and it isn’t just Swindon. 

"People want infrastructure before housing, and we have laid the foundations for hundreds of millions of pounds worth of improvements, completed well ahead of the need.  

"As a result of the work we have put in, the Swindon economy is going to benefit from an additional 12,000 new jobs in addition to the thousands already delivered.

"Labour keep talking about debt but this includes council housing of 10,000 homes they campaigned for; investments which generate a profit to support front line services which they supported and it includes schools, roads and other long term investments they did not oppose. It includes the canals and infrastructure within Wichelstowe which will generate a £150m return to the council." 

Cllr Heenan said: "The local council election results across the country last week were awful for the Conservatives and many good, hardworking councillors were voted out because of national politics. 

"We know much of what Labour promised to residents like a ‘Council Tax freeze’ was a sham with no plan to follow through on it, or a reduction in NHS waiting lists which a local council has no responsibility for and cannot influence in any significant way.

"Politics is a cycle, and the pendulum has swung. With Labour in control of Swindon Borough Council for the foreseeable future, I sincerely hope their negativity towards our town stops. As the Conservative Deputy Group Leader, I will ensure there are fresh ideas, and I will do all I can to guarantee that there is an effective opposition which holds Labour councillors to account, and supports local residents in getting things done for our town."

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