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ROD BLUH COLUMN: Parade united us all for a good cause
10:17am Thursday 25th October 2012 in News
Last Sunday we held a Freedom Parade in Swindon town centre to honour the contribution the armed forces make to our lives and our safety.
Our Mayor, Mick Bray, gave a thoughtful speech on behalf of all the borough’s residents. The march past by the Wessex Yeomanry made us all proud of those who serve in uniform and I am grateful to everyone who came along to the support the ceremony.
As a symbol of appreciation for the freedom we enjoy, and to show that we do not take our liberty for granted, the parade also included the signing of a covenant. This covenant is a commitment by the council, other public sector partners and key representatives of local businesses, charities and community groups to do what they can to assist those in the Armed Forces.
I was particularly pleased that the council’s pledge was signed by the mayor, the opposition and minority group leaders and me as an indication that this is a matter that stands above any partisan political differences. It was a good example of how many different parts of our community can unite for good behind a common cause.
This civic unity was preceded by similar co-operation at last week’s cabinet meeting. Let me be clear, debate is good; it is a vital part of decision-making because only by testing the evidence, the assumptions, and the proposals, can we be confident that we are making the right choices.
Cabinet members and opposition councillors agreed on two key emerging strategies on which the council is now seeking comments – the draft economic strategy, and the draft local plan.
The latter describes how we want to provide land and houses over the next 15 years, the former how we provide the necessary jobs.
Clearly both are inter-related. The draft economic strategy is vital because it identifies how we will achieve economic growth, which is the only sustainable solution to the town and the nation’s problems. We want to provide the conditions for entrepreneurs of small and medium-sized, as well as large businesses, to thrive.
The new draft local plan, if approved, will give the borough a better ability to manage the now homes that we will need, as well as providing crucial evidence to obtain the necessary money to build schools, roads and other infrastructure.
Together these strategies will provide the basis for Swindon continuing to develop as a place where businesses want to come and people want to live.
To end, let me add my congratulations to the Swindon Robins speedway team for winning their first league title for 45 years. Their skill and commitment has received its due reward.