Would more people living in the heart of Swindon’s town centre improve it?

Politicians from across the party divide seem to think so - though they don't agree on a lot.

Conservative cabinet member for strategic planning Coun Gary Sumner tweeted: "The salvation of UK high streets will be when more people call them home and demand is undoubtedly rising. This will increase footfall to business in those centres. Avoid poor conversions though."

South Swindon Parish Labour councillor Patrick Herring was first to respond: "Mixed use is always the dream. That means retail, residents and commercial (e.g. offices) too, as each feeds the other at different times. Will be interesting to see how we can pivot Swindon town centre away from the current 10 till 6 retail rut it's currently stuck in."

Speaking exclusively with the Adver, along with the cabinet member for the town centre Coun Dale Heenan, Coun Herring said: "If more people live here, then there will be shops staying open for them, they'll want to go to cafes and restaurants. It won't be a wasteland after 6pm with every shop shut."

Coun Sumner said planning officers at Euclid Street were making it easier for shops and offices to be turned into homes: "We're relaxing the rules - as long as building still have an 'active frontage' to the street- windows and the front door, it's easier to convert buildings into dwellings."

At that Coun Herring expressed a concern about "hollowing out" office space to residential use: "The town centre needs to be active longer - office workers and shoppers in the day and residents in the evening

Coun Heenan said: "We want to go for purple flag status for the night-time economy, like a green flag for beaches, because it's safe."

The political split became more apparent when the two Conservatives said the council shouldn't, and couldn't, drive the market to make the town centre more mixed.

Coun Herring disagreed: "I think the council can do more - like it's doing with the bus boulevard - it can shape the way the town is and the market will respond."

Coun Heenan said: "I think we have to concentrate on what we can do: we're bringing the indoor snow centre to Swindon, we're bringing the Kimmerfields development forward, we're going to have the new Zurich headquarters. I think you have to prioritise, and concentrate on doing what you can."

What do you think? Would more residential properties in the town centre allow more of a cafe culture and keep it open longer into the evening?

Tell us what you think should, and could, be done to help the town centre.