Bring the people in

BOOSTING visitor numbers, improving the High Street and installing a new games area are among the issues in the new Blunsdon and Highworth ward.

The ward includes Broad Blunsdon, Highworth, and the villages of Castle Eaton, Hannington, and Stanton Fitzwarren. Previously, Highworth and Blunsdon were in separate wards.

Keith Smith, chairman of Highworth Community Partnership, said a key priority for the new councillors should be to improve the streetscene to attract more visitors and boost the town’s economy.

He said this should include improving the environment in the High Street, resurfacing the potholed Gilbert’s Lane, and turning the Fox roundabout, on the A361, into an attractive entrance to the town, adorning it with low dry stone walls, a few low-growing plants and a fox statue.

Mr Smith said he wanted the new councillors to fight for funding and permission to make improvements in Highworth.

“We have got quite a number of independent shops and we’ve got a town centre that ought to be a jewel in the crown of Swindon,” he said.

“The whole of the town centre is a conservation area, all of the buildings in the High Street are Grade II listed and the church is Grade I listed and yet nobody from Swindon Council has really looked at the town and said how can we make better use of this town for Swindon borough?”

Blunsdon parish currently sits mostly in the Blunsdon ward, with a bit in Haydon Wick. But from May, the vast majority of the population will be in the St Andrews ward, with the minority of the people and the largest geographical area of the parish in the Blunsdon and Highworth Ward.

Stuart Boyd, chairman of Blunsdon Parish Council, which is not party-political, said most of the controversial issues were in the St Andrews ward.

He said: “As far as Blunsdon and Highworth is concerned, we will be looking for support for the development of a multi-use games area, we hope, in Blunsdon village. The borough have already supported it to the extent of funding a viability study.

“Other than that we haven’t really got any major issues for the borough councillors to deal with.

“We have got issues with speeding still and there’s a lot of petty theft around, but these are police or enforcement matters.”

Blunsdon and Highworth (3 seats)

Candidates for 2012:

  • Phil Beaumont, Labour
  • Alan Bishop, Conservative
  • Doreen Dart, Conservative
  • Andrew Day, Green
  • Alison Durrant, Labour
  • Phillip Gaskin, Labour
  • Maureen Penny, Conservative
  • Jenny Shorten, Lib Dem Number of potential voters: 8,674 Most recent turnout figures: Highworth (46.08 per cent in 2011), Blunsdon (60.32 per cent in 2010) Winner’s majority at last election: Highworth (Conservatives with 55 per cent of vote in 2011) Blunsdon (Conservatives with 62 per cent of vote in 2010) Existing councillors: Anthony Peake (Con, Highworth), John Short (Ind, Highworth), Alan Bishop (Con, Highworth), Doreen Dart (Con, Blunsdon)

Please slow things down

THE Coate development, speeding and maintaining facilities are some of the issues to be tackled for the candidates hoping to represent the new Chiseldon and Lawn ward.

These two settlements will be brought together under a largely rural new ward also including Broome Manor, Coate, Hodson and Draycot Foliat.

Dave Thomas, clerk of Chiseldon parish Council, which is non-party-political, said some people wanted to see a 20mph speed limit trialled on New Road and other parts of the village, where the limit is currently above 30mph.

He said: “I think traffic is probably the biggest single item.

“There’s a growing volume of traffic on the roads and they seem to be going fast, and a lot of people would like a lower speed limit put in through the village.

“The other issues are the cleanliness of the village and the state of the pavements and the roads. We only have a village cleaning service twice a year and we feel it’s not enough.

“And they come at the wrong time also, just when the leaves are starting to fall and a few days after they’ve been you wouldn’t know they’ve been.

“The pavements are pretty uneven, the paving stones are trip hazards in many cases and they could be improved.”

Mr Thomas said the 900-home development at Coate, which was recently given the go-ahead after a planning inquiry, would also be a major election issue for some residents.

In Lawn, Rev John Roe, the minister of Lawn Community Church, said the main issues were maintaining community facilities and tackling speeding, particularly along Windsor Road and Sandringham Road.

He said: “Lawn is a stable area and an established area really.

“People who predominantly live here are satisfied and I suppose it’s more a case of seeking to retain character of the area, with it looking nice and facilities kept to a high standard.

“There are some issues like most areas. There are concerns about traffic speed through the area so there are representations being made to mitigate and control traffic speed in the area, but without having to resort to calming measures.

“From what I’ve heard, preserving the essential nature of the Coate Water country park, its wildlife, is one of the issues that seems to be important.”

Jean Saunders, of the Save Coate Campaign, agreed. She said: “Anyone electioneering and campaigning for whoever, that will be an issue.”

that local people will raise.”

Chiseldon and Lawn (2 seats)

Candidates for 2012:

  • Mike Bawden, Conservative
  • Jim Boyd, Independent
  • Louise Cole, Lib Dem
  • Geraint Day, Labour
  • Fionuala Foley, Conservative
  • Trevor Smith, Lib Dem
  • Helen Thompson, Labour Number of potential voters: 4,733 Most recent turnout figures: Wroughton and Chiseldon (45.83 per cent in 2011), Old Town and Lawn (44.39 per cent in 2011) Winner’s majority at last election: Wroughton and Chiseldon (Conservatives with 48 per cent of the vote in 2011), Old Town and Lawn (Conservatives with 43 per cent of the vote) Existing councillors: Wayne Crabbe (Con, Wroughton and Chiseldon), Brian Ford (Con, Wroughton and Chiseldon), Eric Shaw (Con, Wroughton and Chiseldon), Mike Bawden (Con, Old Town and Lawn), Fionuala Foley (Con, Old Town and Lawn), Brian Mattock (Con, Old Town and Lawn)