POLITICIANS from both parties have slammed the council’s decision to keep Forward Swindon in place.

It follows a cabinet meeting earlier this week in which councillors committed to retaining the services of the company responsible for town centre regeneration.

But the deal came with a few caveats – namely, the removal of Forward Swindon’s £1m funding pot with the aim of making the firm self-funding from 2018, and a review of the board membership to allow for greater council input.

The company has been heavily criticised for its lack of progress in a number of town centre regeneration projects. But Coun Garry Perkins, cabinet member for regeneration, has stood by Forward Swindon’s record.

He said that previous staffing issues had largely been responsible for the firm’s inertia, but added: “The team they have now are very good and they are the team we need going forward.”

He said: “If Forward Swindon was to close, it would leave a void in delivering the projects, and that would push them back even further. The last thing we want to see is any more delays.”

But Coun Jane Milner-Barry, the Labour Group’s shadow lead for town centre regeneration, claimed it was “a terrible decision” by the cabinet and called for the firm to be scrapped.

She said: “To spend council tax payers’ money commissioning private consultants to review Forward Swindon and then ignore their recommendation to bring the company’s operations more clearly under council control is very unfortunate.

“All the cabinet have agreed is to shuffle the chairs of the Forward Swindon board rather than scrap the company and have a more efficient economic development unit.

“Scrapping Forward Swindon is not only what Labour wants, it’s what the Tory North Swindon MP wants too. It’s one of the only things we can agree with Justin Tomlinson on.

“When the people of Swindon have heard the council are losing up to 420 Council officer posts, how can the Cabinet justify leaving Forward Swindon in operation.”

Coun Milner-Barry’s comments were supported by North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson, who didn’t hold back in his condemnation of Forward Swindon.

He said: “As the years pass by, each failure to deliver is replaced by ever more desperate and fanciful promises.

“There is zero support and respect among the business and retail world, yet they have been backed to interfere, meddle and put off real developers again.”

Ian Larrard, director of the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative at Business West, said it was time the firm showed “stronger and more visible leadership”.