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Swindon villages’ budget is slashed by £250k
MONEY set aside to breathe fresh life into two tired village centres in South Swindon has been slashed from £300,000 to £50,000.
In February last year, then-council leader Rod Bluh announced £900,000 was to be used to rejuvenate tired village centres such as Covingham Square, Liden, Eldene, Toothill, Freshbrook and Guildford Avenue, in Lawn, over the following two years.
This year that sum was halved to £450,000 of which Coun Montaut was told his wards would receive £300,000.
“I found out last week that they have now cut our spending to just £50,000,” said Coun Montaut.
“Everybody is clearly going to be disappointed. We have hosted a number of meetings where discussions on what the money could be spent on took place.
“It’s an enormous drop. Having made the promise to the people of Liden and Eldene they were hoping to see major improvements.”
Councillor Dale Heenan, cabinet member for strategic planning, who stepped in to take charge of the project in April, said because Eldene was benefitting from a £10 million Morrisons scheme it no longer required a cash injection from the council.
He said only a Labour councillor would want to spend £150,000 on a village centre which would see huge investment from the Morrisons plan – due next year.
“The plans for the Morrisons have only come to light in the last year which is why that area no longer requires the same funding,” said Coun Heenan.
But Coun Montaut said the authority was aware of the Morrisons development before the money was allocated.
“It’s not going to help Eldene centre. It’s going to draw people away from it,” said Coun Howard.
She added that proposals to restore broken paving stones and fix leaking canopies were top of the list of repairs which it was hoped would be done by the cash.
“We need to see what we will be able to do with that much money,” said Coun Howard. “It’s a great disappointment.”
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