The local elections take place on May 22. The Adver has spoken to all the main party leaders asking them what their parties are representing in the lead-up to polling...
CONSERVATIVE - David Renard, leader
SWINDON has come a long way since the Conservatives rescued the town from its ranking as one of the 12 worst in England.
Today, we have affordable, quality public services that ensure that we care for vulnerable children, those with learning difficulties, and the elderly, while still freezing the Council Tax for four years in a row.
That is because only your Conservative councillors are making the tough but necessary decisions.
We worked with our public sector partners to build Kimmerfield Court and the Whalebridge Car Park; we are supporting private developers who are turning the old college site into a new cinema and recreation area. More new buildings will follow.
We have supported local shops and business by maintaining our lower parking charge of £2 for four hours when rival towns were increasing theirs.
We are supporting local employers and our heritage through our role in securing a new University Technology College in the old railway works.
Back in 2003, we faced a £60m plus backlog of repairs to our schools. We have invested over £150m by building or refurbishing 14 schools.
We are supporting new technologies, such as our plans for solar sound barriers along the A419 and M4 that will protect residents, generate power, and earn the Borough money.
Following the multi-million pound restoration of Lydiard Park, along with the installation of a new roof and ice rink at West Swindon, the Council has secured £65m investment to refurbish the Oasis and install a SnowDome.
We are working with private sponsors to secure a new art gallery and museum that will complement our award-winning central library.
The Conservative Group shares local residents’ ambitions for a prosperous town that is a good place in which to live, work, shop and enjoy leisure.
That is what we are delivering.
GREEN PARTY - Talis Kimberley, spokesperson
SWINDON Area Green Party are fielding candidates in several of Swindon’s wards this May, including two – Steve Thompson (Gorsehill & Pinehurst) and Talis Kimberley (Wroughton & Wichelstowe) – with particularly high profiles in their local communities.
All the local Green candidates endorse the ‘Better Swindon’ Principles for better governance.
These seek to improve standards of transparency and integrity in our local politics, as highlighted by recent events.
We believe that councillors should behave with respect for all the people of Swindon, and that a robust system should be in place to call them to account should they fail in this.
Housing is a major issue in Swindon.
Many tenants are insecure in their homes, and benefit cuts threaten their ability to remain where family, work, school and care links are already established.
Housing policy must go beyond simply building new homes for sale.
This is especially so if those houses continue to be built on greenfield sites rather than brownfield, if the floodplain and local drainage requirements are ignored or just pushed downstream, and if the new houses built are not in fact affordable to the people needing homes.
Transport policy has to take greater account of pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users.
The Green Party fully supports the proposed solar farm at the Wroughton Airfield, and are dismayed that this has been pushed to a Public Enquiry.
This is despite the considerable local support the project has, and a clear national need to increase our use of safe, non-destructive energy sources.
Swindon Greens will also urge Swindon Council to rethink its £40-a-year green waste policy – a backward step, surely, after many years’ progress in increasing the recycling take-up in Swindon.
Community composting and shared resources should form part of a more positive and grassroots approach.”
LABOUR - Jim Grant, leader
IN THE forthcoming local elections residents will have a choice of political administration between an out of touch Conservative Group, supported in office by Swindon’s Liberal Democrat Councillors, or a Labour Group who have formed positive council policies based on the views of residents.
If Labour is elected in May we would end the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats’ £40 green waste collection charge and reintroduce a free green waste collection service paid for through sensible savings from consultants’ bills, senior management costs and councillors’ allowances.
Residents expressed that they valued the free green waste collection service in the council’s recent consultation and we have found the money to continue to deliver it.
We will also seek to address three big issues facing Swindon – the first is the poor state of Swindon’s roads; the second is regarding the traffic problems facing the town and the third is the lack of affordable housing for people on low incomes, to live in.
We will address the poor state of Swindon’s roads by using a Government grant to increase the amount spent on resurfacing our roads by £2m. We will seek to mitigate the traffic challenges facing the town by kickstarting the construction of a new Thamesdown Drive-Barnfield Link Road through funding the design work for the road.
And we will seek to reverse the rapid decline of affordable housing construction in the town, which the Conservatives have presided over, by building 300 new affordable homes every year.
Finally, a Labour administration would recognise the value local residents give to our precious green open spaces and country parks and ensure these areas will not be given away or be developed on.
This is the positive alternative Labour will offer compared to the Conservatives, who are supported by the Liberal Democrats.
LIB DEMS - Stan Pajak, leader
EVERY election is important and the council elections on May 22 are no exception and could determine not only who runs but perhaps more importantly how our Council is run.
The Liberal Democrat position is crystal clear, putting Swindon and it’s people first and politics second.
We will not play party politics when the stakes are so high.
Every financial decision amid reducing resources and dramatically increasing needs has to be justified.
In such a situation there has to be working together across political groups and services. The One Swindon partnership is a clear example of this in action.
Putting Swindon first is all about making our town more attractive to its residents and business.
At long last we are seeing a redevelopment of the town centre. This has to be matched with preserving our wonderful heritage and keeping and enhancing our country parks.
For the Liberal Democrats this means pushing to make the old Technical college in Victoria road the new art gallery and museum.
It means letting residents decide more how the council spends its money where their live through more money going to localities.
It means freezing Council Tax whilst Protecting Lydiard Park and Croft playing fields. It means having enough secondary schools for the future, and in the right places. It means using the £250,000 the government has given for potholes in the right places. Our services have to be geared to the people they serve with schools and provision for the elderly clear priorities.
Above all our council needs to be a listening council. Consultations should involve residents at the earliest stage, councillor standards should be high and we should be engaging residents.
Every Lib Dem councillor elected makes the clear commitment of putting residents first, keeping in touch and getting things done.
UKIP - John Short, leader
IN UKIP, we believe in having local people representing Swindon who are prepared to put the people that elected them above party politics.
While our councillors work towards shared aims and principles, unlike the other parties, UKIP do not believe in enforcing a party whip in local government.
Our councillors work for the people that voted for them, representing the interests of their local area rather than the officials of their own party.
Swindon Council has lost its way under the Conservatives and Labour through the use of a Cabinet system where decision-making is concentrated in the hands of a few individuals.
The voices of electors in individual wards have been pushed to the fringes and are often ignored or merely given lip-service.
The result is bad decision-making and a lack of appropriate direction, which has left us with an administration that is simply not delivering on the wishes of Swindon residents.
We want to tackle the real issues that affect everyone in our town. We desperately need to cut excess council management and remove private consultants to release funds for improving frontline service delivery.
We want smarter procurement and partnership with local firms in providing council services, including a focus on tackling youth unemployment and skills gaps by stimulating the local economy.
We need to plan for the long-term future in our infrastructure and development.
We need to stop landing future generations with debt-laden PFI public buildings and out-of-town development built over our green spaces, without adequate roads or school places.
We need to protect the vulnerable and take a tough line on crime and anti-social behaviour.
Vote UKIP on May 22 and you will get a UKIP councillor who will work for you and tackle the issues that we all care about in Swindon.
- For a full list of candidates in each of Swindon's 19 wards, inlcuding pictures and profiles, click here.